The American Bulldog is an athletic, temperamentally sound and medium to large sized dog that possesses great strength, agility and confidence. The expression should reflect intelligence and alertness. The sturdy and powerful yet compact frame is characteristically stockier and heavier boned in the males and more refined in the females. Some aloofness with strangers and assertiveness towards other dogs is accepted. However, an American Bulldog should not be excessively timid, shy or aggressive towards man and preferably not overly aggressive with other dogs. Due to its distinctive physical and mental characteristics along with its natural desire to be the total companion and working dog, an American Bulldog should never be confused with uniquely different breeds such as the American Staffordshire Terrier or the American Pit Bull Terrier. Note *** American Bulldog National Alliance judges are specifically charged with the responsibility of evaluating the temperamental stability as well as structural conformation on all dogs. Dogs demonstrating less than acceptable stable temperamental characteristics should be dismissed from competition. In officially recognizing the two distinctive types of American Bulldogs, Standard and Classic, the ABNA requires that they be judged separately. While the ABNA has decided to identify the two types of American Bulldogs as Classic vice Johnson and Standard vice Scott, in no way is this to suggest or infer any lack of respect or absence of appreciation for these two men that have contributed so significantly to the breed and its preservation. The pure motive for this change is simple. We want to move away from individual personalities and on to promoting the fact that there have been numerous great breeders of American Bulldogs.
Size-General: Males should range from 22 to 28 inches at the withers and weigh between 70 and 120 pounds. Females should range from 20 to 26 inches at the withers and weigh between 60 and 100 pounds. Weight should be proportional to height and body type. A dog should be well conditioned and not overweight or underweight.
Standard: A leaner and more athletic dog in appearance.
Classic: A larger and more powerful dog in appearance.
Color: Solid or varying degrees of white, all shades of brindle, brown, red, or tan are acceptable. Solid black, black and tan, and/or any degree of merle is unacceptable. A full black mask is not preferred. **Merle is a dilution of overall body color (black or red) with splotches of darker color giving the effect of "merling" or "marbling" not to be confused with Brindle that gives the effect of "striping".
Coat: Short, less than one inch in length varying from soft to stiff. Long, feathering, or fuzzy coats are unacceptable.
Head: The head should be relatively large and broad in proportion to the size and overall structure of the dog. It should be flat on top giving a squared appearance. There is a defined furrow between the eyes with a distinct, deep stop. The head is well-muscled throughout with prominent cheeks. An excessively narrow head is unacceptable in both types.
Standard: Generally box shaped to wedge in appearance with a slightly shallower stop and less wrinkles.
Classic: Generally box shaped to round in appearance with a more definitive stop and heavier wrinkles.
Eyes: The eyes should be round or almond shape, medium sized, and wide set. Black or dark brown is the preferred color. Other colors are accepted. Black eye rim pigment preferred. Crossed and/or nonsymmetrical eyes are unacceptable.
Muzzle: The muzzle should be relatively broad and square. The large jaws are well-muscled, displaying great strength. Lips are full but not pendulous. Black pigment lining lips preferred. An excessively narrow muzzle is unacceptable in both types.
Standard: muzzle should be 30% to 40% of the overall length of head.
Classic: muzzle should be 25% to 35% of the overall length of head.
Teeth: The teeth should number 42 to 44 and large in size is preferred. Working dogs should not be penalized for broken teeth. Should medical removal of teeth be needed, documentation and verification by a veterinarian is requested.
Standard: Reverse scissors is preferred. Moderate underbite, scissors or even bite is acceptable.
Classic: Undershot 1/4 to ½ inch preferred. Even bite is not preferred. Scissors bite is unacceptable.
Both types: Teeth should not be visible when the mouth is closed.
Nose: Black is the preferred color. A red, brown, or grizzle nose is acceptable. A pink or dudley nose is unacceptable.
Ears: The ears should be medium in size and may be either forward flap or rose, with no preference. Cropped ears are acceptable.
Neck: The neck should be very muscular and medium in length. The neck should taper from shoulder to head and be slightly arched.
Shoulders: The shoulders should be well-muscled with good definition and wide sloping blades giving the appearance of great strength.
Chest: The chest should be deep and moderately wide giving the appearance of power and athletic ability. The front, overall, should be straight and well balanced. The chest should not be narrow or excessively wide nor should the elbows be angled out or pulled in.
Body: The body should be compact and moderately short while powerful and athletic in appearance. Well balanced. There should be a good spring of ribs with the loin moderately tucked. The body should not be excessively long.
Back: The back should be broad and moderately short in length showing great strength. Slight roach over loins. The back should not be narrow or swayed.
Standard: Straighter more level topline is preferred.
Classic: Appearance of being slightly higher in the rear is preferred.
Legs: The legs should be strong and straight with moderate to heavy bone. Well-muscled front and back. The rear legs should be moderately angulated and parallel. There should not be an excess of or lack of angulation in the rear legs. Excessively bow-legged or cow hocked is unacceptable.
Hindquarters: The hindquarters should be thick with well-defined muscles. Not as wide as shoulders, but well-balanced. The hips should not be narrow or lacking in muscle definition.
Tail: The tail is set low, thick at base and tapering to a point. The tail should reach the hocks in a relaxed position. Docked tails are accepted. The tail should not end in a complete circle.
Feet: The feet should be of moderate size with toes well arched and close together. The feet should not be splayed.
Gait: The American Bulldog should move with speed, agility, and power with a definite spring to the step. All legs move parallel to direction of travel, with front legs clearly reaching and the rear legs propelling the dog forward. The legs should not travel excessively wide. Front legs and/or rear legs crossing is unacceptable.
Standard: A tighter, more athletic gait.
Classic: A rolling gait is acceptable.
*Note: Males without two testicles, dogs that are deaf, and dogs that have been spayed or neutered are not allowed to compete in the conformation ring. Females in estrus are not to be shown in the conformation classes and are not allowed in the proximity thereof.
American Bulldog Association American Bulldog Breed Standard
1997 Revisions: Our former term of "Scott" for the standard type AB has led to much confusion. Many of the dogs referred to as Scott type have very little or no Scott background whatsoever. My personal dogs are mostly Scott (Painter)/Johnson hybrids, and it was presumptuous and confusing on my part to designate all non-Johnson dogs as being the Scott-type, when many were Bailey/Williamson/ Tate/Tuck combinations. Henceforth the non-Johnson type will be referred to as the "standard" type. Although the vast majority of purebred ABs are 75 to 100% white, there are a few that have less than 25% white. Our standard is now amended to say "All white, pied, or up to 90% color [brindle or red patches, (red is defined as any shade of tan, brown or red)], with a portion of the white on the head." This seems to be a more accurate reflection taking into account the rarer color form. Our standard was designed as a description of the breed rather than a "perfection to aspire to" as others claim theirs to be.
The American Bulldog originated as a catchdog (mostly cattle) and property protection dog, in America’s Southeast. He was not bred to put on threat displays or to look a certain way. But, he did need the right equipment to take care of his real bulldog duties which were confrontational personal and property protection and as a catch dog. He needed to be strong enough to put unruly bulls on the ground and athletic enough to catch hogs that were allowed to free range in a semi-wild state.
The American Bulldog should generate the impression of great strength, agility, endurance and exhibit a well-knit, sturdy, compact frame with the absence of excessive bulk. Males are characteristically larger, heavier boned and more masculine than the bitches. The AB is a white or white and patched (brindle or red) dog. When patched he can range from the traditional pied markings of a patch over one or both eyes or ears, or a patch on the base of the tail, to a large saddle patch and various other patches. For judging purposes, distinctions between an ideal "Standard-type" and an ideal "Johnson-type" are defined in brackets and in bold.
General: Males - 23 to 27 inches at the withers and weigh from 75 to 120 lbs. Females - 21 to 25 inches at the withers, 60 to 90 lbs. The weight should be proportional to size.
[Standard-type: an ideal male should be 23 to 27 inches at the withers and/ weigh from 75 to 110 lbs., females, 21 to 25 inches, 60 to 85 lbs. The weight should be proportional to size.]
[Johnson-type: an ideal male should be 22 to 26 inches at the withers and weigh from 80 to 120 lbs. Females 20 to 24 inches, 60 to 90 lbs.]
Medium in length and broad across skull with pronounced muscular cheeks.
Medium in size. Any color. The haw should not be visible. Black eye rims preferred on white dogs. Pink eye rims to be considered a cosmetic fault.
Medium length (2 to 4 in.), square and broad with a strong underjaw. Lips should be full but not pendulous. 42 to 44 teeth. [Standard-type: tight undershot (reverse scissors) preferred. Scissors and even bites are considered a cosmetic fault. Structural faults are a muzzle under 2 inches or longer than 4 inches, pendulous lips, less than 42 teeth, more than 1/4 inch undershot, small teeth or uneven incisors.] [Johnson-type: definite undershot, 1/8 to 1/4 inch preferred. Scissors or even bite is a disqualification. Structural faults are a muzzle under 2 inches or over 4 inches.]
black or grizzle. On black nosed dogs the lips should be black with some pink allowed. A pink nose to be considered a cosmetic fault.
Cropped or uncropped. Uncropped preferred.
Muscular, medium in length, slightly arched, tapering from shoulders to head, with a slight dewlap allowed.
Very muscular with wide sloping blades, shoulders set so elbows are not angled out.
Chest, Back and Loin:
The chest should be deep and moderately wide without being excessively wide as to throw the shoulders out. The back should be of medium length, strong and broad. Loins should be slightly tucked which corresponds to a slight roach in the back which slopes to the stern. Faults: sway back, narrow or shallow chest, lack of tuck up.
Very broad and well muscled and in proportion to the shoulders. Narrow hips are a very serious fault.
Strong and straight with heavy bone. Front legs should not set too close together or too far apart. Faults: in at the elbows or excessively bowlegged. Rear legs should have a visible angulation of the stifle joint.
The gait is balanced and smooth, powerful and unhindered suggesting agility with easy, ground covering strides, showing strong driving action in the hind quarters with corresponding reach in front. As speed increases the feet move toward the center line of the body to maintain balance. Ideally the dog should single-track. The top line remains firm and level, parallel to the line of motion. Head and tail carriage should reflect that of a proud, confident and alert animal.
Any suggestion of clumsiness, tossing and/or rolling of the body, crossing or interference of front or rear legs, short or stilted steps, twisting joints, pacing, paddling, or weaving. Similar movement faults are to be penalized according to the degree to which they interfere with the ability of the dog to work.
Of moderate size, toes of medium length, well arched and close together, not splayed. Pasterns should be strong, straight and upright.
Set low, thick at the root, tapering to a point. Tail should not curl over back. Docked or undocked.
Short, close, stiff to the touch, not long and fuzzy.
All white, pied, or up to 90% color [brindle or red patches, (red is defined as any shade of tan, brown or red)], with a portion of the white on the head.
Alert, outgoing and friendly with a self-assured attitude. Some aloofness with strangers and assertiveness toward other dogs is not considered a fault.
Both types: dogs that are deaf or males without two testicles clearly descended. [Johnson-type: an even or scissors bite.]
A cosmetic fault is one of a minor nature. A fault not specified as cosmetic has to do with structure as it relates to a working dog. In a show or other evaluation, the dog is to be penalized in direct proportion to the degree of the fault. Any fault which is extreme should be considered a serious fault and should be penalized appropriately. We have not included a line drawing of a Standard-type or Johnson-type standard dog because they could not take into account the variations acceptable within the realm of the working American Bulldog. The emphasis placed on specific types in other breed standards has led to the general disintegration of the breed concerned by eliminating individuals who might have contributed significantly to respective gene pool. Attributes other than cosmetic listed in the standard all relate to working qualities which include but are not limited to agility, endurance, leverage, biting power and heat tolerance.
Point Breakdown for Judging
Overall: proportion 10 points
temperament 10 points
total of 20 points
Head: size and shape 10 point
muzzle 5 points
teeth 5 points
total of 20 points
Body: neck 5 points
shoulders 5 points
chest 10 points
back 10 points
hindquarters 10 points
legs 10 points
feet 5 points
tail and coat 5 points
total of 60 points
Grand Total of 100 points
Note: the distinctions made between the Standard-type and the Johnson-type depict an ideal representative of their respective types for show purposes only.
A Summary of the Standard-type and Johnson-type distinctions:
In actuality, many American Bulldogs are hybrids between the Standard and Johnson type. The distinctions between the two types were made to allow separate shows for Standard-types and Johnson-types.
Generally the Johnson-type distinction allows for a slightly larger dog and requires a slightly (1/8 to 1/4 inch undershot lower jaw, but this distinction mandates separate shows for the two types.