American Bulldog

katy towle 26 July 2021


Handsome, confident and with a lot to offer, the American Bulldog can make a good family pet. They do require extensive training as some individuals can be sensitive and anxious. This breed is known to shed a lot, drool and be prone to flatulence! If this is something that bothers you, it may be worth considering another breed.

Muscular and athletic, the American Bulldog takes great joy in exercising and will become easily bored if kept at home for too long. Many are territorial and some owners find that males are less tolerant of other male dogs. 

Breed history

The American Bulldog is a different dog entirely to the English Bulldog and they are not to be confused. While the American Bulldog has been bred from the Old English Bulldog, they are more of a ‘bull’ breed, more similar to the Pitbull. They were first established within the United States about 400 years ago, where they were used to guard farmyards and protect livestock. Indeed, they are called ‘bull’ dogs because they would be used to round up and protect cattle. Interestingly, they were also employed to hunt wild boar; a pest that American farmers were always trying to keep away.

General appearance

These dogs are real powerhouses, thanks to their strong bones and rippling muscles. They have long limbs, broad chests and a stocky conformation. Their skulls are large and their jaws impressively strong. There is some facial wrinkling and many will have ‘jowls’ which are often covered in slobber. Their ears are not overly large and will hang forward at the top of their head.

The short coat of the American Bulldog is usually mainly white with some brown, black or golden accents.

When mature, most can reach heights of up to 70cm and will weigh between 40kg and 60kg. The males tend to be larger and heavier than the females.

Temperament

A big softy at heart, many American Bulldogs are misunderstood. This is a dog who enjoys spending time with people and will pine for their owner when they are away. Despite their size, most enjoy laying on top of or near their family members and seem to think they are smaller than they really are!

Most breed members will be confident and happy-go-lucky but some are more sensitive and may take some extra time to get used to new situations and new people. We can help to prevent his by using lots of positive reward based training and by socialising these dogs sensibly from a young age. As they have the potential to be strong, it is important that we train them well and nip any ‘bad’ behaviour in the bud when they are little. 

These guys are excellent guard dogs who will take it upon themselves to ‘patrol’ your home and let you know as soon as someone new is about.

Health considerations 

The life span of the American Bully is about 10 to 13 years. There are several health issues that can affect the American Bulldog and these include:

Atopic Dermatitis: White dogs are more predisposed to itchy skin disease and the American Bulldog is no exception. Signs can start from as early as 6 months of age and may include pink skin, paw licking, excessive scratching and a musty odour coming from the skin. It may be worth carrying out allergy testing and some owners will attempt to manage the issue with immunotherapy injections.

Cherry Eye: A protrusion of the nictitans gland (gland of the 3rd eyelid) is said to look like a bright red ‘cherry’ poking out of the side of the eye. Once one eye is affected, the other is likely to follow suit soon. Treatment involves surgically tacking the gland back into place. Previously, vets would simply snip the gland off. This is no longer seen as good practice as we know that this can then predispose dogs to developing ‘Dry Eye’.

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia: Joint diseases that can be debilitating, larger dogs are less able to cope with dysplastic joints. Arthritis will develop in later life and will cause stiffness, muscle atrophy and chronic pain. A joint specific diet such as Pooch & Mutt Joint Care and Joint Supplements are strongly recommended and can begin early in life as a preventative measure.

Demodectic Mange: The American Bulldog is one breed that is more predisposed to developing demodectic mange. This type of mange occurs in young dogs and causes fur loss and skin lesions. Diagnosis can be tricky as the mites live deep within the skin.

Trainability 

All owners need to dedicate time to training their American Bulldog. Due to their size, they need to learn the ‘house rules’ from a young age. This will usually include rules such as them not being allowed to jump up on people or to eat food off the table. Be consistent and ensure the whole family are on board with the training programme.

These dogs respond best to training cues when there is something in it for them. We should promptly reward good behaviour with tasty treats such as Pooch & Mutt’s Shrimp and Coconut Meaty Treats. Yum!

Grooming

Aim to brush your dog about once a week to help spread their natural oils and to remove any dead fur. They should be bathed every few weeks to prevent yeast build up on the skin. After bathing, dry their ear canals thoroughly with cotton wool to minimise the risk of ear infections.

Exercise

Given their working background, it is little wonder that this breed has good stamina and enjoys running around outside. Try to keep things interesting by encouraging different activities such as agility, swimming and hiking.

Feeding considerations

These dogs can be prone to obesity so we must try to ensure they are not being over-fed and that treats make up no more than 10% of their diet.

Those prone to skin disease should be supplemented with omega 3 fatty acids to strengthen their skin barrier and prevent the entry of allergens. Pooch & Mutt’s Salmon Oil is a good option for many.

You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.

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