What exactly is an American Bully? What Most people DO NOT Know!

ABKC and the American Bully Breed

The American Bully Breed

American Bully is probably the fastest growing dog breed in means of popularity all around the world. The breed came as something utterly extraordinary and fascinating. It’s no wonder why people are keen to find out what owning an American Bully feels like. Positive stories about this impressive breed in terms of astonishing physical appearance, along with behavior that makes the perfect family companion, therapy dog, service dog, and a friend to children, echo with the speed of light.

At the moment the American Bully isn’t recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club). This turn of events is often infuriating for American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull owners, because many times Bullies are being advertised and sold as Staffs or Pit Bulls. Due to the increasing popularity and hype over the Bully breed, there are situations when even Staffs or Pit Bulls are advertised as Bullies. All of this shows that even though general public is well-informed about American Bullies, more time is needed for the breed to comfortably define itself so that confusions between breeders and owners can be avoided.    

History of American Bully Breed

The establishment of the American Bully  we know and love today was initiated approximately 20 years ago. The American Bully represents a mixture of the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier in addition to various breeds of Bulldogs, such as the English Bulldog, the American Bulldog, and Olde English Bulldog. According to the most relevant registries describing the breed, this American Pit Bull Terrier offshoot came along with selective and careful breeding. On the less ‘official’ side of the story the breeders went for the biggest pit-bulls there were and added some breeds of bulldogs, resulting in the quite physically superior breed of dog, the American Bully.

During this process of selective breeding, characteristics such as dog on dog aggression or gameness, were purposely bred out of this new breed. Instead, a loving and gentle giant appeared on the scene, unfortunately still stereotyped due to the bad reputation of pit bulls. But anyone with even the slightest knowledge about dogs knows it’s not the same breed. The the American Pit Bull Terrier maintained a characteristic appearance for about 100 years, and the American Bully is one of its natural extensions; so unique in a structure, that in the end  the American Bully had to be recognized as a different breed. In the United Kingdom, the breed American Bully was officially recognized in the middle of 2013.


Despite the masculine and powerful appearance, a Bully’s behavior is quite friendly and gentle. They are really good with kids and make an excellent family dog. American Bullies are intelligent, confident, and dynamic dogs with great athleticism skills. It’s really rare for Bullies to show aggressive behavior towards humans if they are appropriately socialized. Like any breed, they too have some flaws, in this case, sporadic shyness.

Regarding their health, there are varieties of the breed which tend to have more problems, while some of them barely experience any problems at all. The American Bully can be categorized as a breed with low to mild incidence of disorders according to their genetic profile, so it’s nothing to be worried about. As with any ‘heavy’ breed of dogs, most commonly Bullies suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, so it’s always a good idea to get them to the vet for x-rays when they reach 1 year of age. The most common problems affecting the eyes are ‘Cherry eye’, entropion and ectropion. The brachycephalic syndrome of respiratory problems is only evident in American Bullies with muzzles evidently shorter than the rest.

Precise show criteria can penalize American Bullies for small faults, heavily penalize for serious faults or disqualify. Smaller faults include different, non-matching eye color, protruding eyes, weak underjaw, light pink nose (albinism), too long or too short of a tail, curled tail, neck too thin or too weak, upright shoulders, too short of an upper arm, bowed appearance of front legs, long toes, wavy or curly coat etc. Serious faults to be considered are a long coat, and tail issues (too short, fused, knotted, twisted or kinked). Bullies get immediately disqualified for having docked, bobbed or screwed tail, cryptorchidism (unilateral or bilateral), deafness (unilateral or bilateral), albino eyes, merle pattern and aggressive behavior towards people. 

Classes of American Bullies

There are 4 recognized classes of American Bullies within the ABKC (American Bully Kennel Club), separated by height – Standard, Pocket, XL, and Classic. Note that all four varieties are classified as Standard until the pup reaches one year of age.

American Bully – Standard

This is a medium to large size dog with a blocky head, compact appearance, and muscular body. Adult males in this category reach the size of 17 to 20 inches (43 to 51 cm) at the point of the withers, while adult females reach 16 to 19 inches (40 to 48 cm) in height. Distinctively bulky and massive body type in Standard Bullies isn’t something to be penalized.     

American Bully – Pocket

Pocket Bullies are determined according to their adult size. Male Pocket individuals are 14 to less than 17 inches (36 to 43 cm) high at the point of the withers and female Pocket individuals are 13 to less than 16 inches (33 to 40 cm) high. It simple as that, Pocket Bullies are just shorter than the Standard type of Bullies. Regarding their body type and confirmation they don’t differ much.

American Bully – XL

American Bully XL is the highest variety of all American Bully types. Adult XL males are categorized as such when their height is 20 to 23 inches (51 to 27 cm) at the point of the withers, and females when their height is 19 to 22 inches (48 to 54 cm). Of course, their body type is packed with heavy muscles and has a bulky appearance which looks astonishing and suits their height.

American Bully – Classic

The Classic type of bullies is the most distinguishable from the rest. The representatives tend to have less body mass and lighter frames of the body, but still have the recognizable ‘bully’ traits (blocky heads, square/short muzzles, compact body). Off all Bully types, they are the closest to their predecessors, the APBT (American Pit Bull Terriers) and the AST (American Staffordshire Terrier). Usual height for Classic American Bully males is between 17 and 20 inches (43 and 51 cm) and for females 16 and 19 inches (40 and 48 cm) and the point of the withers. Lighter bones and less substance make the Classic American Bully fall under its own category.

Unrecognized categories

There unofficial types of American Bullies both shorter and taller than the variations mentioned above. The smaller versions are named Micro American Bullies, while the larger ones are named American Bullies XXL. Even though they enjoy many characteristics of the breed they haven’t been recognized as legitimate varieties by the official kennel clubs.

What is the ABKC?

The ABKC (American Bully Kennel Club) represents an official, worldwide registry for the American Bully.  The breed was created back in 1990 and it took 14 years to gain official recognition and to be established in 2004, so the necessity for an official registry was evident. The Kennel Club exists not only for American Bullies but also for all the people that want to unify and enjoy diversity by sharing a common bond with their companion dogs and other people. The club is specialized in Bully breeds, but also has registries for other breeds of dogs. It’s the only official registry for Bully Breed dogs in the world. 

The main goal of the organization is actually sharing information, educating the public and break stereotypes. The ABKC hosts shows in order to help enthusiasts learn how to show their dogs and promote breeds in a positive manner. Through these events, the public can be continuously educated about the positive nature of the American Bully. As we mentioned before, due to their ancestry Bullies are often victims of stereotypes and the ABKC tries to break them down by showing how gentle and well-behaved Bullies can be and that their owners are responsible and caring people.     

The ABKC is devoted to the promotion, advancement, and protection of the American Bully. The organization has a written code of ethics which is the cornerstone of their fundamental philosophy. The code of ethics describes what the members of the ABKC and the participants in the shows they organize will do, will not do, and how they will behave around the dogs.

One of the greatest impacts the ABKC has left on the Bully Breed community is the standardization of the breed. They have declared and described several varieties within the American Bully breed, and given a clear direction and pathway for breeders active in the dog showing business. The standardization is a helpful tool when it comes to marketing and promotion of the breed and avoiding fraudulent market behavior. Some breeders will still want to follow their own ideals, but more professional ones usually gather and unite to move forward on the standardized path the ABKC provides.

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