The American Bulldog
When one thinks of the bulldog, the image that first comes to mind is probably that of the English Bulldog, with its squat build, round head and distinctive “face that only a mother could love.” But there is another kind of beloved breed of bulldog: bigger and more athletic, and ruggedly handsome where the English Bulldog is charmingly ugly. This is the American Bulldog, a breed that almost literally came back from the dead to become widely popular as both a working dog and a family pet.
Like its English cousin, the American Bulldog is stocky, sturdy and muscular, with a fierce countenance that belies a loving and protective nature. Its overall features are more classic canine than its Old Country counterpart, however, and it has a unique upright posture that makes it almost appear as if this dog is standing on two legs when seen from a distance. Its face and muzzle are solid and square, but without the exaggerated blockiness and wrinkled jowls that define the English version. This is a relatively thick and heavy medium-sized dog, measuring from 22 to 28 inches in length and weighing anywhere from 70 to 120 pounds, depending on the size of their last meal. The American Bulldog can come in a variety of color patterns, but white is usually featured prominently.
Its fur is short and bristly and requires only the occasional brushing to control this breed’s modest shedding. This is generally a healthy breed, but like so many breeds this bulldog is vulnerable to the painful inherited condition known as hip dysplasia, so you should make sure the parents of the dog you are considering adopting were tested for this disorder and certified dysplasia-free.
Fiercely loyal to its humans and brave to a fault, the American Bulldog is equally at home on the farm rounding up cattle and protecting them from predators or following along with its owner by leash on long peaceful walks through a neighborhood park. This dog loves children, and will make a wonderful companion as well as an excellent guard dog if your kids and their canine friend should ever wander off and find themselves in harm’s way. The American Bulldog is not a hyper or overly excitable dog by any means, but he does need to keep active, and long walks are definitely recommended in addition to at least some yard space for him to pace about in. Because this breed has a naturally strong and forceful personality, it is important that he be subject to the authority of a decisive pack leader - you - to prevent him from becoming overly aggressive in certain situations. Quiet and clear authority will help your bulldog feel more comfortable and relaxed, as he will know that he is a valuable member of the group but does not need to assert himself completely as the top dog.
The American Bulldog is intelligent, athletic, and easily trained, and has had much success as a show performer. The breed is both protective and disciplined, which have made it a popular choice for a farm or guard dog. Decades ago, this dog was also used a lot for hunting, and was known in the South as a scourge to destructive wild boars. But despite its physical strength and assertiveness in the face of a threat, the American Bulldog still makes a terrific pet, and has gained most of its popularity as a vigorous and affectionate companion animal.
The American Bulldog Makes a ComebackDescended from farm dogs popular in past times in both the Midwest and South, by the early-to mid 20th century the popularity of the American Bulldog had started to wane, to the point that the dog was actually on the verge of extinction. After returning home from service following World War II, a young aspiring dog breeder from Summerville, Georgia named John Johnson decided to take it upon himself to resurrect the American Bulldog.
Johnson traveled all across the rural South, gathering all the attractive specimens he could find for his own personal breeding program. Johnson’s highly determined and ultimately successful efforts attracted the attention of other breeders, who eventually joined him in the effort to keep the breed going. Of particular importance was a man named Alan Scott, who originally collaborated with Johnson only to break with him later after it became clear that the two men did not share the same vision about how the American Bulldog should be bred. While Scott preferred a lighter, more agile dog that could still function as a hunter, Johnson wanted a stronger, sturdier dog that would be suitable for guard duty or companionship.
In truth, the split between Johnson and Scott was probably a good thing, because it opened up the process for more experimentation and cross breeding across the newly created American Bulldog breeding community. The breed as it is today emerged from this dynamic and fluid breeding program; nevertheless, there is no question that John Johnson alone deserves most of the credit for bringing the American Bulldog almost literally back from the dead.
Low on Maintenance, High on EnjoymentThe American Bulldog is a low-maintenance dog when living in the country and medium-maintenance in a home or apartment. Besides his need for outdoor activity, one other thing that should be taken into account before choosing one of these dogs for companionship is the fact that like any other bulldog, the American Bulldog is a big-time drooler. If having a dog who slobbers all over you and leaves moist spots in different locations around the house is a big turn-off, then any breed of bulldog is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you want a dog that combines many attractive characteristics, such as loyalty, protectiveness, friendliness with children, striking appearance and the desire to run and play and enjoy wonderful times outdoors, then the American Bulldog would make an outstanding addition to your household, and to your family.