PART 1 – WHERE DOES THE BREED COME FROM
The American Bully doesn’t necessarily have a long history of its own, but it certainly has an interesting one. This article is part 1 in a series of 4 that explores the history of the breed, including its origins, temperament, and physical attributes. The information comes from the book, The Bully King Magazine, which has interesting and varied information about the breed. Part 1 of the series is about the origins of the breed.
Where does the American Bully come from?
The American Bully as a breed unto itself only came about 20 years ago, but can trace its origins back thousands of years through the various breeds from which it was bred. It was created as a specific breed to retain all of the positive characteristics of its parent breeds, but to remove the most negative aspects of each. American Bullys were bred to be an excellent family companion dog, with good physical attributes and temperament.
The American Bully was created through the selective breeding of various well-known dogs, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and other bulldog breeds. It was mainly bred to remove any of the original traits of these breeds, such as aggression and hunting instinct, which were obviously very useful in the past when they were working dogs, but less useful now that dogs are primarily kept as family pets.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is an amazing breed on its own, but due to several years of unfair and negative press, has developed something of a difficult reputation. The worst thing about the various news articles relating to biting and aggression statistics is that most of the dogs mentioned weren’t even pit bull breeds! The unfortunate thing is that this information has stuck, leading to the breed declining in popularity, and being seen as an aggressive and unsuitable dog for families.
Why has this led to the creation of the American Bully?
In the past, American Pit Bull Terriers were fighting dogs, there’s no denying this fact. It’s how they got their name: they were bred to fight in blood sports, such as bull-baiting, and were bred with the express desire to combine the speed and agility of a terrier with the strength of a bulldog. This made them fierce fighting machines, considering they needed enough power to potentially take down large animals such as bulls and bears.
However, by the mid-19th century, blood sports were being banned, and animal welfare laws were introduced to make them harder to organize. By the 20th century, American Pit Bulls were being used to hunt game, drive cattle, but were also becoming increasingly popular as family pets. Their popularity increased over the next century, but has recently taken a hit due to press coverage and cultural fears of the potentially aggressive nature of the breed.
Blood sports such as the ones mentioned above were clearly very cruel events, and the dogs had to be conditioned using what we would now consider torture: they were deprived of human contact and instilled with a blood lust that would make them incredibly aggressive towards both humans and other animals, dogs included. Trainers used various methods to instill this blood lust in them, including diet and exercise regimes.
The American Pit Bull Terrier has always been known for its loyalty, intelligence, and strength, and these are all characteristics that breeders desired to keep in the American Bully, while removing any possibility of aggression. However, it is worth noting that although (hundreds of years ago) they may have been fighting dogs, public opinion is shifting towards the understanding that aggression in dogs isn’t related to the breed, but is more likely caused by environment, owners, and the way they’ve been raised.
The loss of aggression
Breeders of American Pit Bull Terriers would be the first to tell you that the breed isn’t aggressive by nature, but this definitely hasn’t stopped them from developing such a reputation. In fact, many of the dogs mentioned as Pit Bulls in the various news articles about attacks were DNA tested, and it was confirmed that they weren’t actually Pit Bulls. However, by this time, the damage had been done, and the breed had fallen out of favor with the general public.
So that’s how we arrive at the creation of the American Bully. Breeders wanted to retain the physical characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier, along with their loyalty and intelligence, but to remove any signs of aggression or gameness. They did so through selective breeding, and the introduction of other breeds, including the American Staffordshire Terrier.
In case it wasn’t already obvious from the information in this article: American Bullys are not the same as an American Pit Bull Terrier. There are visual differences between the two breeds, and even noticeable differences in their temperament. It’s still possible to get an American Pit Bull Terrier from a breeder, but many people turn their nose up at this amazing breed because of the negative reputation it’s built up in the press.
What’s so good about the American Bully?
The American Bully retains everything desirable about its parent breeds, but has had any signs of aggression bred out, as we as a society have no further use of aggressive fighting dogs. Public perceptions on the acceptability of dog fighting have changed massively in the last century, and the sport is now something that very few people would consider engaging in.
The result is a fiercely loyal dog whose only desire is to please its family. Slowly but surely it’s becoming recognized as an emerging breed by various kennel associations, and as a result is fast becoming a popular breed, especially for those with children. This is the end of part 1 of the history of the American Bully, stay tuned for our next blog post for more information on the history and physicality of the breed.
PART 2: THE BREEDS APERANCE
The American Bully is a mix of several other breeds, and while it isn’t an old breed in itself, its predecessors can trace their lineage back thousands of years. As discussed in part 1, the breed was created to have the desired attributes of these breeds, but without any of the “bad” parts.
Part 2 in this 4 part series looks at the breed’s appearance, and where it has got these attributes. A lot of the information in this series comes from the book, The Bully King Magazine, which is a great place for anyone interested in the breed
What does the American Bully look like?
The American Bully traces its heritage back to American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and various bulldog breeds. As these breeds all share reasonably similar traits in terms of size, muscle structure, and face, it’s no surprise that the American Bully has come out looking much like them. If anything, one of the main purposes of the breeders was to create a dog that embodied all of the desirable bulldog traits, but without any of the aggression that the breeds have been known for.
American Bullys are medium sized dogs, typically standing between 13 and 20” tall. There is smaller Bully version of the Bully called the Micro Bully, recognized by the American Bully Registry. As the breed is recognized by various kennel clubs, there are strict requirements relating to height, weight, and color. The standard weight of an American Bully is between 66 and 88lbs, making it a very stocky dog for its size.
Typically, the breed is characterized by its muscly and stocky physique, which come from its Bull Terrier predecessors. Terriers and bulldogs were typically bred for a number of purposes, including hunting and fighting, and so needed to be very powerful animals. While the American Bully wasn’t bred for these purposes, its muscly physique is one of its most desirable traits, particularly as the breed now doesn’t have the same level of aggression behind it.
The American Bully has a blocky head and medium muzzle, and its face is arguably one of its most recognizable traits. It typically has triangular pointy ears that stick up on its head. The breed is also known to have some wrinkles around its muzzle, but nowhere near the level of breeds such as the French or English bulldog. The head is generally proportionate to the size of its body, and is on the larger side, but this is balanced against its muscly body.
The breed is also characterized by its coat, which is short, bristly, and hard to the touch. The coat is generally glossy too, but typically shouldn’t be wavy or long. Its coat is dense, but isn’t double layered like some other shorthaired dogs. This means that the breed doesn’t shed as much as something like a Pug, but does still need regular grooming to keep it in good condition. Any color is accepted by kennel clubs, although the most common are fawn, grey, or a combination of colors.
The American Bully’s appearance can be traced back through its lineage of ancestor breeds, and it looks very similar to both Terriers and bulldogs. In the past, these breeds needed to be dense and stocky to make them better at their jobs, but these have now become desired characteristics in a number of breeds. However, keeping the dog to kennel standards means there is significantly less variation in appearance than before, which also means selective breeding is more important. This can sometimes lead to health complications in dogs, which are discussed later in this article.
The different types of American Bully
The American Bully Kennel Club, the industry standard for the breed’s appearance, separates the American Bully into 4 different categories. These are defined by height, but with no specification of weight. Categorization is done around 1 year of age, and puts the dog into one of the following categories:
This is the typical size for the breed, hence the title “standard.” Male dogs need to be between 17 and 20” tall, whereas female dogs need to be between 16 and 19”. The dogs are required to have a stocky body, block head, and defined bone structure.
This is the tallest of the types of American Bully, and follows the same physical build as the standard dog. Males are expected to stand between 20 and 23” tall, and females between 19 and 22”. This is the largest dog accepted by the kennel, and while Bullys generally won’t get much bigger than this, if they do they won’t be accepted by the kennel club.
This is the smaller range of American Bully, and again follows the same physical build as the standard category. Males stand under 17” tall, but no less than 14”. Females must be between 13 and 16” tall.
This is the smallest range of American Bully, and again follows the same physical build as the standard category. Males stand under 14” tall. Females less than 13″ tall
This type shares size traits with the standard variety, but has a much lighter bone structure. It looks more similar to the predecessor breeds of American Pit Bull and Staffordshire Terrier.
Health problems in the American Bully
Generally, most health issues are compounded in pedigree dogs, simply because they’re subject to greater levels on inbreeding than other breeds. Health issues aren’t consistent within the American Bully breed, and there generally aren’t health issues that will affect every dog. However, be on the lookout for eye problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, and possible breathing issues, although many of these won’t show until the dog is older.
The American Bully can trace its appearance back thousands of years, with many of the breeds barely changing in that time. However, the American Bully has been bred purely for looks and temperament, rather than its use as a working dog. This demonstrates how its general appearance has become a desirable standard for dogs, and the American Bully shows everything that was likeable about its ancestor breeds. This is the end of part 2 on appearance, but stay tuned for the next blog post on the history of the American Bully.
PART 3 – HOW DOES THE BREED ACT?
The American Bully has quickly risen in popularity among pet owners, partly in thanks to its appearance, but also because of its amazing temperament. As we saw in part 2, the breed was specifically designed to bring in all the desirable attributes of its predecessor breeds, while removing all negative traits. The result is a stocky and muscular dog that’s very fun to be around.
Part 3 of this 4 part series takes a look at the breed’s temperament, including how it acts around people, animals, and children. All information in this series is taken from the book, The Bully King Magazine, which has all you need to become an expert on the breed.
What is the breed’s temperament?
The American Bully is known to many as a friendly breed, and is often described as adaptable by its owners. What they mean is that the dogs are known to be very relaxed and lazy in the house, but the second they step outside, they become a completely different dog. This level of energy is a hangover from the breed’s predecessors, many of which were used as hunting or fighting dogs, and so needed to be energetic.
Although the breed is known to be very lazy at home, this is something owners should be careful not to become complacent with. If they’re not given the correct amount of exercise, American Bullys can become overweight very quickly, and so a strict diet and appropriate levels of exercise are important, regardless of how lazy the dog might seem.
Their appearance can likely put many people off the breed, as by their very nature they look quite aggressive. However, this appearance was deliberately bred into them, while any aggressive behavior was bred out. Because of this, potential owners shouldn’t have any fear about the dog acting out, but of course obedience training is always useful to prevent any possible accidents.
By its nature, the breed is very obedient, and does everything possible to please its owner. American Bullys thrive on human company, which is another trait bred into them. For this reason, owners should be prepared to shower the dog with love, but this won’t be too hard because there’s plenty to love about them.
How does the breed get on with other animals?
The American Bully is generally very good around other dogs, providing they’re socialized from an early age. Again, obedience classes are a perfect way to do this, because not only will it provide the dog with training, it’s also a great way of getting them used to the company of other animals.
The breed can be kept with other dogs, but owners should be aware that American Bullys will insist on being leader of the pack. All dogs have a natural pack instinct, regardless of breed, and some prefer to be at the top, rather than the bottom. This is true for the American Bully, and so owners should be wary about keeping them with other authoritative breeds, such as Akitas or Shiba Inus. While aggressiveness isn’t a common trait for the breed, throwing them into situations like this has the potential to go south.
Because of their desire to please, and their love of human attention, American Bullys are generally fine to be kept around children. Again, aggressive behavior is discouraged in the breed, so they’re typically fine with all people. Stockier breeds are also more capable of withstanding boisterous behavior, which children can be known to act around dogs, than smaller breeds.
However, you should always be present when the dog first meets children, and should ideally always be around to keep an eye on things. Saying the breed is friendly and good with children is a general rule, and might not be applicable to all dogs. So as the owner, you’re responsible to make sure everything goes smoothly. No American Bully would intentionally hurt any person, but this is never a 100% guarantee.
So, although American Bullys are friendly and generally obedient dogs, owners need to be firm but fair in order to establish their dominance. The breed isn’t for owners that want to leave their dog to it, as they will need monitoring to make sure they’re well behaved. Not only that, but the breed is very strong, and so owners will need to make sure they can actually handle an American Bully.
Are American Bullys easy to train?
As previously mentioned, owners should give American Bullys basic obedience training, at the very minimum. This covers things like sitting, staying, and coming when called, and should be the very base level of training any dog gets. More than anything, it ensures the safety of other dogs and their owners.
The American Bully is surprisingly intelligent, and many of its predecessor breeds were used for hunting and fighting, and so had to learn a range of rather complicated commands. As a result, the American Bully is also capable of learning more technical commands than many other breeds, and what you choose to teach them is completely up to you.
Obviously, you should always start with basic commands, and gradually make them more complicated. It’s best to start training as early as possible, but there’s no harm in trying to teach an older dog new tricks (it does actually work). You’ll probably find it easiest to teach them commands at home, but there will be plenty you can teach while out walking. Your dog might even become obedient enough to not need a lead.
The American Bully has an incredibly friendly temperament, and absolutely loves pleasing their owners. This makes them an excellent companion breed, and a surprisingly good family pet. They’re generally fine to be kept around other dogs, but this should always start early to make sure no negative behavior develops. This is the end of part 3, which covered the breed’s temperament, but stay tuned for the next part on the history of the American Bully.
PART 4 – CARING FOR THE BREED
The American Bully is fast becoming one of the most popular rare breeds in America, mainly thanks to its great temperament, and purpose as a companion dog. As we have seen in the previous posts, the breed was created to preserve the desirable characteristics of the American Pit Bull, but without any of the aggression. This article is part 4 of 4 in the series, and looks at the best care tips for the breed.
Caring for an American Bully
American Bullys are a great family pet, and their caring and gentle nature makes them ideal to keep around small children. They also serve as great guard dogs, if only because of their imposing appearance! Caring for your dog properly should be one of your top priorities, and at the most basic level this means providing the right amount of food and exercise.
As a general rule, American Bullys are very healthy dogs, although this will obviously be affected by the breeder you get the dog from. Any responsible breeder should be able to provide you with a health certificate for the puppy, and it’s always worth getting one before committing to a purchase. After all, the last thing you want is for any surprise health defects to pop up along the way. Below is some information about the proper care of an American Bully, including diet, exercise, grooming, and healthcare.
Diet and nutrition
American Bullys are an incredibly muscular breed, and so it’s worth giving them a high protein diet. They also need food that’s high in fat, but always make sure this is good fat, rather than bad, as you don’t want your dog becoming overweight.
If you choose to feed your American Bully dry food, make sure it has a fat content of around 20%, and a protein content of at least 30%. You should also ensure that it’s a good quality food, with the main ingredients being meat-based, and as little filler as you can find (some brands bulk up their food with things like ash, and this really isn’t something you want your dog to eat).
However, because of their physical structure, American Bullys can benefit massively from a raw diet. A raw diet primarily consists of raw meat and bone, usually with added vegetables and fiber. Raw diets generally have very little carbohydrate, which is another benefit for the breed. Raw diets require a bit of research, as you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the right nutritional balance, and many owners prefer to mix it themselves. If you’re unsure, speak to your vet and do some research online.
When it comes to food quantity, this will be mostly based on the weight of your dog. Most brands will give a feeding chart, but you should ensure your dog has enough to eat without being overweight. Try feeding both once and twice a day to see what works best for you and your dog.
When it comes to exercise for the American Bully, more is better. The easiest way to make sure they get enough exercise is to provide them with a big yard to run around in. However, if you can’t do this, take them for at least one walk a day for at least 30 minutes. Exercise will help your American Bully maintain good muscle mass, and they always love to play fetch too.
Another suggestion is to provide them with toys that will engage their brain. For example, toys that can hide food are always good, and will stop the dog from getting bored. If they don’t get enough exercise, American Bullys can become destructive, and they don’t mind whether this is inside or outside.
As mentioned, American Bullys are generally healthy dogs, but you should always make an effort to do your bit. Make sure you get the correct vaccinations, which should be done from the age of 5 weeks onwards. At the age of 6 months, your vet will give your dog a rabies shot that lasts for 3 years. These should be repeated every 3 years to make sure they’re always protected.
Also, the 7-way vaccination (the one your puppy will have at 5 weeks) should be repeated every year to ensure they remain vaccinated. Depending on when you get your American Bully puppy, the breeder may have already done the first vaccination. Make sure you get confirmation of this, and then repeat annually.
As with all other breeds, worming is important. You should worm your dog every 3 months, or more frequently in the summer if you live in a rural area. You can do this yourself with over the counter worming medication, or ask your vet if you don’t feel confident. It can also be helpful to ask your vet to do a feces check for worms, just to make sure the medication is working.
American Bullys are really easy to look after when it comes to grooming. You should brush their teeth at least once a week, although this can be done less often if they’re on a raw diet because of the low carbohydrate levels. You can also buy specific chew toys that help clean teeth, and many can have toothpaste put in them.
Brushing should be done about once a week to make sure you keep on top of shedding. The breed’s short coat means that brushing isn’t as important as a longhaired breed, but it really helps to minimize hair around the house. A short, stiff brush is best, and do it outside whenever possible. Nails should be clipped once a week, although you might not find this necessary if your dog is getting enough exercise.
The American Bully is a great family dog that captures all the spirit of much-loved American breeds, but without any of the potential for aggression. As we’ve seen over the series, the breed is perfectly designed as a companion pet, and is becoming more popular by the day. Hopefully this article will show you how to look after your newest family member, and will keep them happy
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