Are American Bulldogs Good Family Pets?

American bulldogs love to be outdoors.
Image courtesy of

The American bulldog is a loyal, affectionate and friendly pooch with a strikingly noble and confident appearance. He’s a big boy with boundless energy and a strong prey drive. For the right person, in the right circumstances, he’ll make a brilliant pet. But like any dog breed, the American bulldog isn’t suitable for everyone.

Exercise Requirements

Couch potatoes need not apply. The American bulldog is an athlete. This doesn’t mean you need to take him for a 20-mile hike every day, but he’s at his best when he gets the chance to stretch his legs and exercise. His history as a working cattle dog means he likes to chase. He’ll do just fine on a minimum of an hour’s worth of exercise each day, but he certainly won’t grumble if you offer him more. Running, chasing, catching and even pulling are all fun for the American bulldog.

Grooming Requirements

Aside from basic brushing and regular inspections for lumps and bumps, the American bulldog is very low maintenance. His short coat won’t mat and knot, it is easy to brush clean and he requires a bath only when he’s messy. If you know how and are confident, you can clip his nails too. But unless you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing, let a professional groomer or veterinarian do this. Mistakes can lead to bleeding as all canine nails contain a blood vessel.

The Ideal Environment

You can keep an American bulldog indoors, provided you grant him regular access to the world outside. They love to run and, being big dogs, may not be suited to small apartments. They are generally very good with children, but their prey drive can be stimulated by a running, shouting child. This won’t necessarily cause the dog to go into hunt mode, but he may give chase and due to his size, this can lead to accidents.

Guarding Duties

American bulldogs have an inherent protective instinct. They are naturally wary of strangers and will fearlessly and loyally defend people and property. They can be trained to become excellent guard dogs. However, even untrained bulldogs provide a good visible deterrent and most will stand their ground when confronted with a perceived threat.

The Right Breed for Me?

American bulldogs are not ideal for inexperienced owners, as they require a confident handler. They thrive when they know their boundaries are best served by an owner who has no problem correcting naughty behavior and will lead assertively. These are affectionate dogs, but they’re not lapdogs.