Character & Temperament: The American Bulldog symbolizes true love, devotion and grit. A man's best friend indeed!! The American Bulldog is powerful, confident and agile. It is naturally alert, inquisitive and and fearless. They are a highly obedient breed, but they are also known to be stubborn at times. They are very loyal to their owner(s) and sometimes act quite clownish. This breed thrives on exercise, discipline and then affection. They are a very very loving breed and make awesome family members...but when allowed to call the shots and act too much like a human, they can turn into the problem child.
The American Bulldog is affectionate toward children, but they should be taught at a young age how to properly behave around them (in return children must to be taught how to behave around dogs). American Bulldogs can be somewhat standoffish around strangers and should be properly socialized when young. They are known for their great versatility as working dogs as well. They are able to learn many different things, but they can be very independent. They are obstinate, dominant and willful, which sometimes leads to them wanting to be the boss in situations. So as an owner you must be consistent, firm and always mean what you say.
In addition, American Bulldogs need to be exposed regularly to friendly strangers because they have a natural protective instinct toward anyone they do not know. Our American Bulldog's always bark and are very alert when someone comes, but then it's tails wagging like crazy "Pet me, Pet me Pet me"!! However, the situation changes if our family is not at home.
American Bulldogs can get along with other pets - but socialization and training is very very very important. Letting an AB run freely in a dog park or around your neighborhood is absolutely not a good idea!! Also keep in mind that this is a confident breed and some can be more dominant than others. Do not confuse dominance with aggression. Dominance is a desire to run things, the dominant dog wants to have everything their way. Aggression is the desire or intent to cause harm. Being a "pack leader" to your dog is of utmost importance in making sure you have control in every situation. If you have 2 dominant dogs and you are not in control of the situation, they will figure out a way to claim being their own pack leader, unfortunately that means fighting (this is mainly seen with same sex dogs, but can happen with any sex and any other breed of dog living in their home). Unless you have experience with a large dominant breed, we do NOT recommend same sex dogs or multiple dogs within the home (regardless if they are spayed/neutered).
Size: (National Kennel Club American Bulldog Breed Standard)
Standard Type: Males between 23 to 27 inches at the withers and weigh from 75 to 115 pounds.
Females between 21 to 25 inches at the withers and weigh from 60 to 85 pounds.
Bully Type: Males between 23 to 27 inches at the withers and weigh 80 to 125 pounds.
Females between 22 to 26 inches at the withers and weigh 60 to 105 pounds.
Note: The overall proportion of the dog is of utmost importance when evaluating weight.
Training: Consistency is VERY important, but the American Bulldog is highly sensitive to the tone of its handler's voice, making training a fairly simple process. They are inquisitive and quick to learn simple tasks, yet unpredictable as they are a bit stubborn on occasion. Training should begin as early in their life as possible. They retain what they learn for a very long time. We recommend an obedience class/classes for you & your puppy. The breed also tends to become bored easily while their owners are not at home and will end up using its energy on things within your home (like tables, shoes and other such things). We suggest a crate, play-yard or "safe" room for your puppy while you are not at home. Remember adequate daily attention & exercise!!! You need to make sure that you have the time and energy to exercise and play, or your puppy may never outgrow the chewing stage. Proper chew toys are also very important as Bulldogs tend to eat things they shouldn't!!
House breaking your American Bulldog must be started as soon as possible. It is important to create an immediate daily routine to help prevent urination accidents that can occur when you first bring a puppy home. If you set a consistent routine this will help your puppy learn to have more control during the times you are not home. Depending on the situation, developing a routine can potentially take up to six months, and once your puppy is trained you will need to maintain the routine to keep your puppy happy and feeling secure.
Health: A health issue we have encountered several times in dogs is skin related...allergies. The skin issue can sometimes be resolved by a change of diet, but finding out what food(s) your dog is reacting to can be tricky. The dog can display all or a few of the following symptoms: scratching, has a rash or redness of the skin, gunky ears (ear infections), rust colored areas under the tail, front legs, next to the chest & in-between their toes. Some dogs can have seasonal allergies and an allergy panel can be done to determine what your dog is reacting to. Your pet can be prescribed allergy shots specific to their allergies to help them each allergy season, but again an allergy panel needs to be done first.
Joint problems is another health issue seen in American Bulldogs. Hip dysplasia is one (an abnormal formation of the hip socket). We have our Veterinary Clinic perform basic x-ray's on our breeding stock to evaluate the internal state of the joints. First, the caput should be deeply and tightly held by the acetabulum . Secondly, the caput or acetabulum should be smooth and round.
We have taken hip testing a step further and also have a PennHip preformed on our dogs. The PennHip method is a novel way to assess, measure and interpret hip joint laxity. It consists of three separate radiographs: the distraction view, the compression view and the hip-extended view. Dogs that do not pass the hip evaluation are spayed/neutered and not used in our breeding program.
Dog food can sometimes be a factor to some joint issues...feeding a poor quality food, too much food (obese pups/dogs) or a food that's analysis is not specific to the needs of an American Bulldog. We have seen young pups suffer from serious joint problems that could have been easily prevented with a better choice of dog food. We feel owners need to beware of calcium, phosphorus and protein levels in puppy food.
Diet: We HIGHLY recommend a puppy/dog food that is Natural or Holistic. We have had very good luck with chicken being the main meat. A Large Breed formula should also be used as we believe foods with excessive calcium & phosphorus along with decreased Vitamin C intake contributes to joint issues (the normal change of cartilage to bone in the development of the joint fails or is delayed. The cartilage continues to grow and may split or become necrotic). Overfeeding your puppy/dog is not healthy either..too much weight on their growing joints can lead to lifelong skeletal problems.
Our puppies eat Nutrisource Large Breed puppy, and just before a year of age we put them on a raw diet (feel free to call or email for more info on switching your dog to a completely natural raw diet).
Please keep in mind that dogs are not cows. A dog has the large stomach and short straight digestive tract and a cow has several small stomachs and the long winding digestive tract required to digest fibrous grain. The 2 are not interchangeable! Some dogs develop chronic digestive problems (loose stools, spitting up, gassiness) or itchy skin from corn, soybean and wheat. You might never think to associate skin problems with the grain in your dog's diet, but that is often the case. Secondly, stay away from foods that contain "by-products" -- a catch-all term used by the pet food industry to mean anything stripped off the carcass other than meat, i.e. beaks, feet, head, lungs, blood, and other unmentionables.
Exercise: American Bulldogs are at their best when they are given a job or task to accomplish. These dogs love to be walked, jogging, playing catch, and agility or skills trials. They enjoy playing with family members and romping and roaming outside in the yard.
The American Bulldog should be exercised on a daily basis regardless of the weather conditions. We recommend keeping your bulldog indoors, but you must make sure it has sufficient exercise. Just as long as you are able to give your bulldog sufficient exercise so that they can release their pent up energy, your dog will be happy and calm within your home. If you have a dog that seems "wound up" more often than not, he/she probably needs more exercise and/or mental stimulation!
Grooming: The American Bulldog has a short coat . This breed of dog sheds regularly and brushing its coat regularly is a good idea. You can use either a bristle brush or a rubber mitt to groom your American Bulldog's coat. (my favorite grooming tool is the FURminator). This will ensure that your dog has a shiny coat and also keeps hair from accumulating around the house. Furthermore, American Bulldogs do not need bathes on a regular basis. Only bathe your American Bulldog when he or she needs one, over bathing can lead to dry irritated skin.
Living Area: The ideal setting for the American Bulldog is on a farm or a home that has a large yard, and we prefer homes with fenced in yards. However, they will take to living in an apartment if they are given regular daily attention, stimulation and exercise (be prepared for long walks or runs). In fact, American Bulldogs are typically inactive within a home or apartment making them very suitable to indoor living...BUT they need daily physical and mental stimulation to make a calm family member!! I'm going to be honest...we have taken back "problem pets" and almost always it was of no fault to the puppy or dog. So PLEASE make sure you and your family are able to give your puppy proper daily exercise and mental stimulation.