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Are American Bulldogs Dangerous?

American Bulldog

American Bulldogs, with their robust physique, often evoke a sense of danger. Originally bred as versatile working dogs, they were adept at hog hunting and cattle herding. Their role as guard dogs, coupled with their muscular build and territorial instincts, further adds to their imposing presence. 

Are American bulldogs aggressive? Dog aggression is usually linked to the lack of early socialization, training, genetics, and other environmental factors. American Bulldogs are usually good-natured, but they can display aggressive tendencies in various situations and because of different reasons.

Suppose you were the victim of a dog bite. In that case, you might have the legal grounds to pursue a personal injury claim and recover compensation for your medical bills, injuries, and other damages. Contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC, for a free consultation to learn more, or visit the website to learn more about dog bite laws, claims, and regulations related to dog breeds. Here is what you should know about the American Bulldog.

The Temperament and Behaviour of American Bulldogs: Are they a Dangerous Dog Breed?

The American Bulldog’s temperament is often described as loyal, trustworthy, brave, affectionate, and strong. They originate from the same dog breed as pit bulls, namely, the English Bulldog, which might explain why some consider them dangerous.

Pit bulls have a bad reputation and have been implicated in various fatal dog attacks. Although pit bulls, just like American Bulldogs, can display aggressive behavior, dog owners can prevent aggression through proper training and other factors.

According to the American Kennel Club, the dog’s behavior is described as friendly. They were used for farming work, which might explain their protective nature, which can sometimes be seen as aggressive. The American Kennel Club does not recognize the American Bulldog as a pit bull but rather classifies it as a different breed despite their common origin. The United Kennel Club recognized the American bulldog breed in 1999, separating it from pit bulls as well.

Although many confuse pit bulls and bulldogs, it’s important to note that pit bulls are more like an umbrella term for dogs that share pit bull features, such as a muscular body and big heads. The pit bull was used as a guard dog and for bull baiting for decades, while the American Bulldog acted more as a herder.

A properly socialized pit bull or American Bulldog is no different than other dogs. According to the American Temperament Test Society, bulldogs do not necessarily display inherent aggressive behavior. In the ATTS Breed Statistic tests, the American Bulldogs passed most of the time, scoring an 87.3% success score. In this test, 221 American Bulldogs were subjected to various stimuli to determine their temperament, and only 28 dogs failed the test. 

This study showcases that dog aggression is not necessarily breed-inherited and that proper socialization and training play a more decisive role in dog behavior. The American Bulldog temperament tests placed them higher than other dog breeds that are not usually perceived as bad dogs and are frequently involved in dog bite cases. These gentle giants can easily act as family dogs if they are properly trained and cared for from an early age.

American Bulldog Bite Power

Although American Bulldogs do not share the same infamy for being dangerous dogs as other dog breeds, such as the Rottweiler, they still do have a powerful bite. Here is their force per square inch (psi) and comparison to other pets:

  • Rottweiler 328 psi
  • American Bulldog 305 psi
  • Pit Bull 235 psi
  • German Shepherd 238 psi

Although not all dogs bite, pet owners who have such a dog should be aware of their biting force to understand further the danger of setting them loose or neglecting them and the ensuing legal repercussions. Although American bulldogs are among the most popular breeds in the U.S., familiarity with this breed should not warrant the lack of caution. Their biting power can easily shatter bones. In fact, bones are shattered at only 230 psi.

Pets with this kind of destructive power can severely injure other animals, children, and adults. Even the most confident owner must exercise caution and abide by dog laws to ensure the safety of others lest they be held accountable for the ensuing damages.

Factors That Influence The Perceived Danger of American Bulldogs and Most Dog Breeds

American Bulldog aggression is often perceived as such due to their dominant and protective natures. They are a dog breed that mostly cares for its own pack (family) and is wary of strangers.

Sometimes, other pets can be attacked, especially dogs of the same sex. Not all dogs belonging to this breed are aggressive to other pets and strangers. Everything mostly resides in their training and socialization. The factors that sometimes blow the proportion of the perceived danger of American bulldogs and other dog breeds are media outlets and unreliable statistics.

Dog bite statistics, for example, are often unreliable due to the complexity of proper dog breed identification, which can lead some breeds to be perceived as more dangerous and aggressive than they actually are.

Some of the most common factors that may contribute to aggression in American Bulldogs include:

  • Irresponsible breeding practices that prioritize physical traits over temperament are dangerous in the long run. 
  • Lack of early socialization with other dogs, pets, or family members, especially children is problematic. For example, children often do not respect a dog’s boundaries or might unintentionally provoke it in other ways. Both children and puppy pets need to get to know each other from a young age and be supervised.
  • Inadequate training, such as basic commands, can lead to a lack of obedience and impulse control.
  • Abuse and neglect from the dog owner or shelter can foster fear-based aggression. This can also occur when other pets aren’t properly introduced to the new puppy and might harm it, leading to traumatic experiences that will resurface later
  • Medical issues can also contribute to dog aggression. American Bulldog behavior can be influenced by the presence of a medical condition that family members might not be aware of and can trigger defensive or aggressive responses. Because of this, dog owners must regularly subject their pets to veterinary visits, which can further aid in American Bulldog risk assessment, valuable advice, and proper care.

Necessary Precautions When Owning an American Bulldog

As stated above, if children are present in the household, having an American bulldog can complicate things due to their dominant and territorial behavior. Children must learn how to recognize dog warning signs and how to behave accordingly around them. Dogs, regardless of breed, must also be trained, socialized, and exposed to various environments, people, other dogs, and animals.

Some bulldogs can be strong-willed and must undergo obedience training to ensure that they respond to commands. Even a confident owner can benefit from taking their bulldog to a professional trainer. Vigorous exercise and mental stimulation are necessary for bulldogs to maintain their health and relieve stress.

This, along with supervision, will keep even the most dangerous dog in check. When outside, appropriate restraints, such as leashes and muzzles, should also be used. Owners should ensure that they are sturdy because if the dog sees an unfamiliar animal, they can charge right at it, not necessarily aggressively, as dogs are naturally very curious.

Even if your bulldog is not prone to aggression, certain laws in various states mandate that it be kept in properly fenced structures that can prevent it from escaping and wandering off in unattended public spaces.

Lastly, another precaution that American bulldog owners should consider is regular veterinary checks to ensure that their dog remains healthy. Certain health conditions can raise aggression or play a role in other unpredictable behavior.

Understanding the Legal Consequences of Dog Bites

In most dog bite claims, the owner can be held liable without the need for the victim to prove negligence. Dangerous dogs do not necessarily have to bite a victim for the dog owner to be held liable for damages.

Some people are naturally afraid of dogs and can suffer psychological harm, or their fear could exacerbate their pre-existing medical conditions for which the dog owner will be held liable. In some states, dog owners who fail to keep dangerous dogs in check after they have been labeled so after an incident or due to specific dog-breed legislation can even face jail time and fines.

Responsibilities of Dog Owners and Potential Liability

In dog bite incidents, the dog owner will be legally required to pay the victim for all their damages, including medical bills and treatments, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other damages. If the dog attack is fatal, then the dog owner could face jail time and also pay funerary expenses and other associated damages. Some states can even withhold ownership of the dog that bit another victim or enforce further restrictions on the owner and the animal, including:

  • Mandatory registry and microchipping
  • Further restraints or even having the dog put down
  • Reporting any relocation outside the county and more

Depending on the state where the dog bite occurred and the severity, dog owners can be subjected to both criminal and civil penalties. Dog owners must adhere to local ordinances, regulations, and laws related to dog ownership, and personal injury.

In most cases, a dog owner must always keep their dog leashed when walking on public property, and the leash should not extend beyond six feet. Depending on the dog breed or classification of the dog, owners might need to always keep their pet muzzled or leashed even in dog parks.

In states such as New York, dog owners must vaccinate their pets against rabies when they are four months old. They can also break the law if they leave their dogs unattended and leash for more than three hours in a public space. Some areas also have rules related to the height and weight of the dogs permitted in the household. Also in New York, you might not be able to keep American Bulldogs in the household if they exceed a certain weight. If you registered the canine before January 31, 2010, then this legislation might not apply to you.

Types of Dog Bite Laws and Regulations

In the U.S., dog owners must follow various dog bite laws and regulations. Some regulations are breed-specific, while others apply once a dog is classified as dangerous or vicious.

Most states have two main dog bite laws: strict liability and the one-bite rule. States that have the one-bite rule let dog owners escape liability for their dog bite incidents if they were unaware of their dog’s aggressive tendencies and the victim cannot prove negligence.

In strict liability states, dog owners are liable for dog attacks regardless of whether the victim can prove negligence. American Bulldogs are usually restricted or banned in various cities or municipalities of the following states:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • New York
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Although American bulldogs aren’t as aggressive or dangerous as other dog breeds, irresponsible ownership has contributed to their bad reputation for which many dog owners must now pay.

However, it is essential to understand that most breed-specific laws do not function at state levels but rather in certain counties. In some cities, you might still be able to possess an American bulldog if you have a permit or adhere to various other rules and regulations.

If you want to access more valuable resources about dog bite laws and regulations and seek the help of a dog bite attorney, visit our website. At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we prioritize victims of dog bites and encourage responsible dog ownership.

If you were the victim of a dog bite, contact our office for a free consultation on your case. Our dedicated dog bite attorneys can help you understand the applicable dog bite laws and regulations, help you with your claim, and pursue fair compensation. Help us expose irresponsible dog owners and hold them liable for their negligence or wilful misconduct.

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