With roots in the violent sport of bullbaiting, the American Bulldog was later developed as a farm dog and hunter's assistant, herding and protecting livestock and hunting everything from squirrels to bear. Today, the breed is a sturdy companion for families or farmers, keeping a watchful eye over his people and property. Active and playful, the American Bulldog loves people and craves constant attention, (though he may not be fond of other dogs and should be kept away from cats). He can work or play all day long, and will happily curl up at your feet for a nice belly rub at the end of the day.
The American Bulldog needs a home where outdoor activities are the norm. They need at least an hour or two of vigorous exercise per day to meet their daily activity requirement. Without it, owners can kiss their furniture good bye, because this breed will become destructive. They enjoy being outside and should be provided a variety of activities including walking, jogging, chasing balls, agility, farm work, pulling weights (they'll happily pull kids on a sled for hours) and advanced obedience.
Apartments and condos are not the best living situation for an American Bulldog, unless a true commitment is made to their need for exercise. Houses with fenced in yards or farms with wide open spaces are the best environment for an American Bulldog.
American Bulldogs are strong willed and can be a challenge to train until leadership is established. Not the best choice for a first-time dog owner, this breed will make his trainer prove who is in charge. Training requires absolute consistency – give an American Bulldog an inch and you'll find he's taken about six miles. A calm-assertive approach is best, with lots of positive reinforcement and treats for extra incentive.
Once the initial hurdles are crossed, however, American Bulldogs can excel in advanced obedience and agility training.
American Bulldogs are notoriously dog-aggressive. They should be socialized as puppies to treat other dogs with respect, though as they grow up same-sex dogs will mostly likely still create problems. This breed will also chase cats with ferocity, so unless raised alongside a cat, felines should not be introduced to an American Bulldog's home.
Despite their animal aggression, American Bulldogs love people. If they bark when a stranger approaches, they are just doing their job as sound watchdogs, but as long as they have been properly socialized, are almost always friendly to new people. Some people may be afraid, however, because this breed is so imposing looking and their back is a force to be reckoned with. It is important to know your American Bulldog's genetic heritage, however, as some lines can be overly protective and aggressive.
Given the history of this breed, the public stigma against any breed with fighting roots, and the fact that they look a lot like Pit Bulls; American Bulldogs should never be left off leash in an open area.