The American Bulldog is a tough and strong dog that is prized for its versatility and protective nature. It bears striking similarity to ancient, bull-baiting canines both in temperament and conformation. Today this breed mostly plays the part of a beloved family pet and intrepid guardian of the masters’ property.
Photo: © BullPull American Bulldogs (bullpullkennels.com)
The American Bulldog is thought to have been developed from an ancient Mastiff strain and it has common ancestry with the Old English Bulldog that presently prospers in the U.S. The first breed members were brought to America in the XIX century by immigrants who refused to leave their loyal four-legged helpers to the mercy of fate in their former places of residence. This dog took root in their new homeland because of its capability to catch and hold back wild pigs. Moreover it proved to be an ideal candidate for bull- and bear-baiting sport. The American Bulldog also served as a hunter of game of all sizes ranging from racoons and squirrels to bears and wild boars. By the beginning of the Second World War it also became famous as a multifunctional working animal of American ranchers and farmers in the Deep South of this country.
The war drove the American Bulldog to the verge of a complete demise. The remaining specimens predominantly lived on farms in the south-east where they were utilised to control unruly cattle and protect the farmers’ domains. The breed survived mostly thanks to its loyal fancier, John D. Johnson of Summerville, Georgia. He collected the American Bulldogs of the best quality and began breeding program to rebuild its population. It’s safe to say that the canine world didn’t lose one of its eminent members only due to the diligent work of this man.
The American Bulldog is notoriously famous for its ferocious nature although it becomes apparent only in the improper hands. This dog differs from its English relative by longer legs and more muscular physique. Currently it doesn’t have formal recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) but its members are allowed to registration in the United Kennel Club (UKC) since 1999. Furthermore it attained acceptance of the Animal Research Foundation (ARF) and the Game American Bulldog Club (GABC). The long list of the breed’s gifts include hunting, guarding, weight pulling although it’s also acknowledged as a companion animal by lots of American families.
During the early stage of its history the American Bulldog was primarily perceived as an outstanding combatant in such a cruel sport as bull-baiting so it certainly shares some part of aggressive tendencies of its predecessors. Nonetheless proper socialisation can make this dog a wonderful member of any family. It’s highly protective of its favourite people and usually demonstrates extreme affection towards kids of any age. Of course, parents should teach their offspring to avoid bothering the dog while it’s eating or gnawing at a bone.
Despite its reputation for viciousness the well-bred American Bulldog is usually very friendly towards humans so it’s always glad to strike up a new acquaintance. On the other hand, this dog instantly senses danger for its family and its territory and turns quickly from friendly to aggressive mode. It also becomes a very sound watcher, which will always signal its masters about any unfamiliar person near the house door. Be mindful though that the under socialised specimen of the American Bulldog may show hostility to all people.
This breed is notable for an outright intolerance as far as it concerns its counterparts. In most cases it’s a bad idea to keep the American Bulldog in the same household with the dogs of the same sex. It’s also prone to instigate a conflict with any canine that crosses its path. That’s why the American Bulldog must always wear a sturdy leash and preferably a muzzle in public places. It also poses a lethal threat to street animals, especially cats. If you already have a household cat you should very carefully consider your decision about adopting this dog.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· bone cancer;
· congenital deafness;
· elbow dysplasia;
· hip dysplasia;
· thyroid problems.
It is easy to groom the short and rough coat of the American Bulldog. The breed sheds continuously but lightly and systematic brushing will minimise the amount of the dog’s hair in your dwelling. The folds on its face should be carefully cleaned and dried every single day to avert irritation from accumulation of bacteria.
Bad breath is also a common problem for all American Bulldogs so its master should brush the teeth of his pet at least on a weekly basis. Bathe the dog onсe every three to four months and wipe its ears if they look dirty. Long nails can cause a great discomfort for a dog so trim them as soon as they begin clicking on the floor.
The training of the American Bulldog represents the job of an average difficulty. This dog is both intelligent and single-minded and prefers to depend on its own opinion rather than to follow orders. Consistent approach is a must in its training.
Furthermore a meek or too oppressive person will never succeed in the work with this breed. The American Bulldog must first accept your authoritative stance and then it will seek your approval and praise. It’s also prudent to reward this dog with moderate amount of its favourite treats as well as to keep training sessions short and fun.
The American Bulldog is a very athletic and tough breed that won’t become fully satisfied with its existence without an hour or two of playtime in a well-fenced yard. Thereupon the apartment dweller should objectively estimate its time resources before adopting this dog.
The American Bulldog loves various types of outdoor activities including running, walking, playing ball, agility and pulling sleds or other loads. Such behavioural deviations as destructiveness and hyper excitability unite all American Bulldogs that lack opportunities to expand their energy surplus.