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With almost 200 dog breeds to choose from, adding a new dog to your family is a decision with many factors to consider.
From the size of your potential new pet to their energy levels, grooming needs, and health issues, becoming an owner is a process that inevitably involves research if it is to be done well.
To help make the privilege and responsibility of owning a dog easier, Spot Pet Insurance is here with a series of informative breed guides, touching on many of the common questions that come up when considering a new dog for your family.
Today, our guide is about the American bulldog, an AKC-recognized breed known for its muscular build, lots of slobber and drool, and high energy levels.
Comparable to English bulldogs and American pit bull terriers, the American bulldog is a strong, loving breed most common in rural areas. However, they can adapt to many situations and could easily be a good fit for you. Read about the American bulldog’s history, traits, intelligence, temperament, exercise needs, and more — including why you might consider pet insurance for your new pooch.
Where do American bulldogs come from?
In the case of the American bulldog, owners are best served with a picture of where their dog comes from. They’ve likely been around since the 17th century.
The American bulldog breed, sometimes called the Johnson type or Scott type, descends from the English bulldog, with possible traces to Mastiffs and Boxers. Certain qualities of each of these bully breeds can be seen in their lovable face and formidable build.
English bulldogs were commonly used as guardians and cattle dogs, but unfortunately, they were also forced into blood sports in the 19th century.
In the United States, the breed was most common on farms, ranches, and similar estates, especially in the South, where they performed a variety of jobs. Having lots of land to run on and a job to do around the farm suited them. However, their specialty at the time (and still today, in many cases) was hunting feral pigs, which can be a serious menace in the southern U.S. regions.
American bulldogs also worked with cattle and livestock. They are strong animals with protective instincts, making them great defenders of a farm.
The breed almost became extinct after World War II. However, committed breeders made a concentrated effort to preserve this beautiful dog, leading to the modern-day American bulldog we know and love.
Average Sizes and Life Expentancy of The Breed
- Males: 22-25 inches
- Females: 20-23 inches
- Males: 75-100 pounds
- Females: 60-80 pounds
- 10-16 years
What are the potential health conditions for American bulldogs?
American bulldogs have a generally good bill of health, but they have certain predispositions.
Fibrosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
What is it?
American bulldogs have a predisposition to Fibrosarcoma, or bone cancer, a tumor that forms in or around a dog's bones. Always seek proof of genetic screenings if buying your dog from a breeder to know your dog’s risks.
- Aversion to contact around the affected area
- Reduced physical activity
- Difficulty walking, running, jumping, climbing
- Bone fractures without a normal cause
- Surgery to remove the tumor
- Amputation (in extreme cases)
- Follow up and monitoring is required after successful treatment
- Recovery after treatment takes time and extra care
Average Vet Bill
90% = $2,700
80% = $2,400
70% = $2,100
What is it?
Is your dog walking abnormally or avoiding exercise? Are they showing a limp in their hind legs?
Among other clinical signs, this could be indicative of hip dysplasia. This genetic condition is found in many dog breeds.
If your dog has hip dysplasia, their thigh bone and hip joint aren’t properly aligned. This is usually due to improper development but can also result from injury. The result is a painful grinding where the joint should otherwise move freely and smoothly.
- Limping, swaying, hopping
- Sounds from the hind joints (including grating, clicking, and popping)
- Reduced physical energy & activity
- Reliance on front legs and avoidance of back legs
- Aversion to jumping, running, or climbing
- Trouble laying down or standing up
- Poor coordination
- Low range of motion
- Reduced muscle mass in legs
- Enlarged shoulders
- Physical therapy
- Reduced or restricted physical activity
- Weight loss
- Medication that modifies joint fluid
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Surgery: Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
- Surgery: Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
- Surgery: Total hip replacement (THR)
- Long term damage is more likely if treatment is delayed
- Surgery can carry some risks, especially for older dogs
Average Vet Bill
90% = $2,160
80% = $1,920
70% = $1,680
How well do American bulldogs get along with their owners?
American bulldogs are highly affectionate family members, including towards other pets, provided the additional animals are introduced properly and your dog is socialized sufficiently. Cats may be more difficult to introduce than other dogs.
Once bonded, American bulldogs are sweet and sensitive with family but always ready to protect them if needed.
Are American bulldogs aggressive towards strangers?
This breed has protective watchdog tendencies. These instincts can make American bulldogs wary of any potential threat, even if imagined (a nearby squirrel, for example).
While protector instincts could be ideal for those looking for a farm or home guardian, if you’re interested in introducing your American bulldog to jobless domestic life, proper training will be needed to minimize apprehensiveness towards strangers and avoid destructive behaviors.
How well do American bulldogs adapt to new situations?
American bulldogs are fairly adaptable to different environments.
While they need a good amount of space for exercise — they’re large dogs, after all — they don't necessarily need this space constantly as some high-energy breeds do. American bulldogs are more than happy to curl up and relax, sometimes for long hours, in spaces of any size.
A lot of time and energy to exercise and play with your pup is required (at least an hour a day), but their willingness for extended rest can help those who need to leave the house for a few hours each day.
Noisier areas might be a concern as American bulldogs can be a fairly vocal breed, but early training will have a lot of influence in this regard. Sometimes, a bit of time to adapt to a new environment is all your pup will need to quiet down.
Do American bulldogs make good guard dogs?
This breed was born to work as a guard dog, so giving them a guard dog job goes right along with their every instinct.
The American bulldog can be a vocal breed. While this varies between individuals, you can expect plenty of barking if you give your American bulldog a guard job (or if they think they have one).
Will an American bulldog be a fun dog to have around?
American bulldogs are affectionate and playful family companions, making them a ton of fun to own. You won’t need endless energy to care for your American bulldog, but they will need time and attention.
Outdoor play can include jogs, hikes, fetch, and disc catching, while tug-of-war is a great game to play with your American bully indoors or out.
Are American bulldogs good with children?
American bulldogs are great with children, with some caveats. They are sweet, gentle, and protective of their little human siblings, but that doesn’t mean you should ever leave children unsupervised with them (or with dogs of any breed, for that matter).
Due to their size, American bulldogs could easily knock over a child, even with only the best intentions. Beware of jumping tendencies as well.
How are American bulldogs with other dogs?
Adding other animals to the family may be a bit difficult with an American bulldog, but it's far from impossible.
With the right training, socialization, and patience, adding another dog, a cat, or some other animal to your family alongside an American Pitbull will reward you with sweet, loving, new relationships.
Coat:American bulldogs have a short coat . Coat colors include: White White & Black White & Brindle White & Brown White & Tan Merle Markings can include: Tan Brown Black Brindle Red
Grooming:Daily brushing, occasional bath, regular nail trims
Training:Easy to train.
Life Time Care Cost:$20,245
Are American bulldogs hypoallergenic?
No, American bulldogs are not hypoallergenic. Despite their short coat, allergies can still be triggered by the breed’s hair or saliva.
How often do American bulldogs have to be groomed?
Grooming an American bulldog is a relatively straightforward affair. Shedding is minimal compared to other breeds but still occurs. Regular brushing (approximately once a week) and cleaning around the house with a lint roller should keep things managed.
Otherwise, standard general care practices are recommended for this breed in areas such as dental cleaning, ear cleaning, and nail clipping.
What is the lifetime care cost of an American bulldog?
The lifetime care cost of an American bulldog varies widely due to their broad life expectancy of 10-16 years. Over 12 years, the cost would land at around $20,245.
How to be the best pet parent for an American bulldog?
Pet parent education is key to taking good care of any dog or cat. Understanding your dog’s breed, including its instincts, physical traits, and more, is a great start. You can find even more resources in our Spot Pet Insurance Blogbowl.
How much does an American bulldog dog or puppy cost?
Adoption fee (Purebred American bulldog puppies): $1,500-3,500
Yearly care cost (first year): $5,175
Yearly care cost (following years): $1,370
Basic training and behavior etiquette for your American bulldog
Experience certainly makes training an American bulldog easier.
Here are some tips for owners of any experience level to help through the process:
- Make sure they know you are the pack alpha — this is easier when you can start training from an early age.
- American bulldogs are confident and often stubborn, so eliminating power struggles is core to their training. Show that challenge will not be tolerated, but always do so with a firm-yet-loving hand.
- Once your bully knows you are the leader, they are highly trainable. Positive reinforcement is also a strong tool when combined with confident leadership. Using treats as a reward is one way to encourage good habits, but don’t overly rely on them.
- In addition to basic behavior and obedience training, socialization is a must for this breed, as with any dog with strong watchdog or prey-drive tendencies.
What types of foods should an American bulldog never eat?
American bulldogs, like most bulldogs, often have impressive appetites, but they can also be especially susceptible to toxic foods. Here are some common foods that are toxic to dogs and should be avoided:
- Raw dough
- Toxic Mushrooms
Exercising tips to keep your American bulldog staying fit and healthy
Regular exercise is important for an American bulldog, as with most working dogs. They are innately athletic and energetic, but without sufficient exercise, they risk becoming out of shape at best and overweight and depressed at worst.
Investing in your American bulldog’s exercise will take time and energy on your part. These dogs do best with an equally active owner or family around them.
This breed should be accompanied during play and exercise at all times. Isolated exercise could lead to dangerous curiosity or behavior issues. Without outside stimulation, your dog will find their own, and you may not always like how they do.
American bulldog life stages
Puppy: 2 years
Adult: 2 years - 7 years
Senior: 7 years - end of life
Adding an American bulldog to your family could be one of the best decisions you ever make, provided you know what you’re getting into! Bulldogs make phenomenal family dogs with proper training.