American bulldogs are generally sweet, playful and big eaters. Since your bulldog will likely eat anything he can get his grubby little paws on, you're responsible for portioning his food and monitoring his weight. Fit bulldogs have better overall health, so feed carefully for a longer, happier life.
Puppies are big eaters by nature, and bulldogs are no exception. Until he's about 4 months old, your puppy should eat almost twice as much as an adult. Always defer to the portioning instructions on your food package, since the nutrition content changes from brand to brand. That in mind, though, a puppy under 4 months old should eat three to four cups of food per day, divided into four feedings. Between 4 and 6 months, cut back to three feedings for a total of two and a quarter to three cups of food per day.
Amount and Frequency
After six months, your dog should be on his adult feeding regimen: one and a half to two cups of food per day, divided into two meals. Bulldogs have a tendency to gorge themselves when free-fed, and eating too much too fast can make them sick. Unlike other dogs that can self-regulate their meals, then, bulldogs must be fed on a routine schedule to keep their digestion healthy and regular.
Monitoring your bulldog's weight begins when he is a puppy, because this short, stout breed is prone to joint and bone problems when overweight. Since bulldogs are naturally so pudgy and wrinkly, you may have difficulty eyeballing his weight. Instead, get hands-on—literally—to see if your dog has too much junk in the trunk. When your dog is standing, wrap your hands around his midsection with your thumbs on the spine and your fingers stretching out along his sides. If you can feel his ribs without squeezing too much, he's in good shape. If not, gradually restrict his diet and make your morning walks a little longer.
Treats and Behavior
Feeding your dog doesn't stop with what goes in his bowl. You have to monitor his treat intake, too, or else his health and behavior can both suffer. Never give your dog a treat without his earning it, or he won't be motivated when you try to train him. Instead, reward him with attention like playing together or going on a walk, both of which help him maintain a healthy weight. When you do give him treats in a training context, remember not to overfeed—always defer to the portioning instructions on the package.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.