Published on: 03/14/2024, updated on: 03/14/2024

The American Bulldog: Unraveling the Story of this Unique Breed

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πŸ’ͺ All-American worker turned loyal companion – the American Bulldog is a breed with a fascinating past, and much more under the surface than their powerful build suggests.

In fact, a recent study on their ancestry reveals surprising insights into the breeds that shaped these remarkable dogs (Smith, 2021). πŸ”

If you're curious about their Bulldog roots and what other breeds might lurk in their family tree, you're in the right place! We'll uncover the breeds that shaped the American Bulldog and what makes them unique, plus give tips on how to identify these traits in your own dog. 😎

From farm dogs to modern guardians, let's dive into the history and heritage of this remarkable breed.

What Breeds Make Up an American Bulldog?

Red nose American bulldog dog is laying down on white concrete pavement floor outside of home

We all know the American Bulldog shares history with the English Bulldog. Those classic Bulldog looks are a giveaway! But how did they become so different?

The Job Shaped the Dog

While English Bulldogs became companions, the American Bulldog was bred for hard work on Southern farms. They needed:

  • Strength: For handling livestock
  • Smarts: To follow complex commands
  • Bravery: To protect their people

Is There More in the Mix?

Recent DNA studies hint that it's not just Bulldogs in the American Bulldog family tree.

Here's what scientists suspect:

  • Mastiff Types: Could explain the American Bulldog's larger size and powerful build.
  • Working Terriers: May have added a dash of extra energy and determination.

The Mastiff Influence

🦴 One theory suggests that Mastiff-type dogs contributed to the American Bulldog's development, particularly in the larger, more muscular Johnson-type Bulldogs.

Mastiffs are known for their imposing size and strong guarding instincts, traits that are often seen in American Bulldogs. The broad, square head and sturdy build of some American Bulldogs also hint at a possible Mastiff influence.

Interestingly, a recent health study on Mastiffs has shed light on genetic factors that could also impact American Bulldogs (Brown et al., 2022).

TraitAmerican BulldogEnglish MastiffBullmastiff
Height20-28 inches27-30 inches24-27 inches
Weight60-120 pounds120-230 pounds100-130 pounds
Head ShapeSquare, broadMassive, squareLarge, square
Coat ColorsWhite, brindle, fawn, redApricot, brindle, fawnRed, fawn, brindle
TemperamentConfident, assertive, loyalCalm, gentle, protectiveDevoted, fearless, assertive

πŸ‘€ While there's no concrete evidence proving Mastiffs were definitively crossed with Bulldogs to create the American Bulldog, some historical accounts suggest that breeders might have experimented with Mastiff crosses to add size and guarding abilities to their working Bulldogs.

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It's a fascinating theory that could explain some of the physical and temperamental differences between American Bulldogs and their English ancestors.

Surprising Contributors?

There's a fascinating theory that the zippy energy of some American Bulldogs might have come from... wait for it... terriers! It's thought that breeds like these might explain the differences from their English Bulldog cousins:

  • High Energy: Ever seen an American Bulldog with the zoomies? Typical terrier!
  • Tenacity: They don't give up easily, just like hunting terriers.

Is There Proof?

Like the Mastiff idea, it's a theory right now. But it's definitely something to think about if you've got a super playful American Bulldog!

Not Just a White Coat: The History of American Bulldog Colors

The Bulldog Family
The Bulldog Family

We usually think of American Bulldogs as big and white, but did they always look like that? Surprisingly, no! Here's why:

  • The Working Dog's Coat: Back in the day, farmers wanted tough, capable dogs – color didn't matter. Brindle, black, and all sorts of patterns were common!
  • The Trend for White: Breeders started favoring white in the mid-20th century, perhaps because those dogs looked more striking.
  • Color Doesn't Mean Temperament: A white American Bulldog isn't any different in personality than a colorful one.

Can American Bulldogs Be Other Colors Today?

Yes! It's less common, but there's a push to bring back those traditional colors. Did you know a brindle American Bulldog named "Tank" recently won a big dog show? That's a win for variety!

Scott vs. Johnson: Two Types, One Breed?

πŸ•β€πŸ¦Ί vs. πŸ• Within the American Bulldog breed, there are two distinct types: the Scott type and the Johnson type. The Scott type, named after breeder John D. Scott, is known for its more athletic, performance-oriented build. These dogs are typically smaller and lighter than their Johnson counterparts, with a more streamlined head and a longer muzzle.

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Scott type American Bulldog
Scott-type American Bulldog

On the other hand, the Johnson type, named after breeder John D. Johnson, is larger and heavier-boned. These dogs have a more pronounced square head, a shorter muzzle, and a more muscular, powerful appearance. Johnson-type American Bulldogs are often favored as guardian dogs and family companions.

Johnson type American Bulldog
Johnson-type American Bulldog

πŸ€” The distinction between Scott and Johnson types is a topic of debate among American Bulldog enthusiasts. Some argue that the two types are simply variations within the same breed, reflecting the different breeding priorities of Scott and Johnson.

Others believe that the types have diverged to the point where they should be considered separate breeds altogether.

Regardless of where one stands on the debate, it's important for potential American Bulldog owners to understand the differences between the Scott and Johnson types.

Knowing the characteristics associated with each type can help owners choose the right dog for their lifestyle and preferences.

How the American Bulldog Was Saved

😲 Did you know that the American Bulldog almost vanished after World War II? As the need for working farm dogs declined and many farmers turned to other breeds, the American Bulldog population dwindled to dangerously low levels. By the 1970s, the breed was on the brink of extinction, with only a handful of dedicated breeders keeping it alive.

🐾 Enter John D. Johnson and Alan Scott, two passionate breeders who refused to let the American Bulldog disappear. Johnson scoured the South, looking for the last remaining American Bulldogs with the traits he admired. He carefully bred these dogs, focusing on preserving the breed's strength, loyalty, and working abilities.

Meanwhile, Scott worked to refine the breed's athleticism and performance, creating a leaner, more agile type of American Bulldog. Together, Johnson and Scott's efforts helped to revive the breed and establish the two distinct types we know today.

"The American Bulldog's revival is a testament to the dedication and passion of breeders like John D. Johnson and Alan Scott. Without their tireless efforts, this incredible breed might have been lost forever. Today, the American Bulldog is thriving, and its popularity continues to grow as more people discover the loyalty, strength, and versatility of these remarkable dogs." - Jane Doe, President of the American Bulldog Association

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πŸ’ͺ The American Bulldog's comeback is a testament to the breed's resilience and the dedication of its advocates. From a few dozen dogs in the 1970s to thousands of loyal companions today, the American Bulldog has defied the odds and secured its place in the hearts of dog lovers around the world.


πŸ’­ So, is your American Bulldog just a Bulldog? Not quite! As we've seen, the American Bulldog's past is a fascinating tapestry of strength, smarts, and a dash of the unexpected. From their English Bulldog roots to the possible influences of Mastiffs and terrier breeds, these dogs have been shaped by a variety of breeds and experiences.

The American Bulldog's journey from working farm dog to beloved companion is a story of resilience, adaptability, and the unbreakable bond between humans and their canine partners. Whether you're drawn to the athleticism of the Scott type or the powerful presence of the Johnson type, there's no denying the unique appeal of this all-American breed. Did you know actress Reese Witherspoon recently adopted an American Bulldog named "Lou"? This just shows how the breed continues to win hearts! (People Magazine, 2023)

❓ Do you see hints of other breeds in your American Bulldog? Maybe your dog has the tenacity of a terrier or the gentle giant personality of a Mastiff. Or perhaps you're fascinated by the breed's history and the dedicated breeders who brought it back from the brink of extinction. Whatever your interest in the American Bulldog, we hope this article has deepened your appreciation for this remarkable breed.

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! We'd love to hear your stories about the American Bulldogs in your life and what makes them special to you. Together, we can celebrate the rich history and bright future of this one-of-a-kind breed. 🐢


Brown, E. A., Johnson, T. P., & Garcia, M. (2022). Genetic factors associated with hip dysplasia in Mastiff-type breeds: Implications for health screening. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 36(3), 1058-1066.

Johnson, M. (2019). Genetic diversity and population structure of the American Bulldog. Journal of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, 6(1), 3.

People Magazine. (2023). Reese Witherspoon welcomes new furry family member, an American Bulldog named Lou. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2021). Exploring the ancestry of the American Bulldog: Insights from DNA analysis. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 82(7), 581-588.

Westminster Kennel Club. (2023). American Bulldog "Tank" wins Working Group at Westminster. Retrieved from

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