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March 9, 2012 at 8:09 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

American Bulldog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

The American Bulldog is a strong, confident breed that would LOVE to be the center of attention in your home!

Bulldogs were originally bred in Great Britain. Today, there are three types: the Bully, or Johnson, the Standard, or the Scott, and a hybrid of the two. These names are derived from the men who working in developing the various traits of the original breed, John D. Johnson and Alan Scott. After working together developing these breeding standards, the two men had a falling out, which resulted in the three breeds, with the hybrid consisting of various elements of both developers preferred traits. This tends to be the more typical American Bulldog.

Humble Beginnings

If it weren't for these early enthusiasts, Bulldogs might not have prospered into the breed that we know and love today. In fact, they were nearly extinct by the 1940s when Johnson, a veteran of WWII, began reviving the breed in the United States upon his return from the war.

The American Bulldog was originally bred as a working dog. They helped on ranches and farms in the southern and midwestern regions of the United States and also acted as companion and guardian dogs for their families. Sadly, the name "Bulldog" is a leftover from one of their early functions in Great Britain - bull baiting, which was outlawed around 1835.

Strong and Sturdy

The unique trait preferences of the Bulldog's two main champions has resulted in two different looks. Scott wanted a smaller version with a more athletic built and a longer muzzle in order to catch cattle and to use for hunting wild boar. Johnson was more interested in a massive build with a shorter muzzle that would act as more of a guard dog. The common traits of both Bulldogs are their stocky and muscular looks and their powerful jaws and large heads.

Their coat is short and smooth, so grooming needs are low, though some brushing will help with shedding. The Bulldog's color patterns have historically been white with patches of red or brindle. Over recent years, however the color pattern has began to vary and now includes black, red, brown, fawn, and all shades of brindle. Solid black, blue, or any type of merle are all considered genetic faults, as is heterochromia eye color, which involves a lack of pigment.

Bulldogs are a medium- to large-sized breed that is extremely muscular and sturdy. They are extremely powerful, and their strength can be overwhelming for some.The Bulldog's height is usually somewhere between 20 and 27 inches, while their weight can range from 60-125 pounds.

Assertive, but Sweet

Although the Bulldog is ranked 6th on the list of most popular dog breeds, this doesn't mean that they're for everyone. The have the tendency to be extremely confident, assertive (they've been known to charge at other dogs), and active. They have a reputation for "not playing well"  with other dogs and for possessing a high prey drive. Generally, they should be the only dog in the home or be housed with one dog of the opposite sex.

Puppies can be aloof around strangers. However, as they mature, they become aggressive and fearless towards strangers and intruders. All this aside, though, they are very gentle, loyal, and loving towards their family. Early training and socialization in a controlled environment inside and outside of their home will do VOLUMES for this breed.

I have worked with just a few Bulldogs in my career as a dog trainer. However, they are closely related to the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier personality, which I have a bit more experience with. As an intelligent and quick learner, training a Bulldog is a lot of fun - though they can have a stubborn streak. An assertive personality is a good match for the Bulldog.

Activity Level

Bulldogs are an active, go-at-a-moment's-notice breed with a high activity level Therefore, they're not a good match for a coach potato or a busy working family unable to exercise them daily. However, if you're an active, outdoorsy family that enjoys biking, running, and hiking on a regular basis, the bulldog could be the perfect match! Daily 30 minute walks (two to three times) are necessary to keep this breed's energy in check.

Health Concerns

Health concerns related to the Bulldog include eye problems (cherry eye), hip dysplasia, parvovirus, skin allergies, disorders of the kidney and thyroid, and bone cancer. As with any breed, avoiding some of the nasty dog food out there and selecting a high-quality food instead should lengthen their life and decrease their chances of developing these problems! They typically live between 10 and 15 years.

Adopt First

Consider looking for an American Bulldog through rescue organizations first. Every year, there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!

References:

Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

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