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English, American, and French Bulldogs: What’s the Difference?

English, American, and French Bulldogs: What’s the Difference?

Bulldogs are the one breed of dog that happens to draw the attention of children and adults alike. However, someone looking to add a lovable bulldog to their family might end up being a little confused about which breed of the bulldog is best suited for their family. Despite belonging to the same family of dog, English, American, and French bulldogs are drastically different in both personality and appearance.

What are the differences between English, American, and French bulldogs? English, American, and French bulldogs are quite different. The key aspects that separate them from each other are:

  • Their country of origin
  • What they were originally bred for, and what they are bred for now
  • Their different sizes
  • Each breed’s unique features
  • The different personality traits of each breed
  • Differences in how much activity and attention they require

If you are thinking about getting a bulldog for your family, we would like to say that it is a great decision! Bulldogs of any breed can be a great addition to any family. However, it is important to understand what you are looking for when choosing the right bulldog for your family.

Do you want to run and play with your dog a lot? Then you might lean towards the athletic American Bulldog. Do you want a dog that is going to sit on your lap and cuddle, or a sleepy fellow? The English Bulldog is your top pick. All these factors are going to be important to keep in mind when choosing a bulldog.

Related: Bulldogs 101: How Many Types Are There?

The Differences Between English, American, and French Bulldogs: Country of Origin

One of the most prolific differences between the English, American, and French bulldog is going to be their country of origin, which is in their respective names. 

The English Bulldog is the iconic bulldog that is the most instantly recognizable breed of the bulldog and is the mascot of Georgetown University. It was one of the most popular breeds of purebred dogs in the United States, ranking at number four on the American Kennel Club dog popularity list in the United States.

The American bulldog hails from the United States of America and is descended from the now extinct, Old English bulldog. Its classification is as a working-class dog and is known for its acts of heroism of saving children and their owners in life-threatening situations.

The French bulldog hails from France and is the result of the cross of Toy bulldogs that were imported from England and the ratter dogs of France. They were the fourth most popular breed of dog in the United Kingdom, and according to the American Kennel Club in the United States, they are the sixth most popular dog in the United States.

The Differences Between English, American, and French Bulldogs: Physical Characteristics & Personality Traits

As stated earlier, there are many defining traits in these breeds of bulldogs. Not just their country of origin, but also their physical characteristics and appearance. We are going to take a look at the individual breeds of bulldogs and define the differences in their physical characteristics.

The Physical Characteristics of the English Bulldog

Also referred to as the classic bulldog, this breed is known for being shorter and stockier than the others and has a medium build. He’s a well-muscled dog with a heftier frame. You will also find some distinct features on the bulldog, including:

  • A distinctive pushed-in nose and dark, wide-set eyes.
  • A large, rounded head with a short muzzle that makes its face look flat.
  • Wrinkled skin with excessive folds hanging around its neck.
  • Short, thick neck.
  • Muscular shoulders.
  • Large pendulous lips, which may account for the amount of slobbering that they are famous for.
  • Short legs, which make many people say they look as though they are waddling when walking.
  • A short coat that requires minimal grooming.

This breed also tends to come in a mixture of bright and dark colors such as white, fawn, brown, piebald, a solid red, and a gentle tiger stripe pattern on their coats. Most stand at about sixteen inches tall, with male English bulldogs weighing about fifty-four pounds and females of the breed weighing about fifty pounds.

The Personality Traits of the English Bulldog

The English bulldog is one of the most dependable (yet predictable) breeds. As opposed to their original purpose, they are primarily bred now for companionship. They are sweet and loving to their owners, despite their rather gruff and intimidating appearance, and do exceptionally well with children.

The English bulldog loves human attention so much that it will actively work to get the attention of a human. He is also an excellent watchdog, being extremely protective of his owner’s home.

Although they make great watchdogs, they do not bark very much. Despite not being as large as their American counterpart, this dog is still imposing enough to scare off would-be trespassers. They are kind of lazy, however. While he may prefer to lie around, he still requires moderate daily exercise.

Fun Facts About the English Bulldog

The English bulldog has been around since the thirteenth century. Since then, the breed has amassed quite a reputation as being a loving, gentle dog with a unique, wrinkled appearance. Here are some cool facts about the English bulldog to help distinguish it even more from the others.

  • They were originally bred to fight bulls. This may be a bit shocking, considering the English Bulldog is such a sweet family pet now. But bull baiting was a popular spectacle in England from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century until the sport was banned. These bullfighters would crawl low and close to the bull and take hold of its nose and horns to hang on as long as possible.
  • Their appearance helped them fight bulls. The wrinkled face that we all know and love kept blood out of their eyes, and those short legs made it a lot easier to creep up on a bull that they were fighting. Of course, the dog had to be muscular due to the strength needed to be able to fight bulls.
  • They almost went extinct. After the abolishment of bullfighting, there was no need for the English bulldog. People stopped breeding them, causing them to go extinct nearly. However, due to sheer luck, some saw potential in the breed as a companion dog and started breeding them for more gentle purposes, causing the breed to become popular all over again.

The Physical Characteristics of the American Bulldog

The American bulldog varies greatly in appearance from its English counterpart. It is considerably larger than the English bulldog with a typical dog of this breed weighing in at sixty to one-hundred and twenty pounds. To those who are not as knowledgeable of dog breeds, it is easy to confuse the American bulldog with other breeds such as the pit bull and boxer due to similar characteristics.

The American bulldog is considered as a medium to large size “utility” dog (better known as a working-class dog.) Some of the other features of this dog breed include:

  • A sturdy and powerful build.
  • Its length is slightly longer than its height
  • Long and wide head with a thick, broad snout
  • Stronger jaw and muscular cheeks
  • Somewhat thick lips that are usually black and do not hang (like the pendulous lips of the English bulldog)
  • A very strong bite
  • The nose can be of various colors such as brown, black, chestnut, pink, and grey
  • Eyes are well separated and are typically almond or round and are normally dark brown or black.
  • Strong and muscular neck and chest with broad shoulders (similar to the English Bulldog).
  • Small to medium length ears that are often folded.
  • A short coat that is usually found in colors such as white, brown, black, pure blue, bluebird, and tricolor.

The Personality Traits of the American Bulldog

The American bulldog is a hunter by nature and is known for its courage and being extremely protective of its owners. It thrives when chasing down big game. However, if he is brought into the home as a pet, its drive to hunt can become a huge issue as he will feel driven to “hunt” smaller animals like small dogs and other pets.

With this being a concern, it is important to have the breed socialized and put through obedience training while it is still a puppy to keep its natural aggression in check. You will also need to make sure that you are allowing your dog plenty of opportunities to expel his energy, such as going for a run or playing fetch in the yard.

Since it is a very athletic dog bred for protection and hunting, another way to keep its strong hunting impulses under control is to have it engage in canine sports like agility or Schutzhund. It is also wise to look into other sports like mondioring with an experienced dog guide.

Despite its capacity for hunting, the American bulldog has been known to commit acts of heroism, saving their owners from near-death experiences using its incredible strength and determination to make sure their owners are safe. If you are an experienced dog owner, this is a dog to have on your side.

Fun Facts About American Bulldogs

The American bulldog is the symbol of America’s perseverance and determination, and there’s a reason why it is regarded in such a manner. These intriguing facts about the American bulldog are so awesome that you may consider getting one yourself.

  • They started as catcher dogs. The breed was originally introduced in the nineteen forties as a cattle and hog catcher due to his hunter instincts. Over time, families began to bring this dog into their home for the protection of the family and property.
  • They can shed quite a bit. Even though the American bulldog has a short fur coat, they can be prone to heavy shedding, so they are not hypoallergenic. With that in mind, it is best to keep a dog brush or comb on hand to manage shedding.
  • The American bulldog is a movie star. The dog has been popular throughout the years that it has had the opportunity to be featured in quite a few movies, one in particular that you will probably remember is Nicholas Cage’s movie, Joe.

The Physical Characteristics of French Bulldogs

The French bulldog is something of a tiny powerhouse, with the ability to reach a weight of 30 pounds. Unlike its English and American counterparts, the French bulldog is very small in stature. However, it maintains proportions throughout its body while having an impressive muscular build. Some of the distinctive features of this breed include:

  • A fairly large square-shaped head.
  • A short nose with wide nostrils.
  • A very short muzzle with descending folds leading to its upper lip, which creates a flat appearance.
  • Dark, large, and round eyes that have a protruding appearance.
  • Batlike ears that appear alert and aware.
  • Short tail.
  • Strong and muscular legs
  • A soft and short coat that requires minimal maintenance and bathing of once a year to maintain.
  • There are some pure white French bulldogs; however, they tend to come in darker colors.

This miniature-sized bulldog is also known for having the least amount of health problems out of the three and tends to live a bit longer. They are great with other animals, too, which means they can join any family that already has a loving pet.

The Personality Traits of the French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is docile, gentle, and sweet with its owners, and those that show them attention. The dog breed is also extremely sociable and has a lot of love for its owner. The French bulldog does not like to be left alone and can become depressed and demonstrate separation anxiety when it is left alone for prolonged periods.

The breed is also a surprisingly adept watchdog when necessary due to its high level of alertness. Though it does not bark very often, it will bark and let its owner know when it has heard an unfamiliar sound on the owner’s property.

The French Bulldogs might not be the biggest fans of sports, but this breed is immensely active and requires a good amount of exercise daily. You can take this dog for a walk or run, or bring him to a nearby dog park to get his fill of activities.

One important thing to know about this breed is that they are born leaders and will look to show its leadership qualities early on. They will benefit from an owner who is demanding in training but does not physically punish the dog.

Prone to overeating and becoming overweight, the dog is also a bit greedy, and with the proper training and reward system, this can be used to the owner’s advantage to get the best results from training the French bulldog.

Fun Facts About French Bulldogs

French bulldogs are cute, attention-seeking breed of a bulldog that wants to show that it is a leader. With quality like that, you can be sure that there are some interesting things about this little guy that no one can ignore. It’s not like they’d let you anyway.

  • They  were considered to be one of the “elite.” French bulldogs were held in such high regard that to own one, you once had to fork over five thousand dollars to a breeder. They are still one of the most popular dogs out there, but not with the hefty price tag attached to it.
  • A French bulldog was on the Titanic. A French bulldog named Gamini De Pikomb can be seen in the Titanic movie swimming away after the vessel sinks into the frozen depths. According to survivors, the tough little guy survived the sinking of the ship as well!
  • Wolverine has a soft spoke for French bulldogs. Yes, it’s true. The tough guy with claws and a healing factor loves French bulldogs. Actually, we really mean the Canadian actor, Hugh Jackman, who portrays the mutant superhero, Wolverine in the X-Men movies, and his standalone films, but that doesn’t mean the character doesn’t love them as well.

To learn more cool facts about this sweet and tough little guy, take a look at this resource that provides a lot of information regarding taking care of the French bulldog and a lot of little things you might not have known about it before.

In Conclusion

The American, English, and French bulldogs are all special and interesting in their own right. They all look different, behave differently, and all have their unique history and little quirks that make them appealing to any potential dog owner. We hope this resource has been valuable to you and stay on the lookout for more information regarding choosing your best friend.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.