American Bulldog Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 14, 2019

American Bulldogs are guardian dogs known for their muscular build, large head and sturdy bodies. Though some people may be intimidated by their appearance, these pooches are friendly, love kids and are loyal and affectionate with their pack.

They’re great guard dogs, which means they may need strong training and will keep an eye out for you and your pack.

Breed Overview

  • Height: 20–28 inches
  • Weight: 60–120 lbs
  • Lifespan: 10–16 years
  • Breed Size: Large
  • Colors: White, brindle, fawn, brown, red
  • Good With: Kids
  • Temperament: Gentle, protective, playful

Also Known As…

AmBulldog. Old Country Bulldog. “Whoa, check out that huge Pit Bull!” “That’s actually an American Bulldog, my friend.”

What Is The History Of The American Bulldog?

American Bulldogs are descended from the English Bulldog, pooches that were used as work dogs to wrangle in cattle and to guard homes for their owners. Sadly, English Bulldogs were then bred and forced to take part in bloodsports like bull baiting.

Although bloodsports were made illegal in England in 1835, the practice of using Bulldogs for these vicious sports continued in the late 1800s in the United States. Nearly facing extinction after World War II, dedicated Bulldog lovers bred more of these dogs, bringing them into popularity in their current form, the American Bulldog.

How Big Do American Bulldogs Get?

Bulldogs have an average height of 20-28 inches. They’re much stronger than their size due to their muscular builds. The American Bulldog can range anywhere from 60 to 120 pounds, a significant range to consider, especially if you’re adopting a puppy Bulldog. They may be twice as large as expected, so keep that in mind when considering how large your home is, how much space they’ll have to play, and whether you’re up for a 120-pound lapdog. They’re affectionate, so they don’t really mind how big they are and will make a home for themselves right on your legs.

Height: 20–28 inches tall

Weight: 60–120 pounds

How Long Do American Bulldogs (Generally) Live?

The American Bulldog normally lives for 10 to 16 years, although they can live a few years longer. In fact, the American Bulldog is said to be the healthiest of the Bulldog breed, with the longest lifespan, which should be great news for anyone who loves this loyal, intelligent canine. The average American Bulldog’s lifespan is about 11.5 years.

What Is The American Bulldog Temperament & Personality Like?

American Bulldogs are big, and have big hearts, too. They’re gentle and sweet, and good with kids. They’re born with protective instincts in place, so they’re not afraid to try to establish themselves as the leader of a pack. They want to take care of you, and think they know best, which is why they’re also known for their heroic deeds protecting their humans from danger. They can get bored easily and, due to their size, definitely will need good amounts of exercise to keep them happy and well-behaved while you’re out of the house.

Are American Bulldogs Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

American Bulldogs are a great choice for a family dog. Gentle, sweet and playful, they may be a perfect match for a kid who needs to burn off some energy, too. Just be sure to train your dog not to jump, as a 100-pound bulldog can knock over pretty much everyone, let alone a 5-year-old kid playing in the yard.

These dogs are great with kids and deeply protective of their pack, making them highly affectionate guard dogs. Because they’re wary of others, they may be reticent and shy around strangers even after being well-trained. However, that’s far better than being reactive with strangers, so remember the importance of training these large, strong dogs.

They’re not the most excited to hang out around cats and can be reactive toward household pets. They can also display this reactivity with other dogs. However, all of these behaviors can be preempted or corrected through proper training and socialization. Once they’ve been successfully socialized, they can be gentle and calm with other animals in the house and out on the street.

Are American Bulldogs High Energy?

American Bulldogs are energetic and require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. They’ll play with kids and keep up on long walks, but once inside they calm down fairly easily (once out of puppyhood, that is).

Are American Bulldogs Hard To Train?

It’s best to begin training with an American Bulldog at a young age. They can be stubborn and strong-willed, but with some work, the right owner can effectively train an American Bulldog. To do so, owners will have to establish themselves as the firm leader of the pack. Power struggles are never good for a dog-human relationship, and with their confidence and strength, these dogs are pretty much positive they’ll be a great pack leader.

Best Training Techniques For American Bulldogs

You’ll need to be firm with an American Bulldog, while still using a training method that is centered around positive reinforcement. Start socializing your dog early to get them used to you being around other people, and to see that strangers aren’t a threat outright. You’ll of course need to use treats to train your dog how to obey commands such as “sit” and “come,” but don’t be afraid to tell your dog “no” when they start jumping on you. Remember that they’re going to grow into large, strong dogs, so they’ll soon have very different results when jumping on someone from puppyhood to full maturity.

When they begin chewing on something with their strong jaws, tell them “no” and redirect their attention to something else, such as a chew toy. Once they’ve done so, give them a treat to let them know they’ve done the right thing.

Ideal Environment For American Bulldogs

Depending on the size of your American Bulldog, whether 60 or 120 pounds, they’ll have different needs for how much space they’ll require. Overall, they’ll do fairly well with a decent sized yard or regular, long walks to get out their energy. Once inside it’s easy for them to calm down, so if they’re well-exercised they can rest easily while you’re away for several hours, even in an apartment. They’re guard dogs so will occasionally bark – if you live on a busy street with lots of distractions, your American Bulldog may bark more than if they’re in a quiet area.

However, barking varies not just from breed to breed but from pooch to pooch. They’re adaptable dogs, so give them some time in a new environment and they may just calm down with their protectiveness and resulting barking.

Do American Bulldogs Have Health Issues?

American Bulldogs are considered generally healthy dogs. However, any dog is susceptible to some health problems, and American Bulldogs are no exception. Some common ailments include kidney and thyroid disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, cherry eye, and dysplasia in the hip and elbow.

Do American Bulldogs Need To Be Groomed?

American Bulldogs have a short, harsh coat that’s easy to take care of. Just use a firm-bristle brush to comb them down regularly, especially during shedding season, and bathe when necessary. They’re average shedders, so they’re low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Come shedding season, though, be prepared to break out the lint roller. It’s common to most short-haired dogs, and regular brushings will help.

How Much Does It Cost To Care For An American Bulldog?

The average cost of an American Bulldog can vary widely. Breeders can charge $1,800 or more! If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, adopting from a shelter is typically around $300. 

Most puppies will need significant care in their first year. Puppy care includes vaccinations and checkups because they are growing. Usually, you can expect to pay anywhere from $390 to $795, depending primarily on what the puppy received before they were adopted. You’ll also have to pay a one-time fee for spaying or neutering, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $450. 

Bonus Tip: Getting pet health insurance for your fluffy companion can help to alleviate some of the vet costs.

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

After the first year, you will likely pay less unless your dog develops a serious health condition.  Some health problems like hip dysplasia will require ongoing and considerable treatment. You can expect an average yearly price of $100 to $300 for your healthy, adult American Bulldog. 

Dog Food

The cost of the food depends mainly on what food you choose. We recommend high-quality food for your pup, as these can help prevent health problems. A varied diet is often best for your puppy, so you should switch between a few different foods. American Bulldogs grow rapidly in their first year of life and need a nutritious diet to support their growth!

Puppies will usually eat less since they are smaller. You may spend less on their food. However, as an adult, you can plan on spending about $350 on food a year – more if your dog needs a special diet. 

Why not make mealtime simple with BARK Eats? With pre-portioned, customized dog food designed for the dietary needs of your dog , you’ll ensure your pup is benefiting from every bite. Enjoy the best of BARK delivered straight to your door and snag 50% off your first month!

These dogs will need quite a few toys. You should plan on them costing about $100 a year. 

Preventative Medications for American Bulldogs

It typically costs a couple hundred for a year’s worth of various tick, heartworm, and parasite treatments for your American Bulldog. Your vet may recommend additional vaccines based on your geographic region and your pup’s lifestyle, so prepare for another $100–$200 on the bill.

Toys American Bulldogs Would Like Best

American Bulldogs are strong, with powerful jaws and a muscular build. They have energy to burn, but once they do, they calm right down for couch time. A quick game of tug-of-war with a Tug toy is a great way to wear out your pooch, give them a way to use their jaws and have fun along the way.

They also may enjoy a Super Chewer Toy to work those jaws while you’re out of the house or busy tending to other tasks around the house. These toys can stand up to even the toughest of dog jaws, American Bulldogs’ included.

Recommended Products for American Bulldogs

For older AmBulldogs or dogs suffering with arthritis or hip dysplasia (or just any dog that likes lying down!), a comfortable, supportive dog bed is probably a good idea.

Orthopedic Ultra Plush Memory Foam Bed

This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s stout body. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, hip dysplasia and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your favorite AmBulldog. ($27.99-64.99.)

Notable Rescues To Find The American Bulldog Of Your Dreams

If you’re looking to rescue an American Bulldog and give a pooch their forever home, check out these organizations.

  • This organization showcases American Bulldogs available for adoption or fostering. You can work directly with them to bring a pup home.
  • Bulldog Rescue Network aims to place rescue bulldogs with those ready to adopt or foster a dog. They work across the US and Canada and work to match dogs with owners to make sure their bulldogs find their forever home.
  • offers a list of American Bulldog rescue shelters around the U.S., so you can find a rescue organization specific to your state.
  • Adoptable American Bulldogs on Petfinder

Featured image via TheSquinkies/Instagram

Want More Breed Guides Like This?

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Pug Breed Information Guide

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Beagle Breed Information Guide

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 14, 2019


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.