National Kennel Club
Final Revision: August 2005
The basic breed standard for the American Bulldog changed very little, there was several
disqualifications in the standards that we felt should not have been disqualifications. After
reviewing the standards, changes were made to the disqualifications making most of them either a
cosmetic fault or serious fault. Now the only disqualifications in the American breed standards for
conformation are: extreme viciousness or shyness, in the dogs bite (both types) parrot mouth or
closed mouth with visible teeth, color - blue, any dog that has been spayed or neutered, male dogs
that do not have 2 visible testicles, and blindness or deafness. The changes that were made was in
the allow weights for both types of dogs, the size of the bite of the dog. Clarification was made for
the allowable color of dogs, fault for the muzzle being full continues black mask, any eye color other
than brown is a cosmetic fault, males that do not have 2 visible testicles, and females in heat are
not to be shown or allowed in the proximity. We hope by eliminating most of the disqualifications
and by clarifying some of the questions that have come from the standards, more dogs will be able
to participate successfully in the Conformation Shows with out the question that their dog wasn't
judged properly. There was a lot of time and consideration put into these changes to better the
current standard we have for American Bulldogs.
Historically the American Bulldog was bred to be a “farm utility dog” that was used for farm work.
They were also very much a part of the family, and were instrumental in personal and property
protection as well.
General Appearance: The American Bulldog is a well balanced, short-coated, muscular and
athletic animal. American Bulldogs display great strength, endurance, and agility. Males are
characteristically larger, heavier boned and more masculine than the females.
Temperament: American Bulldogs should be alert, outgoing and confident. Aloofness with
strangers is acceptable.
Some assertiveness toward other dogs is not considered a fault, however; dogs may be dismissed
at the judge’s discretion for disrupting their class.
Faults: Overly aggressive or excessively shy. All dogs must be physically examined by the judge,
any dog refusing to allow physical inspection by either shying away or becoming vicious may be
disqualified depending on the severity.
Extreme viciousness or shyness:
Shyness - A dog shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for examination, it shrinks
away from the judge; if it fears an approach from the rear; if it shies at sudden and unusual noises
to a marked degree. Note: Puppies should not be faulted severely here. With maturity and
socialization confidence should increase.
Viciousness - A dog that attacks, or attempts to attack either the judge or its handler unprovoked,
is definitely vicious. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs shall not be deemed
Standard Type: Ideal standard males should measure between 23 to 27 inches at the withers and
weigh from 75 to 115 pounds. Females; 21 to 25 inches, 60 to 85 pounds.
Bully Type: Ideal bully males should measure between 23 to 27 inches at the withers and weigh
80 to 125 pounds. Females; 22-26 inches 60 to 105 pounds.
Note: The overall proportion of the dog is of utmost importance when evaluating weight.
Head: The head should be broad, flat on top squared appearance with a well defined stop. It
should also be medium in length with pronounced muscular cheeks.
Standard Type: A box or wedge shape is preferred.
Bully Type: A larger rounder shape is ideal.
Muzzle: The muzzle should be broad with wide-open nostrils. The muzzle should be wider at the
base and taper to the nose. The lips should be full with black pigmentation; some pink allowed. The
chin is well defined and must not overlap the upper lip nor covered it.
Standard Type: Muzzle should be medium in length 2 to 4 inches. It should also be 35% to 45% of
the overall length of the head.
Bully Type: Muzzle should be broad 2 to 3 inches in length and should be 25% to 35% of the overall
length of head.
Faults: Pendulous Lips, Narrow muzzle, and Full continuous black mask.
Note: The muzzle should be in proportion to head size & type.
Nose: Preferred nose color is Black.
Cosmetic Faults: Any nose color other than black. Red, brown, pink, dudley, or grizzle colors will
occur but are considered cosmetic faults.
Dentition (Bite): Teeth should be medium to large and should not be visible when mouth is closed.
Lips are moderately thick; black pigment lining the lips is preferred; with some pink allowed.
Standard Type: A tight undershot (reverse scissors) preferred. Undershot up to ½ inch
acceptable, plus or minus 1/8 inch is acceptable with no visible teeth.
Bully Type: ¼ - ½ inch “Undershot” depending on size of dog and shape of skull. Plus or minus
1/8 inch is acceptable with no visible teeth.
Faults: Small teeth or uneven incisors.
Disqualification (both types): Parrot mouth or closed mouth with visible teeth.
Bully Type Serious Fault: Even, level, scissor bite, overshot, or wry mouth.
Standard Type Serious Fault: Undershot over ¾ inch, overshot, or wry mouth.
Note: American Bulldogs are a working breed and should not be penalized for broken or missing
Eyes: Almond-shaped to round, medium-sized.
Color: Brown eye color is preferred.
The haw should not be visible. Black pigment is preferred; all other colors of pigmentation are
considered cosmetic faults.
Cosmetic Faults: Any eye color other than brown, both eyes that do not matched in color, pink
eye rims, or excessive haw visible.
Serious faults: Crossed or non-symmetrical eyes.
Ears: The ears should be set high on the head, medium in size may be drop, semi-prick, or rose.
Faults: Cropped ears. Hound Ears.
Neck: Slightly arched, very muscular, and of moderate length, tapering from shoulders to head.
Bully Type: Neck is almost equal to the head in size.
Faults: neck too short and thick; thin or weak neck.
Body: Wide, deep chest; fairly compact, straight and well balanced. The chest should not be
narrow or excessively wide, nor should the elbows be angled out or pulled in. The back should be
broad and moderately short, showing great strength.
Faults: The back should not be narrow, excessively long or swayed.
Note: The degree of fault will depend on how it affects the dogs “working” ability and movement.
Forequarters: 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.
Faults: Upright or loaded shoulders; elbows turned outward or tied-in; down at the pasterns; front
legs bowed; wrists knuckled over; toeing in or out.
Hindquarters: Broad, well muscled with muscles tapering well to the leg to manifest speed and
strength, but not quite as large as at the shoulders. There should not be an excess or lack of
angulation in the rear legs.
Serious Faults: Narrow or weak hindquarters, weak pasterns, cow hocks, open hocks, or bowed
Legs: The legs should be strong and straight with moderate to heavy bone. Front legs should not
set too close together or too far apart. Pasterns should be strong, straight and upright. The rear
legs should be moderately angulated and parallel.
Serious Faults: Excessively Bow-Legged in the front, weak pasterns, cow hocks, open hocks,
bowed legs in the rear.
Feet: The feet are round, medium in size; toes are well arched, and tight.
Faults: Splayed feet or crooked toes.
Tail: Strong at the root tapering to the hocks, in a relaxed position, the tail can be carried back
when excited. A "pump handle" tail is preferred but any tail carried from upright, when the dog is
excited, to relaxed between the hocks is acceptable. The tail should not end in a complete circle.
Faults: Tail curled over the back; corkscrew tail, kinked or crooked tail.
Note: Natural tails preferred, docked tails acceptable but will be considered a cosmetic fault.
Gait: The gait should be “balanced and smooth”, showing great speed, agility and power. The dog
should not travel excessively wide, and as speed increases the feet move toward the centerline of
the body to maintain balance. The top line remains firm and level, parallel to the line of motion.
Faults: Legs not moving on the same plane; legs over reaching; legs crossing over in front or rear;
front or rear legs moving too close or touching; pacing; paddling; side winding.
Note: The Bully type gait will have a slight degree of less reach, flexibility, and spring than that of a
Coat: Short and smooth.
Serious Fault: Long and fuzzy coats.
Color: Solid white, or any color pattern including black, red, brown, fawn and all shades of brindle.
Faults: Any degree of merle.
Disqualification: Blue Color.
Any dog that has been spayed or neutered.
Male dogs that do not have 2 visible testicles.
Blindness or deafness.
Cosmetic Faults: 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.
Structural Faults: These faults pertain to the dogs actual structure and fundamental movement.
These faults are weighted as to how they hinder the dogs' ability to work.
Note: Features that are disqualified or faulted in the show ring, are in no way is meant to disqualify
the dog from “working events”, or to take away any credit the dog might have as a “working dog”.
|American Bulldog Standards
Official UKC Breed Standard
Revised October 1, 2009
@Copyright 1998, United Kennel Club.
The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their
breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.
Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare,
essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.
Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should
be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its
Bulldogs in England were originally working dogs that drove and caught cattle and guarded their masters’ property. The breed’s
strength, courage, and familiarity with livestock led to its popularity in the brutal sport of bull baiting. When this sport was
outlawed in England, the original type of Bulldog disappeared from Britain and was replaced with the shorter, stockier, less
athletic dog we now know as the English Bulldog.
The original Bulldog, however, was preserved by working class immigrants who brought their working dogs with them to the
American South. Small farmers and ranchers used this all-around working dog for many tasks. By the end of World War II, however,
the breed was almost extinct. Mr. John D. Johnson, a returning war veteran, decided to resurrect this breed. Along with Alan Scott
and several other breeders, Johnson began carefully to breed American Bulldogs, keeping careful records and always with an eye
for maintaining the breed’s health and working abilities.
Because of the many different types of work this breed can do, several distinct lines evolved, each emphasizing the traits needed
to do a specific job. The best known lines are usually referred to as the Johnson and Scott types.
The Johnson dogs, commonly referred to as ‘bully’, are bulkier in body, heavier in bone, with larger heads that have more stop, a
shorter muzzle and a more pronounced undershot bite. They generally have more muscle mass as well.
The Scott dogs, commonly referred to as ‘standard’, are more of a performance style, athletic dog, sleeker in appearance than the
bully dogs, with less bone, longer muzzles, more moderate stop and a less extreme undershot bite. Today, however, many
American Bulldogs have crosses to two or more of the original lines and are considered to be hybrid in type, with characteristics of
more than one of the original lines of bulldogs.
The modern American Bulldog continues to serve as an all-purpose working dog; a fearless and steady guard dog; and a loyal
The American Bulldog was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1999.
The American Bulldog is a powerful, athletic short-coated dog, strongly muscled, and well boned. The body is just slightly longer
than tall. The head is large and broad, with a wide muzzle. Ears are small to medium in size, high set, and may be drop, semi-prick,
rose, or cropped. The tail may be docked or natural. The American Bulldog comes in solid colors, white with colored patches, and
brindle. Gender differences are well expressed in this breed, with males typically larger and more muscular than females.
Honorable scars resulting from field work are not to be penalized. The American Bulldog should be evaluated as a working dog,
and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work.
The essential characteristics of the American Bulldog are those which enable it to work as a hog and cattle catching dog, and a
protector of personal property. These tasks require a powerful, agile, confident dog with a large head and powerful jaws. The
American Bulldog is a gentle, loving family companion who is fearless enough to face an angry bull or a human intruder. Note: It is
common for young American Bulldogs to be somewhat standoffish with strangers, and judges should not penalize this. By the time
the dog is around 18 months of age, however, the breed’s normal confidence asserts itself.
Disqualifications: Viciousness or extreme shyness; cowardice.
The head is large and broad, giving the impression of great power. When viewed from the side, the skull and muzzle are parallel to
one another and joined by a well-defined stop. The stop is very deep and abrupt, almost at a right angle with the muzzle. Despite
the depth of the stop, the forehead is wider than it is high.
SKULL - The skull is large, flat, deep, and broad between the ears. Viewed from the top, the skull is square. There is a deep
median furrow that diminishes in depth from the stop to the occiput. Cheek muscles are prominent.
In bully dogs, the skull is generally box-shaped to rounded, with a more definitive stop, and more wrinkles than the standard type,
which has a skull that is box or wedge shaped.
Serious Fault: An excessively narrow skull, in any type.
MUZZLE - The muzzle is broad and thick, with a very slight taper from the stop to the nose.
The length of the muzzle in the bully type dogs is 25 to 35 percent of the overall length of the head. In the standard dogs, it is 30 to
40 percent of the overall length of the head. The jaws are well muscled, displaying great strength. Lips are moderately thick, but
not pendulous. Black pigment on the lips is preferred. The chin is well defined, and must neither overlap the upper lip nor be
covered by it.
Serious Fault: An excessively narrow muzzle in any type.
Disqualification: Any dog that exhibits difficulty breathing while in the ring.
TEETH - The American Bulldog has a complete set of 42 large, evenly spaced, white teeth.
In the standard type, a reverse scissors bite is preferred, a scissors bite or a moderate under bite (up to ¼ inch) is acceptable. An
even bite is allowable but not preferred.
In the bully type, undershot approximately ¼ inch is preferred, but any variation from 1/8 inch to ½ inch is acceptable. An even bite
is allowable but not preferred. An extreme undershot bite is considered faulty to the degree that the bite interferes with the dog’s
ability to work. Teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed. Worn teeth or broken teeth are acceptable.
Disqualification: Overshot. Wry jaw.
NOSE - The nose is large, with wide, open nostrils. Black color is preferred, but shades of red or brown are acceptable. Lack of
pigment is a cosmetic fault.
EYES - Eyes are medium in size, round to almond in shape, and set well apart. All colors are acceptable, but dark brown is
preferred. Haw is not visible. Black eye rims are preferred.
Faults: Very visible haws.
Disqualifications: Crossed eyes. Eyes that do not match in color.
EARS - Ears may be cropped, but natural ears are preferred. Natural ears are small to medium in size, high set, and may be drop,
semi-prick, or rose.
Drop ears: The ears are set high, level with the upper line of the skull, accentuating the skull’s width. At the base, the ear is just
slightly raised in front and then hangs along the cheek. The tip is slightly rounded. When pulled toward the eye, the ear should not
extend past the outside corner of the eye.
Semi-prick ears: Same as drop ears except that only the tips of the ears drop forward.
Rose ears: Rose ears are small and set high on the skull.
Fault: Hound ears.
The neck is where the American Bulldog exerts power to bring down livestock. The neck must be long enough to exert leverage, but
short enough to exert power. The neck is muscular and, at its widest point, is nearly as broad as the head, with a slight arch at the
crest, and tapering slightly from shoulders to the head. A slight dewlap is acceptable.
Faults: Neck too short and thick; thin or weak neck.
The shoulders are strong and well muscled. The shoulder blade is well laid back and forms, with the upper arm, an apparent 90-
degree angle. The tips of the shoulder blades are set about 2 to 3 finger-widths apart.
FORELEGS - The forelegs are heavily boned and very muscular. The elbows are set on a plane parallel to the body, neither close
to the body nor turned out. Viewed from the front, the forelegs are perpendicular to the ground or may, especially in a dog with a
very broad chest, incline slightly inward. The pasterns are short, powerful, and slightly sloping when viewed in profile. Viewed
from the front, the pasterns are straight.
The chest is deep and moderately wide, with ample room for heart and lungs. The ribs are well sprung from the spine and then
flatten to form a deep body, extending at least to the elbows or lower in adult dogs. The topline inclines very slightly downward
from well-developed withers to a broad, muscular back. The loin is short, broad, and slightly arched, blending into a slightly
sloping croup. The flank is moderately tucked up and firm.
Serious Faults: Swayback; sloping topline.
The hindquarters are well muscled and broad. The width and angulation of the hindquarters is in balance with the width and
angulation of the forequarters.
HIND LEGS - The thighs are well developed with thick, easily discerned muscles. The lower thighs are muscular and short.
Viewed from the side, the rear pasterns are well let down and perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns
are straight and parallel to one another.
Serious Faults: Narrow or weak hindquarters.
Faults: Cowhocks; open hocks.
The feet are round, medium in size, well arched, and tight.
Fault: Splayed feet. The seriousness of this fault is based on the amount of splay in the feet.
The American Bulldog may have a natural or a docked tail, but the natural tail is preferred. The natural tail is very thick at the base,
set low, and tapers to a point. It should reach to the hock joint. A “pump handle” tail is preferred, but any tail carriage from upright,
when the dog is excited, to relaxed between the hocks is acceptable.
Serious Faults: Tail curled over the back; corkscrew tail; kinked tail, tail that ends in a complete curl; upright tail when the dog is
The coat is short, close, and varies from soft to stiff to the touch. It is one inch or less in length.
Disqualifications: Longer than one inch, any feathering, or a wavy coat.
Any color, color pattern, or combination of colors is acceptable, except for solid black, solid blue, merle, and tricolor (white with
patches of black and tan). A full black mask is also unacceptable. Some dark brindle coats may appear black unless examined in
very bright light. A buckskin color pattern, where the base of the hair is fawn and the tips are black, may also appear solid black. A
judge should not disqualify an American Bulldog for black color unless the dog has been examined in sunlight or other equally
Serious Fault: Less than 10% white markings.
Disqualifications: Solid black or blue with no white markings; tricolor (white with patches of black and tan); merle; full black
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
The American Bulldog must be sufficiently powerful and agile to chase, catch, and bring down free-ranging livestock. Dogs
capable of doing this come in a rather wide range of height and weight. Standards are leaner and more athletic in appearance.
Bullys are thicker and more powerful in appearance. Males are typically larger with heavier bone and more muscle than females.
Both sexes, however, should have a well-balanced overall appearance and all dogs should be well conditioned, neither over nor
Desirable height in a mature male ranges from 22 to 27 inches; in a mature female, from 20 to 25 inches. In all types, weight should
be in proportion to height.
When trotting, the gait is effortless, smooth, powerful and well coordinated, showing good reach in front and drive behind. When
moving, the backline remains level, with only a slight flexing to indicate suppleness. Viewed from any position, legs turn neither in
nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward center line of balance.
Poor movement should be penalized to the degree to which it reduces the American Bulldog’s ability to perform the tasks it was
bred to do.
(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Unilateral or bilateral deafness.
Any dog that exhibits difficulty breathing while in the ring.
Eyes that do not match in color.
Coat longer than one inch, any feathering, or a wavy coat.
Albinism. Solid black or blue with no white markings.
Tricolor (white with patches of black and tan); merle; full black mask.
|Below you will find the breed standards for the National Kennel Club and United Kennel Club
which are the 2 registries that we support. American Bulldogs are registered by many different
organizations including the UKC, NKC, ABKC, ABRA and many more.