The American bulldog and the Labrador retriever have two very distinct personalities and choosing the right breed can save you heartache down the road. If you want an easy-going, friendly and loving companion, the lab might be for you. If you want a fierce, independent and loyal guardian, the American bulldog might be more up your alley.
Temperament and Personality
American bulldogs are resolute, courageous and confident. Sometimes they can be standoffish towards strangers if not socialized at an early age. They are very loyal dogs and make excellent guardians. The Labrador is known for having a friendly and warm temperament. They love making new friends and are good-natured towards other dogs and people. American bulldogs don't always get along well with other dogs, especially males. It takes a conscious effort on the part of the owner to socialize bulldogs from an early age so that they can get along in public.
Exercise and Activity
Both the American bulldog and the Labrador have lots of energy and require regular activity to be healthy. For Labradors, daily walking, playing fetch or going to the dog park can be excellent ways to channel energy. Don't go for too long, however. Thirty- minute intervals are ideal as the Labrador doesn't know his own limits and can keep going until he's exhausted or has injured himself. As with the Lab, the American bulldog needs regular exercise in order to stay fit and happy. Activities that support his natural abilities include weight pulling, obedience, agility, hunting and farm work.
Behavior and Training
Labradors are especially easy to train. They have a natural inclination to please and make excellent dogs for obedience-training competitions. Training is important to their mental health as well, as they are very intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation. Without training, this friendly breed can become unruly. Training is especially important for the American bulldog. They are strong-willed and stubborn. They quickly fall in line, however, and learn to respect you if you maintain consistency and confidence in your training. Basic training, including leash training, is essential for American bulldogs that leave the yard.
The Labrador sheds more than most dogs. Brushing them once or twice a week will reduce excess hair. Labs love water and can get ear infections from moisture trapped in their ears after swimming. Their ears should be cleaned and dried thoroughly after getting wet and they should have ear cleaner administered as recommended by a veterinarian. American bulldogs should be brushed three times a week with a soft bristle brush. They shouldn't require frequent bathing as long as they're brushed regularly. They also have wrinkles in their face and around their nose that need to be cleaned a couple times a week to daily, depending on the animal. The crevices should be wiped with a damp cloth, and then dried. If moisture is left behind the wrinkles can foster bacteria growth.
Brian McCracken lives in Portland, Ore., where he writes on pets and animal wildlife as well as a wide array of other topics, ranging from real estate to personal development.