Are American Bulldogs Good Family Dogs?

american bulldog on couch

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The American bulldog was descended from the ancient Mastiff, which was bred solely for its strength and power.

The American bulldog was used in the early days of the 17th century by farmers for protection against wild boars and large cattle. 

Today, these large, muscular breeds are the number one family and property protection dog. Due to their history, the American bulldog is instinctually defensive and territorial.

You may be wondering:

Is the American Bulldog a good family dog?

With basic obedience training and standard socialization, the American bulldog can become an excellent dog for families. 

American Bulldog Characteristics

Although born to work, the American bulldog is playful, sensitive, and compassionate. On the other hand, American bulldogs—if not socialized—have an aggressive streak that becomes dangerous without proper training. 

As a puppy, the bulldog must get familiar with people, children, and other pets or animals quickly to adapt to modern life.

Be careful not to leave this bulldog alone for extended periods, as they are prone to separation anxiety and need to be mentally and physically stimulated and challenged. 

Maintenance and Activity Level

The American bulldog is a large breed (60-100 pounds) and is not equipped to handle apartment living as they need room to run, play, and exercise to keep their muscular bodies healthy.

Because the American bulldog is very clever and intuitive, they’ll need an experienced owner who knows basic training. Otherwise, the breed may become destructive and test your limits.

american bulldog playing fetch

Although they’re relatively easy to train, the American bulldog is not for beginner dog owners.  

In conclusion, this breed has a strong prey drive, is driven by the instinct to work, and is very sensitive. Due to their inability to be alone for long, need space to roam, and require consistent mental stimulation, they are considered high-maintenance. They are highly energetic and would suit someone with the same mindset. 

Trainability: How Smart Is the American Bulldog?

Compared to other dogs, an American bulldog’s brilliance level is unknown. However, due to the reason they were bred, this breed knows command and reward.

They are great for protecting who they know, yet their initial hunting behaviors scratch the surface when it comes to strangers. 

If you have appropriately socialized your American bulldog, the chances of attacking or diving into their instinctual aggression significantly dissipates.

When given time, patience, and their parent’s attention and approval, they behave just as you intend.

 For example, many dogs find it difficult to follow commands and don’t understand commands and rewards. However, if you were to be concise with your intention for your American bulldog, they’ll behave as you have raised them. 

For this reason, the American bulldog is fairly clever. 

How Friendly Is the American Bulldog?

friendly american bulldog

The American bulldog descends from a purebred mastiff, allowing more room for aggression in their personality and the instinct to hunt.

Perhaps the friendliest bulldog breed is the English bulldog, which is shorter and has different facial features. However, the English bulldog is a crossbreed between a bull mastiff and a pug. 

It’s easier for an American bulldog to tap into its aggressive side when provoked, no matter how much training or socialization happened.

Although this may make the American bulldog seem more unpredictable, they are fairly laid-back and outgoing breeds if adequately socialized. 

On the other hand, one of the main reasons an American bulldog will attack is if they feel threatened or perceive potential danger towards their family or property.

For this reason, the American bulldog becomes anxious quite quickly when left alone, as they rely on their pet parent to correct and guide them. 

With Cats and Other Dogs

If your American bulldog were not raised with other pets or cats, they would become territorial quickly due to their high social needs and high prey drive. 

On the other hand, it is not impossible to introduce another pet into the household in your bullies’ adult life due to how well they can adapt to change. Just make sure you’re introducing someone new slowly and adequately. 

However, due to their muscular bodies and history of having the capacity to tackle large animals three times their size, all play should be supervised as your American bully may not know their own strength. 

With Children and Babies

In all cases, supervision should always be a must with children and babies, regardless of how well-behaved your American bully is. They can become overly excited during play which could result in an accident. 

Remember that it is not up to your dog to be self-aware with children and babies, but more your responsibility to teach your children how to play and interact with your dog. 

Altogether, the American bulldog strives for attention and needs compassion and affection from humans to be their best selves. 

Pros and Cons of Owning an American Bulldog

Before adopting an American bulldog, try to learn as much history about them as possible. If you have a rescue bulldog, their temperament and socialism may differ as opposed to if you got the bully from a breeder while they were young. 

While the American bulldog maintains great strength, diligence, and confidence, these traits can quickly turn from friendly and affectionate to bold and dangerous.

Though usually calm and obedient under ongoing training, the American bulldog has pros and cons.


The American bulldog is perfect for people with these traits:

  • Want a dog that’s easy to groom
  • If you have a reasonably active lifestyle
  • Have experience in training dogs
  • Wishes to have a well-balanced dog
  • Hopes for protection and affection in one dog
  • Want a dog that is adaptable and can handle quick changes


The American bulldog is not a great fit if you don’t want:

  • A hyperactive dog that needs constant supervision and handling
  • It has a mind of its own and will test limits and boundaries
  • Excessive drooling and slobbering
  • Gassy breed
  • Genetic predispositions
  • Deal with high-prey drive

Wrapping It Up: Is the American Bulldog a Good Family Dog?

American bulldogs are great with children, pets, and people as they have a very laid-back (and active) sensitive personality.

For the most part, the American bulldog makes a great family addition if properly socialized and raised with one family. 

On the other hand, due to their breeding history, they have a high prey drive, can be high-maintenance, and become excitable quite quickly. While they are also intelligent, they are independent and will push the limits when basic training is skipped.

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