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Debunking the Myth: Are American Bullies dangerous?

In the world of canine companions, the American Bully breed has recently come under intense scrutiny, challenging the long-standing misconception that these dogs are inherently dangerous. This opinion gained prominence following a series of attacks in the UK, primarily attributed to the American Bully XL variant. The gravity of the situation prompted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to announce a forthcoming ban on American Bully XL in the UK by the end of 2023.

In this article, we aim to shed light on whether American Bullies are truly as dangerous as some claim and examine the effectiveness of banning this breed as a potential solution. Prepare to have your misconceptions challenged and your understanding of the American Bully enriched.

Understanding the American Bully Breed

The American Bully isn’t just another dog breed; it’s a fascinating part of canine history that has earned recognition from kennel clubs around the world. To truly understand this incredible breed, let’s take a closer look at where it came from, how it developed, what sets it apart, and why it has become so beloved by dog enthusiasts everywhere.

Roots and Evolution

The American Bully is a relatively new dog breed. Originating in the United States in the 1980s, the American Bully’s lineage can be traced back to the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bulldog, Mastiff, English Bulldog. The result is a dog with a specific build and unique temperament, which had to be recognized as a separate breed.
The American Bully breed was first recognized by the American Bully Kennel Club, in 2004. The United Kennel Club followed on July 15, 2013. The American Bully is also recognized by the Bull Breed Coalition Registry. The European Bully Kennel Club (EBKC) was founded to promote and protect the breed throughout Europe.

Unique Characteristics

One look at an American Bully, and you’ll witness a breed that exudes confidence, strength, and grace. Their square-shaped, muscular bodies, broad shoulders, and distinctive cropped ears give them a commanding presence. One of the unique features of American Bully is that it comes in different size variations: pocket, standard, classic, XL. Among them, XL and XXL are the two most popular ones. XXL American Bully is considered an unofficial type of American Bully. The name may be used informally by breeders or owners to describe dogs that are larger than the XL American Bully.


According to official breeding standards, the American Bully is a companion breed. These dogs are friendly with children, family members, and strangers, confident and also gentle, when properly trained and socialized.

Although having the American Pit Bull Terrier in their genetic makeup, aggression is not common in this breed. The primary goal in developing the American Bully breed was to selectively breed out any aggression traits. Therefore, if an American Bully displays signs of aggression toward humans, it is considered against the breed’s standards for breeding.

However, it’s worth noting that American Bullies can sometimes be overly protective of their owners if not properly socialized. Additionally, due to their hunting instincts, they may exhibit a strong desire to pursue smaller animals. While the breed is generally known for its friendliness, genetics can occasionally bring forth these specific traits that require attention. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the individual temperament of each dog, their background, and the quality of care and training provided by their owner.

American Bullies are extremely adaptable, caring, and playful. This makes them an excellent addition to families and also the perfect apartment companion. It’s advised, however, to begin with obedient and social training from an early age. This will prevent them from developing bad behaviors – which is the case with any other dog breed.

Popularity of the breed

Over the years, the American Bully has been steadily gaining popularity across the globe. What started as a relatively new breed in the late 1980s has now grown into a well-loved favorite among dog enthusiasts. People from various countries have embraced the American Bully for its unique combination of strength, loyalty, and affectionate nature. However, what truly sets this breed apart is its extraordinary appearance, characterized by a powerful physique and distinctive features, combined with a gentle temperament, friendliness, trainability, and adaptability. Whether in the bustling streets of New York City or the serene countryside of England, American Bullies have found their way into the hearts of countless families.

Challenges and Concerns in American Bully Breeding

The perception and popularity of American Bullies, much like the controversy that once surrounded pit bulls, often stem from a mix of factors. Previously, the ‘pit bull lobby’ played a role in championing these dogs, often portrayed by owners adorned with tattoos and earrings who passionately advocated for their gentle nature with names like Tyson, Gripper, Killer, or Sykes.

Nowadays, a similar thing is happening with American Bullies. These dogs have become famous thanks to people on Instagram and YouTube. They often show off their dogs’ big size and muscles, making them look tough and cool, sometimes posing in cool studded collars with their owners (who are often quite muscular themselves with an extravagant style – is that just a coincidence? :)). These dogs often have fierce-sounding names like Monster, Killer or Panic. This influence shaped public perception and contributed to the breed’s enigmatic image.

In addition, American Bully breeders face criticism on several fronts. Initial concerns arose from American Pit Bull Terrier breeders, fearing inexperienced breeders were crossbreeding American Bullies with purebreds, potentially compromising the older breed’s integrity. The rise of breeders with limited certification and knowledge of dog genetics has raised worries about health problems. Lastly, a luxury brand has emerged within American Bully bloodlines, with some breeders capitalizing on the breed’s popularity and marketing their dogs as high-end commodities. They often prioritize profit over essential health testing, canine genetics knowledge, and the temperament required by the breed’s original high standard, which emphasizes a friendly and calm disposition. This approach raises concerns about the breed’s overall well-being.

Nevertheless, American Bully ownership encompasses a diverse range of individuals, including those who highly value their dog’s lineage, social media influencers looking to showcase the breed’s distinctive traits and appeal to a broader audience, some involved in breeding as a business venture, and responsible breeders dedicated to upholding breed standards. Additionally, there are unfortunate cases of puppy farms. In contrast, we fall into the category of American Bully owners who cherish these dogs as beloved family members, sharing our lives and homes with them for the joy and companionship they bring.

The Global Perspective

In recent times, the American Bully breed has faced scrutiny and even bans in some countries and regions. One particularly harrowing incident in Birmingham, England, involving an American Bully XL biting an 11-year-old girl sparked a heated debate on social media and brought the breed’s safety into question. Activists claim that since 2021, American Bullies are responsible for over 40 percent of dog attacks in the UK, leading to disproportionate fatalities. In response to escalating incidents, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak labeled the American Bully XL a “danger to our communities” and pledged government action to ban the breed.

This ban on American Bullies parallels the historical debate surrounding pit bulls, from which the American Bully XL likely descends. While pit bulls were banned in Britain in 1991, their status varies across the United States, often with city-imposed restrictions. The central argument revolves around whether specific breeds are inherently dangerous or if their behavior is a product of upbringing and environment. This debate carries both social and class dimensions, often linked to the breed’s popularity in less affluent neighborhoods, where instances of problematic behavior by these dogs are more prevalent. Scientific data regarding breed propensities for aggression remains inconclusive, further complicating the issue.

Proposed ban on American Bullies in the UK starting in 2024

According to the regulations outlined in the proposed legislation, American Bullies will be identified based on specific physical characteristics, as determined by trained authorities specializing in dog handling and dog-related legislation. If an American Bully is deemed to fall under the banned category, law enforcement can take custody of the dog with the intent of euthanizing it, unless the owner initiates a legal process to seek exemption.

Exemptions can be granted only if the American Bully is proven not to pose a danger to the public, if the owner is considered a responsible and suitable guardian for the dog, and if the dog is neutered and microchipped. Owners who meet these criteria can obtain a certificate of exemption, which will remain valid throughout the dog’s life. However, such certificates typically come with stringent conditions, including the requirement to keep the dog muzzled and leashed in public areas, as well as the necessity of securing insurance coverage for any potential injuries or fatalities caused by the dog.

Countries where American Bullies are banned or restricted

American Bully dogs were banned or faced restrictions in several countries and regions, although it’s essential to note that these regulations can change over time. Some of the countries and regions where American Bully dogs faced restrictions or bans included:

  1. United Kingdom: The UK proposed a ban on American Bullies starting in 2024, primarily due to concerns over attacks and public safety.
  2. Turkey: It is reportedly illegal to own or breed an American bully dog in Turkey, according to an official circular issued by Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2021. American Bullies in question are allowed to be kept by their owners, provided that they were adopted before 14.07.2021 and that they were neutered and registered by 14.01.2022. Furthermore, they cannot be walked around without a registration document, without a muzzle or a leash, and are not allowed into places where the public is densely populated, as well as children’s playgrounds and parks.
  3. United Arab Emirates: There are regulations in place that restrict both individuals and commercial establishments from owning or trading American Bully dogs. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that these regulations don’t entirely prohibit the ownership of certain dog breeds. Specific exceptions within the law permit individuals to own breeds like pit bulls, mastiffs, and Japanese Tosa, despite the restrictions imposed on American Bullies.
  4. Ireland: From 2022, as published by Irish Independent, American Bully was placed on a restricted list of dogs. As per legal rules, all dogs mentioned on the restricted list should be muzzled and on a leash in public at all times. The leash should be strong and short, no longer than 2 metres in length. These dogs should also wear collars with the owner’s contact information and have licences and micro-chip attached.
  5. Switzerland: There are cantonal bans on dog breeds, there’s a good summary of the regulations here: Tierschutzrecht – Schweiz – Hunde-Recht.
  6. Germany: The banned breeds are: American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These dog breeds and their cross-breeds are not allowed to be imported or transferred from a different country into Germany. Furthermore, individual states in Germany have dangerous dog laws where dog breeds deemed dangerous are not allowed to reside in the state. Before moving to Germany with your American Bully, it is important to check whether the state of residence has a ban on the breed.

Please note that these regulations may have evolved since my last update, and it’s crucial to check the most recent local and national laws and regulations if you are considering owning or breeding an American Bully in a specific country or region. Additionally, individual cities or municipalities within these countries may have their regulations, so it’s essential to research thoroughly and consult with local authorities when necessary.

Are bans effective approach preventing dog bites?

The ban on American Bully XL dogs in the UK may not be as effective as hoped. Stan Rawlinson, a dog behaviorist, suggests enforcing the ban will be challenging due to the breed’s unofficial status. American Bully XLs are not officially recognized by the UK Kennel Club, making them difficult to track.

Evidence shows breed bans reduce numbers but don’t eliminate them. In 2015-16, 25 years after the Dangerous Dog Act was introduced, banned pit bull terriers still accounted for 19% of dog attacks in London. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is concerned that adding another breed to the ban list may lead to similar developments or the introduction of new breeds, as seen with the American bully’s growing popularity after the pit bull terrier ban.

Breed-specific bans and restrictions may not be the most effective approach to preventing dog bites for several reasons. These laws can be challenging to enforce, especially when it’s difficult to determine a dog’s breed or if it’s a mixed breed. Breed-specific legislation often focuses on a dog’s appearance rather than its actual breed, leading to ambiguity and enforcement difficulties.

Furthermore, breed-specific laws discriminate against responsible owners and their dogs. Innocent dogs and pet owners suffer as a result, with some dogs facing euthanasia solely based on their appearance. Additionally, these laws don’t address the root social issue of irresponsible pet ownership, such as lack of supervision, failure to neuter, and insufficient socialization and training.

Better solution to prevent dog attacks

A more effective approach to dog bite prevention focuses on responsible pet ownership and swift responses to owners whose dogs pose risks to the community. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends strategies such as enforcing non-breed-specific dangerous dog laws, prioritizing chronically irresponsible owners, and ensuring the enforcement of animal control ordinances like leash laws by trained officers.

Additionally, measures like prohibiting dog fighting, promoting neutering for non-breeding dogs, and implementing education programs for both schools and adults are crucial for pet selection, care, and bite prevention. AVMA’s report, “A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention,” provides actionable steps for veterinarians and local leaders to establish effective dog bite prevention initiatives within their communities. These strategies are more inclusive and practical than breed-specific legislation in safeguarding the public from dog-related risks.

Is American Bully an inherently dangerous breed?

Through a careful selection process, breeders sought to produce dogs that possessed a gentle, trainable, loyal, and friendly disposition – the American Bully dog breed. These dogs are renowned for their affectionate and sociable nature. They are known to be great companions, forming strong bonds with their owners and often displaying remarkable loyalty. American Bullies are also known for their trainability, making them highly receptive to obedience training and positive reinforcement methods.

While genes do play a role in a dog’s temperament, it is crucial to emphasize that upbringing and training are paramount factors in determining a dog’s behavior, including their propensity for aggression. The American Bully, like any breed, can exhibit aggression if not raised and trained appropriately.

Puppy socialization and early training are vital in ensuring that an American Bully grows up to be a well-adjusted and non-aggressive adult dog. Dogs that are unsocialized, unneutered, or lack proper training are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. Inadequate socialization can lead to fear or mistrust of people and other dogs, potentially resulting in aggressive responses when confronted with unfamiliar situations.

Dog aggression is a multifaceted issue influenced by various factors, including genetics, socialization, training, and environmental factors. Here are some key factors that can contribute to dog aggression:

  • Genetics: While genetics can influence a dog’s predisposition to aggression, it is not the sole determinant. A dog with aggressive parents may still grow up to be non-aggressive with proper training and socialization.
  • Lack of Socialization: Dogs that do not have positive interactions with other dogs and people during their early developmental stages are more likely to exhibit aggression due to fear or anxiety.
  • Poor Training: Inconsistent or punitive training methods can lead to aggression, as dogs may become anxious or frustrated when faced with unclear expectations.
  • Fear and Anxiety: Dogs that have experienced trauma or fear-inducing situations may develop aggressive responses as a defense mechanism.
  • Territorial Behavior: Some dogs may exhibit aggression when they perceive a threat to their territory or resources.
  • Medical Issues: Pain or underlying medical conditions can sometimes manifest as aggressive behavior in dogs.

Bottom line

In conclusion, American Bullies are not inherently dangerous dogs. They were selectively bred for their gentle, friendly, and loyal nature. While genetics can play a role in a dog’s temperament, upbringing, socialization, and training are far more significant factors in determining their behavior, including their propensity for aggression.

Image: Moonshine Bullies Hungary

Dog aggression is a complex issue influenced by various factors, and it can occur in any breed if not addressed properly. Responsible ownership factors like socialization, neutering, and proper containment play a more significant role in preventing dog bites. Therefore, focusing on effective solutions like licensing and leash laws, as well as proactive responses to dogs posing risks to the community, may be more productive than breed-specific legislation.

It is essential to challenge the stereotypes associated with this breed and recognize that responsible owners can raise American Bullies to be loving, sociable, and trustworthy companions. By focusing on responsible ownership and dispelling myths, we can foster a better understanding of the American Bully breed and promote safe and positive interactions between dogs and humans.

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