American Bully
Champion Charlie Muscles (2).jpg
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. The founding registry (ABKC) divided the American Bully into four categories, including the Pocket, Standard, Classic, and XL, whereas other registries, including the UKC, have approved one consistent size standard.

There are several types, ranging from pocket to XXL in size and weight. 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, 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 different breed altogether.[1] The bloodline of these mixed breeds were 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]


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
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
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
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]

In 2021, of a total of four fatal dog attacks in the UK, the American Bully was responsible for two deaths, and the closely related American Bulldog responsible for one death.[8][9][10][11]

In 2022, of a total of ten fatal dog attacks in the UK, six listed the American Bully as the breed responsible for the attacks, with victims ranging in ages from 17 months to 62 years old.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

On March 22, 2022, a 17-month old toddler, Bella-Rae Birch, was mauled to death in St Helens, Merseyside. The dog, an American Bully, had been bought as a family pet one week previously.[19]

On July 16, 2022, Joanne Robinson of Rotherham, England, was killed in her own home when she was attacked by her pet American Bully XL. The dog, one of a pair, was reputed to weigh 196 lb (89 kg).[20]

On August 10, 2022, Ian Symes, an experienced and professional dog-walker, was mauled to death while walking through a park in Fareham, Hampshire.[21] At an inquest, Coroner Sarah Whitby described 'Mr Symes engaged in some play with Kong who responded with default behaviour aggression and bit his neck and torso repeatedly, severing the voice box and puncturing all four major blood vessels of the neck and severely damaging his spinal column.' Dr Candy d'Sa, a dog behaviour expert who was part of a team that tested Kong in the days after the incident before it was put down said: 'I believe Mr Symes was having rough play with Kong. (The dog) became over-aroused and quickly became aggressive. If the dog has not been trained to stop it won't stop. The dog weighed more than the victim and standing up it would have been at face height on its hind legs.'[22]

On January 12, 2023, Natasha Johnston, a 28-year old dog walker was killed whilst walking 8 dogs in Surrey, England.[23] An inquest found she died from "multiple penetrating bites to the neck";[24] with Surrey Police confirming she died of shock and haemorrhage including a wound to her left jugular vein.[25] Police confirmed that one of the dogs, an American XL Bully, belonged to Johnston. After a forensic veterinary report, the American XL Bully, believed to have been responsible for Johnston's death, was euthanised following the attack.[26]

On May 18, 2023, a 37-year old man, Jonathan Hogg, who worked as dog carer, was killed in Leigh, near Manchester, England. In response, Detective Chief Inspector John Davies said: "Greater Manchester Police officers searched two houses and seized 15 dogs (six adults and nine puppies) believed to be the same breed as that which attacked Jonathan."[27]


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.[28] 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

In Turkey, it is illegal to own and breed an American Bully.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "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 "The American Bully Registry". 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. ^ "Keira Ladlow killed by dog bought to help her mental health, inquest hears". BBC News. June 3, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  9. ^ "Dog that killed boy in Caerphilly was not an illegal breed". BBC News. December 1, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  10. ^ "Lucille Downer: American bulldogs behind fatal attack in Rowley Regis". BBC News. April 28, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  11. ^ Clark, Alasdair (December 23, 2021). "Man, 55, dies in dog attack at Auchterhouse kennels". The Courier. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Man, 34, mauled to death by 'dangerous' dog in park in horror attack". Daily Mirror. August 12, 2022.
  14. ^ "'Lovely mum' savaged to death by dog named locally as tributes flood in". July 16, 2022.
  15. ^ "Wrexham: Man dies after being bitten by dog at house". BBC News. May 23, 2022.
  16. ^ "Bella-Rae Birch: Dog that killed toddler was legal American Bully XL". BBC News. March 24, 2022.
  17. ^ "Adam Watts: Tributes to 'the most caring man' after dog attack tragedy at Auchterhouse kennels".
  18. ^ "Boy, 10, killed by dog in Caerphilly named as Jack Lis". November 9, 2021.
  19. ^ "Bella-Rae Birch: Dog that killed toddler was legal American Bully XL". BBC News. March 24, 2022. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  20. ^ "Mother of Rotherham dg attack victim warned of dangers". October 7, 2022. Retrieved October 7, 2022.
  21. ^ "Heartbroken family pays tribute to beloved Wiggy Symes who died after Fareham dog attack". August 19, 2022.
  22. ^ "Warning over aggressive dog breed at inquest into death of man mauled by XL American Bully". The News. April 5, 2023. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  23. ^ "Dog walker Natasha Johnston died from neck bites in Caterham attack". BBC News. January 31, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  24. ^ Stephens, Max (May 17, 2023). "Dog walker mauled to death in Surrey may have been killed by own pet". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  25. ^ "Dog owned by Croydon woman mauled to death by group of dogs in Caterham put down". Your Local Guardian. May 18, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  26. ^ Davis, Barney (May 18, 2023). "Tragic dogwalker may have been 'mauled to death by own bulldog'". Evening Standard. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  27. ^ "Police seize 15 'American Bully XL dogs' and arrest woman after father, 37, mauled to death in Leigh". LBC. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  28. ^ "The New Breed: Is there trouble with designer dog breeding?". Sinclair Broadcast Group. November 5, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  29. ^ "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.