Is An American Bulldog A Good Family Dog? – 10 Must Knows

The American Bulldog first arrived in North America sometime in the 17th and 18th century. Used primarily as working dogs to chase down stray cattle and feral pigs. Over the years the American Bulldog has become more of a companion dog to most.

Is an American Bulldog a good family dog? As a whole the American Bulldog is a good family dog, but can be a lot to handle. They are very loyal, affectionate, and protective pets. They do require a higher level of training, exercise, and socialization than most dogs however. Experience with this breed is recommended.

The strength, athleticism, loyalty, and affectionate nature of the American Bulldog makes them great family dogs. They will require your care and attention to ensure they are raised to become calm, self-confident, and obedient pets. If you are thinking of getting an American Bulldog this post will cover some of the must knows. Let’s dig in.

Is An American Bulldog A Good Family Dog?

american Bulldog resting in chair

The relationship between American Bulldogs and their owners is one of strong loyalty. Used originally as working farm dogs because of their power and athleticism, the American Bulldog has a tight bond within a family.

As time went on and more of the population moved away from farming into a more urban setting, the American Bulldog’s role shifted to more of a companion pet. As a result of their loyalty and affection for their owners, American Bulldogs have been known to be great guard dogs.

The protective and loyal nature of the American Bulldog can leave them suspicious of strangers however. Early socialization with people and other animals outside of the immediate family is crucial to avoid over protective, and possibly harmful behaviors.

American Bulldogs are eager to please their owners, but can also have a stubborn streak that when left unchecked can lead to bad behaviors. The American Bulldog is not an ideal pet for first time owners. Understanding of the breed, and ability to properly lead and train the American Bulldog is essential.

Are American Bulldogs Good With Kids?

As a whole American Bulldogs are good with kids. Especially kids that are within the immediate family unit. The loyalty and affection of the American Bulldog make them very kid friendly. Early socialization with other children is also highly encouraged.

Like any breed of dog, supervision of interactions with kids is a must. Teaching both the dog and children how to properly interact and treat each other is essential to avoid accidents and injuries. Children and dogs need to learn the proper ways to play. Rough or over excited interactions need to be discouraged.

Always keep a watch on your kids and your American Bulldog when they interact. Prevention of potential bumps, falls, bites, and injury are the responsibility of the parents. Early socialization as puppies can help ensure that your American Bulldog will be comfortable with all children in the neighborhood and not just the kids in your home.

Is An American Bulldog An Aggressive Breed?

american Bulldog in grass

As a general rule an American Bulldog is not an aggressive breed towards people. Because of this they can be prone to more aggressive behaviors towards other dogs however. They can be suspicious of strangers, and over protective of their family. The best way to avert these behaviors is through socialization.

Starting socialization from early puppy years can help curb any aggressive behaviors in the American Bulldog. Exposing your American Bulldog puppy to as many people of all ages, genders, and races will help them become more comfortable when you have guests in your home, or you are out and about.

Once your puppy has had all their shots, exposing them to other dogs and animals is crucial. Puppies learn a lot from other dogs. How to play, interact, and feel comfortable and confident. It is vital that you socialize your American Bulldog puppy from an early age to prevent dog aggression as they become adults.

First time owners of American Bulldogs especially need to learn and implement this early training. The American Bulldog is adorable as a puppy, but will soon be a very powerful adult. You must equip yourself with the knowledge, techniques, and commitment to their training and socialization.

Do American Bulldogs Bark A Lot?

As a whole American Bulldogs do bark a lot. This can be one of the common complaints from American Bulldog owners. They can be territorial, and barking comes along with that instinct to protect. They are also high energy dogs and will bark and howl if their exercise needs are not being met.

Training your American Bulldog to bark less can be achieved. As mentioned above, early socialization can help in reducing the protective and territorial nature of American Bulldogs. When they are less suspicious of people outside their family, this can reduce barking.

Exercise will be an important aspect of reducing barking as well. When an American Bulldog is feeling pent up they can display behaviors such as excessive barking or howling. Giving your American Bulldog the proper amount of exercise can greatly reduce this behavior.

Teaching your American Bulldog to not bark can be a challenge. This may require some professional assistance, or at the very least some self directed education on your end. There are some great resources available to learn the various techniques online. 

Resources & ReviewsThe Best Dog Training Courses, Books, & Tools

Do American Bulldogs Like To Cuddle?

As a general rule American Bulldogs like to cuddle. In fact most American Bulldogs love to cuddle. They are very affectionate dogs and like being close to their family. Curling up on the couch or bed with you is one of the American Bulldogs favorite things.

The affectionate cuddle from an American Bulldog is one of the reasons they make such good family dogs. The loving loyalty you feel when you are with an American Bulldog is strong. These dogs live to be with family, and will find every opportunity to be close to you.

Can American Bulldogs Be Left Alone?

american bulldog laying down

As a whole American Bulldogs can be left alone for short periods of time. They are a very energetic breed and can feel pent up if left alone without burning of some energy first. Before leaving an American Bulldogs alone for any length of time exercise is highly recommended.

American Bulldogs are very family oriented and prefer to be around their family. Leaving an American Bulldog alone can cause some separation anxiety. Proper training and adequate exercise can help avoid mild forms of separation anxiety.

Do American Bulldogs Have Separation Anxiety?

On average American Bulldogs are prone to have separation anxiety. The high energy, and family focused characteristics of this breed make separation anxiety a common thing. Destructive behavior and excessive barking are clear signs that your American Bulldog has separation anxiety.

Exercise is the most important part of alleviating separation anxiety. A well exercised American Bulldog will be far more inclined to snooze while you are away from the home. American Bulldogs will feel pent up, frustrated, and anxious when their exercise needs are not met.

Before heading out, taking your American Bulldog for a good walk, run, or play in the backyard is highly recommended. A tired dog is a happy dog I always say.

Training For Separation Anxiety

Training can be done to help with an American Bulldog’s separation anxiety. Early crate training is one of the best ways. Having a safe, comfortable and relaxing place for your dog to stay while you are away can help a great deal. Start crate training from an early age, and you are one step closer to a less anxious dog.

Desensitization training is also a key component. Make leaving your home a non event for your American Bulldog. This means no excitement, no “Mama is gonna miss you!”, no specific attention on the dog before you leave. 

Begin this slowly in short durations. Leave your home without a big show. Wait outside for a minute or two. Return to the home without making a big deal of your return. Don’t encourage excited greetings. In fact you will need to reward calm behavior with calm affection after a minute or so.

Repeat this process a bunch of times. Gradually increasing the duration of time you are outside of the home. Eventually your American Bulldog will begin to understand that being left alone is no big deal. You will return eventually.

The key to this process is making your coming and going from the home a non event. No excitement. Just calm coming and going. This paired with the crate training will work tremendously towards resolving your American Bulldogs separation anxiety.

This short video from Cesar Milan is a perfect demonstration of what I am describing. I have recently brought home an American Bully puppy and have used these exact techniques for crate training and leaving the home. Trust me they work.

How Long Can American Bulldogs Be Left Alone?

On average the American Bulldog can be left alone for 4 hours. This time frame will be shorter for puppies of course. Generally a puppy will need to be attended to for a potty break every 2-3 hours, depending on their age. 1 hour per month of age is the general rule.

For adult American Bulldogs a potty break every 4 hours should be followed. I know some dogs are fine to be left alone for an entire work day without accidents. However giving your American Bulldog a break in the middle of the day to relieve themselves is ideal.

The 4 hour rule is a must if you are crate training your American Bulldog still. Even if they do not need to go potty, they will need a stretch and break from the crate. As much as the crate is a place to relax and feel safe, it is only for short durations. Crate time should not exceed 4 hours at a time.

Are American Bulldogs Easy To Train?

On average American Bulldogs are easy to train under the right leadership. American Bulldogs are very receptive to firm, yet loving training techniques, and are very eager to please. Consistency, fun, and calm assertive handling will make training easy.

American Bulldogs can have a stubborn streak. The proper approach with firm commands, and fun training activities will be crucial. Convincing your American Bulldog as to why they should listen is the goal when the stubborn side shows itself.

Training is crucial with American Bulldogs. The high energy needs to be managed, and boundaries will need to be established. This is crucial if you want to have a well balanced, friendly dog as an adult. Early training and exposure to other people and pets is a must with the American Bulldog.

Do American Bulldogs Need A Lot Of Exercise?

american bulldog playing with stick

Yes, as a general rule American Bulldogs need a lot of exercise. A minimum of 1 hour of good, rigorous exercise is recommended for this breed. Older puppies and younger adults may require up to 90 minutes a day or exercise to help burn off their high energy.

Exercise can be broken into separate sessions throughout the day. A good brisk walk for 30 minutes in the morning, and later in the evening can help burn a lot of energy off. Mix in some mental stimulation through games and training activities to aid in this energy burn off.

The American Bulldog is an intelligent dog. Physical exercise as well as mental stimulation through various training sessions and games will also be needed. The combination of both mental and physical is optimal for a well balanced dog.

For more information about various techniques and activities you can do with an American Bulldog to meet their exercise needs, check out my post below.

Related ArticleAre American Bulldogs High Energy? 8 Tips For Happy Dogs

American Bulldog Health

American Bulldogs are regarded as a healthy breed. They are generally fit, active, and have an overall zest for life. They are prone to hip and joint problems, so proper nutrition and supplementation will be needed as a preventative measure.

Regular vet examinations are required to monitor the American Bulldog’s health. Screening for certain genetic disorders should be conducted by a reputable breed to ensure the health and well being of their litters.

Recommended Health Tests

  • Canine Multifocal Retinopathy 1 (CMR1)
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
  • Hyperuricosuria (HUU)
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 10 (NCL10)
  • Ichthyosis
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Deafness

How Often Should American Bulldogs Be Bathed?

american bulldog swimming

On average American Bulldogs should be bathed every 8 weeks. Unless they have become excessively dirty from activities. The American Bulldog can be prone to skin sensitivities and over bathing can lead to dry, itchy, and irritated skin. This can lead to larger skin problems.

Over bathing American Bulldogs can strip away some of the protective oils in their skin. A gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo should be used. Giving your American Bulldog the proper shampoo, and the right frequency of bathing, can help protect and moisturize their skin.

Do American Bulldogs Shed A Lot Of Hair?

As a whole American Bulldogs do not shed a lot of hair. The short coat of the American Bulldog does not generally shed a lot. There will be some degree of shedding, especially in seasonal times like spring. On average the amount of shedding is minimal compared to most breeds.

A good way to ensure less shedding, as well as a healthy shiny coat is through regular grooming. A good brushing once a week is all that is needed to remove loose hair, and distribute the natural oils in the coat. Additional supplementation like a good Omega Salmon oil is also recommended. This is not only good for the skin and coat, but joints as well.

Resources & ReviewsThe 15 Best Dog Grooming & Bathing Products

Final Thoughts

american bulldog puppy

American Bulldogs can be excellent family dogs. They are companions for life to their family and will stand on their heads to protect and please you. There are pros and cons to this breed like any other. Knowing what these are is important before making the decision to bring an American Bulldog home.

The American Bulldog requires very little maintenance when it comes to grooming, but will need a lot of exercise. They are loving and loyal family dogs, but can be wary of strangers and potentially aggressive with other dogs.

American Bulldogs adore children. They will however need to be monitored because of their high energy and excitability. Training and socialization is an absolute must from an early age with the American Bulldog.

Willingness to dedicate time to training will help avoid excessive barking, separation anxiety, and destructive behaviors. Taking this time to raise a well balanced American Bulldog will gain you the reward of a good family dog. 

A well balanced American Bulldog will keep you fit, and give your all the affectionate and cuddles a person could want. A great family dog for those willing to put in the effort.

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