The ancestors of the American Bulldog are the Mastiffs of the British Isles. In the 11th century, these Mastiffs were bred with Spanish Alaunts to produce the Bulldog. Strong and tenacious, Bulldogs were used in herding and hunting tasks. As their name suggests, dogs of this breed were also used in bull-baiting. This “sport” involved setting a group of dogs upon a restrained bull for entertainment. Bull baiting was outlawed in the 19th century, causing the breed to be kept as pets rather than working dogs.
The working dogs that were brought to the US did not undergo such a change, however. These canines were kept by working class families and were a valuable part of many farms and ranches. Despite their uses, the breed steadily declined until about the time World War II ended. At this point, several breeders attempted to revive the breed. They were successful in this venture. Today the American Bulldog is popular as a pet and working dog throughout the US.
The American Bulldog is small and stocky, yet surprisingly powerful. Their chests are wide and deep and their heads are large. Their ears are large and usually uncropped, and their eyes may be two different colours. Their tails are set low and are thicker at the base. They usually stand between 20 and 28 centimetres at the withers and tend to weigh between 27 and 57 kilograms.
Their coats are short and smooth and do not require much grooming. White is usually present in the coat, along with black, red, brown, fawn, and brindle. Some coats may include blue or merle, but this is usually considered undesirable.
The American Bulldog is a happy, loving dog that does well in a family environment. When given the correct training and socialization, they do well with all members of the family, even children. They’re accepting of new people and animals, but if they sense their owner may be in trouble they will go to great lengths to make sure that they come to no harm.
The working instinct of the breed’s ancestors is still present today. Training is required to make the most of these abilities. When shown what to do, these dogs make excellent herders, guard dogs, and trackers.
This breed is not prone to too many health problems. Hip dysplasia may become an issue. There are some known hereditary diseases that some lines may fall victim to, so it’s important to research different breeders before picking your Bulldog. The average lifespan of this breed is 10 to 12 years.
The urge to hunt isn’t all gone from these dogs. Therefore, they may not be entirely suitable for homes with cats. This breed is also somewhat territorial and dominating. If they notice a strange dog in or around their territory, they may exhibit some assertive behaviours, but as always, proper training can help alleviate this instinct.