What are Bully Breeds?

Bully dog breeds are a group of dog breeds that are characterized by their muscular, stocky build and broad heads. Some common breeds in this group include American Pit Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, Bullmastiffs, Staffordshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Boxers, and French Bulldogs.

The term Bully Dog Breeds also includes dogs who resemble these terriers in some physical way, but who may or may not actually have any genetic relationship to these breeds of dogs. what are the bully dog breeds?

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

Bully dogs are descendants of crosses between ancient bulldogs and a variety of British terriers. The crossing of the bulldog and the British terrier produced a breed called the Bull-and-Terrier that combined the muscle power and tenacity of the bulldog with the terrier’s alertness, agility, and speed.

The bull-and-terrier was a favorite of sporting enthusiasts in England during the early-to mid-1800s. The dogs were prized for dog fighting, bull baiting, and badger baiting. Since the beginning of the 20th century, bully dogs have been prominently displayed in American advertising, literature, movies, and television.

Companies such as RCA and the Buster Brown shoe company used Bully Dog Breeds as mascots. A Pit Bull named Petie starred in the popular children’s television show Our Gang. A Bull Terrier named Spuds MacKenzie became the mascot for Bud Light during the 1987 Super Bowl, and in 1999 Bullseye, a miniature Bull Terrier became the mascot and trademark for Target Corporation.

Bully dogs have evolved into marvelous working and companion dogs. They compete in all types of organized dog sports and they can make loving pets for children and seniors, and everyone in between. Understanding bully dog breeds is important because negative stereotypes and misconceptions about them can lead to breed-specific legislation and discrimination.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

By educating the public on the true nature of these dogs and promoting responsible ownership, we can help combat this stigma and ensure that these dogs are treated with the care and respect they deserve.

History of Bully Dog Breeds 

The origins of bully dog breeds can be traced back to ancient times when they were used for hunting, guarding, and fighting. It is believed that these dogs were bred by crossing mastiffs and terriers to create a dog with the strength and tenacity of a mastiff and the agility and intelligence of a terrier. There are several breeds that fall under the category of bully breeds. These breeds are characterized by their muscular, stocky build and broad heads.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

Bully dog breeds have been used historically for a variety of purposes. They were originally bred for hunting and guarding, and later became popular for dog fighting due to their strength and tenacity. However, it’s important to note that not all bully breeds were used for dog fighting, and many were also used as working dogs on farms or in law enforcement. Over time, negative stereotypes and misconceptions about bully breeds began to develop. 

This was largely due to their association with dog fighting and the media’s portrayal of them as aggressive and dangerous dogs. However, it’s important to note that these negative traits are not inherent in the breed, but rather a result of poor breeding and mistreatment by humans. The evolution of these stereotypes has led to breed-specific legislation and discrimination against bully breeds, which is why it’s important to understand and advocate for these dogs.

Characteristics of Bully Dog Breeds 

Over the years, responsible bully breed breeders have worked hard to enhance the positive characteristics of these dogs. However, bully dogs may not be the best choice for everyone. Bully dog breeds typically have a muscular, stocky build with a broad head and short, smooth coat. They vary in size and weight, with some breeds such as the Bulldog being on the larger side and others such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier being smaller. 

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

The American Pit Bull Terrier and some other bully breeds also have a distinctive “pit bull” type appearance, with a broad chest and strong jaw. Bully Dog Breeds are known for their loyalty, protectiveness, and affectionate nature toward their owners. They can be stubborn at times and require consistent training and socialization. These dogs are typically good with children and make great family pets. However, because of their protective nature, they may be wary of strangers and other dogs.

Like all Bully Dog Breeds, bully breeds are susceptible to certain health issues. Hip dysplasia, skin allergies, and respiratory issues are common health problems that affect these breeds. Additionally, because of their short snouts, some bully breeds may experience breathing difficulties and overheating in hot weather. Unfortunately, bully breeds are often misunderstood and stigmatized because of their physical and personality traits. 

Some people view them as inherently aggressive or dangerous when in reality, their behavior is largely dependent on their upbringing and environment. Additionally, the media often sensationalizes stories involving bully breeds, further perpetuating negative stereotypes. It’s important to understand that these dogs can make loving, loyal pets when properly cared for and trained and that negative behavior is often the result of human mistreatment rather than the dog’s breed.

Controversy Surrounding Bully Dog Breeds 

Bully breeds have long been the subject of negative stereotypes and misconceptions, often fueled by sensationalized media coverage and misinformation. Common stereotypes include the belief that these dogs are inherently aggressive, unpredictable, and dangerous, despite evidence to the contrary.

These stereotypes have led to discrimination against Bully Dog Breeds, including breed-specific legislation, which can have devastating consequences for owners and their pets. Breed-specific legislation (BSL) refers to laws that target specific dog breeds, including bully breeds. These laws often impose restrictions or bans on the ownership, breeding, or transportation of certain breeds, regardless of individual behavior or temperament.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

Studies have shown that BSL is not effective in reducing dog bites or improving public safety and can lead to a rise in underground breeding and illegal activities. Moreover, BSL can cause undue hardship and emotional distress for responsible owners of Bully Dog Breeds.

Owners of bully breeds have a crucial role in preventing aggressive behavior and promoting responsible ownership. Proper socialization, training, and supervision are essential to ensure that these dogs develop good behavior and positive interactions with people and other animals.

Owners should also provide adequate exercise, nutrition, and medical care to maintain their pet’s health and well-being. Educating the public on responsible ownership is essential to combatting negative stereotypes and promoting positive interactions between dogs and people.

This includes teaching people how to approach dogs safely, recognizing signs of aggression or fear, and understanding the importance of proper training and socialization. Additionally, responsible ownership means providing adequate resources for your pet, including regular exercise, veterinary care, and proper nutrition.

By promoting responsible ownership, we can help break down barriers and dispel misconceptions about Bully Dog Breeds.

Common Bully Breed Myths and Misconceptions 

Unfortunately, many people associate the word “bully” with the dog’s temperament. Many Bully Dog Breeds are labeled as violent and aggressive, but in reality, most are loving, loyal companions. One of the most popular bully breed myths is that bully dogs have a unique jaw and dental structure that locks and cannot be pried apart once they bite down. In reality, their jaw structure is not any different than the jaw structure of any other dog breed. 

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

It is believed that bully dogs are naturally aggressive. Behavior is influenced by the interaction between a dog’s genetic makeup and the environment. Breed alone does not shape behavior. Socialization, training, and management also have a strong influence on a dog’s behavior. Bully-type dogs can actually make great pets for families. In tests done by the American Temperament Test Society, bully dogs were generally less aggressive when faced with confrontational situations than many other stereotypically “friendly” breeds. 

Bully dogs have more bite pressure per square inch (PSI) than other dogs. Testing has shown that the domestic dog averages about 320 lbs. of bite pressure per square inch. Recently Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic conducted a comparative test between a Pit Bull, a Rottweiler, and a German Shepherd Dog. The Pit Bull, with a bite pressure of 235 pounds PSI, had the lowest of the three. 

Another misconception is that bully dogs are the most likely dogs to bite. However, the same is not true. According to testing in 2013 by the American Temperament Test Society, 86.8% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed their test for stability and friendliness. Bully Dog Breeds are good with humans and other animals. With proper management and supervision, most bully dogs get along well with their owners and surrounding individuals.

Advocating for Bully Dog Breeds 

Promoting positive awareness of Bully Dog Breeds is essential to combat negative stereotypes and discrimination. This can be done by highlighting the positive traits of these dogs, such as their loyalty, affectionate nature, and ability to make great family pets. Additionally, sharing positive stories about bully breeds can help to dispel myths and misconceptions and promote a more positive image of these dogs.

Advocating for responsible ownership is another way to promote positive awareness of bully breeds. This includes providing resources and support for owners to ensure they are equipped to properly care for their pets. Advocates can also work to promote training and socialization programs to prevent aggressive behavior and help owners better understand their pets’ needs.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

Bully breeds have a long history of serving as service and therapy dogs, providing invaluable support and assistance to people in need. For example, Pit Bull-type dogs have been used as therapy dogs for veterans with PTSD, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been trained as hearing dogs for the deaf. Highlighting the positive impact of bully breeds as service and therapy dogs can help to challenge negative stereotypes and promote a more positive image of these dogs.

Advocating for bully breeds is crucial to promoting a more positive image of these dogs and combating negative stereotypes and discrimination. By advocating for responsible ownership, promoting positive awareness, and highlighting the positive impact of these dogs, advocates can help to break down barriers and promote more positive interactions between dogs and people. Additionally, advocating for these dogs can help to protect them from discriminatory laws and policies and ensure that they are treated with the respect and care they deserve.

Be a Smart Bully Breed Guardian

Choose a dog who is suited to your home, energy level, lifestyle, and work schedule. Although some bully-type dogs tend to be couch potatoes, most are very athletic. They require daily physical and mental exercise. If you plan to adopt a dog from a rescue group, animal shelter, or humane society check to make sure the organization does temperament testing or behavior assessments.

It helps to identify friendly dogs who have the greatest potential for success in any household. Develop a good relationship with your dog. Your relationship with your dog is arguably the most important aspect of living with him. Clear communication and mutual respect are paramount. He needs to know that you have his best interest at heart. It is important to earn his trust.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

He needs to feel comfortable with you, and he needs to know that you will protect him and keep him safe even when he’s frightened or when things are odd or distracting. When he trusts that you will keep him safe, he will look to you for guidance rather than making decisions on his own.

Good management is critical and must continue throughout his life. Understand how to anticipate his reactions under many different situations. Be aware of your surroundings and learn to predict situations that can trigger unacceptable behavior. Avoid scary situations that may make him fearful and don’t put him in stressful situations.

If he is apprehensive or nervous around other dogs, strangers, and/or children don’t allow them to invade his personal space. Teach your dog to use a crate. A crate will come in handy in many situations such as when he needs a place to “chill” or when he gets too excited. Gates, tie-downs, and long lines are all good management tools. Learn to read your dog’s body language.

Some cues are very subtle. Pay close attention to your dog’s facial expressions, muscle tone, posture, eyes, and tail carriage. Once you’re able to read the subtle cues he is giving, you will have better insight into his emotional state. 

Monitor your dog’s play with other dogs. If he enjoys playing with other dogs try to find some compatible dog friends for him to play with. Small playgroups with known dog friends are preferred over dog parks. Most dogs do much better when playing one-on-one with another dog.

Adding even one more dog to the mix often leads to problems. Supervise your dog’s play sessions. Interrupt him often and separate him before he becomes overly aroused. Bully breeds have the propensity to stare at other dogs.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

Watch your dog for hard stares and teach him to focus on you rather than other dogs or the environment. Take time when introducing him to a new dog. Monitor your dog’s arousal level. Bully Dog Breeds can become aroused easily and high arousal can quickly turn to unwanted behavior.

Once aroused, a dog can take a long time to recover. Bully dogs by nature are affectionate jokesters. They love to play and one of the reasons we love them is because they make us laugh. Play with your dog. People who regularly play with their dogs develop understanding, respect, and communication with them.

Since play is a source of continuous reward, behaviors integrated into play tend to become stable and reliable. Provide your dog with plenty of mental and physical exercise. Bully dogs are intelligent, athletic dogs with active minds. They require daily mental stimulation and physical exercise.

This is not just about burning off excess energy; exercise is also about providing socialization and interaction in different environments. Appropriate physical and mental exercise will increase your dog’s ability to focus and it will help prevent problem behaviors.

Puzzles and problem-solving games are also great ways to provide him with mental stimulation. Teach your dog to pay attention to you and respond to his name. Bully Dog Breeds are often so focused on other dogs that getting their attention on you is easier said than done.

Group classes or private training will give you the tools necessary to teach your dog basic behaviors such as sitting, down, waiting, and polite walking. Teaching these behaviors will not only help him learn self-control, but it will also strengthen his bond with him.

Once he has learned the basics, consider having him become an AKC Canine Good Citizen. Dogs chase people, animals, or things because of their predatory instinct. Chasing is a self-reinforcing behavior and once a dog becomes focused on what he is chasing, it can be impossible to interrupt him. Learning to manage your dog’s prey drive is critical.

Complete Bully Dog Breeds List

A dog with a strong instinct to chase things can be a danger to himself, his guardians, and whatever he’s chasing. Do not leave him unsupervised, even in your yard. Avoid dog parks or other off-leash play areas frequented by small dogs. Unless you are in a controlled class setting, avoid off-leash activities where there are small dogs and children running around.

Introduce him to activities that allow him to channel his prey drive in acceptable ways. Sports such as Treibball, Nose Work, and Agility are good alternatives. On walks try to distract him before he has a chance to notice and chase squirrels, cyclists, skateboarders, and joggers.

FAQs about Bully Dog Breeds 

1. Are bully breeds inherently aggressive and dangerous? 

No. There is no scientific evidence to support the belief that bully breeds are inherently aggressive. In fact, studies have shown that these dogs are often no more aggressive than other breeds. Aggression in dogs is primarily a result of environmental factors, such as improper socialization and training.

2. Can bully breeds be good family pets? 

Yes. Bully breeds can make excellent family pets. These dogs are known for their loyalty, affectionate nature, and ability to bond closely with their human family members. Proper socialization and training are essential to ensure that these dogs develop good behavior and positive interactions with people and other animals.

3. Do bully breeds have a high prey drive? 

Some bully breeds, such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, have a high prey drive. However, this is not true for all bully breeds. It is important to research and understand the specific characteristics of each breed before bringing a dog into your home.

4. Do bully breeds require a lot of exercises

Yes. Like all dogs, bully breeds require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. Owners should provide daily exercise opportunities, such as walks or playtime in the yard, to ensure that their pets are getting enough activity.

5. Are bully breeds prone to health issues? 

Like all breeds, bully breeds can be prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia, skin allergies, and heart disease. However, with proper care and regular veterinary checkups, many of these issues can be managed or prevented.

6. Are bully breeds good candidates for service or therapy work? 

Yes. Bully breeds have a long history of serving as service and therapy dogs. These dogs are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and ability to work closely with their handlers. With proper training and socialization, bully breeds can make excellent candidates for service or therapy work.

7. Are bully breeds banned in certain areas? 

Yes. Some areas have breed-specific legislation (BSL) that targets bully breeds and imposes restrictions or bans on the ownership, breeding, or transportation of certain breeds. However, studies have shown that BSL is not effective in reducing dog bites or improving public safety and can lead to a rise in underground breeding and illegal activities.

8. Can my bully-breed dog live with a cat? 

Although, the Bully Dog Breed prey drive and a keen interest in small, fast-moving critters can make introducing him to the cat a challenging adventure. However, proper management and solid training can ensure the establishment of a positive, respectful relationship between your bully breed and cat.

9. What about getting a bully-breed puppy? 

Adopting a bully-breed puppy can be exciting and fun, but please take the time to do some research before you plunge into puppy parenthood. Make sure you adopt your puppy from a reputable rescue group, animal shelter, or breeder. Training should begin the moment you bring your puppy home. 


In conclusion, bully dog breeds are a diverse group of dogs with a rich history and unique characteristics. Unfortunately, these dogs have often been misunderstood and unfairly stigmatized due to negative stereotypes and misconceptions. As a result, many bully breeds are at risk of being discriminated against and even banned in some areas. However, it is important to recognize that responsible ownership and proper training are key to ensuring that all dogs, including bully breeds, are well-behaved and safe around people and other animals. 

It is also important to acknowledge the positive impact that bully breeds can have as service and therapy dogs, providing valuable support and companionship to people in need. By working to educate the public and promote responsible ownership, we can help to ensure that these dogs are given the love and care that they deserve, while also helping to create safer and more compassionate communities for all.