Not to be confused with the American Bulldog, who has a similar look and size, the American Bully is a breed all his own. Recently introduced to the canine kingdom and widely regarded as a companion dog, the American Bully is known for his incredible build, boxy face, and sweet temperament.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the American Bully is right for everyone. Although this dog is not considered a true Pitbull type, he may be banned in certain regions due to his heritage and look.
Furthermore, without proper socialization and training, the American Bully can be an overwhelming dog for some novice owners.
Do you have what it takes to raise an American Bully? Keep reading to find out!
The American Bully At A Glance
The American Bully is a large bully breed mixed with the American Pitbull Terrier and Bulldog.
Origin: The United States
Height: 13 – 20 Inches
Weight: 66 – 88 Pounds
Temperament: Gentle, Affectionate, Mild-Mannered, Trainable
Health Issues: Bloat, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Cherry Eye, Entropion, Ectropion, Skin Allergies and Food Sensitivities.
Average Cost Through A Breeder: $2,500 – $5,000
Breed Clubs That Recognize The American Bully:
- The United Kennel Club
- The American Bully Kennel Club
The American Bully Breed Standard and Varieties
The American Bully is a newer breed introduced to the United States during the 1980’s and 90’s.
Although he is a newer dog to the scene, the American Bully has found a large fanbase here in the United States. He was created in the 1980’s by breed enthusiasts who were keen on making a bully breed with more mass and muscle but with less health and temperamental issues than many other bulldog types.
Breeders mixed popular dogs like the American Bulldog, the Olde English Bulldog, and the English Bulldog with the American Pitbull Terrier. It is likely that other breeds have been used as well to perfect the American Bully’s look while also ensuring his more mild-mannered temperament.
The breed was not perfected until the 1990’s, when his appearance was officially set and he was determined to come in at least five size varieties.
The four five common types of the American Bully include:
- The Standard American Bully
- The Pocket American Bully
- The XL American Bully
- The Classic American Bully
- And Unofficial American Bully Types
The Standard American Bully
Standard American Bully dogs are some of the most common. They range in height from 16 – 20 inches and have a medium build, large head, and come in a variety of colors.
The Pocket American Bully
As the name suggests, a Pocket American Bully is the smallest of the American Bully types. He stands no taller than 17 inches, though he maintains the same big-boned build as his other bully counterparts.
The XL American Bully
If you’re looking for a big American Bully, you’ll be on the hunt for an XL type. These dogs are the largest of the types and stand at a towering 21 -23 inches in height. They are also often the heaviest, weighing upwards of over 80 pounds.
The Classic American Bully
The Classic American Bully resembles a few other bully breeds and often some Pitbulls, making him more difficult to distinguish as an American Bully for certain. He has a lighter, more graceful frame and is less muscular and stocky. His features are not as heavily exaggerated, with his head and body being more proportionate.
The Unofficial American Bully Types
As we mentioned, there are also unofficial types of American Bully. These dogs fall somewhere outside of the range of the officially recognized breed standard, with many being larger, taller, smaller or shorter than that of their above American Bully counterparts.
It’s important to also note that all American Bully types are classified as Standard American Bully dogs up until they reach one year old. This is when their build and appearance has been solidified and they may be officially classified.
We should also note that because the American Bully is not recognized as a purebred just yet by the American Kennel Club, he has yet to be accepted for show. Still, owners have found that this breed is highly trainable and athletic, excelling in dog sports like the flirt pole and obedience.
The American Bully Temperament – How To Train and Socialize An American Bully Breed
The American Bully is a friendly and outgoing dog, but he needs routine socialization and training.
The American Bully was designed specifically for two things – look and temperament. Although bully breeds like Pitbulls have been long discriminated against due to their history with blood sports, the American Bully was bred to have a very low prey drive and a highly trainable demeanor.
That said, this dog’s look can still turn some heads and cause people to cower in fear. The American Bully, with his bulging muscles, stocky build and wide muzzle is certainly intimidating, but the more we learn about Bully breeds and Pitbulls, the more we come to understand they are not inherently aggressive, especially when properly trained and socialized.
The gentle and affectionate American Bully’s temperament has been recorded as sweet and eager to please. He does well with children and other pets when raised properly and gets along with most everyone he meets.
How To Properly Socialize An American Bully
Socialization is key to raising a happy, healthy and well-rounded dog, regardless of the breed or mix. The American Bully is no exception and should begin being socialized at an early age. Socializing your American Bully will include introducing him to as many new sights, sounds and experiences as possible.
Make sure your American Bully is used to being handled and touched on sensitive areas of his body like his ears, tail, nose and paws. It’s also important to work with him early on to reduce potential resource guarding.
When raising an American Bully with children, we suggest parents teach young children how to respectfully and gently interact with their American Bully. Discourage rough housing and wrestling and instead teach them how to use appropriate and dog-safe toys to interact and build a bond with their dog.
It’s also a good idea to teach children basic canine body language. This will help the whole family better understand when their American Bully is happy, scared or stressed and can lead to an even closer bond.
And of course, always monitor very young children and toddlers around any dog to ensure they are all getting along safely and harmoniously.
How To Properly Train an American Bully
It is never too early to begin training your American Bully, and sessions can start from the moment you bring him home. While there is some speculation that older dogs are more difficult to train, this simply isn’t true.
The American Bully in general is an intelligent and affectionate dog who is highly devoted to his people and will enjoy learning new tricks and cues. Regardless of your American Bully’s age, you should be able to hold his attention using treats and plenty of praise and have him learning in no time.
When it comes to training, refrain from using negative reinforcement or punishments. Scolding or punishing your American Bully can lead to him shutting down and may harm the relationship between the two of you .
Furthermore, the American Bully is a highly sensitive dog who is not as stubborn as some other Bully breeds. He does best with consistency and encouragement during training as opposed to a more firm hand.
When training your American Bully, we suggest investing in high-quality treats that your American Bully will see as very high value.
Zuke’s Naturals Mini Training Treats
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Some of our favorite training treats are by Zuke’s Naturals. These mini treats are only three calories a treat, which is ideal for the American Bully, who can be prone to suffering from digestive issues including Bloat.
When feeding your dog these treats during training, be sure to only offer them during sessions to increase their value. Use these treats in conjunction with leash training and commands, and keep them sealed in an airtight container or pouch when not in use.
American Bully Health Issues and Lifespan
Some American Bully dogs are healthy overall, but others are plagued with health issues throughout their lives.
For the most part, the American Bully has been found to be a healthy and happy dog. However, like all dogs, the American Bully can be prone to some serious health issues. These health issues can be exasperated if you get your American Bully from an irresponsible breeder or source, but we will talk more about this further down.
For now, it’s important to know that some American Bully dogs can be born into healthy litters and wind up with major health issues down the road, and that some American Bully breeds are known to be plagued with issues while others are relatively healthy throughout their lives.
While you can’t stop every major ailment from occurring in your American Bully, there are steps you can take early on to help ensure your American Bully lives his happiest, healthiest life.
On average, American Bully dogs live between 8 and 15 years. They are known to suffer from a wide range of health issues that can vary depending on the type of American Bully you have, including:
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Demodex Mange
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Cerebellar Abiotrophy
- Cleft Lip
- Zinc Responsive Dermatosis
- Luxating Patella
- Congenital Heart Failure
- Digestive Issues
- And Heat Intolerance
While all the above health issues can be serious and some can even be life threatening, there are some that can be prevalent in dogs like the American Bully that owners should be aware of.
Bloat is a serious condition common in large, deep chested dogs like the American Bully. It can come on suddenly when a dog eats or drinks too much too quickly, or when a dog eats something he shouldn’t.
The condition occurs when gas or air fills the intestines, causing the stomach and intestine to flip. When this occurs, blood flow is stopped to the lower part of the dog’s body, causing the dog to go into shock.
Symptoms of Bloat include panting, excessive drooling, obvious pain, distended abdomen, unproductive vomiting, lethargy, and eventual collapse.
If you notice symptoms of Bloat in your American Bully, it is important to get him to a vet for emergency care as soon as possible.
Not every American Bully is born with the same appearance, and those with flatter faces or shorter muzzles can be more prone to heat intolerance and breathing difficulties. This means that they are more susceptible to heat stroke and should not be left outside unattended, especially when the weather is very warm.
When your American Bully is outside, be sure that he has a space to go that is shaded and that he is provided with an adequate amount of cool, fresh drinking water.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Many flat-faced bully breeds are known to suffer from Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, which is a breathing disorder caused by the flattening of their skull over generations of breeding.
The flatter face of your American Bully’s skull means that he is unable to pant properly, which can lead to heat intolerance, as mentioned above. This syndrome can also lead to snoring and exercise intolerance.
Tips On Keeping Your American Bully Healthy
While you can’t prevent every health issue that your American Bully may be susceptible to, there are steps you can take to ensure he has the best chance possible beginning early on.
Before you get your American Bully, make sure you go through sources you trust like a reputable breeder or quality shelter. We also suggest that you have your American Bully health screened at an early age so that you might have a better idea of any serious health issues he may be prone to.
Keeping up with routine grooming will also help ensure your American Bully is happy and healthy, as will ensuring your American Bully maintains a quality diet.
You might also consider investing in a slow feeder, which can help reduce the chances of Bloat and encourage healthy mealtime habits.
Outward Hound Fun Feeder
The Outward Hound Fun Feeder above is a slow feeder that slows your dog down when eating and in turn reduces the amount of air he swallows during meal time.
Using a slow feeder also allows you to better monitor how much your dog is eating and can help with weight control. It even makes mealtime more fun for your dog, which is great for intelligent dogs like the American Bully.
Grooming Your American Bully
The American Bully has a short, shedding coat that needs occasional brushing and bathing.
When it comes to grooming, the American Bully is rather easy. Regardless of the type of American Bully dog you wind up with, his coat is relatively short, smooth and low-shedding. Still, this dog does shed and he sheds most during shedding season, which is in spring and fall.
During shedding season, the American Bully will need to be brushed once or twice a week using a quality deshedding comb. Outside of shedding season, you can brush him occasionally as needed.
The American Bully will also need an occasional bath, however it’s important not to overbathe your American Bully as this can lead to a reduction in his natural oils and cause skin and coat issues.
Most experts recommend bathing your American Bully once every few months or so unless he gets into something particularly dirty. When you bathe your American Bully, we suggest using a quality dog-safe shampoo for sensitive skin.
Some American Bully dogs can be more prone to suffering from allergies and skin sensitivities, so using a hypoallergenic dog shampoo with ingredients that relieve itchiness and dry skin can be helpful.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo
The above shampoo by Veterinary Formula Clinical Care store is specially designed to help reduce allergies and skin issues in dogs like the American Bully. This shampoo is made with quality ingredients that are gentle on skin like vitamin E and allantoin.
This shampoo is also free of parabens, dyes and sulfates and will not irritate your American Bully dog’s eyes. It is safe to use for dogs in all life stages and may even be used on cats.
Along with bathing, the American Bully should also have his nails trimmed routinely to keep them from cracking and splitting during play. His ears should be checked and cleaned regularly to keep ear infections from occurring due to buildup, and his teeth should be brushed daily using a dog-safe toothbrush and toothpaste.
Arm & Hammer Dog Toothbrush Kit
One of our favorite toothbrushes for dogs comes in this kit listed above by Arm & Hammer. The kit provides you with a dual-sided toothbrush and even includes a flavored toothpaste your dog will love. To get your dog used to having his teeth brushed, begin as early as possible and try and make the experience positive for him.
Last, we recommend investing in some kind of ointment or wipes for your American Bully’s face wrinkles.
Some American Bully dogs have more wrinkles than others, which can lead to serious skin issues, bacteria and debris buildup, and open sores. To avoid this in your American Bulldog, we suggest investing in Wrinkle Paste. This paste not only helps reduce buildup and bacteria that can occur in your American Bully’s face folds, but it can also help remove tear stains on your dog’s face as well.
American Bully Exercise Requirements
The American Bully is an athletic breed that requires a good amount of exercise to stay happy and fit.
As you might expect, the muscular and athletic American Bully requires a good amount of exercise each and every day in order to thrive. Most experts agree that 45 to 60 minutes of exercise a day should suffice, and your American Bully will generally enjoy getting out of the house more than once.
He’ll enjoy having a backyard to play in and ample space in the home, although when he is properly exercised he is generally relaxed indoors.
While the American Bully is an outgoing and fun-loving dog, he is not built for life outdoors. This is an indoor dog who enjoys being with his family. This means that he will get the most out of his exercise routines when they are done alongside you.
The American Bully makes a good hiking companion and may even enjoy short jogs, although remember that he can suffer from heat and exercise intolerance, so it’s best not to push him.
Your American Bully can also have some of his exercise needs met with games of fetch in the backyard, frisbee, or even free play at a dog park.
We should note that American Bully dogs are not good swimmers. Their large heads, flattened faces and boxy build make them serious drowning hazards, so keep an eye on them around open water. If you do want to take your American Bully swimming, make sure he has the proper safety equipment like a doggy life jacket and that you are monitoring him the entire time.
We also suggest investing in quality dog walking and exercise equipment to ensure you get the most out of your daily walks and exercise routines with your dog.
The PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
The PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness is an excellent alternative to using choke chains or prong coolers on dogs who are strong and muscular. This is especially important for the American Bully, who can be prone to breathing difficulties and should not wear anything that puts pressure on his throat or trachea.
The above no pull dog harness is a front clip harness, so it helps redirect pulling without putting pressure on your dog’s chest or throat. It also makes walking feel more natural for him, which in turn makes it more comfortable for you.
What Is The Ideal Home Type For An American Bully?
The American Bully does well in homes with active owners who are committed to his training and socialization.
American Bully dogs are highly trainable, eager to please, and fun-loving to boot. They get along well with people of all ages and may even enjoy having other pets in the home to play with.
However, like all dogs, the American Bully requires routine training and socialization beginning at an early age. They will also need to eat a quality dog food specified for their age, weight and activity level.
The ideal home type for an American Bully would be a home with a spacious backyard where the American Bully can run and play freely. Because these dogs are so athletic, the backyard should be securely fenced and the fence should be at least six feet high.
Some American Bully dogs can be diggers, so we also suggest reinforcing the bottom of your fence to ensure your American Bully won’t dig himself out.
The good news is that the American Bully doesn’t have a very high prey drive and is not too keen on chasing smaller animals. That’s not to say that he won’t, however, so always walk your American Bully on a leash and harness when out and about.
And while the American Bully does well on his own for small periods of time, this is a family-oriented breed who can become bored and destructive if left alone without proper mental stimulation and if not kept routinely exercised .
American Bully dogs also require lots of time and attention from their families. They fancy themselves sensitive lap dogs in spite of their muscular build, and will thrive in homes where they are a valued and adored member of the family.
You And Your American Bully – How To Pick A Healthy Dog
Choosing a puppy from the right source will help ensure your American Bully grows up happy and healthy.
Have you decided that the American Bully is right for you? Then prepare to cough up a pretty big chunk of change. On average, American Bully puppies cost between $2,000 and $5,000, with some going for even more.
This price can vary depending on the breeder you go through, but it’s important not to cut corners in search of an American Bully puppy at a bargain price. Remember, if you go through an uncertified source like a backyard breeder or online seller, you are more likely to wind up with a sick puppy that can cost you much more money in the long run.
You can also consider rescuing an American Bully dog. There are plenty of shelters and rescues that specialize in the breed and many other Bully types, and rescuing a dog is generally a fraction of the cost of going through a breeder.
Whichever road you choose to take, it’s best to do plenty of research and understand the pros and cons of raising an American Bully.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on the American Bully. Now we want to hear from you. Do you think the American Bully would make the ideal companion? Why or why not?
Leave us your thoughts about the American Bully in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.