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Owning an American Bulldog

Updated on January 28, 2015

On Loving an American Bulldog

The handsome "young" man in the photo is Hayes, an American bulldog. He was 10 years old at the time of the photo. Though he was considered by the veterinary world to be a "geriatric dog", Hayes at 11 was actually more active and full of life than even our 8 year old (then) Pug was when he was just a young pup.

We took Hayes in, in May of 2012. We didn't plan on him coming into our lives. It was just one of those things that happen. Everything happens for a reason, right?! We wouldn't have traded him for the world. We were all in love with our "new" found friend!

Unfortunately, because of a serious health issue that set in well into his 11th year, we had to put Hayes down before his 12th birthday. For a little over a year, he was an important part of our lives. He was very much loved and he is missed.

Hayes staring out at Deer Creek Lake, June 2012
Hayes staring out at Deer Creek Lake, June 2012

A Bulldog Rescue of Sorts

A friend was in contact to let us know that her mother was looking for a home for her brothers' American Bulldog after her brothers passing at far too young an age. He had, had two dogs; the other being a well behaved black lab like the one we had that we lost in the fall of 2011 (RIP Alaska). Her parents were able to keep only one dog. They chose the black lab. They were looking for a good, loving home for Hayes.

Hayes was actually named after the venerable Ohio State football coach, Woody Hayes. Since we live in the heart of "Buckeye Country", his name fits him well.

Hayes was never neutered. While he took extremely well to our pug right away, we knew we were going to have territory marking issues with an un-neutered older dog with ingrained habits. He's lovable but he is a dominate dog and he did act exactly as we expected, at first. We had a few in the house marking incidents but, after a few weeks of adjustment, the problem disappeared.

Compounding the initial problem was the fact that he was a house dog for his former owner but, due to space issues and the marking issues, he was kenneled for about 8 months on the property of the former owners' parents. Being brought back into a home environment, we're sure, had been a source of confusion for him. But given the hot weather we'd had he adapted and, at times, he seemed downright grateful to be able to come into the cool of the house and out of the glare of the sun even though his kennel was well shaded before.

A Brief History of the American Bulldog

Big dog backscratch!
Big dog backscratch!

It's all fun and games in our photo, above but American Bulldogs are a working dog breed of dog. Other than the fact that the general consensus is that they are descended from the shorter leg English Bulldog breed crossed most probably with Bull Terriers, much about how they evolved and their history is murky at best. There are many "learned" opinions, of course, but few concrete answers.

It is a certainty that they were bred specifically to be of aide to man in a young America. They were farm dogs, watchdogs over herds and homes and dogs that, while not specifically hunting dogs, assisted in cornering vermin and treeing bears. Today they're used extensively as farm dogs, security dogs, tracking dogs and as guide dogs for the blind and otherwise physically challenged.

Even in the short time that he's been with us, Hayes has become the guardian of the household. He knows it movements and rhythms already down to the sound of every last footfall of those that are familiar to him. When an unknown car pulls into the drive or an unfamiliar foot hits the doorstep, we're treated to a single, deep, resonate bark of warning the likes of which only a big dog can provide! Hayes takes his "dog job" seriously and he does it well.

When an unknown car pulls into the drive or an unfamiliar foot hits the doorstep, we're treated to a single, deep, resonate bark of warning the likes of which only a big dog can provide!

Some American Bulldog Breed Particulars

Hayes Relaxing...
Hayes Relaxing...

There are three different types of American Bulldogs. Hayes is a "standard" member of the breed which are sometimes referred to as "performance" American Bulldogs or the "Scott type". The "classic type" of dog is typically known as a "Bully" or a "Johnson type". Those can usually be recognized by their combination white and brindle coat. There is also a hybrid type for this breed.

All three types are structured and colored a bit differently but they share similar overall traits which include, athleticism and overall good health. They often live 15-16 years. All three types have short haired coats that require minimal grooming but they do shed.

The standard and bully types trend toward longer muzzles with square heads or, in the words of my spouse, a block head/blockhead! It's meant in the most endearing way of course. These are,after all, pretty smart dogs!

Our Best Reference Recommendation for American Bulldog Owners

We admit it, though English Bulldogs were familiar to our family, we had zero experience with American Bulldogs. We were fortunate to get a previously well trained one that just needed to adjust to us. Still, we like to have a reference to look things up when we have questions about things that seem different from our experiences with other dog breeds. We found this book to be a valuable resource.

American Bulldog (Comprehensive Owner's Guide)
American Bulldog (Comprehensive Owner's Guide)

The author, Abe Fishman is a noted authority on American Bulldogs. He lays out the known history of the breed for new owners, addresses the raising of puppies, the proper training and conditioning for the dogs and all manner of behavioral, temperament, health and veterinary information. This is a complete resource.


This is Not a Pitbull!

Hayes has been mistaken for a Pitbull by friends, neighbors and relatives. Given his linage and his overall good looks, that was to be expected. We're told it's actually pretty common.

We're fast realizing that American Bulldog owners need to educate the public about this breed and its temperament. American Bulldogs are:




*Easily trained

*Protective of family



Additionally, they tend to stand taller and weigh more than the average pit bull terrier. Both breeds do appear to be very solidly built when fed and exercised properly. The "Bully" style American bulldog will definitely show as well muscled when compared to the pit bull or to other American bulldog types while the standard (like Hayes) and hybrid American bulldog types will appear quite solid and, often, as well defined as the pit.

With proper training and socialization, this dog can be both a wonderful family pet and working or guard dog.

Other American Bulldog References Available from

We're all dog lovers here. We'd love to hear about your companion American Bulldogs. Please, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. Thank you for visiting!

Please tell us your American Bulldog stories - What do you love about these great dogs?

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    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 3 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      This is an interesting and very informative article. What a sweet family companion. Thank you for taking in rescues, and for the love you have shared with these four-leggeds. I enjoyed reading about Hayes and the American Bulldog.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      They are great dogs! Nice lens!

    • profile image

      dream1983 5 years ago

      Beautiful photos! Squidlike

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 5 years ago

      Oh, how cool is he?! Adorable! I love all dogs and he is just about as handsome as they come :)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      I have an American Bulldog that's 10 years old too! He is such a good dog. I also have a Boxer.

    • rallo-smith profile image

      rallo-smith 5 years ago

      Great dogs! Not for me but I've set for a few and they been great.

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      @Computersloth: Hayes, as a standard type, isn't as muscular in "appearance" as the bully type but he's "solid". When he wants to go somewhere, you have to hang on and start running! He will heel when commanded to but he'll be coiled like a spring.

    • Computersloth profile image

      Computersloth 5 years ago

      American Bulldogs are awesome! I had a friend who had several of them. Every time I went over, man was there a lot of intimidating barking. I guess he had the "bully" type. Those dogs were STRONG. Playing with them made me realize, they were stronger than I was.

      Anyway, I've always wanted to own one, but my wife is a German Shepherd fan, so guess what we have?

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Indeed he is a handsome gent! Pinned to my dog board.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Hi, It sure was nice to meet Hayes and yes he is a good looking dog. I well remember Woody Hayes and he had some memorable games against my favorite team, the Clemson Tigers! Hayes and our Bruno would get along great, I think. They sound and look very much alike. I think our Bruno looks more like an American Bulldog than an English Bulldog even though we were told he was an English. Either way, we love him a lot as I am sure you do your Hayes.