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The first impression of a proper American Bulldog is that of a powerful, agile and well-muscled animal. His expression is alert and confident and he exudes an aura of strength and fitness. He is a squarely built, medium large dog with a short, tight-fitting coat. Bred as both a utility working dog and family guardian, his disposition may vary from aloofness to friendly acceptance of strangers. The large, pronounced head and sturdy and powerful frame impart to the American Bulldog a unique stamp. Dogs are characteristically more massive throughout with larger frame and heavier bone than bitches, however a masculine bitch should not be penalized. Lack of chest and muscle are very serious faults. Overly aggressive or shy dispositions are disqualifications for both types.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Dogs-23 inches to 26 inches. Bitches-22 inches to 25 inches with preferred size being mid-range of each sex. Correct proportion is of primary importance and there is no size disqualification as long as size is within the standard’s range. Proportion- The body in profile is of square proportion in that a horizontal line from the front of the forechest to the rear projection of the upper thigh should be just short of the length of a vertical line dropped from the top of the withers to the ground. The depth of chest is approximately fifty percent of the height of the dog and his chest should reach to his elbow. His bone should be medium heavy to heavy and his muscle should be obvious and hard to the touch. Serious faults- Lack of chest and muscle. Bitchy dogs are a serious fault for the Standard type and a disqualification for the Classic type.
The head should be large and broad in proportion to the size and overall structure of the dog. It should be flat on top giving a square appearance for the Standard type and rounded for the Classic type. There is a defined furrow between the eyes with a distinct, deep stop. The head is well-muscled throughout with prominent cheeks. Disqualification-An excessively narrow, tapering head. Muzzle- Bridge is straight, broad at base with a slight tapering towards tip. The end of muzzle is broad with a well-developed chin. The desired ratio of backskull to muzzle is 2 to 1 for the Standard type and 3 to 1 for the Classic type. Nose is broad, rather than round. Bite and Dentition- Teeth 42 in number, large and strong. Canines should be slightly curved toward the rear and incisors straight and even. Bite is reverse scissor to ½” undershot. Fault- Teeth showing when mouth is closed. Even or Scissor bite for the Standard Type. Disqualification- Overshot for both types and even or scissor bite for Classic type. Allowances -Missing or broken teeth on this working breed, while not desirable, are to be accepted with veterinary documentation a copy of which should readily be presented to the judge. Eyes- The eyes should be round or almond shape, medium sized, and wide set. Black or dark brown is the preferred color. Black eye rim pigment preferred. Eyes may be lower set on the Classic type than the Standard type due to the rounder head shape of the Classic American Bulldog. Faults- Blue, gold or yellow color. Pink eye rims to be considered a cosmetic fault. Ears- Ears are to be set well apart, medium in size with a rose set or full drop. When full drop, the ear should terminate at mid-cheek. Disqualification- Cropped ears.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck- 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. The neck is slightly arched, tapering slightly from shoulders to head, with a slight dewlap allowed. Faults- Excessive dewlap. Serious Faults- overly long neck. Topline- The back should be of medium or medium/short length, strong and broad. Loins should be well tucked, however a slightly lesser tuck is acceptable in the Classic American Bulldog. The back should not be narrow or swayed. Body- The chest is wide and strongly muscled, with the forechest well defined and visible in profile. The brisket is deep, reaching down to the elbows, well-sprung ribs. Tail- the tail may be docked or undocked. When undocked the tail should reach to the hock, be high set and taper to a fine point. Tail should not be held over back nor should it be curled.
Shoulders- The shoulders should be well-muscled with good definition and wide sloping blades well laid back and giving the appearance of great strength. Elbows- Elbows should set on a plane parallel to the body and should not press too closely to the chest wall or point outward. Faults- Tied in or bowed out elbows. Forelegs- The forelegs are long and straight and medium heavy to heavy boned. When viewed from the front they should stand parallel to one another. Pasterns are strong, short and straight and stand almost perpendicular to the ground, with a very slight slope allowed when viewed from side. Feet- Feet are round, compact with well-arched toes turning neither in nor out. Pads are thick and hard, nails short and strong, any color. Serious Faults- Weak pasterns, hare foot. Serious Faults- Fine bone in females. Disqualifications- Fine bone in males.
The hindquarters are strong and powerful with well-defined, extensive muscle leading into a strong hock joint. Rear pasterns are nearly perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, hind legs are straight, strong and wide enough apart to fit with a properly built body. Rear legs slightly longer than front legs and angulation must be sufficient to compensate length and not contribute to a sway or weak back effect. Angulation should be in balance with that of the forequarters. Rear on Classic American Bulldogs may sit slightly higher than the front. Feet- Feet are compact with well-arched toes, turning neither in nor out. Pads are thick and hard, nails short and strong, any color. Faults- Insufficient or excessive angulation, slight turning in or out of hock. Serious Faults- Moderate turning in or out of hock. Disqualification- Severe turning in or out of hock.
Short, lying smooth and firm to touch. Disqualification- long coat, wavy coat.
American Bulldog color is white or white with patches of color. Up to 85% color allowed. Head must be minimally 15% white. Patches of color may be fawn and/or brindle. Fawn shades vary from tan to mahogany. All shades of brindle accepted. Serious Fault- More than 85% color. Disqualification- black mask, patches of solid black, patches of solid gray.
An American Bulldog should move with speed, agility and power. His movement should be balanced, sure and powerful with strong forereach and a powerful rear drive. The legs are parallel but as speed increases the legs will converge under body towards a center line, but should never cross. A slightly rolling gait is acceptable in the Classic type American Bulldog due to muscle mass.
Developed to serve as a guard, working and companion dog the American Bulldog is alert, courageous and self-assured. At times aloof with strangers, the American Bulldog tends to take cues from his master and react accordingly. When appropriate, the American Bulldog is either quick to form friendships or quick to stand guard. With his family, the American Bulldog longs for attention and approval and can be quite clownish in nature. The behavior of the American Bulldog in the show ring should be animated and the dog should submit without objection to examination. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master, it should not be nervous or show nervous reactions. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character. Some assertiveness toward other dogs is not considered a fault.