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What Is The American Bully? The Bully Breed 101.

↯ Key takeaway points

  • The American Bully breed started in the 1990s and is still evolving.
  • The breed combines American Pitbull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers, as well as possibly Mastiff and Bulldog blood.
  • The breed's appearance and temperament are still being defined and clarified.
  • The American Bully should have a strong, muscular body and blocky head, and should be gentle and friendly.
  • There are different types of American Bullies, including Classic, Pocket, and non-standard XL varieties.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Veterinarian and veterinary microbiologist working as a veterinary science lecturer at the UVAS, Lahore.
Published on
Friday 27 November 2015
Last updated on
Monday 6 November 2023
the american bully breed
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Due to popular demand, we’ve opened a new blog category: Bully Breeding. The American Bully is a recent breed that started in the 1990s and it is now evolving with its own time with an active community like no other.

We wanted to start from scratch and go back to basics with a post defining what the American Bully is today in 2016. Because the breed is not completely set and keeps on infusing itself with other breeds, you will often see breeders arguing between themselves about what a real American Bully dog is or should be. This only happens because we are at a very early stage in the creation of the American Bully as a breed. Some influent breeders want to go in different directions, some stay loyal to the first specimens, so it can get a little confusing.

Just before we start, let’s get clear on names: the American Bully is also sometimes called Bullypit or American Bully Pit. These names tend to be used in some hybrid clubs as the name for the cross of an American Bulldog and an American Pit Bull Terrier. It is therefore different from the American Bully.

History of the American Bully

The American Pitbull Terrier is a driven dog, sometimes with animal aggression tendencies, while the American Staffordshire Terrier was mostly bred to be a show breed used in the conformation events because of its calm and easier-to-handle temperament.

The vision that started the American Bully breed is the wish to have a powerful and muscly dog that has a lot less work drive so it can make a perfect protective yet gentle home pet and companion.

Razors Edge pitbull amstaff 1996
Razor’s Edge, the most influent founder of The American Bully and its dogs back in 1996.

A first solution was to tame the temperament of the Pitbull but it seemed difficult, especially internationally where the American Pitbull was a banned breed so impossible to work with. This is where a new breed became the solution: The American Bully.

It is generally admitted that the American Bully was founded with the cross of Pitbulls and Amstaffs, though it is also commonly accepted that some Mastiff and Bulldog blood has been injected in the breed early on and still is today. American Bully breeders will exclusively use these breeds to come up with their own preferred version of the American Bully.

Unique in many ways, an important fact with the foundation of the American Bully is that several breeding programs started at different locations in the United States with no contact between the breeders. Geographically centered in Virginia and Southern California, the bully breeding project quickly spread across the country with bully breeders wanting to move the breed to different directions since no standard was yet made official.


The American Bully breed was seen having variable appearances, all proclaiming to be the most authentic Bully dog. Some liked it more muscular, some liked it XL, some liked it pocket-sized, and so on. The most influential Bully breeders at that time teamed up together to bring more cohesion to the foundation stock of The American Bully and give it a more united voice to be heard. These founders include the influential Dave Wilson from Razor’s Edge, but also the Gottiline, and Gary Moore from Greyline Dogs. They soon after created the American Bully Kennel Club.

Standards developed by the ABKC and the UKC have been accepted throughout the community and declare several types within The American Bully breed. This way, it kept most of the community happy and it is also a great marketing device since XL, Pocket, and Extreme are impactful words that sell. These standards helped the breed going in one clear direction, at least in the dog show circles.

Casual breeders still follow their own ideals but with times, most occasional and professional breeders should gather on that same standardized path and move forward united.

Confusion Between Bullies, Pitbulls & Amstaffs

The development of The American Bully as its own final breed takes time, it is still not recognized by The American Kennel Club for example. For this reason, the American Bully infuriates a lot of American Pitbull and American Staffordshire Terrier breeders. Indeed, because the American Bully is taking time to define itself to the general public, other breeders from other close breeds get annoyed at the confusion reigning in all circles.

differences between amstaff, pitbull and bully.
The American Bully is bullier, less terrier than the Staff and the Pitbull.

Many American Bullies are advertised and sold as American Pitbulls or American Staff, and many Pitbulls and Staffs are also marketed and sold as American Bullies, simply because of the hype for this new breed taking over the country over the last year. Newspapers doing their headlines with the most expensive stud Pitbulls actually get it wrong as it is a stud Bully, and so on.

It is important to explain that, although the American Bully originated from repeated crossbreeding between Pitbulls and Amstaffs, it is now a breed in its own right.

Yet, because the Bully breed is still being defined and clarified year after year, the appearance and temperament of its specimens will keep on evolving for some time and more Pitbull, Amstaff, Mastiff or Bulldog blood will be brought into the breed to fix the traits desired within the community.

There are pitbull and amstaff blood within the bully, there is no bully blood within pitbulls and amstaffs.

The American Bully Standard

Quoted from the American Bully Kennel Club, here are some general yet important characteristics that American Bullies must offer. You can find the full American Bully standard on the ABKC’s website.


The American Bully should give the impression of great strength for its size. It is a compact to medium/large size dog with a muscular body and blocky head, powerful in its movement and should display effortless movement at the same time. It is keenly alive and alert to its surroundings. The American Bully should have the appearance of heavy bone structure with a Bully build and look.

The American Bully is a companion breed exhibiting confidence, a zest for life, along with an exuberant will to please and companionship with their family. This making the American Bully an excellent family companion. Despite the American Bully’s fierce and powerful appearance, their demeanor is gentle. They are great with kids and extremely friendly with strangers, other dogs, and other animals. Human or dog aggression, extreme shyness, or viciousness is very uncharacteristic of the American Bully and is highly undesirable.

It is important to note that all colors and patterns are accepted though the coat must be close and short. There is no particular weight for the breed but there are height and weight ratio restrictions for the bully’s varieties explained in the below section.

Different Types of American Bullies

Because the American Bully Breed went into various directions, it was important to create different types accepted and standardized within the official American Bully standard.

The Different Types of American bullies
The different varieties of American Bullies.

The American Bully Classic, Or Extreme

This is an amendment to the basic standard in which a Classic Bully is determined by its lighter body structure and build. Both sex dogs with lighter body frames and less overall body mass, but still exhibiting “bully” traits.

Here are some examples of what can be considered as bully traits:

  • blocky/heavy heads,
  • short/square muzzles,
  • heavier bone, muscle,
  • and a compact body.

Overall more bone and substance than the modern and more “terrier type” American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier.

Classic Bully to give the appearance of bullier, old style American Pit Bull Terriers and/or American Staffordshire Terrier, which made up the origin of the American Bully.

Classic Bully variety is simply an American Bully dog having a lighter body frame, lighter bones, and less overall body mass (less substance) than the Standard American Bully. Aside from this difference, the Classic Bully variety follows the same standard as the Standard American Bully.

Males 17″ – 20″ at the withers. Females 16″ – 19″ at the withers.

The American Bully Pocket


This is an amendment to the basic standard in which a Pocket Bully is determined by its adult height. Males under 17″ and no less than 14″ at the withers. Females under 16″ and no less than 13″ at the withers.

Important to note that the Pocket Bully variety is simply shorter than the Standard American Bully. Pocket Bully dogs share the same build, body type, and breed type as the Standard American Bully, and are not to be penalized for exhibiting heavily muscled, massive, bulky body type.

The American Bully XL

This is an amendment to the basic standard in which an XL Bully is determined by its adult height. Males over 20″ – 23″ at the withers. Females over 19″ – 22″ at the withers.

Important to note that the XL Bully variety is simply taller than the Standard American Bully. XL Bully dogs share the same build, body type, and breed type as the Standard American Bully, and are expected to carry a heavily muscled, massive, bulky body type.

The Future of The American Bully Breeding Programme

With a great standard now in place and different types clearly defined, the future of the breed lies in the community following the guidelines and evening out all the specimens out there labeled as American Bullies.

Once most of the breed’s specimens, whether officially registered or not, look similar and are clearly identified, it would mean that the breed as matured and can be taken more seriously by bigger organizations such as The American Kennel Club.

This is why many influent figures of the bully community push conformation show so the breed sticks to its standard and non-confirm specimens get discarded of their breeding programs.

As soon as The American Kennel Club shows full recognition of the American Bully, it will send a strong signal internationally and develop the breed even more, especially in South Africa where the breed is already hype and other English-speaking countries.

Featured image credits: flickr/rockcitykennels / CC BY 2.0 “American Bully Male Jaxson” / Changes Made

16 comments on “What Is The American Bully? The Bully Breed 101.”

  1. Tom

    You shouldn’t be breeding these ugly weapon dogs. A 2 year old girl was mauled in Liverpool by bully dogs only the other day. You people and your business sicken me.

    1. Terry

      I have a xl bully. To think she would ever attack so.eone makes me laugh. However a dog mistreated regardless of breed will attack. As far as a muscular dog heck yeah my 10 month old 90 lb pup works and does all i ask of her. Blame the owner of a vicious animal and Oliver i agree those little ankle biters cause more havoc than any large dog

    2. Erykag

      You do not know what you are talking about, Tom.

  2. Malcom

    If you get any sort of response, Tom, it will be along the lines “It’s not the dog, it’s the owner”. I was somewhat bemused to see that this animal, all muscle and jaws, is being passed off as a companion dog, good with children! If that toddlers gran hadn’t been near enough to intervene she could be dead, now. And a new breed! Someone, somewhere, decided that the world needs another scary looking dog. Pah.

  3. Oliver griffiths

    Both of you don’t have a fuckin clue. Just because some dickheads dogs mauled a Kid does not mean all dogs like that are bad. Iv been bit n chased by more jack Russell type dogs that any other. It’s the owner what’s responsible if you can’t train a dog to be nice then u shouldn’t have a dog in the first place regardless off the breed. My pittbull is the friendliest dog iv ever met he wouldn’t hurt a fly but he would defend himself.
    Just because a dog is capable of doing more damage doesn’t mean they should be banned or put down. It’s the fuckin idiot owners who let ther shit little ankle biters run around off the lead and when they confront another dog and start a fight just because ther dog isn’t capable of doing damage to a bigger dog that’s seen as alright ? That dog isn’t bad it’s a small cute thing. When in reality ther viscous little cretins that need puttin down like ther owners and like use two cunts who commented before me. On another note. Police dogs bite people ? Have u ever tried stoking one? Greyhounds chase rabbits or whatever ? U think ther playing ? No. They are tryin to kill it. What’s stopping a police dog or a race dog snapping ?

    1. Tony

      Oliver. are a cunt

    2. V

      . . . not very good at spelling etc., are you? . . . but I tend to agree with you . . .

    3. Irene Anna Mcguigen

      I agree with you100%Terry.My American Bully is the sweetest ever. Love people day and night. But if a burglar comes at your door. Beware you may get hurt. They are the best around. Very good watch dog.

  4. Oh dear, all I see on this page is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier…and just for historical correctness it is a Pit Bull Dog …. it’s not American or a terrier….who writes this garbage

  5. Craig

    Dan your a fuckwit if you took the time to read up about the breed you maybe not such a Huge Dick The amstaff is yes a big strong dog But that dose not make it anymore dangerous that that little shit of a fluffy mokison that runs out of its backyard and over the road and try’s to bite my 2 Amstaffs that ar on lead and doing as thay ar told But hay its people like you that own little shit dogs like that so maybe next time you think about makeing a stupid comment pull your head in and maybe do some research on the dog breed you ar attacking becoz it’s fuckwits like you that make stupid comments that make it hard for us that ar trying to better the breed you deadshit

  6. Benjamin Truitt

    Let me clear up some of the confusion. There is really only one true breed here, maybe two. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the one and only original working Bull and Terrier type dogs. All other breeds are derivatives. The American Staffordshire Terrier is simply an American Pitbull Terrier. The entire Amstaff breed is based on a relatively small pool of dogs purchased from John Colby, Earl tutor, Joe corvino and a couple of other of the original breeders of the American Pitbull Terrier in America. The breed adopted by the American Kennel Club after having previously refused to register them because they saw how popular the breed actually was with other kennel clubs and decided they were missing out on some cash they could be making with the registration of this popular breed. They simply changed the name in order to distance themselves from what they perceived as a low class breed. Also after a couple of generations they bred their dogs strictly for dog shows and not for any type of work and subsequently their dogs are now not good Representatives of this class of dog, have poor structure and are prone to health and temperament issues.

  7. Benjamin Truitt

    This comment is for the person who referred to these dogs as ” weapon dogs”. The assumption that these dogs are some sort of canine weapon and are inherently more dangerous than other breeds is patently false. It appears you are the citizen or at least resident of Great Britain. Might interest you to know that after American pitbull terriers were banned and Staffordshire Bull Terriers heavily regulated in an attempt to decrease dog attacks that resulted in severe injury and even death the incidence of severe and fatal dog attacks actually went up even as the population of your ” weapon dogs” went down. There is not actually a shred of statistical evidence that proves that pit bulls are more dangerous than any other breed. In fact Pit Bulls consistently score higher on temperament evaluation tests designed to evaluate dogs on their suitability as service animals. The tests I’m referring to are most commonly used in order to confirm that a dog is appropriate for therapy work with sick children and the elderly. In the US, which is the origin of the American Pitbull Terrier branch of this family tree the most likely breed to perpetrate an unprovoked attack is a Dalmatian and undefined mixed breed dogs are responsible for more fatal and severe dog attacks than anyone breed of dog buy an extremely large margin. I suggest you check your facks before you go running your mouth if you wish to avoid looking like a fool

  8. Steve

    It never amazes me who ignorant some people are . Do your research on breeds . The German Shepherd and other herding dogs are made to hurt people , rottweilers are made to hurt people. In fact any dog can be made to hurt people ,big or small dogs can be trained to be aggressive. By nature the pit bull was made to kill other dogs ,it’s not a bird dog or herding dog by nature but it can be trained to do so. But by nature it does not. Bye nature the American pit bull is not human aggressive, The American people made this dog thur hundreds of years to be in the pit to kill other dogs while humans were in the pit with them. The dog understands the difference dog and human. During the making of the pit bull if any dog ever bit a human in the pit it would be culled. This period in American pitbull history was called the culling. This is why American pitbull terriers don’t make good watchdogs, they are not naturally human aggressive. Speaking of history. The American pitbull is known as the nanny dog because it loves children and was once the Mascot for the United States of America. The American bully has pitbull leneage but the dog killing traits are being breed out of it ,pretty much like the changing of the English Bulldog. The American bully is simply a show dog. Dog fighting is outlawed in the United States. We are trying to change the breed bye not breeding agressive dogs at all. It is working, ,these dogs have to be really provoked into defending themselves, some don’t fight back at all. The American bully just wants to be another dog. In closing I’d like to say, PLEASE BEWARE OF STUPID PEOPLE IN LARGE GROUPS. The American bully is now a show dog. Education is key.

  9. Adele

    It is really hard to read this article when “pit bull” is not even spelled correctly.

  10. Clueless

    My son has a pocket bully…I LOVE her… I have been babysitting her for a few weeks. I have Yorkshire Terriers and I noticed one was afraid of her, she would run behind the couch and hide. She never tried to start anything. She was the KIND one.. So I would take her and put them together to bond with me right there. It seemed to work.. days later there was excitement in the house( doorbell rings with a Yorkie and its on ) and I looked back and my sons dog had killed my Yorkie in a few seconds. I tried to pull her loose but she didn’t let go till, well u know. No blood but it was horrible. She (the pocket bully)has been, babied , loved, given so much attention….You can’t tell me it was the handler, My son treats her like a baby..she’s sweet, those darling eyes. I still love her but it took days for me to think, she can’t help what’s in her, I didn’t know, I should have educated myself more. I blame myself the most. (clueless babysitter)That’s the reason I am on this site..I still want to understand, educate myself on this breed. You both have truths to your stories, for sure. we must all be more responsible with our animals . we love them dearly, take them to the vets, play time with them, but not once did I read up. They’re our family members so with that said. Educate yourself(me)on any breed you may be keeping. Continue to love all breeds, I do. BTW We are looking into classes for her. I was told if trained there’s a ways to train them to let go when biting. wish you guys luck and myself most of all..

    1. lt

      Clueless, I have a beagle shepherd mix and she hates other dogs. She was never around them enough when she was young. My bully loves other dogs, even the mean beagle mixed. I think it has more to do with socialization when young then the breed.

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