The American Bulldog is a breed of working dog. The names associated with the Bully and Standard types are those of the breeders who were influential in developing them, John D. Johnson (Bully) and Alan Scott (Standard).
The original bulldog was preserved by working class immigrants who brought their working dogs with them to the American South. Small farmers and ranchers used this all-around working dog for many tasks including farm guardians, stock dogs and catch dog. These dogs were not an actual breed as considered by today’s standards but were a generic bulldog type. There were no recorded pedigrees or records and breeding decisions were dependent on the best working farm dogs despite breed or background. Several separate strains of the “bulldog” type dogs were kept by ranchers as utilitarian working dogs.
Perhaps the most important role of the bulldog and the reason for its survival, and in fact why it thrived throughout the South, was because of the presence of feral pigs, introduced to the New World and without predators. The bulldogs were the settlers’ only means of sufficiently dealing with the vermin. By World War II, the breed was near extinction until John D. Johnson and his father scoured the back roads of the South looking for the best specimens to revive the breed. During this time a young Alan Scott grew an interest in Johnson’s dogs and began to work with him on the revitalization process. At some point, Alan Scott began infusing non-Johnson catch bulldogs from working Southern farms with John D. Johnson’s line, creating the now Standard American Bulldog. At another point, Johnson began crossing his line with an atavistic English bulldog from the North that had maintained its genetic athletic vigor.
The American bulldog is a stocky, well built, strong-looking dog, with a large head and a muscular build. Its coat is short and generally smooth. The breed is a light to moderate shedder; however, they should be brushed on regular basis. Colors, while historically predominantly white with patches of red, black, or brindle, have grown in recent years to include many color patterns including black, red, brown, fawn, and all shades of brindle.
American Bulldogs generally live from 10 to 16 years, and tend to be strong, physically active, and often healthy. Some health problems in American bulldogs are often found within certain genetic lines, and are not common to the entire breed, while others, such as neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, Ichthyosis, disorders of the kidney and thyroid, ACL tears, hip dysplasia, cherry eye, elbow dysplasia,entropion, ectropion, and bone cancer are more common to the general population of American Bulldogs.
The American Bulldog is loyal, reliable, brave and determined. Not a hostile dog. Alert and self-confident, this breed genuinely loves children. It is known for its acts of heroism toward its master. It has strong protective instincts, and needs a firm, confident, consistent pack leader. While typically friendly by nature to children, the American Bulldog is a powerful breed that may not recognize his own strength, so supervision is wise. Bred in part to chase off other animals, the American Bulldog may need extensive socialization to best tolerate other dogs and cats—especially those not in his “inner circle” at home.