American Bulldog Care

The American Bulldog is a muscular, active breed that is normally devoted to its owners--and in turn, American Bulldog care takes a moderate amount of work overall. This page has plenty of details on raising an American Bulldog: puppy care, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and much more. For everything you need to know about how to take care of an American Bulldog, keep reading!

American Bulldog Breed Development

As a large-sized breed, American Bulldog growth stages from birth to adulthood span a good amount of time--typically two years or more. "But when do American Bulldogs stop growing?!" is a question often asked by an incredulous Am-Bull puppy owner. Physically, these dogs usually reach their full height and length at 14-16 months of age--but they will continue to gain bulk for another year or more. Socially, Am-Bulls develop steadily in about the same time frame and reach mental maturity at about 2½ years, though they may retain their puppy-like behavior until age three years or more. For specific milestones in puppy development, see the following chart:

American Bulldog Exercise Needs

As an active, athletic breed, the muscular American Bulldog will need a good deal of exercise each day. Not only will these dogs need sustained activities that build their endurance, but they'll also need vigorous exercises that keep their muscles properly toned. Though the amount may vary depending on the dog's age and activity level, the typical adult Am-Bull will need 1½-2 hours of exercise daily; you can start exercising an Am-Bull puppy at about three months of age by taking it on short (10- to 15-minute) walks, then increasing the distance as the puppy grows.

For an adult American Bulldog, muscle-building exercises are important--and they're probably not performed enough in dogs of this breed. In addition to the typical conditioning activities like walking or fetch, Am-Bulls benefit greatly from strenuous sessions that work out their considerable muscles. One such exercise is weight-pulling: the Am-Bull wears a harness (which can be bought at many pet stores) that's attached to a rope; the rope is then tied to a heavy object like a spare tire or a log, and the dog pulls the object for short distances. Another muscle-building activity, one that can be done indoors or out, is tug-of-war. You can use a rope or an old towel--and feel free to tug as hard as you like. Your Am-Bull will probably pull harder than you can!

Some things to keep in mind when exercising your Am-Bull: first, puppies shouldn't participate in activities that include lots of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-growing bones and joints. Dogs of this breed are also brachycephalic, meaning they have short noses and smaller airways that don't allow them to breathe as freely as some other breeds; it's wise to not exercise your Am-Bull for too long, especially in extreme heat. And since these dogs can have aggressive tendencies, owners are advised to keep their Am-Bulls leashed when in public--particularly at a dog park, where an Am-Bull will quickly turn aggressive towards other dogs.

Consistent American Bulldog exercise is vital to the dog's well-being--and to your own as well. An under-exercised Am-Bull will have obesity issues, and will likely exhibit behavioral problems that include unbelievable destructiveness. And this warning is not to be taken lightly: a bored or restless American Bulldog can chew and tear every stick of furniture in the house to complete shreds--and unfortunately, nothing will stop him. So a well-exercised Am-Bull is a tired one--and in turn, a tired Am-Bull is a peaceful one. Here are a few exercise ideas:

  • Walking: Two 30-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Weight-Pulling: Use a harness, a rope, and a heavy object
  • Swimming: Great activity on hot days
  • Tug-of-War: Use a rope or old towel; excellent indoor exercise
  • Hiking: Great bonding activity

When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Am-Bull access to one or more balls or chew toys that will allow the dog to release some pent-up energy. It's also recommended that owners have a consistent daily exercise schedule for their Am-Bulls, such as walks after breakfast and dinner, a muscle-building session in the morning, and a play period in the afternoon.

American Bulldog Maintenance

For the American Bulldog, shedding and drool are both pretty glaring issues. These dogs shed regularly for most of the year, and excessively during the spring and fall shedding seasons; they drool quite often as well, mainly due to their pendulous lips.

Your American Bulldog is shedding a lot? Unfortunately, you'll need to get used to it. Am-Bulls have single-layered coats, so dead hairs fall out directly onto...well, everything. During the spring and fall, when these dogs "blow" their winter and summer coats, the amount of shed hair is simply off the charts. Owners say that while no permanent American Bulldog shedding solutions exist, brushing frequently (and daily during shedding season!) will lessen the amount of shed hairs. Even so, those owners warn, anyone with an Am-Bull will need to own a good vacuum and multiple lint-rollers.

Drooling, too, is a sticky issue with these dogs, so to speak. Because their lips hang away from their lower jaws more so than many other breeds, their saliva drips frequently. Am-Bulls will drool in anticipation of food, when they get excited, and when they get excessively hot and pant. One way of minimizing the drooling for food is to put your Am-Bull outside while you prepare the food, then let the dog in to eat. Some owners also say their Am-Bulls slobber so much that the dogs' necks and chests get dirty and stinky from all the saliva--so they tie a bandanna or an old towel around their Am-Bulls' necks to protect those areas.

American Bulldog Diet

For the American Bulldog, food and diet choices are vital in keeping its athletic, muscular body in tip-top shape. These brawny dogs will need food that's high in animal proteins and, since they're highly prone to obesity, it'll need to be low in carbohydrates. This means that premium food is definitely the better choice of dog food for your American Bulldog, as it's more nutrient-dense and contains a lot fewer empty "filler" carbs than cheap dog foods.

But specifically how much to feed an American Bulldog? While these amounts may vary depending on your dog's age and activity level, the typical adult American Bulldog food amount should equal about two cups (1,900 calories) per day, divided into two meals. And growing American Bulldog puppy food amounts are actually higher: a four-month-old Am-Bull puppy, for example, needs about three cups (2,800 calories) daily, divided into three meals. Here's an American Bulldog feeding guide for further reference:

It's extremely important to try and not overfeed your Am-Bull, because these dogs can become overweight easily. The mental picture of a fat American Bulldog waddling down the sidewalk is, unfortunately, not difficult to imagine. Am-Bull obesity leads to digestive, breathing, and circulatory issues, not to mention a shortened lifespan. And veterinarians believe the leading cause of canine obesity is the practice of "free-feeding," whereby food is left in the dog's bowl all day, allowing it to eat anytime it wants. It's highly recommended that you put your Am-Bull's food dish down only at mealtimes, then pick it up 15-20 minutes after the dog begins eating. And try to establish a consistent daily feeding schedule starting when your Am-Bull is a puppy so it becomes accustomed to eating only at specific times. In regards to treats and snacks: vets urge Am-Bull owners to give their dogs healthy snacks like fresh veggies or fruit (or perhaps a bit of lean meat) instead of commercial dog treats, which are loaded with empty carbs and very unhealthy.If you believe your Am-Bull is overweight, give the dog the simple Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's time for a diet. Decrease the Am-Bull's daily food intake by one-fourth, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.