AMERICAN BULLDOG (REVISED OCTOBER 1,
©Copyright 1998, United Kennel Club,
Revised October 1,
Bulldogs in England were originally working dogs that drove and caught
cattle and guarded their masters' property. The breed's strength, courage, and
familiarity with livestock led to its popularity in the brutal sport of bull
baiting. When this sport was outlawed in England, the original type of Bulldog
disappeared from Britain and was replaced with the shorter, stockier, less
athletic dog we now know as the English Bulldog.
original Bulldog, however, 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. By the end of World
War II, however, the breed was almost extinct. Mr. John D. Johnson, a
returning war veteran, decided to resurrect this breed. Along with Alan Scott
and several other breeders, Johnson began carefully to breed American
Bulldogs, keeping careful records and always with an eye for maintaining the
breed's health and working abilities.
Because of the
many different types of work this breed can do, several distinct lines
evolved, each emphasizing the traits needed to do a specific job. The best
known lines are usually referred to as the Johnson and Scott types.
The Johnson dogs, commonly referred to as 'bully', are
bulkier in body, heavier in bone, with larger heads that have more stop, a
shorter muzzle and a more pronounced undershot bite. They generally have more
muscle mass as well.
The Scott dogs, commonly referred
to as 'standard', are more of a performance style, athletic dog, sleeker in
appearance than the bully dogs, with less bone, longer muzzles, more moderate
stop and a less extreme undershot bite. Today, however, many American Bulldogs
have crosses to two or more of the original lines and are considered to be
hybrid in type, with characteristics of more than one of the original lines of
The modern American Bulldog continues to
serve as an all-purpose working dog; a fearless and steady guard dog; and a
loyal family companion.
The American Bulldog was
recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1999.
The American Bulldog is a
powerful, athletic short-coated dog, strongly muscled, and well boned. The
body is just slightly longer than tall. The head is large and broad, with a
wide muzzle. Ears are small to medium in size, high set, and may be drop,
semi-prick, rose, or cropped. The tail may be docked or natural. The American
Bulldog comes in solid colors, white with colored patches, and brindle. Gender
differences are well expressed in this breed, with males typically larger and
more muscular than females. Honorable scars resulting from field work are not
to be penalized. The American Bulldog should be evaluated as a working dog,
and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they
interfere with the dog's ability to work.
characteristics of the American Bulldog are those which enable it to work as a
hog and cattle catching dog, and a protector of personal property. These tasks
require a powerful, agile, confident dog with a large head and powerful jaws.
The American Bulldog is a gentle, loving family companion who is fearless
enough to face an angry bull or a human intruder. Note: It is common for young
American Bulldogs to be somewhat standoffish with strangers, and judges should
not penalize this. By the time the dog is around 18 months of age, however,
the breed's normal confidence asserts itself.
Disqualifications: Viciousness or extreme
The head is large and broad, giving the impression of great power. When
viewed from the side, the skull and muzzle are parallel to one another and
joined by a well-defined stop. The stop is very deep and abrupt, almost at a
right angle with the muzzle. Despite the depth of the stop, the forehead is
wider than it is high.
SKULL - The skull is large,
flat, deep, and broad between the ears. Viewed from the top, the skull is
square. There is a deep median furrow that diminishes in depth from the stop
to the occiput. Cheek muscles are prominent.
dogs, the skull is generally box-shaped to rounded, with a more definitive
stop, and more wrinkles than the standard type, which has a skull that is box
or wedge shaped.
Serious Fault: An excessively narrow skull, in any type.
- The muzzle is broad and thick, with a very slight taper from the stop to the
The length of the muzzle in the bully type dogs
is 25 to 35 percent of the overall length of the head. In the standard dogs,
it is 30 to 40 percent of the overall length of the head. The jaws are well
muscled, displaying great strength. Lips are moderately thick, but not
pendulous. Black pigment on the lips is preferred. The chin is well defined,
and must neither overlap the upper lip nor be covered by
Serious Fault: An
excessively narrow muzzle in any type.
Disqualification: Any dog that exhibits
difficulty breathing while in the ring.
TEETH - The
American Bulldog has a complete set of 42 large, evenly spaced, white
In the standard type, a reverse scissors bite is
preferred, a scissors bite or a moderate under bite (up to ¼ inch) is
acceptable. An even bite is allowable but not preferred.
In the bully type, undershot approximately ¼ inch is preferred, but any
variation from 1/8 inch to ½ inch is acceptable. An even bite is allowable but
not preferred. An extreme undershot bite is considered faulty to the degree
that the bite interferes with the dog's ability to work. Teeth are not visible
when the mouth is closed. Worn teeth or broken teeth are
Disqualification: Overshot. Wry jaw.
NOSE - The nose is large,
with wide, open nostrils. Black color is preferred, but shades of red or brown
are acceptable. Lack of pigment is a cosmetic fault.
EYES - Eyes are medium in size, round to almond in shape, and set well
apart. All colors are acceptable, but dark brown is preferred. Haw is not
visible. Black eye rims are preferred.
Faults: Very visible haws.
Disqualifications: Crossed eyes. Eyes that do
not match in color.
EARS - Ears may be cropped, but
natural ears are preferred. Natural ears are small to medium in size, high
set, and may be drop, semi-prick, or rose.
The ears are set high, level with the upper line of the skull, accentuating
the skull's width. At the base, the ear is just slightly raised in front and
then hangs along the cheek. The tip is slightly rounded. When pulled toward
the eye, the ear should not extend past the outside corner of the
Semi-prick ears: Same as drop ears except that
only the tips of the ears drop forward.
Rose ears: Rose
ears are small and set high on the skull.
The neck is where the American Bulldog
exerts power to bring down livestock. The neck must be long enough to exert
leverage, but short enough to exert power. The neck is muscular and, at its
widest point, is nearly as broad as the head, with a slight arch at the crest,
and tapering slightly from shoulders to the head. A slight dewlap is
Faults: Neck too
short and thick; thin or weak neck.
The shoulders are strong and
well muscled. The shoulder blade is well laid back and forms, with the upper
arm, an apparent 90-degree angle. The tips of the shoulder blades are set
about 2 to 3 finger-widths apart.
FORELEGS - The
forelegs are heavily boned and very muscular. The elbows are set on a plane
parallel to the body, neither close to the body nor turned out. Viewed from
the front, the forelegs are perpendicular to the ground or may, especially in
a dog with a very broad chest, incline slightly inward. The pasterns are
short, powerful, and slightly sloping when viewed in profile. Viewed from the
front, the pasterns are straight.
The chest is deep and moderately wide,
with ample room for heart and lungs. The ribs are well sprung from the spine
and then flatten to form a deep body, extending at least to the elbows or
lower in adult dogs. The topline inclines very slightly downward from
well-developed withers to a broad, muscular back. The loin is short, broad,
and slightly arched, blending into a slightly sloping croup. The flank is
moderately tucked up and firm.
Faults: Swayback; sloping topline.
The hindquarters are well
muscled and broad. The width and angulation of the hindquarters is in balance
with the width and angulation of the forequarters.
LEGS - The thighs are well developed with thick, easily discerned muscles. The
lower thighs are muscular and short. Viewed from the side, the rear pasterns
are well let down and perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, the
rear pasterns are straight and parallel to one another.
Serious Faults: Narrow or weak
Cowhocks; open hocks.
The feet are round, medium in size, well arched, and
Fault: Splayed feet.
The seriousness of this fault is based on the amount of splay in the
Bulldog may have a natural or a docked tail, but the natural tail is
preferred. The natural tail is very thick at the base, set low, and tapers to
a point. It should reach to the hock joint. A "pump handle" tail is preferred,
but any tail carriage from upright, when the dog is excited, to relaxed
between the hocks is acceptable.
Faults: Tail curled over the back; corkscrew tail;
kinked tail, tail that ends in a complete curl; upright tail when the dog is
The coat is
short, close, and varies from soft to stiff to the touch. It is one inch or
less in length.
Disqualifications: Longer than one inch, any feathering, or a wavy
color pattern, or combination of colors is acceptable, except for solid black,
solid blue, merle, and tricolor (white with patches of black and tan). A full
black mask is also unacceptable. Some dark brindle coats may appear black
unless examined in very bright light. A buckskin color pattern, where the base
of the hair is fawn and the tips are black, may also appear solid black. A
judge should not disqualify an American Bulldog for black color unless the dog
has been examined in sunlight or other equally bright
Serious Fault: Less
than 10% white markings.
Disqualifications: Solid black or blue with no
white markings; tricolor (white with patches of black and tan); merle; full
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
The American Bulldog must be sufficiently powerful and agile to chase,
catch, and bring down free-ranging livestock. Dogs capable of doing this come
in a rather wide range of height and weight. Standards are leaner and more
athletic in appearance. Bullys are thicker and more powerful in appearance.
Males are typically larger with heavier bone and more muscle than females.
Both sexes, however, should have a well-balanced overall appearance and all
dogs should be well conditioned, neither over nor under
Desirable height in a mature male ranges from
22 to 27 inches; in a mature female, from 20 to 25 inches. In all types,
weight should be in proportion to height.
When trotting, the gait is effortless,
smooth, powerful and well coordinated, showing good reach in front and drive
behind. When moving, the backline remains level, with only a slight flexing to
indicate suppleness. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in nor out,
nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend
to converge toward center line of balance.
movement should be penalized to the degree to which it reduces the American
Bulldog's ability to perform the tasks it was bred to do.
Unilateral or bilateral
cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Cowardice. Unilateral or
bilateral deafness. Any dog that exhibits difficulty breathing while in the
ring. Wry jaw. Overshot bite. Crossed eyes. Eyes that do not match in color.
Coat longer than one inch, any feathering, or a wavy coat. Albinism. Solid
black or blue with no white markings. Tricolor (white with patches of black
and tan); merle; full black mask.