American Bully

American Bully Profile

Gone are the days when you could purchase a panther in London to hang out with in your flat.

And while we’re all more or less in agreement about this being a good thing, there are now debates arising on a similar topic that highlight our disrespect for animals, our reactionary nature to threats, and a woefully inadequate regulatory architecture around the casual ownership of animals that can bite your face off. 

The American bully, or ‘American XL bully’ as they are often called in the media (which is, you’ve guessed it, larger) is a modern breed of dog that’s been recognized as a breed since 2004 by the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC)

They American bully is split into four categories by the ABKC – XL, Pocket, Standard / Classic based upon size. While the United Kennel Club classifies them together.

American XL Bully Dog Facts

American Bully Facts Overview

Habitat: Domestic
Location: Worldwide
Lifespan: Up to 13 years
Size: Up to 51cm (20 inches) tall
Weight: More than 78kg (173lb) in huge cases, usually no more than (80lb)
Colour: Often grey, brown or black with white underside, but with many variants
Diet: Pet food, omnivorous
Predators: None
Top Speed: Slow
No. of Species: 1
Conservation Status: Not wild

Recent selective breeding has produced a layer of plausible deniability around a breed descended from pitbulls, but said to be less aggressive and far more trustworthy around strangers and children. 

But this plausibility is beginning to decay, as their reputation for being big softies is met with some worrying statistics suggesting that this larger, more powerful descendant is responsible for the majority of fatal dog attacks in the UK.

Not known for their appreciation of nuance, both the public and the government are up in arms on one side or the other of a ban on the breed, and while this is a symptom of a much larger issue of animal ownership, a reactionary ban may also be a good short-term patch.  

Interesting American Bully Facts

1. They’re not Pitbulls

While both these breeds are superficially similar, there are distinct differences. American bullies are profoundly muscular breeds, larger and thicker than pitbulls, which are typically lighter and more agile. American bullies also have a shorter muzzle and a more compact facial structure. 

It’s suggested that the American bully is a less aggressive version of a pitbull, bred from pitbull ancestry mixed in with genetics from other, more docile breeds, though this has come into question. 

It’s also been established that while pitbull breeding is illegal in the UK, buying pitbull sperm from the US and using it to produce XL bullies, is a loophole that many are exploiting. 

American Bully dog

2. There are a few variants

XL bullies are one of roughly three general flavours of the breed, ranging from the relatively petite micro and pocket bullies – small versions of the standard breed – up to the heavyweights, known as XL bullies, who can weigh more than the average human. 1

3. They’re adorable

American bullies are loved by many for their intelligence, affection and loyalty. The vast majority of these animals live out their lives in peace, happily sharing their homes with kids and other animals. 

They’re often attentive and eager to please, which makes them easy to train, and they’re commonly commended as devoted and caring animals to have around. 2 3

4. They need mental stimulation

Like any intelligent dog, American bullies take a lot of mental stimulation to keep themselves occupied. When looked after right, they’re easy to train and can be very stable and outgoing pets. 

They need a fair amount of physical exercise, too, but if they get this, they’re usually good inside the home, and can be suited to apartments too, especially because they don’t shed too much. 

They also get along with other pets reasonably well, which helps them meet their social needs. Some people claim that these attributes make them the perfect family dog.

5. They might not be as aggressive as pitbulls

American Bullies are said to be generally less aggressive than Pitbulls, particularly in terms of human aggression. 

While individual temperament can vary among dogs of any breed, American Bullies are often known for their friendly and affectionate disposition, making them less prone to aggression towards humans. 

Pitbulls, on the other hand, have a historical background that includes dog fighting, which has contributed to their reputation for being more aggressive. 

Still, any dog’s behaviour is influenced by various factors outside of genetics, especially upbringing, socialisation and training. Responsible ownership, proper training, and allowing dogs to grow up in good company arguably play a greater role in determining their behaviour, regardless of the breed.

And yet, it’s trivial to find breeders who call themselves things like “Ruthless Kennels” and name their dogs “Danger”. These dogs have a reputation, and this attracts exactly the kind of owner who will facilitate some of the most dangerous attributes of the breed. 

6. And they’re potentially very dangerous

These dogs are significantly stronger than the pitbulls they were bred from, with more muscle and a similar bite force that is said to shred skin, break bones and damage nerves.

A super large American XL bully can top 175lb of lean muscle, and this is a selling point for breeders, who refer to them as “baddest bullies”. 

There’s no question that their brute force and implied threat are part of the appeal for many owners, and as such, they’re capable of just as much, if not more damage than pits. 

An aggressive American bully is a frightening force. Even though innumerable individuals in this breed wouldn’t hurt a fly, there are countless examples of those who do, and when this happens, the consequences can be dire. 4

American XL Bully

7. They sometimes kill people

In the UK, these “XL bullies” were responsible for more than half the deaths caused by dogs between 2021 and 2023. Around half of all breeding American bullies in the UK descend from one male sire called “Killer Kimbo”, and it and its offspring are also linked to multiple deaths. 

They’re also responsible for nearly 50% of all attacks on both humans and other dogs overall. 

While breeders suggest they’re mixed with other breeds such as mastiffs and bulldogs, genetic research suggests they’re just an inbred form of pitbull. 5

8. They’re going to be banned in the UK

Pitbull ban success has been demonstrated in various areas in which they’ve been implemented. 

In Rhode Island, a ban in 2004 saw a drop in pitbull bites from 52 in the 4 years preceding it to 13 in the 10 years that followed. The ban was overturned in 2013, and a ten-fold rise in attacks from the breed followed. 

But this says nothing about dog attacks overall, and many sceptics still suggest this is an ineffective strategy. 

The UK government has announced a ban should come into effect by 2025 after current owners of the breed have been given a chance to neuter their pets and commit to keeping them muzzled in public. 

This ban should significantly impact dog attack statistics, and hopefully, reduce both dog attacks and associated fatalities. 

But it’s still addressing the symptom of a bigger issue. While there remains a financially neglected human demographic, there will always be neglected animals attached to them. 6

9. Our attitudes towards animals need to improve

Both the animals and the general public suffer from a severe case of legal oversight in breeding and ownership regulations when it comes to our pets. In the UK alone, there are over 60 million pets, and 104 of these are abandoned every day. Many more are kept in poor conditions and understimulated. 

While we’ve come a fair distance from the time you could buy a lion in Harrods in the ‘60s, there is still a blasé attitude towards pet ownership that creates a false sense of security and entitlement, and disrespects animals as individuals. 

Pets are treated as toys and accessories, rather than companions, and while banning certain breeds may increase public safety, it does nothing to address animal cruelty. 7

10. We need to do better with pet laws

The larger, stronger, and more fixated a breed can get, the more dangerous it is in the wrong hands. 

But pet ownership has become a norm, much like gun ownership has in certain countries. The majority of owners are either responsible or lucky enough to never experience a bad result from either. 

But the lack of strict regulation means that it’s not only the responsible owners who can buy a dog – or other sentient pet – legally, off the record, and with very few enforceable restrictions on the subsequent treatment of these animals.  

New debates highlight these reckless and neglectful attitudes from both owners and governments towards animals in general, they deserve better.   

Animal ownership is not inherently unethical, but in practice, it’s an industry of suffering that needs to be better regulated, not only for the safety of the public but out of respect and concern for the animals involved. 

With more focus on approaching ownership in this way, dangerous dogs can be almost entirely eliminated without the need for banning specific breeds. 

American Bully Fact-File Summary

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

Fact Sources & References

  2. Susan Nicol (2023), “American Bully Dog Breed Characteristics, History, Diet, Care, and More!”, Wold Animal Foundation.
  3. Emil Tyger (2015), “Adorable American Bully puppies”, Youtube.
  4. Matt Murphy (2023), “What is an American bully XL and why are they being banned?”, BBC News.
  5. Neil Shaw (2023), “Shocking statistics explain exactly why American XL bullies are being banned”, Wales Online.
  6. (2019), “Pit Bull Attacks Rise in Pawtucket After State Preemption Law Muted City’s Successful Pit Bull Ban”,
  7. Is the pressure to be a ‘responsible’ pet owner increasing?”, Waltham.