Official U.K.C. Breed Standard
Bulldogs in England were originally working dogs who 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 are more massive, with a larger,
broader head and shorter muzzle, and a definite undershot bite. The Scott dogs were somewhat lighter in musculature and bone
than the Johnson dogs, with a less Mastiff-like head. Today, however, most American Bulldogs have crosses to two or more of
these lines and are not as easily distinguishable.
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.
The essential 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
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.
MUZZLE -- The muzzle is broad and thick with a very slight taper from the stop to the nose. The length of
the muzzle is equal to 35 to 45 percent of the length of the head. Lips are moderately thick but not pendulous. The chin is
well defined and must neither overlap the upper lip nor be covered by it.
The American Bulldog has a complete set of large, evenly spaced, white teeth. The preferred bite is undershot with the inside
of the lower incisors extending in front of the upper incisors up to ¼ inch. A scissors bite is acceptable. A level bite and
extreme undershot bite are considered faults 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 acceptable.
NOSE -- The nose is large with wide, open
nostrils. The nose may be any color but darker pigment is preferred.
EYES -- Eyes are
medium in size, round, and set well apart. All colors are acceptable but brown is preferred. Haw is not visible. Dark eye
rims are preferred.
Faults: Very visible haws.
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.
Drop ears: 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 eye.
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.
Fault: Hound ears.
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 acceptable.
Faults: Neck too short and thick; thin or weak
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.
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 moderately sloping croup. The flank is moderately tucked up and firm.
Serious 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. 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 perpen-dicular to the
ground. Viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are straight and parallel to one another.
Faults: Cowhocks; open hocks.
faults: Narrow or weak hindquarters.
The feet are round, medium in size, well arched, and tight.
Fault: Splayed feet. The seriousness of this fault is based on the amount of splay
in the feet.
The American Bulldog may have a natural or a docked tail, but the natural tail is preferred. The
natural tail is very thick at the base, and tapers to a point. The tail is set low. A "pump handle" tail is preferred but
any tail carriage from upright, when the dog is excited, to relaxed between the hocks is acceptable.
Serious fault: Tail curled over the back; corkscrew tail; upright tail
when the dog is relaxed.
The coat is short, close, and stiff to the touch.
Long or wavy coat.
Any color, color pattern, or combination of colors is acceptable, except for solid black, solid
blue, and tricolor (white with patches of black and tan). 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
Disqualifications: Solid black
or blue with no white markings; tricolor (white with patches of black and tan).
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. Males are typically larger with heavier
bone and more muscle than females. Both sexes, however, should have a well-balanced overall appearance.
Desirable height in a mature male ranges from 22 to 27 inches; in a mature female, from 20 to 25 inches.
Desirable weight in a mature male ranges from 75 to 125 pounds; in a mature female, from 60 to 100 pounds.
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.
Poor 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. Unilateral or bilateral deafness.
Cowardice. Overshot. Long or wavy coat. Albinism. Solid black or blue with no white markings. Tricolor (white with patches
of black and tan).