American Bully
American Bully
Common nicknamesAm. Bully
OriginUnited States
Height 33–50 cm (13–20 in)
Weight 20–60 kg (44–132 lb)
Coat Short, smooth and glossy
Color All colors
Litter size 4-8
Life span 8-13 years
Kennel club standards
UKC standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The American Bully is a modern breed of dog that was developed as a companion dog, and originally standardized and recognized as a breed in 2004 by the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC). Their published breed standard describes the dog as giving the "impression of great strength for its size". In 2008, the American Bully was recognized by the European Bully Kennel Club (EBKC), and on July 15, 2013, by the United Kennel Club (UKC).[1] Neither The Kennel Club nor American Kennel Club (AKC) have recognized or accepted the American Bully into their registry as a purebred dog.

There are several variants of the American Bully including the XL Bully, the Pocket Bully, the Micro Bully, and the Toadline Bully. Temperament in adult dogs is very much dependent on training, and the breed can be very demanding and needs to be properly trained.The American Bully Kennel Club divided the American Bully into four categories, including the XL, Pocket, Standard, and Classic, whereas other registries, including the UKC, have approved one consistent size standard.


The American Bully, as it is now known, began development in the 1980s with the majority of the final behavioral and aesthetic product being completed in the 1990s.[2] There is consensus that at least five other breeds were used to attain the more "bully" physical traits desired as well as the more diminutive size of some lines.[3] The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) was the foundation (parent breed) used to create the American Bully.[1] The APBT has maintained a characteristic appearance and temperament for over a century.[1] Within that span of time different strains of APBT emerged within the breed, each with different physical attributes.[1] One particular APBT strain was crossbred to create a specific, stockier, physique that breeders originally misrepresented as purebred American Pit Bull Terriers. Eventually, enough breeders agreed that these dogs were disparate enough from American Pit Bull Terriers that it warranted them admitting that they were a different breed altogether.[1] The bloodline of these mixed breeds was further influenced with further, openly acknowledged breeding to the American Bulldog, English Bulldog, and Olde English Bulldogge in order to fine-tune desired physical characteristics and personality traits.[1]

The breed was first recognized by its breed club, the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC), in 2004.[4] This registry first acted as a means to document pedigrees and show the breed against its written standard. According to the ABKC, the initial desire for this breed was to produce a dog with a lower prey drive and more of the "bully" traits and characteristics than the American Staffordshire Terrier. Mass and heavy bone was prioritized to ensure such a look, and due to this many of the dogs shown today display the wide front for which they were originally bred.[4]

The breed's development and popularity are commonly tied to the growth of hip-hop culture.[5] The American Bully should not be confused with the several other bulldog-type breeds.[1][4]


The United Kennel Club (UKC) and American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC) breed standards are similar, except the ABKC recognises four varieties of size, based on height, whereas the UKC recognises only one standard size.[1][4]

Within the ABKC, the four varieties are separated by height without specification of weight. All these varieties are expected to follow the same standard with minor alterations.[4]

All dogs are classified and shown as Standard until they reach a year of age, at which point they are separated into the varieties and shown against their own type.


Standard type in side view

The standard American Bully type is a medium-sized dog with a compact bulky muscular body, heavy bone structure and blocky head. Male dogs must be 17 to 20 in (43 to 51 cm), while females must be 16 to 19 in (41 to 48 cm).


A pocket American Bully

The "pocket" type is a smaller variant, with full-grown males under 17 inches (43 cm), but no less than 14 inches (36 cm), at the withers and females under 16 inches (41 cm), but no less than 13 inches (33 cm), at the withers.


Champion XL American Bully Stud

An XL type is determined by its adult height, with males between 21 inches (53 cm) and 23 inches (58 cm) at the withers and females between 19 inches (48 cm) and 22 inches (56 cm) at the withers.


The classic is a lighter-framed dog than the standard, but falls within the same height range. These dogs do not display the exaggerated features often found in the other varieties, and arguably display clearer American Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier lineage.[6][better source needed]

Non-standard sizes

Outside of the breed standard, dogs shorter or taller than the named variations have been bred. Smaller dogs are sometimes called "Micro", and larger ones are called "XXL", but neither are recognized by the kennel clubs as legitimate varieties.


The American Bully is a highly adaptable and trainable breed.[7] Many dogs, despite acting as lapdogs in the home, do well in sports such as weight pull and flirt pole. Human aggression is discouraged in breed standards; however, a level of dog aggression is characteristic of the breed.[1] Breeders have acknowledged that American Bully dogs can be very dangerous if improperly raised or bred.[7]

The American Bully is a relatively new breed in the United Kingdom and as it is not a registered recognized breed with the UK Kennel Club, there is no clear idea of how many dogs or breeders there may be in the United Kingdom.[8]

In 2022, of a total of ten fatal dog attacks in the UK, six fatalities listed the American Bully as the breed responsible, with victims ranging in ages from 17 months to 62 years old.[9]


Health problems vary within the breed and span the entire spectrum, with some varieties being plagued by problems, and others being well-documented for health and quality.[10] Testing is not as commonplace in the breed as in older breeds, though hip and elbow scoring are the most frequently conducted. Cherry eye, ectropion, and entropion are often seen affecting the eyes, while brachycephalic respiratory syndrome can be seen in the shorter muzzled dogs.

Legal status

Main article: Breed-specific legislation

In Turkey, it is illegal to own or breed an American Bully.[11]

In Ireland, the XL Bully is restricted as a 'Bandog'. It must be muzzled and on a lead no longer than 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) when in public amongst other requirements.[12]

In the United Kingdom, XL Bully dogs were responsible for half of all dog-related deaths between 2021 and June 2023. The Kennel Club has opposed calls for the XL Bully to be banned.[13] In June 2023, John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, raised the issue in the House of Commons, calling on the British government to urgently ban the XL Bully following a spate of attacks involving the breed in recent years.[14]

The Metropolitan Police covering the Greater London area seized 479 out-of-control dogs in 2022 under the Dangerous Dogs Act. By breed, the American Bully was the second most commonly seized dog, with 73 dogs seized. Prior to 2020, no seizures of American Bullies were reported. In the first five months of 2023 the force had seized 44 American bullies, almost three times the next most common breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, of which 16 had been seized.[15]

In January 2023, a BBC investigation found that organized crime in the UK is moving into the lucrative market of extreme dog breeding, specifically American Bullies as a means of money laundering.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "United Kennel Club: American Bully" (PDF). Official UKC Breed Standard. July 2013.
  2. ^ GmbH, Vollevue. "🐾American Bully - Race description: Character &Co". dogbible. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  3. ^ "Breed Standards: American Bully - United Kennel Club (UKC)". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The American Bully Registry". Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "PIT BULLS AND THE HIP-HOP CULTURE". Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Magazine, BULLY KING (March 3, 2017). "Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Growing Dog Breed: The American Bully". Medium. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "American bully dogs bred as lovers, not fighters". San Francisco Gate. August 24, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Tennant, Colin (May 22, 2023). "How killer American bully XL dogs became dangerous 'weapons'". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  9. ^ Waters, Adele (April 27, 2023). "Rising fatalities, injuries, and NHS costs: dog bites as a public health problem". BMJ. 381: 879. doi:10.1136/bmj.p879. ISSN 1756-1833. PMID 37105591.
  10. ^ "The New Breed: Is there trouble with designer dog breeding?". Sinclair Broadcast Group. November 5, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  11. ^ "Tehlike Arz Eden Hayvanlara İlişkin Genelge" [Directive on Dangerous Animals] (in Turkish). Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. December 9, 2021. Archived from the original on December 9, 2021. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  12. ^ "No dogs are banned in Ireland but 11 are on restricted list". December 7, 2022.
  13. ^ Gecsoyler, Sammy (June 4, 2023). "American bully: dog breed under spotlight in UK after fatal attacks". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Lynch, David (June 15, 2023). "MP calls for urgent action to ban 'bred-to-kill' American Bully XL dogs". Evening Standard. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  15. ^ Goodier, Michael (June 4, 2023). "Met police dealing with at least one dangerous dog a day, figures show". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  16. ^ "Inside the world of organised crime and extreme dog breeding". BBC News. January 23, 2023. Retrieved June 23, 2023.