American Bully

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult American Bully

Born in the USA, the American Bully comes from a mix of several related dog breeds, including the American Bulldog and American Pit Bull Terrier. Known for having an affectionate and gentle personality despite their menacing appearance, these dogs are often touted as the perfect pets for children.

Kept only as a companion animal and a show dog, the American Bully is not really used for any specific purpose and has certainly never participated in dog fighting. They enjoy participating in a range of doggy activities and their intelligence and willing nature make them a pleasure to train.

About & History

A very recently developed breed, the American Bully came into existence in the 1980s within the United States of America and is a descendant of the American Pit Bull Terrier. The other breeds that contributed to its genetics include the American Bulldog, English Bulldog and the American Staffordshire Terrier. This dog was bred to have a bulky and impressive appearance with strong bone. There was not one particular breeding program that was put in place to develop this breed, rather, many owners within America were mixing the aforementioned dog breeds, leading to the eventual creation of the American Bully.

Initially, this breed was recognised by the American Bully Kennel Club in 2004 and the UKC followed suit in 2013 when they accepted them into their Companion Dog Group. The UKC cautions breeders to avoid breeding these dogs to have exaggerated features and warns against aiming for a particular ‘look’ while potentially sacrificing the quality of the animal.

There is a huge variability within the breed and the AKBC actually recognise four ‘types’ of the American Bully, though these varieties are not outlined in the UKC standard. These types include: Classic, Standard, Pocket and XL and they differ by height, weight and muscle covering.

This breed is gaining recognition up and down the country and is now a popular choice as a pet and a show dog within the USA. They have ultimately been designed to show less aggression than the American Pitbull and to be more tolerant of other dogs and less hyper and rowdy than their predecessors.

The American Bully is not immune from the media attention and legislation that often surrounds the American Pitbull and some states have put restrictions on the ownership of the American Bully.


American Bully Large Photo

The American Bully is very recognisable and has an intimidating and thick-muscled body. Their body should be built in proportion and they should not be so brachycephalic (short-nosed) that their breathing is affected. Their build should not impinge on their movement or agility and they should be able to move confidently and effortlessly. Their muscles should provide them with power and strength and should not be so exaggerated that they lead to an uneven or blocky gait.

The head of the American Bully is wide and thick with well-developed cheeks and an obvious stop. Their muzzle is somewhat square in shape and should be shorter than their skull, only taking up around one quarter of the head. It is essential that their nose is large and their nares are not underdeveloped. Any nasal pigment is accepted. Their eyes are well-spaced apart and should not be overly large. They may be any colour except for blue. While most breed members will have had their ears cropped, this is not essential and is a practice that is largely falling out of favour.

Their neck should be relatively long and wide and may have a slight dewlap of skin. While the chest of this breed should be noticeably broad and deep it must not interfere with their natural movement, though they do have an incredibly wide front-stance. Their limbs are powerful while their feet are compact and arched. Though the tail of the American Bully may be straight in some individuals, it is often a ‘crank’ or ‘pump handle’ tail that kinks. Tails may not be screw (ingrown) tails.

The shiny, tight-fitting coat of the American Bully may be any colour at all except for merle, due to the associated health issues. There is a massive variability of heights, weights and general appearance within this new breed. In general, male breed members reach heights of between 43cm and 50cm, while the slightly shorter females stand at 40cm to 48cm. Dogs may weigh anything from 30kg to 50kg.

Character & Temperament

Bred to be more of a companion animal than a working dog like its ancestors, the American Bully makes a sweet pet for the whole family. They are gentle and sociable and enjoy spending time playing with children and lounging in the home. They love to show affection and bond closely with their masters. They should never show any signs of aggression or hostility and these are not traits associated with the breed.

Though the American Bully was not bred for a specific task, they are still confident in their ability and athletic and can do well in a number of canine activities and sports. Their natural prey drive varies from individual to individual but does not tend to be overly strong so this dog is not likely to make a good hunter.

This breed does not make a suitable guard dog, as they tend to be friendly towards intruders. Not every dog will wag their tail and ask for cuddles from a new person and some will act reserved and take a little more time to warm up. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for their feelings towards others dogs as, despite substantial efforts from breeders, there is a still a tendency within the breed for canine aggression. This trend can be reduced with extensive socialisation, though is always something that owners need to be conscious of.


Photo of American Bully puppy

These outgoing dogs can be a handful and are often full of life so can be a handful to train. However, they do not possess a mean bone in their body and any difficulty associated with training is down to their vivacious nature rather than any stubbornness or malice. They long to do the right thing and impress their master, so will try hard in every training exercise they are given.

Though generally well-mannered, owing to the sheer size and strength of this dog, it is essential that they receive proper training from a young age so they may understand their role within the household and how to appropriately act around people and other animals.


It is somewhat difficult to comment on the overall health of this breed, as they are a relatively new breed and there is a huge variation within the population. However, some of the conditions that are known to be prevalent within the American Bully include:

Cherry Eye

This is an abnormal protrusion of the bright red nictitans gland that may occur in one or both eyes. Aside from the unsightliness of this condition, this prolapsed gland is less able to produce normal tears, resulting in chronic eye infections and a dry cornea. Affected animals should have the gland surgically replaced under anaesthetic.

Previously, some vets would have simply cut away the gland, however, this practice is now widely frowned upon as it has been proven that doing this can result in inadequate tear production in the future.


Depending on the shape of the dog’s face, BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) may or may not be an issue. Those dogs with very squished faces and small nostrils are most likely to be affected. In extreme cases, dogs can find it hard to exercise and catch their breath and have noisy breathing even at rest. Many affected canines will benefit from corrective surgery.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

It is particularly important in newer breeds to monitor for emerging health conditions, such as joint dysplasias. Failure to monitor the breeding population could result in a high proportion of breed members being affected with debilitating orthopaedic conditions.

Exercise and Activity Levels

One of the main aims when developing the American Bully was to create a breed that was easier to manage and less work than the American Pitbull and one that would require less physical exercise. The American Bully still requires a moderate amount of exercise but is definitely more laid-back and less driven than the breeds from which it derives. They enjoy long walks and runs, as well as hikes and swims.

Care needs to be taken if walking your American Bully off-lead, as they may meet an unfriendly dog and are not the type of breed that will back down from a confrontation. There is also the risk of them chasing smaller animals. Due to these two scenarios, most owners will choose to only allow their American Bully off lead in controlled areas, such as fenced-in back yards.


The smooth, sleek coat of the American Bully needs little intervention and should just be rubbed down once or twice a week. If walked on pavement or hard ground, they will only need infrequent claw trims. As long as they are fed a good diet that includes some crunchy foods (such as raw carrot, dental chews and hard kibble), they tend to have good dental health. Owners can improve dental hygiene by brushing teeth daily.

Famous American Bullies

There are quite a few individuals and lines of the American Bully that are famous within the American Bully world. Both the Razor’s Edge and the Kurupt bloodlines are well known in the industry. If you're after photographs of the breed, be sure to check out the many American Bullies who are so called Insta famous.


The American Bully is itself a cross breed of the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and a number of closely-related breeds.

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.