Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the English bulldog. You may even have heard of the French bulldog. If you’re like many people, however, you might not know about the American bulldog or the history of its near extinction and eventual rebirth into two distinct and branching family lines.
American Bulldog History
The original bulldog was unlike the English bulldog known today. The breed originated as a cattle drover and “catch dog” used to catch and hold cows or other livestock until they could be corralled. This bulldog also was used as a property guardian. The breed’s temperament and physical attributes made them good multipurpose dogs working for the people who emigrated from England to the United States, especially those who settled in the South. The dogs brought to the United States were often identified using different type or breed names, but they most frequently were called bulldogs. Over time, these dogs came close to extinction. In the mid-20th century, two men decided to restore the type: John D. Johnson and Allen Scott. Virtually every American bulldog in existence today can trace his or her pedigree back to Johnson’s foundation stud dog “Dick the Bruiser” or Scott’s foundation stud dog “Mac the Masher”.
Johnson American Bulldogs
The Johnson American bulldog, also called the classic American bulldog, is the larger of the two American bulldog types. They stand about 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 90 and 120 pounds. Johnson dogs have heavier bones, wider chests and boxier heads more closely resembling the English bulldog due to a cross with that breed. This American bulldog type must have a distinctly undershot bite, although the lower teeth must never show when the dog’s mouth is closed. Both types of American bulldog can have cropped or natural ears; however, natural ears are preferred for both.
Scott American Bulldogs
Allen Scott’s American bulldogs, often called “standard” American bulldogs, remained smaller and more athletic than those bred by Johnson. Despite being a taller dog, standing between 22 and 27 inches at the shoulder, the Scott type is sometimes mistaken for an American pit bull terrier. The Scott type has a narrower head and muzzle. This type has a slightly undershot jaw with the lower teeth at the front of the mouth touching the outside of the upper teeth in what is called a “reverse scissors bite.”
Bandogs vs. American Bulldogs
The American bulldog and the bandog are sometimes confused. The bandog began as a cross between mastiff breeds and American pit bull terriers. Bandogs, a developing guardian breed, are usually larger than even the Johnson American bulldog. Males range from 25 to 29 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 100 and 140 pounds. Bandogs also differ from the American bulldog due to their color. Unlike either types of American bulldog, the bandog can be solid black, solid blue or have red (buckskin or fawn) coats with black masks. Even though the American bulldog is not a bandog, the breed is sometimes used in bandog breeding programs.