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What is the temperament of American Bullies and why there's not an easy answer...

What is the temperament of an American Bully? Are they a good option for a first time or less experienced dog owner?


Before I dive into this let me say that I am not an expert on canine temperament; I am constantly learning and have plenty more to do! I am sure not everyone will agree with everything I say here, which is understandable.


"It's all in how you raise them!" This is a very widespread statement pertaining to the temperament of dogs and a decade ago you would have heard me saying and believing it too. The thing is, as many of us know, it is NOT all in how you raise them. It is in part how you raise them and also largely in part of their GENETICS. Why do so many people say it when we have so much evidence of the contrary? Well, one reason is that it can make it harder to place rescue dogs with unknown pasts if we admit that not knowing their genetics can be detrimental. I won't dive further into this right now because it's a topic for another time.


We see breeds doing jobs they were bred to do without the training to do them all the time. The 3 month old Border Collie naturally herding things, the pet Labrador retrieving the ball non stop, guardian breeds being wary of strangers, etc., and yes, I'm going to say it, the APBT being naturally dog aggressive. How a dog is bred and the genetics behind it are SO important. I am not saying that the training and nurturing of a dog cannot impact these things, or even "correct" some of it, but to be blinded to our dogs genetics does them and everyone else a massive disservice. 


How does this relate to Bullies? Oh man, here's where things get complicated. First of all American Bullies have different classes based upon their height- Pocket, Standard/Classic, and XL. Each of these classes is going to come with slightly different temperaments because the breeds used to create them vary. Speaking of, this breed is still in its infancy and some breeders are continuing to add in those founding breeds for various reasons. The stud books remain open so while this is still technically allowed, it is often not disclosed properly so that buyers can be aware of any additional breeds and their traits (including temperament) upfront in their dogs lineage. Here is what we should expect per our breeds ABKC standard: https://abkcdogs.net/breeds/breed-1/#:~:text=Despite%20the%20American%20Bully's%20fierce,other%20dogs%2C%20and%20other%20animals. Now because this is a new breed with strong influence of its founding breeds, you'll see some inconsistencies, especially within different bloodlines that are heavier in different breeds. It's not difficult to look at this breed and notice some with heavier Bulldog (American- Johnson & Scott, English), Mastiff, AmStaff, Terrier, etc.influence. On top of this, our breed (mainly the XL variety) very much lacks consistency and is very "scatter bred", meaning there are few bloodlines with consistent and reliable traits because different lines and pedigrees are being mixed without the line or inbreeding to nurture consistency. 


So what does all this mean? It means that different lines will produce different temperaments and consistency is still being established. Even within my own program I have witnessed variation in temperament, although one thing I will never tolerate in any capacity is human aggression... at all, ever. Thankfully that is not something I have seen in my program. I like to stay in touch with my puppy buyers not only because I love seeing my productions grow, but also because it provides me with invaluable insight into my dogs and what I can expect from them and the future of my program, which also helps me in putting together future breedings. I could say a lot more here in terms of what I have seen in my own dogs and their productions and things I've found interesting or useful, but for the sake of not writing a novel I'll leave it at that. Now despite this breed still being a work in progress and the lack of consistency, the lines and genetics do still matter! In fact, I dare say they matter more because of this. To circle back to my original question of whether they are a good choice for an inexperienced owner, my overly generalized answer is no because there is a variety of traits that you may see pop out and one thing we do know is that this is a large and strong breed. If you're unfamiliar with how to train and be a good leader, or if you don't have a good plan in place for how to quickly learn, it is better to start with a different breed.

If you have decided an American Bully is the right breed for you, I'll give you my two cents on finding one that will best fit the temperament you hope to get. What founding breeds are most prominent in the pedigree of the puppy you want? How much information can the breeder provide you on it? Does it feel like they are being honest in an attempt to set you and the puppy up for success or does it feel like they are telling you what you want to hear in order to get a sale? Can they tell you which of their dogs may be more likely to produce the right fit for you or do they claim all their dogs would be a perfect fit? Is the breeder asking you any questions about you, your lifestyle, your experience, your living situation and who lives in your home? If not, that's a huge red flag. These dogs are simply not for everyone and a breeder unwilling to acknowledge this and filter accordingly is likely putting money in front of properly matching up you and your dog... or they're just inexperienced and do not know better yet. I can tell you that purchasing a pup off my first litter was vastly different than purchasing one now, not because I didn't care or want both the buyer and pup to thrive, but because I simply didn't know what I didn't know. I hope I can continue to know better and do better for all of you receiving one of our puppies and for the breed itself.


There was so much I wanted to cover here and I tried to scratch the surface of what I could. Again, I am no expert, but I'm always happy to chat, answer questions, or help find the answers of the ones I do not know yet. 


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