American Bully: Are They Aggressive?

  • Time to read: 9 min.

American Bullies are one of the fastest growing dog breeds when it comes to overall popularity. However, their large, muscular build can definitely be intimidating for potential pet owners, especially considering how much trouble a powerful dog can be if it chooses to get aggressive. So when it comes to American Bullies and aggression, is there something you have to be worried about?

American Bullies are not aggressive dogs. They are powerful but mild-mannered dogs who were bred to be companions to humans, which means that they bond very well with their owners. Also, they are easily trainable in case they do display problematic behavior. 

Let’s dive deeper into how aggressive American Bullies are. I’ll also explore whether or not they make good family dogs, what their attitude towards strangers is, and how you should deal with them if they ever do show aggression. 

American Bullies and Their Temperament

While American Bullies seldom show aggression towards their family members, they can sometimes show aggression towards other animals. 

To understand whether American Bullies are aggressive and if you should be concerned about their aggression, let’s look at how they interact with different people and animals.

American Bullies with Their Families

American Bullies are great family dogs. They have all the qualities you would want from a family dog – loyalty, intelligence, strength, and a desire to protect. As with all dogs, you’ll need to give attention to your American Bully and train them to eliminate unwanted behaviors. 

Keep in mind that American Bullies are very energetic. You’ll have to exercise them and engage them in activities to ensure their surplus energy is expended healthily. 

One of the more important concerns pet owners have when adopting is whether or not it’s safe to keep the dog in a household with newborns or toddlers. And that’s a very valid concern – not all dogs should be left alone with newborns.

Don’t get me wrong; most domesticated dogs aren’t aggressive towards children. It’s just that many dogs are very energetic. If they aren’t allowed to get enough exercise outdoors, they’ll probably be restless indoors. This is even more of an issue for dogs living in apartments, where they don’t have access to gardens and lawns. 

In their desire to play and move about, dogs can sometimes inadvertently cause harm to babies. 

Thankfully, American Bullies make for excellent pets if you have children. That’s because this breed of dog is usually very gentle around babies. They’re very intelligent, so they know how to behave around babies and toddlers to not inadvertently cause them harm, even if they’re excited and want to play. 

Babies can sometimes pull on dog hair. This is uncomfortable for most dogs. However, the American Bully is likely to simply bear with it because of how much they care for babies. Fun fact: American Bullies are frequently called the “Nanny Dog.”

American Bullies are also very affectionate. They were bred to be companions to humans, so they bond with us humans very well. A growing toddler can form a lifelong friendship with an American Bully!

With strong social instincts and a courageous spirit, your American Bully will quickly get used to the people in your house. American Bullies are best suited to firm and confident owners who can take charge of the situation.

Dogs consider their owners to be a member of their ‘pack.’ American Bullies must view you as a leader if you want them to be respectful and obedient. Train your American Bully well, and they will show you how loyal and affectionate they can be. 

All in all, American Bullies are not aggressive toward family members. If they do, however, display aggression to you or someone else in your household, you need to find out the root cause and address it immediately. Bad habits need to be broken immediately. 

How They Treat Strangers

American Bullies are not aggressive toward strangers. However, you can’t reasonably expect them to be friendly with someone they don’t know at their first interaction. To be fair, this is the case with most dogs.

For example, if you have guests that come over quite frequently, your American Bully is likely to be much more open to interacting with them once they’ve been around a few times. 

American Bullies’ interactions with strangers can be influenced by the environment they’re in. When going for a walk outdoors, they likely won’t see the numerous people around them as a threat and will just mind their own business. 

However, if a stranger enters what the American Bully considers to be its territory, it’s more likely for the dog to become protective. It goes without saying – If your dog considers a stranger a threat or an intruder, it will show hostile behavior in an attempt to discourage the stranger from approaching.

To conclude, American Bullies are not aggressive towards strangers unless they consider them a threat to their territory or family. However, if your American Bully is aggressive towards strangers for no apparent reason, you may want to get in touch with an animal behaviorist. 

How They Behave Around Other Animals

American Bullies typically don’t exhibit aggression towards other animals either. As mentioned earlier, dogs live in packs. These packs consist of a complex, hierarchical social structure, where dogs engage in rough play with each other to compete for a higher spot on the social ladder. 

This is not unnatural behavior, and it rarely crosses the bounds of rough play. If you intend on keeping multiple dogs, you may see them initially engage in this sort of rough play for a while until they’ve established who the leader is. 

It may be best to let nature run its course and allow the dogs to touch it out. 

It’s important to remember here that rough play is non-violent and should not involve injury or bleeding. An American Bully injuring another dog is a clearcut display of aggression and hostility, in which case you need to separate the two animals and reevaluate the status of their relationship.

Of course, you’ll also have to discipline (not harshly) the offending dog. 

What about animals other than dogs? American Bullies get along well with cats, rodents, foxes, and other common pets. American Bullies have relatively less prey drive, so you won’t see them chasing after smaller creatures as frequently as you might with some more aggressive dog breeds. 

If you’re raising an American Bully as a puppy, it’s important that you encourage it to socialize with other cats and dogs. Socializing is best done early and can be critical in preventing aggression towards other animals later in life. 

Dogs who aren’t taught how to interact with other animals as puppies are likelier to not be as social and amiable with other animals. They also fail to develop a sense for instinctive cues, to the point where they may mistake a playful nudge as a call to fight. 

Social anxiety in dogs is a problem because dogs on edge are more likely to react to other dogs aggressively. Research shows us that the most common reason a dog would show aggression is fear. 

Now, American Bullies are both courageous and social by nature, but even they can develop social anxiety. While it is harder to treat in adult dogs compared to puppies, it is not undoable. 

With patience and consistency, you can teach your dog to be comfortable around other animals. 

The Protective Behavior of An American Bully

To treat aggressive behavior, you must first know how to differentiate it from protective behavior. Let’s discuss what falls into protective behavior and how you can identify cases where your dog is being protective rather than aggressive.

Female Dogs Guarding Their Pups

This is arguably the best example of protective behavior that resonates with us humans. Female dogs, with American Bullies being no exception, are very protective of their offspring. 

If they feel that their pups are threatened, be it by a person or another animal, they will do what they can to eliminate the threat or discourage it from approaching. In some cases, even the father isn’t free to approach!

Of course, female dogs will be violent if they have to protect their pups. 

It’s easy to tell if a female dog is being protective of her pups by taking a simple overview of the situation. 

Protecting Family

Dogs are very protective of their family – and American Bullies are even more so. This is one of the reasons they make for such great family dogs. They won’t run off with their tails tucked between their legs in the presence of danger. 

You can count on your American Bully to have your back when it matters the most. If they detect an intruder, they will attempt to alert you by barking.

If that doesn’t deter the intruder from approaching and the Bullies feel like they have to act to keep their territory and family safe, they are likely to engage the intruder physically. 

This helps us understand protective behavior at its core: Dogs displaying protective behavior don’t attack unprovoked. They only do it as a means to protect themselves and their family. 

On the other hand, it is much more likely that your dog is being aggressive if it went on the offense first and without any obvious reason. 

Signs of Aggression

What are the signs of aggression in American Bullies? Here are the telltale signs that your American Bully is about to get aggressive:

  • Ears down. 
  • A noticeable stiffening of the body and tail. 
  • Growling.
  • The baring of teeth. 

If you see these signs, it’s important to deescalate the situation and ensure an all-out attack doesn’t occur. If you can identify the cause of your Bully being aggressive, do what you can to eliminate it safely. 

As mentioned, one of the most common causes of aggression in dogs, including American Bullies, is fear.

Different dogs may have various ways of showing aggression and the early warning signs may be different. So pay attention to when your dog behaves unusually and identify the cause of their fear or discomfort.

Getting Professional Help

While aggression in dogs is never a good thing and should be remedied, some cases of aggression are not as severe as others. I will highlight for you the cases where getting professional help is of paramount importance. 

  • Your American Bully shows aggression toward a family member. You need to get expert help in this case because it is unlikely that a healthy American Bully will be aggressive towards its beloved family members. There is likely an underlying reason that needs to be addressed. 
  • Your American Bully suddenly started being aggressive. This is a major red flag. If your precious American Bully always used to be affectionate but became aggressive suddenly and unexpectedly, it might be suffering from a potentially life-threatening health condition. You need to arrange for a medical analysis ASAP. 
  • Your American Bully injured another pet. This can be due to various reasons, such as anxiety, resource-guarding, or a struggle for dominance. But injuring another pet is unacceptable, and I recommend you consult a certified animal behaviorist who can help you get your dog’s temperament under control. 

In other cases, use your best judgment to make the decision. Remember, when in doubt, always consult with an expert. It’s your safest option and prevents things from getting even worse down the line.

What to Do in Case of an Attack

In the rare event that your American Bully snaps and goes into a complete frenzy, calling out to it will likely not be enough. If you’re the victim of the attack, you’ll have to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself. 

American Bullies are strong dogs, which means a hostile encounter with one can be very dangerous. Do your best to protect your face, neck, and vitals. Call out for help. Being on the defensive is the best course of action – it’s not advisable to attempt to fight the dog unless you know what you’re doing. 

You can ask a professional dog trainer or follow a guide that goes into more detail on the appropriate steps to take during a dog attack. It is essential to know this information whether or not you have a dog, especially when dealing with other people’s dogs.

Final Thoughts

American Bullies are typically not aggressive and make for excellent family pets. They’re loyal, intelligent, and easily trainable. They’re also a great addition to the family if you have newborns or toddlers. 

While very amiable towards humans, American Bullies might be aggressive toward other dogs if they weren’t socialized as puppies. Introducing other pets to the American Bully and keeping watch to ensure they get along well can be helpful in this situation. 

If your American Bully attacks a family member, suddenly develops aggressive behavior, or injures another pet, get professional help immediately.