Almost everyone loves a faithful and playful companion for themselves and their families. A breed which is very family oriented and protective of their families is the American bulldog. Often misunderstood due to their brawny demeanor, this breed is actually really calm and protective of their families if trained properly. It can be an excellent choice for people looking for a four-legged companion.
The American bull dog breed is steadily gaining popularity across the United States of America and across the world. Following is the must know information about the American bulldog breed.
Not much is known about the history of the American bull dog as proper documentation regarding dog breeding was not very popular.
The American bulldog is considered to be the descendant of the old English bulldog/mastiff. These dogs were ferocious protectors of their master’s properties and estates. . Not only work, but the dogs were also used for a sport called ‘Bull Baiting’. In this game, the dog was made to fight an actual bull. However, the mastiffs were too big and heavy for the sport. Therefore, a different line by the name of bull-dogs was bred. These dogs were muscular and more agile. The sport increased in popularity, and so did this breed.
The old English bulldogs were introduced in America around the 17th century, when the English working class migrated to the US during its colonization. They were basically work dogs, used for cattle herding and catching. The sport of bull-baiting did not become as popular in America as it did in England. However, these dogs were used by farmers to look after their cattle.
The breed became fairly popular in the southern part of America. They helped with keeping the live stocks safe and helped the settlers deal with the wild pigs prevalent in the region. The wild hogs were ferocious, and destroyed the crops, causing financial troubles to the farmers. Hence, these dogs were used to combat the problem as they were brave and strong.
Newer and stronger breeds like the American bull terrier and the American pit bull were introduced. The introduction of these breeds led to the decline of the utility of the American bull dogs.
American bulldogs were on the brink of extinction around the time of World War 2. After his service, Johnson D. Johnson worked towards reviving of this breed. He worked towards keeping the line pure while increasing their populations. He called his dogs the American pit bull dog. This led to confusion as the name was similar to the American pit bull terrier. To avoid this mix-up, he later changed its name to the American bull dog. Inspired by his work, another breeder, Alan Scott started working towards the development of this breed. He crossed the non-Johnson breeds with the Johnson breeds. This led to the creation of two distinct sub types of the American bulldog. The two breeds came to be known after their breeders, the Johnson and the Scott type American bulldog.
The breed is now increasing in popularity steadily. They are also used for various purposes like cattle protection and pet dogs. Nowadays, it is also increasingly being utilized as a show dog, a purpose that stands in sharp contrast to its initial one. However, this breed is often confused with the pit bull type and this has led to a lot of scrutiny regarding its behavior. Due to inaccurate media coverage, these dogs are viewed as harmful and dangerous. This has led to the American bull dogs being viewed in a negative light. They are also banned in various states across America on the pretext of their hostile behavior. The breed is still popular enough across its home country and the rest of the world. These dogs can be seen in various countries across the world.
The American bulldogs have a very distinct appearance. Also, the two types of American bull dogs, the Johnson and Scott type differ from each other in terms of their physical appearance. These differences might not be easily visible to a normal person.
Following are a few physical features which set this breed apart from the others;
- American bulldogs are athletic and muscular dogs. The most prominent muscles are present in the front area, i.e.; chest and shoulders. They also have a large head and a sturdy built.
- They have a short, smooth coat. The coat is usually light with patches of brown, faun etc.
- They usually weigh about 60 – 120 lbs. and its height is about 20-27 inches.
- The typical lifespan of an American bulldog is about 10 to 16 years.
- These dogs are very strong and lithe, with the ability to jump 6ft.
Their eyes are usually brown. Black eyes and eyes of any other color are considered a cosmetic fault. Also, a coat with blue, black or any other color is not considered desirable.
Difference between the Johnson and Scott American bull dogs
The mixing of the Johnson and Scott type American bulldogs has led to mixing of many physical features. However, there are some aspects where the two still differ from each other.
The Johnson type bull dogs have squarer heads and larger bones as compared to their Scott counterparts. They are also bigger and taller than the Scott type American bull dogs who are predominantly bulkier than the former.
The Johnson American bulldogs resemble their ancestor, the English bull dog more closely. They also have facial wrinkles and a prominent under bite. The scott type American bulldogs on the other hand have a level bite, or a very slight under bite.
Scott American bulldogs are usually pure white, with pigmented ears/tails. They also do not have any coloured patches on their body. However, the Johnson American bulldogs have coloured patches on their bodies. The Scott type also resembles the American pit bull more closely, with a sleek body.
In terms of athletic capabilities, the Scott type American bulldog outshines the Johnson type. They are also smaller, with narrower heads. The Scott type is also prone to behaving more aggressive with other dogs.
- The Johnson type has further two types, the bully and extreme bully type. The bully type is shorter. The extreme bully type has a shorter muzzle, and is also more muscular. Their bodies and bones are thicker than the former two types.
- The Scott type also has two more types, the performance and the one developed by Joe Painter, Margentina, Tappe and others. The performance type has a thicker and boxy appearance. The latter is believed to have been mixed with the pit bull terrier because of its pigmentation.
Temperament and nature
The American bulldogs, just likeany other dog are very loyal. Contrary to popular beliefs, they are very gentle with kids and are a caring breed. They are however assertive and like to establish their dominance among other dogs and animals. They can get hostile towards other dogs as they mature as they have an instinctual urge to be dominant.
This line of dogs were initially used for work, thus, they need activities which keep them occupied. They are very energetic and require plenty of exercise and are not the best apartment dogs. They are extremely vigilant with their owners but can get a little reserved and shy with strangers. American bulldogs don’t do well if left alone for too long and can get destructive, chewing away furniture and destroying things. They like company and like to indulge in activities even though they usually possess a calm temperament. They also don’t bark too much and make excellent watchdogs.
Though calm and family oriented, these dogs can prove to be a little stubborn during training. It can get difficult for even experienced do trainers to train them. The breed is not best suited to novice dog owners as they tend to get aggressive and head-strong at times and require someone who can handle them with confidence. Training this breed requires a lot of patience as they are a dominant breed and like to be assertive. However, with time, they learn to listen to their trainers. However, harsh methods and punishments should not be used with them as they can get aggressive over time and refuse to listen to the trainer/owner.
Therefore, it is best to train this breed with love and patience. Since they are a people loving breed, they will learn to please you and heed to your commands without any problems.
If the socialization training of this dog is done properly, they can come off as extremely friendly towards other animals and can mingle with babies without any problems. It should also be noted that they should be on a leash when taken for walks and play in areas enclosed with high fences.
Grooming and care
Not much grooming is required for this breed. However, the breed does drool more than other breeds. It is essential to check that no drool is pooling in their face wrinkles as this can lead to a buildup of infections. Therefore, it is advised to properly clean their faces to prevent any such problems.
Like all other dogs, they require routine baths, nail trimmings and ear cleaning. It is also advisable to brush their coat at least once a day. The American bulldogs have short hair; hence they do not require too much hair cutting. They also need regular teeth brushing, at least 2-3 times in a week.
The most common health problems faced by this breed are that of nose, eyes and the respiratory tracts. This is because of their short snouts. Other common health problems faced by them are cherry eye, elbow dysplasia, canine hip dysplasia (CHD) etc.
Since American bull dogs are highly energetic and athletic, they require a high protein and healthy diet for their proper growth and development. Also, their diet should be less in carbs as too much carbs can lead to weight gain and other problems like joint troubles and digestive disorders.
However gentle and friendly dogs, improper training and socialization can lead to aggressive and hostile behaviour. A lot of accidents take place with a badly trained American bulldog. Thus, they are banned in a number of states in America.
Therefore, new dog owners should prevent from adopting this breed as they require guidance with a firm hand. However, one can always opt for a trained dog. But, it should be noted that this breed is too strong, therefore, it should not be left with people who would be unable to handle them if the need be.
Pros and Cons
Just like any other dog breed, American bull dog comes with its pros and cons. They must be kept in mind by people who are contemplating getting this breed as their companions.
- Family dogs, patient with children.
- Very loyal and protective of their owners.
- Playful and outgoing.
- Don’t need much maintenance and grooming.
- Need regular exercise and activity. Not good for people with sedentary lifestyles.
- Need proper training.
- Not good for novice dog owners.
- Need extensive training.
- Drool a lot. Need extra care with cleaning the face.
The American bulldog is a very gentle and friendly breed. It is protective of their owners and loves to be a part of family activities. Various misconceptions surround this breed, leading to various stereotypes. If trained properly, they can become the best companion to have around your kids and family. However, the American bulldogs are naturally assertive and dominant; therefore, they might get rough sometimes which might seem dangerous. Poorly trained American bulldogs can get aggressive frequently and be hard to manage.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that they have been properly trained and the socialization training has been undertaken sincerely and properly to avoid any accidents and harm to the people and other animals. They are also not very difficult to groom and require as much care as any other dog. At last, it is about the love and care you give to your dog which will ultimately dictate its behavior. If brought up with love, the American bull dog can become the best companion for you.