The American Bulldog, also known as the Old Country Bulldog, the Old Country White, the Old Time Bulldog, the Old English White, the English White, the White English, the Alabama and the Southern Bulldog, is known for its superb strength and fine character. It does not closely resemble the more familiar English Bulldog and is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club. This breed is similar to the old, seventeenth-century bull-baiting dogs used to fight bulls for entertainment and supposedly to tenderize the meat for human consumption in Great Britain. The predecessors of this breed came to America in early colonial times, before the English Bulldog went through its transformations to become what that breed is today. This is a friendly, versatile dog that can do almost anything well. It is cherished as a hunting dog of large and small game, a guard dog, a guide dog and a beloved family companion. American Bulldogs form strong bonds with their people but if not properly socialized can be aggressive towards strangers and other animals.
The American Bulldog is on average between 20 and 28 inches at the withers, with the females being on the smaller side of the range. They weigh between 60 and 125 pounds, again with females being lighter. Their short, shiny coat is low-maintenance. As these are working dogs, there is a wide variation in height and weight more so than in other breeds.
The American Bulldog is probably descended from an ancient Mastiff line, and it is the closest relative to the Old English Bulldog that exists in America today. The American Bulldog came to the United States in the 1800s, with immigrants who brought their working Bulldogs with them. The original breed largely survived, particularly in the Southern States, due to its ability to bring down and catch feral pigs. It also was used for bull-and bear-baiting, with the added exotic sport of American buffalo-baiting adding to its fame. Before World War II, the American Bulldog was popular in the deep South as a working dog of farmers and ranchers. The breed almost died out during the war years, with the only surviving dogs kept on farms primarily in the south-east, where they were used as cattle and livestock dogs and farm protectors. A man named John D. Johnson of Summerville, Georgia, almost single-handedly saved the breed from extinction by rounding up the best specimens he could find and preserving the breed.
This breed is massively powerful and is reported to be one of the most ferocious dogs ever created, when in the wrong hands. It was developed in the southeastern part of the United States, especially in Alabama and Georgia. Its direct ancestors are thought to be descendants of the early English Bulldogs that came to North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. The American Bulldog remains much more similar in appearance to its ancestors than does the modern English Bulldog, which has shorter legs and a stockier body. The American Bulldog has long legs and an athletic body. The American Bulldog Association was formed in 1989 to oversee the breeding of this powerful dog and ensure its proper use. Dogs in this breed can be registered with the Animal Research Foundation (ARF) or with the Game American Bulldog Club (GABC), both of which keep detailed records on pure breeding and pedigrees. The American Bulldog was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) as a guardian dog in 1999.
American Bulldogs have an average life span of 8 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include bone cancer, congenital deafness, elbow and hip dysplasia, entropion and thyroid problems.
With roots in the violent sport of bullbaiting, the American Bulldog was later developed as a farm dog and hunter's assistant, herding and protecting livestock and hunting everything from squirrels to bear. Today, the breed is a sturdy companion for families or farmers, keeping a watchful eye over his people and property. Active and playful, the American Bulldog loves people and craves constant attention, (though he may not be fond of other dogs and should be kept away from cats). He can work or play all day long, and will happily curl up at your feet for a nice belly rub at the end of the day.
The American Bulldog needs a home where outdoor activities are the norm. They need at least an hour or two of vigorous exercise per day to meet their daily activity requirement. Without it, owners can kiss their furniture good bye, because this breed will become destructive. They enjoy being outside and should be provided a variety of activities including walking, jogging, chasing balls, agility, farm work, pulling weights (they'll happily pull kids on a sled for hours) and advanced obedience.
Apartments and condos are not the best living situation for an American Bulldog, unless a true commitment is made to their need for exercise. Houses with fenced in yards or farms with wide open spaces are the best environment for an American Bulldog.
American Bulldogs are strong willed and can be a challenge to train until leadership is established. Not the best choice for a first-time dog owner, this breed will make his trainer prove who is in charge. Training requires absolute consistency – give an American Bulldog an inch and you'll find he's taken about six miles. A calm-assertive approach is best, with lots of positive reinforcement and treats for extra incentive.
Once the initial hurdles are crossed, however, American Bulldogs can excel in advanced obedience and agility training.
American Bulldogs are notoriously dog-aggressive. They should be socialized as puppies to treat other dogs with respect, though as they grow up same-sex dogs will mostly likely still create problems. This breed will also chase cats with ferocity, so unless raised alongside a cat, felines should not be introduced to an American Bulldog's home.
Despite their animal aggression, American Bulldogs love people. If they bark when a stranger approaches, they are just doing their job as sound watchdogs, but as long as they have been properly socialized, are almost always friendly to new people. Some people may be afraid, however, because this breed is so imposing looking and their back is a force to be reckoned with. It is important to know your American Bulldog's genetic heritage, however, as some lines can be overly protective and aggressive.
Given the history of this breed, the public stigma against any breed with fighting roots, and the fact that they look a lot like Pit Bulls; American Bulldogs should never be left off leash in an open area.
The perfect Bulldog must be of medium size and smooth coat; with heavy, thick-set, low-swung body, massive short-faced head, wide shoulders and sturdy limbs. The general appearance and attitude should suggest great stability, vigor and strength. The disposition should be equable and kind, resolute and courageous (not vicious or aggressive), and demeanor should be pacific and dignified. These attributes should be countenanced by the expression and behavior.
Size, Proportion, Symmetry
Size--The size for mature dogs is about 50 pounds; for mature bitches about 40 pounds. Proportion--The circumference of the skull in front of the ears should measure at least the height of the dog at the shoulders. Symmetry--The "points" should be well distributed and bear good relation one to the other, no feature being in such prominence from either excess or lack of quality that the animal appears deformed or ill-proportioned. Influence of Sex In comparison of specimens of different sex, due allowance should be made in favor of the bitches, which do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same degree of perfection and grandeur as do the dogs.
Eyes and Eyelids--The eyes, seen from the front, should be situated low down in the skull, as far from the ears as possible, and their corners should be in a straight line at right angles with the stop. They should be quite in front of the head, as wide apart as possible, provided their outer corners are within the outline of the cheeks when viewed from the front. They should be quite round in form, of moderate size, neither sunken nor bulging, and in color should be very dark. The lids should cover the white of the eyeball, when the dog is looking directly forward, and the lid should show no "haw." Ears--The ears should be set high in the head, the front inner edge of each ear joining the outline of the skull at the top back corner of skull, so as to place them as wide apart, and as high, and as far from the eyes as possible. In size they should be small and thin. The shape termed "rose ear" is the most desirable. The rose ear folds inward at its back lower edge, the upper front edge curving over, outward and backward, showing part of the inside of the burr. (The ears should not be carried erect or prick-eared or buttoned and should never be cropped.) Skull--The skull should be very large, and in circumference, in front of the ears, should measure at least the height of the dog at the shoulders. Viewed from the front, it should appear very high from the corner of the lower jaw to the apex of the skull, and also very broad and square. Viewed at the side, the head should appear very high, and very short from the point of the nose to occiput. The forehead should be flat (not rounded or domed), neither too prominent nor overhanging the face. Cheeks--The cheeks should be well rounded, protruding sideways and outward beyond the eyes. Stop--The temples or frontal bones should be very well defined, broad, square and high, causing a hollow or groove between the eyes. This indentation, or stop, should be both broad and deep and extend up the middle of the forehead, dividing the head vertically, being traceable to the top of the skull. Face and Muzzle--The face, measured from the front of the cheekbone to the tip of the nose, should be extremely short, the muzzle being very short, broad, turned upward and very deep from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth. Nose--The nose should be large, broad and black, its tip set back deeply between the eyes. The distance from bottom of stop, between the eyes, to the tip of nose should be as short as possible and not exceed the length from the tip of nose to the edge of underlip. The nostrils should be wide, large and black, with a well-defined line between them. Any nose other than black is objectionable and a brown or liver-colored nose shall disqualify. Lips--The chops or "flews" should be thick, broad, pendant and very deep, completely overhanging the lower jaw at each side. They join the underlip in front and almost or quite cover the teeth, which should be scarcely noticeable when the mouth is closed. Bite--Jaws--The jaws should be massive, very broad, square and "undershot," the lower jaw projecting considerably in front of the upper jaw and turning up. Teeth The teeth should be large and strong, with the canine teeth or tusks wide apart, and the six small teeth in front, between the canines, in an even, level row.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck -- The neck should be short, very thick, deep and strong and well arched at the back. Topline -- There should be a slight fall in the back, close behind the shoulders (its lowest part), whence the spine should rise to the loins (the top of which should be higher than the top of the shoulders), thence curving again more suddenly to the tail, forming an arch (a very distinctive feature of the breed), termed "roach back" or, more correctly, "wheel-back." Body--The brisket and body should be very capacious, with full sides, well-rounded ribs and very deep from the shoulders down to its lowest part, where it joins the chest. It should be well let down between the shoulders and forelegs, giving the dog a broad, low, short-legged appearance. Chest--The chest should be very broad, deep and full. Underline--The body should be well ribbed up behind with the belly tucked up and not rotund. Back and Loin--The back should be short and strong, very broad at the shoulders and comparatively narrow at the loins. Tail--The tail may be either straight or "screwed" (but never curved or curly), and in any case must be short, hung low, with decided downward carriage, thick root and fine tip. If straight, the tail should be cylindrical and of uniform taper. If "screwed," the bends or kinks should be well defined, and they may be abrupt and even knotty, but no portion of the member should be elevated above the base or root.
Shoulders--The shoulders should be muscular, very heavy, widespread and slanting outward, giving stability and great power. Forelegs--The forelegs should be short, very stout, straight and muscular, set wide apart, with well developed calves, presenting a bowed outline, but the bones of the legs should not be curved or bandy, nor the feet brought too close together. Elbows--The elbows should be low and stand well out and loose from the body. Feet-- The feet should be moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and very short stubby nails. The front feet may be straight or slightly out-turned.
Legs--The hind legs should be strong and muscular and longer than the forelegs, so as to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Hocks should be slightly bent and well let down, so as to give length and strength from the loins to hock. The lower leg should be short, straight and strong, with the stifles turned slightly outward and away from the body. The hocks are thereby made to approach each other, and the hind feet to turn outward. Feet--The feet should be moderate in size, compact and firmly set. Toes compact, well split up, with high knuckles and short stubby nails. The hind feet should be pointed well outward.
Coat and Skin
Coat--The coat should be straight, short, flat, close, of fine texture, smooth and glossy. (No fringe, feather or curl.) Skin--The skin should be soft and loose, especially at the head, neck and shoulders. Wrinkles and Dewlap--The head and face should be covered with heavy wrinkles, and at the throat, from jaw to chest, there should be two loose pendulous folds, forming the dewlap.
Color of Coat
The color of coat should be uniform, pure of its kind and brilliant. The various colors found in the breed are to be preferred in the following order: (1) red brindle, (2) all other brindles, (3) solid white, (4) solid red, fawn or fallow, (5) piebald, (6) inferior qualities of all the foregoing. Note: A perfect piebald is preferable to a muddy brindle or defective solid color. Solid black is very undesirable, but not so objectionable if occurring to a moderate degree in piebald patches. The brindles to be perfect should have a fine, even and equal distribution of the composite colors. In brindles and solid colors a small white patch on the chest is not considered detrimental. In piebalds the color patches should be well defined, of pure color and symmetrically distributed.
The style and carriage are peculiar, his gait being a loose-jointed, shuffling, sidewise motion, giving the characteristic "roll." The action must, however, be unrestrained, free and vigorous.
The disposition should be equable and kind, resolute and courageous (not vicious or aggressive), and demeanor should be pacific and dignified. These attributes should be countenanced by the expression and behavior.
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Sources: American Kennel Club