10 Things You Must Know About the American Bully

  • Time to read: 13 min.

The American Bully is a fascinating breed that often gets a bad rap owing to its fearsome appearance. But there is so much more to this breed than meets the eye. You’ll find the American Bully is a loving, gentle, and highly intelligent dog once you get to know it better.

Here are 10 things you must know about the American Bully. 

  1. There are five types of American Bullies.
  2. They were bred from the American Pit Bull Terrier and other Bulldog types. 
  3. They’re a relatively new breed.
  4. They’re an expensive breed.
  5. They’re low maintenance.
  6. They’re gentle and affectionate.
  7. They’re protective of their owners.
  8. They’re easy to train.
  9. They’re prone to certain health issues.
  10. They have high pain tolerance.

Let’s examine these American Bully facts closer to see what the breed is all about and whether it’s the right fit for your unique needs. 

1. There Are 5 Types of American Bullies

The foremost authority on this breed is the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC), which recognizes 5 different types of American Bullies. The organization has laid down the standards for each one of them, as explained below. 

  • Standard American Bully – The Standard American Bully is a medium to large-sized dog. Males of this breed and type measure 17-20 inches (43-50 cm) while females measure 16-19 inches (40-48 cm). This type is characterized by its muscular physique and signature blocky head. 
  • Classic American Bully – According to the standards set by the ABKC, the Classic American Bully should have a lighter frame and lesser overall body mass than the Standard American Bully. In terms of appearance, the Classic is more reminiscent of the traditional American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier while retaining its distinct bully traits.
  • Pocket American Bully – The Pocket American Bully is the shortest of the American Bully types. Males measure 14-17 inches (35-43 cm), while females measure 13-16 inches (33-40 cm). The type was developed for lovers of the American Bully breed who prefer a smaller, more compact size.
  • XL American Bully – The XL American Bully is the largest of all the American Bully types. The males measure 20-23 inches (50-58 cm) while the females measure 19-22 inches (48-55cm). The XL American Bully is taller and bulkier than the Standard American Bully.
  • Extreme (Or Exotic) American Bully – The Extreme American Bully, also called the Exotic Bully, has no official standard size for either male or female. They generally measure the same as the Standard American Bully but have heavier mass and a larger frame. 

2. They Were Bred From the American Pit Bull Terrier and Other Bulldog Types 

The American Bully was developed from a strain of the American Pit Bull Terrier. The latter became the parent breed that served as the foundation for this new breed, which was fine-tuned by further breeding with the American Bulldog, English Bulldog, and Olde English Bulldog to achieve the physical characteristics and personality traits desired.

The American Bully was designed to have a stockier appearance with larger heads, more muscular bodies, and shorter legs than the American Pitbull Terrier. In terms of personality, it was bred to be a gentile and affectionate companion dog.

The American Kennel Club, the United States’ leading registry for purebred pedigrees, still does not recognize the American Bully to this day. Instead, the American Bully Kennel Club has overseen the breed since 2004.

3. They’re a Relatively New Breed

Some dog breeds have a long and fascinating history. But unlike the Malamutes that have been running miles of harsh winters for millennia or the Chow Chows who guarded ancient sacred temples, the American Bully is quite a young breed. 

The development of the American Bully began in the 1980s and took a decade for breeders to achieve the behavioral (and aesthetic) characteristics they were aiming for with this new breed. But it wasn’t until 2004 that standardization and organization came into place with the establishment of the American Bully Kennel Club and its recognition of the breed.

4. They’re an Expensive Breed

The best things in life are not always free. You would have to splash somewhere between $2,000 and $10,000 to be the proud new owner of an American Bully puppy. The exact figure would depend on the breeder’s standing, health certifications, and the training and socialization they arrange for the pups before the sale.

This hefty price tag isn’t the end of the expense story either. You will need to have a budget for first-time costs, which cover the basic necessities to accommodate a new puppy in your home. These are followed by lifetime expenses, including dog food, grooming, and vaccinations throughout the dog’s lifetime. Needless to say, American Bullies don’t come cheap.

5. They’re Low Maintenance

American Bullies are particularly great dogs for first-time owners, and one of the reasons for this is that they are low maintenance. The novice fur parent will not have as much on their plate with an American Bully as they would with other breeds. 

For instance, the smooth, short coat of the American Bully makes it easy for owners to maintain at home. In addition, it doesn’t trap as much dirt and only requires a monthly bath, although the frequency can be increased depending on the dog’s outdoor activities and how dirty it gets. 

But by and large, cleaning and grooming a Bully is a much easier task than with other breeds, and owners can take it on themselves and save on the time and costs at the groomers. 

6. They’re Gentle and Affectionate

It’s hard to believe, especially with a face and body reminiscent of its ancestors who were bred for blood sport. But the American Bully is, in fact, a very gentle and affectionate dog. Unlike its forebears, it was specifically designed to be a companion dog, and its breeders really hit their mark. 

The American Bully is a very active breed. But while it enjoys playtime and outdoor activities, it can be very happy just cuddling up to its owner on the couch. It’s part of what makes it a great family dog. It can be very gentle with children and show great affection for all members of the family. 

American Bullies do appreciate being petted, rubbed, and scratched. But they are affectionate with their owners regardless of whether or not their owners are particular about showing affection themselves. For the American Bully, giving is more important than receiving. And for a breed that looks the way it does, its unbelievable outpouring of affection knows no bounds.

7. They’re Protective of Their Owners

It may seem contradictory to rave about the American Bully’s gentle and affectionate nature and then segue into their protectiveness. But this is the reality of this paradoxical breed. They are indeed very gentle and affectionate by nature. However, this by no means takes the edge off their protectiveness. 

Most canines are wired to be protective of their owners, although this protectiveness comes in different degrees and can be influenced by factors like socialization. Being companion dogs, American Bullies form deep bonds with their owners and consequently feel more protective of them than other breeds would. 

While American Bullies can be unfailing and loving companions to their owners, they can go from cuddle buddy to fearsome protector in an instant if the situation calls for it. You’ll never have to worry when this breed has your back!

8. They’re Easy To Train

Trainability is one of the most sought-after traits in dogs, and in this respect, the American Bully is a winner. Its intelligence, coupled with its desire to please its owners, makes this breed very receptive to training. Additionally, Bullies are active dogs, making them eager to try new activities and learn new things. 

However, too much pent-up energy will make a dog restless and easily distracted. As a result, you will need to give your American Bully adequate exercise so its energy is expended healthily, which in turn places it in the right state of mind for training. 

It is also important to note that while American Bullies are naturally trainable, your technique and consistency significantly influence how well they learn and master the commands and tricks you teach them.

Positive reinforcement techniques are recommended, especially for a gentle breed like the American Bully. Consistency is also vital; sticking to a training routine can help your Bully achieve its full potential.

9. They’re Prone to Certain Health Issues

Each breed typically comes with its own predisposition to certain health issues and genetic conditions. The American Bully has 4 specific health problems in common with other bully breeds. These are:

  • Eye issues
  • Skin diseases
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Hip dysplasia

Eye Issues

While a dog’s olfactory and auditory senses are the more prominent ones, there’s no overstating the importance of vision. Unfortunately, some breeds, including the American Bully, are more vulnerable to developing issues involving their eyes. 

Cherry Eye 

Cherry eye is a condition in which the ligaments holding a dog’s third eyelid or nictitating membrane in place break down, causing the gland to prolapse or move out of position. This prolapsed gland appears as a red protrusion resembling a cherry, hence the name. 

Fortunately, this condition can be corrected with non-surgical or surgical treatment. In some cases, it can resolve itself without any intervention.

Eyelid Entropion 

Eyelid entropion is an ocular condition in which a dog’s upper or lower eyelids roll inward. As a result, the eyelashes and hair along the eyelids come in contact with the cornea, causing irritation, corneal ulcers, perforations, pain, and discomfort. 

Unfortunately, eyelid entropion can only be corrected with surgical intervention. Failure to act fast can stress your canine companion further, exactly why you should consult your vet once you spot the symptoms. 

Dry Eye 

Also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dry eye is a condition in which a dog’s lacrimal glands or glands of the third eyelid do not produce enough of the aqueous portion that makes up the tear film. 

Because of this, the cornea cannot be sufficiently lubricated, and the removal of debris cannot be carried out, thus resulting in irritation and infections. 

Dry eye is diagnosed using the Schirmer tear test (STT) and treated with cyclosporine and tacrolimus to stimulate tear production and replace the tear film.

Corneal Ulcers 

Corneal ulcer, ulcerative keratitis, or eye ulcer in dogs is a condition in which there is an erosion through the epithelium (outermost layer of the cornea) down to the stroma (supportive tissue below the epithelium), and the fluid that accumulates in the stroma gives the eye a cloudy appearance. 

Eye ulcers can be caused by trauma or endocrine diseases. Moreover, epithelial dystrophy (the weakening of the cornea) is a risk factor for corneal ulcers, and this condition is inheritable in certain breeds such as the American Bully. 

The treatment for eye ulcers will depend on the severity of the case and can range from eye drops to surgical correction.

Skin Diseases

One of the upsides to owning an American Bully is that you don’t have to deal with the shedding nightmare owners of other breeds go through. But a different issue plagues these smooth, short-coated dogs— skin diseases. 

American Bullies are, unfortunately, susceptible to developing atopic dermatitis and seborrhea. They are also prone to hotspots.

Atopic Dermatitis

Canine atopic dermatitis or eczema is an inflammatory, chronic skin condition in dogs that is typically associated with allergies. It can be triggered by harmless substances or environmental allergens and is a very common allergic skin disease, second only to flea allergy dermatitis. I

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by redness of the skin, which may appear greasy and give off a yeasty smell. This can appear anywhere on the dog’s body. Treatment includes oral and injectable drugs, topical antibiotics, antifungal medicines, and prescription shampoos. 

Seborrhea 

Another skin disease often affecting the American Bully is seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis, characterized by itch and redness of skin that is scaly and flaky and has an odor. This results from an excess of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin, and the areas most affected are those abundant in sebaceous glands. 

Seborrhea is diagnosed through blood and chemical tests, skin cytology, biopsy, culture, and hormone tests. Once diagnosed, treatments may include corticosteroids, retinoids, oral cyclosporine, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and antiseborrheic shampoos or sprays.

Hot Spots 

Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots are localized painful sores that American Bullies are predisposed to developing. These skin inflammations that begin as small red areas are aggravated by trauma to the skin, which results in scratching, biting, or licking.

Secondary bacterial infections can develop. The treatment for hotspots includes topical or oral antibiotics, topical or oral steroids, allergy medications, antiseptic solutions, or chlorhexidine shampoo. 

Clipping the hair can be an added measure, as well as using a cone to prevent scratching.

Congenital Heart Disease

American Bullies are more likely to develop congenital heart diseases than most other breeds. These abnormalities present at birth may include subaortic stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, mitral valve disease, and septal defects.  

Subaortic Stenosis 

The narrowing of the aorta, known as aortic stenosis, interferes with the flow of blood out of the heart. The obstruction of blood flow from the left ventricle may be caused by the fibrous tissues within the outflow tract. The left ventricle is located below the aortic valve, hence the name subaortic stenosis. 

Subaortic Stenosis can result in the thickening of muscle fibers, which often leads to impeded blood flow and an insufficient supply of oxygen to the organs, including the brain. 

A consequence of this disease, on most occasions, is fainting and exercise intolerance. Treatment options include medication that addresses fainting and exercise intolerance. In some cases, surgery is required.

Pulmonic Stenosis 

The right ventricle is the site of blood flow obstruction in pulmonic stenosis, one of dogs’ most common congenital heart diseases. This occurs when the flaps on the valves between the pulmonary artery and the right ventricle are malformed, obstructing the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs. 

Different surgical procedures can correct this condition. A veterinarian will determine the correct treatment procedure, depending on the severity of the condition.

Mitral Valve Disease 

The mitral valve is the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. In cases of mitral valve disease, blood is regurgitated back into the left atrium. This mitral valve insufficiency (MVI) can be caused by ruptured chordae tendineae and endocarditis or heart valve infections. 

Approximately 80% of heart disease diagnosed in dogs is a result of mitral valve insufficiency, which often leads to congestive heart failure over time. 

Several tests can help a veterinarian determine a dog’s MVI diagnosis. Following this, a range of medications and treatments are available to improve the dog’s heart function. Additionally, a low salt diet will also be beneficial. 

Septal Defects 

Ventricular septal defects in dogs are due to the failure of the wall between the two ventricles to fuse normally during the development of the heart in the embryonic stage. As a result, a shunt or hole diverts the blood in the heart from one side to the other. 

Dogs with ventricular septal defects will have difficulty breathing, coughing, exercise intolerance, fainting, and increased heart rates. A cardiopulmonary bypass can repair the shunt, while a pulmonary artery banding is a palliative option.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a ball and socket joint deformity that occurs in the growing stages of a puppy. Normally, the head of the femur (ball) and the acetabulum (socket) grow at the same rate.

But in cases of hip dysplasia, there is no uniform growth rate. As a result, the ball and socket do not fit properly. 

The ill-fitting hip joint results in the femur and acetabulum rubbing and grinding. This eventually leads to the deterioration of the cartilage and bone in the hip and causes significant pain and discomfort. This can be compounded by other factors such as obesity.

Different surgical procedures can correct hip dysplasia. However, these are not easily affordable. In most cases, the condition is not surgically addressed but managed through diet modification, physical therapy, and joint supplements.

The Verdict

A breed’s overall health and predisposition to illnesses and genetic issues are among the most important considerations when planning to buy or adopt a puppy. 

But the American Bully’s common health problems do little to dissuade aspirant dog owners from opening their homes to these pups. 

However, if you are in the market for an American Bully, it is imperative that you do business only with reputable breeders so that the pup you bring home will be less vulnerable to health issues and will have a better outlook. 

10. They Have High Pain Tolerance

American Bullies are known for their high pain tolerance. This trait matches their menacing exterior perfectly. However, while it may seem like a positive on the surface, there is a downside to this that can turn out to be harmful to a bully.

Other breeds with lower thresholds will early on communicate their pain by whimpering, whining, or yelping. These expressions alert the dogs’ owners that there may be a health problem on hand. Because of the expressions, parents can seek immediate medical assistance from local vets.

The breeds that are most sensitive to pain include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Dachshund
  • German Shepherd
  • Husky
  • Maltese
  • Pomeranian
  • Whippet

On the other hand, American Bullies can remain unbothered by the degree of pain that would typically cause these other breeds to give voice to it. As a result, their health issues usually continue to progress unknown to the owners. By the time a Bully finally expresses pain, the cause of it has already advanced considerably.

Consequently, American Bullies receive veterinary attention much later than other breeds do. By this time, their condition has worsened, and on top of the impact on their health, their ailment’s advancements and complications also result in higher bills. 

To ensure your American Bully doesn’t have underlying health issues, it’s advisable to engage your pup in regular walks and play as you monitor general behavior. 

Scheduling regular appointments with a vet is also highly recommended as it’ll allow you to detect (and treat) health conditions early enough.