The Bulldog breed has a long history of being branded as a vicious breed. Due to their past as bullbaiting dogs, this breed has gone through many cases of discrimination and unfounded fear. But are American Bulldogs dangerous? In this post, I will discuss why Bulldogs are wrongfully labeled as aggressive and what you can do as the owner to break the stereotype.
What are American Bulldogs?
American Bulldogs were bred for farm work. However, they were also produced for bull baiting, a barbaric sport back in the 17th century. Bull baiting involves pitting a Bulldog with a full-sized bull. Fortunately, this sport was declared illegal in 1835.
Due to this history, American Bulldogs have stocky and muscular bodies. They are also much taller than other Bulldog breeds, which gives them an intimidating appearance.
Overall, American Bulldogs can grow up to 28 inches tall and 120 lbs. heavy. Still, the height and weight of American Bulldogs are on a sliding scale, depending on the breeding process.
Health-wise, American Bulldogs are still brachycephalic, so they tend to be prone to breathing issues. You also have to watch out for obesity since this breed has a voracious appetite.
Aside from that, American Bulldogs are prone to separation anxiety. This is why they suit homes with round-the-clock companions.
Fun fact: American Bulldogs almost got extinct during World War II. Luckily, their population was revived by breeders.
American Bulldog vs. English Bulldog
Many pet owners mistake the American Bulldog for the English Bulldog. At first glance, they do share a lot of physical traits. However, the following sets these canines apart:
- Size. American Bulldogs are way bigger than English Bulldogs. The latter only grows a maximum of 50 lbs. which is far off from American Bulldog’s 120 lbs. Also, English Bulldogs only have a maximum height of 15 inches, to which American Bulldogs can grow twice as tall.
- Living situation. American Bulldogs don’t thrive in apartment living because of their active personality. Also, they don’t suit newbie owners. So if you’re a first-time dog owner, you’re better off with an English Bulldog instead.
- Trainability. Based on owner accounts, American Bulldogs are easier to train than English Bulldogs. While both have stubborn streaks, American Bulldogs have better command recall than the other breed.
- Friendliness. English Bulldogs are the total opposite of American Bulldogs when it comes to strangers. The former is more welcoming and friendlier, while American Bulldogs are aloof and often standoffish around people they don’t know.
There are other differences between these two breeds. Still, both of them have been branded as dangerous and aggressive because of their bullbaiting past.
Are American Bulldogs dangerous?
The biggest question is this: are American Bulldogs as vicious as other people claim them to be? For this part, allow me to dissect the perception of other people to this breed. Here’s the common reason why American Bulldogs are perceived as a fearsome breed:
- They have an intimidating look. To be fair, American Bulldogs are no Golden Retrievers when it comes to their appearance. The stocky build and confident gait of this dog can stop an unknowing person in his tracks. Also, they have a similar build with Pit Bulls, which is one of the most stereotyped dog breeds ever.
- They have bold personalities. American Bulldogs are fiercely loyal pets. However, they can become extremely territorial to their homes and families, which can induce aggressive reactions. Also, some American Bulldog owners train their pets to be watchdogs. This is why some American Bulldogs aren’t as friendly as others you’ll meet.
- They have a rambunctious nature. You can’t pin an American Bulldog down for hours. This dog loves romping around the yard to burn its excess energy. However, those who don’t truly understand the nature of this breed might perceive such behavior as aggressive.
- They are suspicious of strangers. American Bulldogs are always up to investigate anything ‘suspish’. They will not hesitate to bark and face a potential threat. This is why strangers may see an American Bulldog behind the fence to be aggressive. Still, there’s a way to somewhat dampen this behavior.
The truth about American Bulldogs
While American Bulldogs have a bold personality, they are far from the vicious image they were portrayed to be. Here’s the real deal about this breed straight from actual owners:
- Training will go a long way. American Bulldogs are responsive to training. You can reduce their aggressive tendencies by training the pooch as early as puppyhood. With patience and consistency, your American Bulldog can turn into a snuggle buddy.
- The breeding process is crucial. Your choice of breeder is a crucial part of ensuring that you’ll get an American Bulldog with an excellent temperament. You should only trust AKC-affiliated breeders to ensure the quality of the puppies.
- They are not for everyone. For an American Bulldog to grow disciplined, they require an experienced owner that can provide the stimulation and training they need. A negligent owner will raise a neglected and potentially aggressive American Bulldog.
- They require a lot of work. American Bulldogs require a lot of work in terms of training and life-long care. This is to ensure that the pooch will outgrow its bold temperament.
- You have to accept the breed’s limitations. You simply can’t expect American Bulldogs to embrace strangers the way English Bulldogs do. This will always be part of your American Bulldog’s personality. So if you always expect guests and strangers to your home, an American Bulldog may not be the right choice for a pet.
- They are not very aggressive. While American Bulldogs have aggressive tendencies, they are not extremely violent. Again, responsible breeding, raising, and other external elements will influence the overall behavior of your dog.
My advice to curb aggressive tendencies of American Bulldogs
If you’re planning or already own an American Bulldog, it’s important to do the work to raise a well-rounded doggo. As an American Bulldog owner myself, here are my recommendations to help you out:
🐶Start training EARLY
If you want to dampen this breed’s aggressive tendencies, you have to start training the moment you bring the dog home. This means training should start as early as eight weeks. You simply can’t wait around and let your American Bulldog build its fears, biases, and perceptions without proper guidance.
If you don’t have the time and energy to train your American Bulldog, I suggest that you hire a professional dog trainer. This is extremely helpful, especially for American Bulldogs who came from parents with heightened aggression.
🐶You can’t skip socialization.
I always say this to American Bulldog owners: socialization is a MUST. It’s not an option you can skip. If you do, your American Bulldog will grow extremely aloof of strangers. Worse, your dog will have a higher risk of attacking or biting. This is something pets owners shouldn’t allow to happen.
Like training, socialization should start early. It’s easier to socialize a puppy than an adult dog. You can save yourself from the hassle by desensitizing your American Bulldog.
Socialization should include strangers, children, and other animals. Exposing your American Bulldog to various scents and sounds is also crucial to calm its sensitive nature.
In this case, dog parks and doggy daycares come in handy. In these places, your American Bulldog will get to know other dogs, people, and stimuli. However, you should introduce it slowly to avoid overstimulating your dog.
🐶Provide ample stimulation
American Bulldogs need enough physical and mental stimulation to stay happy. This includes exercise, walks, and playtime. This will help you manage their high energy levels.
Take note that playtimes for American Bulldogs should be mentally stimulating. Games like fetch, track sets, and sniff mats are excellent ways to engage your American Bulldog’s mind. This will also double as exercise and training in one.
🐶Perform regular health checks
As much as training and socialization are important, you should never forget about your American Bulldog’s health.
Take note that health problems can trigger aggressive behavior in canines. Besides, no amount of training can dampen pain and discomfort. It’s important to get to the root of the health problem by bringing your American Bulldog to the vet regularly.
This breed has a share of health problems, especially since it’s a flat-nosed dog. Orthopedic problems, breathing issues, eye diseases, obesity, and so on plague American Bulldogs.
However, you should never wait for these health problems to arise before you take action. A proactive approach will save both you and your dog from stress.
🐶Give your American Bulldog its own space
American Bulldogs are territorial, so it’s crucial to establish their own spot in the house. This way, your dog will have a safe space to retreat for rest. It will also teach your dog some boundaries, especially when it comes to bedtime.
You should also set house rules when raising this dog. American Bulldogs can be quite stubborn, and they will try to get their own way. You have to establish your position as the alpha before your pet takes that position.
🐶Pair them with the right breed
If you’re keen to raise an American Bulldog with another dog, you have to match them with a suitable breed. This is to prevent aggressive encounters, especially if the other dog also has the same tendencies.
However, if your American Bulldog proves to be difficult to train, it might be best to raise them as a sole pet.
🐶Don’t get small and feathery pets
With an American Bulldog at home, birds and similar pets may not be a good idea. This breed has a higher prey drive than an English Bulldog. They are more likely to attack small pets, especially if it’s running or moving in speed.
Of course, you can curb this behavior with training. However, prey drive is a hard-wired trait that you can’t fully eliminate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are American Bulldogs good family pets?
A: American Bulldogs make great family pets as long as they are trained and socialized well. It’s also crucial to get an American Bulldog pup from a legitimate breeder to avoid expensive health problems. However, you should know that American Bulldogs don’t get along with other dogs and strangers easily. Early training is necessary to dampen this negative tendency.
Q: Are American Bulldogs kid-friendly?
A: American Bulldogs can get along with older kids who can respect their boundaries. But with proper training, they can endure the pinchy behavior of youngsters. Still, you should keep your children supervised until they are old enough to handle a dog.
Q: Do American Bulldogs have Pit Bull in them?
A: American Bulldogs have physical similarities with Pit Bulls. Both descended from the Old English Bulldog, but they are quite different in terms of temperament. But down the line, they share a portion of their gene pool.
Q: What is the life expectancy of an American Bulldog?
A: American Bulldogs have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Take note that breeding, diet, lifestyle, and overall health will impact an American Bulldog’s lifespan. This is why it’s important to get an American Bulldog puppy from a respected breeder.
Q: Do American Bulldogs bite?
A: Technically, all dogs will bite when they reach a tipping point. As for American Bulldogs, they will be nippy when they are young, but it can be curbed through proper training. However, you should know that biting and nipping during its first year of life is normal. American Bulldogs experience teething up to 6 to 7 months old.
Q: Are American Bulldogs hard to train?
A: American Bulldogs are at the moderate level in terms of ease of training. This is a Bulldog, after all, so that they can have stubborn streaks. Aside from that, they have a high prey drive that could easily distract them during training.
Are American Bulldogs dangerous? This breed is far from the vicious image other people paint them to be. With proper socialization, training, and raising, American Bulldogs will be amazing pets. However, you should accept that every dog breed has its own limitations and nature.