white and brown american bulldog running

The American Bulldog: is it the right breed for you? reading-time-icon 4 min read

American Bulldogs are affectionate, protective, and intelligent dogs. They are taller and more agile than the British Bulldog. A strong and active breed, they need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. 

Originally bred as working dogs to help herd cattle on large American ranches, the American Bulldog has adapted over time to become a loving, energetic companion. 

American Bulldog Summary: 

  • Originally bred as farming dogs that were used to herd cattle
  • Coat is short and dense
  • Common colours include white with black, brindle, or fawn markings 
  • Average size = 50 - 70 cm
  • Average weight = 30 - 50 kg
  • Life expectancy = 10 - 15 years
  • Estimated monthly cost = Medium
  • Exercise needs = High
  • Attention needs = Medium
  • Sociability = Medium

Please note: A dog’s exercise, training/stimulation and grooming requirements can depend on several factors such as age and health. The same goes for ongoing costs of ownership. For advice on one specific dog, we always advise chatting with a vet.


How much exercise do American Bulldogs need?

American Bulldogs are a very active breed and will need over 1 hour of exercise per day. They’ve got a lot of energy and will benefit from multiple walks a day. A shorter one in the morning is fine but make sure that they can have a nice long walk later in the day.

We advise walking them during cooler times of the day and having plenty of water handy, as Bulldogs are known to struggle in the heat.

To keep them happy and healthy, take them to a secure environment where they can run off-lead, with lots of interesting things to see and sniff. 

American Bulldog dietary needs

Your American Bulldog will need a balanced diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It’s best to feed them complete dog food specially formulated for large breeds to ensure that they are getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. 

Growing pups may prefer 3-4 smaller servings during the day, rather than two larger meals. This can be reduced to two meals a day as your dog gets older.

The recommended portion size will depend on your individual dog. You’ll need to take into account their activity level, age and metabolism. To avoid weight gain, make sure your American Bulldog has a healthy and balanced diet and gets plenty of exercise.

For dietary advice that’s specific to your dog, have a chat with your local vet or the breeder you’re purchasing your puppy from.

black and white american bulldog wearing a collar

Training: how to train an American Bulldog

Training an American Bulldog will often require the patience and understanding of an experienced owner. They don’t respond well to heavy handed treatment or scolding, instead preferring positive reinforcement, praise and plenty of treats. 

Due to their size and strength, bulldogs require socialisation training as it’s vital that they learn how to behave around other dogs and unfamiliar people. As long as your American Bulldog is well trained, they’ll get on well with children and other pets, becoming loving and loyal members of the family. 

As is the case with all breeds, American Bulldogs will start to approach new experiences with caution when they are around 12 weeks old. Therefore, it’s really important for their development that they experience as many different situations as possible. 

Whilst they are still so young and receptive, it's a good idea to introduce your bulldog to other dogs, people and livestock as well as car travel and unfamiliar noises, such as traffic.

Grooming: do American Bulldogs shed?

American Bulldogs are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Thanks to their short, dense coat, a quick brush once a week will suffice. You should only need to bathe your bulldog when they get muddy. 

Complete your American Bulldogs grooming routine with regular tooth brushing, nail clips and ear checks.

Cost of owning an American Bulldog

When considering the lifetime cost of owning an American Bulldog, remember to take into account the following costs:

Are American Bulldogs prone to any health problems?

American Bulldogs are prone to certain health problems, just like all breeds. This doesn’t mean your dog is guaranteed to contract any particular disease – it’s just something to bear in mind.

As brachycephalic dogs, American Bulldogs are on average more susceptible to a range of health problems than other breeds. In particular, they may require surgery to open up their airways and improve their breathing. For more information on brachycephalic breeds, contact your vet.

To keep your American Bulldog as healthy as possible, monitor them closely and attend routine 6-month health checks with your vet. This will allow the vet to give your dog a thorough check-up and to pick up on minor (often symptomless) conditions before they have a chance to escalate into something worse.

Possible health complications for American Bulldogs include:

Before welcoming a new dog into your household, make sure you’re able to cover the costs of any routine or emergency medical treatment they may need. Pet insurance will help massively with this. Why not ask your vet about their recommended pet insurance policy?

Read more: Canine brachycephaly: breathing problems in brachycephalic dogs.

American Bulldog puppy

American Bulldog temperament, socialising and ideal home environment

American Bulldogs are loyal, people loving dogs who need plenty of space to roam. Their personality may differ depending on their background and other factors, but this is the case for most breeds.

Because of their size, they might not make the best pet if you have young children. American Bulldogs love children but respond better to children who know how to behave appropriately around dogs. As with all breeds, it’s recommended that children are supervised when playing with dogs.

They aren't ideally suited to apartment living, and require a spacious environment because of their high energy levels. If their physical and mental stimulation needs aren’t met, they’ve been known to engage in destructive behaviour.

Are American Bulldogs suitable for first time owners? 

An American Bulldog may not be the easiest companion, especially if you’re a first-time pet owner. They’re very intelligent and physically powerful dogs that can quickly become a handful if they’re not properly stimulated and socialised.

That said, if you lead an active outdoor lifestyle and are prepared to put in the hours when it comes to training, there’s no reason for an American Bulldog not to be your ideal pet.

If you have done your research beforehand, owning an American Bulldog can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Need more info?

For more info on finding the best dog breed for you and your lifestyle, have a chat with your vet. Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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