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The American Bulldog looks tough and even perhaps a little mean, but looks can be deceiving. This stocky dog is actually something of a softie and makes a great furry family member.
Descended from the now extinct Old English Bulldog, the American Bulldog has a long heritage as a working dog. Old English Bulldogs were bred specifically for bull baiting and they made their way to America with the first wave of immigrants to the American South. Once here they were put to work as ranch dogs and 'hunter's helpers'.
The line was refined via breeding to become a slimmer, slightly more muscular pup than the original Old English Bulldog, and when the breed was itself near extinction in the 1940s a group of aficionados gathered as many of the remaining breedable pups as possible to revive it. The plan worked and today the American Bullie is going strong, as a show dog, as a competitive sporting dog - they excel at strength and agility events - and as beloved family member in homes across the country.
Usually weighing between 60-120 pounds and standing 20-28 inches tall American Bulldogs are known for their longevity - the average lifespan is 10-16 years - and their ability to act as loyal companion and dogged guard for their chosen family.
As is often the case for dog breeds that have a more complicated breeding history there are some conditions that American Bulldogs are more prone to than some other pups of a similar size and build. Being aware of what the most common of those are can help pet parents better prepare for the future, both practically and financially, as some of the conditions can be expensive to treat.
A conscious effort by breeders to remove certain inherited disorders as hip and elbow dysplasia from the American Bulldog line has resulted in such ailments becoming increasingly rare in American Bulldogs, and the fact that they can be treated more effectively should they occur means that they are rarely the big problem for the breed they once were. There are some other health conditions that can still prove a bigger problem however.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that can seriously impact a pup's quality of life and general health if left untreated. It occurs when the dog's own body no longer produces sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones to keep them healthy and leads to excessive lethargy, limb weakness, and, in more serious untreated cases heart failure and circulation problems.
The good news for pet parents is that hypothyroidism can now be successfully managed with synthetic hormone medications and, when taking those and following a healthy diet American Bulldogs suffering from hypothyroidism usually lead normal, otherwise healthy lives.
Cherry Eye is quite common in American Bulldogs and something pet parents should certainly be aware of as a possibility as prompt treatment is a must to avoid damaging a pup's eyesight permanently.
Cherry Eye refers to the prolapse of the third eyelid. It presents itself as a cherry shaped bulge in the eye - this the name -and may cover the eyeball at least partially. The treatment for Cherry Eye is usually an ophthalmic surgical procedure that removes the damaged third eyelid and replaces it. In most cases these surgeries are a success, but they can prove to be expensive, costing anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000.
American Bulldogs are what's known as brachycephalic dogs, they have short snouts that can lead to breathing difficulties after excessive exercise or when they are too hot (despite their early lives as dogs of the American South most American Bulldogs do not love the sun).
How much their little short noses affect their health varies from Bulldog to Bulldog. Some suffer from soft palate issues that can block the windpipe, some has nostrils that are simply too small to be fully efficient and in some cases the windpipe itself may be too narrow. These conditions can be managed with lifestyle changes or, in more serious cases stenotic nares surgery is called for to correct the problem instead, something that while often very successful can cost several thousands of dollars.
Other genetic issues and relevant treatment costs common to this breed include:
The health conditions we have just covered may or may not ever affect your precious American Bulldog but the fact is that every pup gets sick or injured at some point in their lives and needs some TLC in the form of professional veterinary care. It's important that you find a reliable vet for your pup when they are young so that if and when they do need medical care you will know just where to go.
Preparing to meet the costs of your fur kids health treatments is important as well. For humans the high cost of health care is usually offset by their health insurance. While they might pay a monthly premium for such plans they do allow them to avoid the kind of cripplingly high medical bills a single health crisis can bring.
This kind of health insurance is now available for pets as well. Purchasing pet health insurance is becoming increasingly common and is something that any American bulldog pet parent should at least consider.
In considering buying pet insurance for your American Bulldog you probably have two big questions you need to answer before doing so: how much will it cost and what will it cover? We are going to take a look at these important - and very valid - questions now.
As an adult you have probably had occasion to shop for insurance before, either for coverage for your own life and health or for your vehicle and/or home. And in doing so you will have learned that the price of insurance coverages can vary greatly, both from company to company and according to the level of coverage desired and any pre-existing factors that may affect the quotes you receive.
This is all true of pet insurance as well. However, to give you a very rough idea of the costs involved in purchasing pet insurance for your American Bulldog we headed to the website of one of the country's largest pet insurance providers and requested quotes for two very different - but equally lovable - American Bulldogs we know.
The first quote we requested was for health insurance for Mikey, a bouncy, lively one-year-old American Bulldog pup. Mikey has made it through his first year with no health problems. His quote from the pet health insurance company broke down as follows:
Mikey has a friend down the block who is also an American Bullie in pretty good health but Alice is a senior lady, having just passed her seventh birthday. As American Bulldogs have a long life expectancy, its likely Alice will be around to put Mikey in his place at the dog park for years to come, but she will probably need to make at least a few more trips to the vet, something that is reflected in the pet insurance costs we were quoted for her
When you look at our example pet insurance quotes, you will notice that the amount of the deductible you are willing to meet before the health insurance takes effect has a significant impact on the cost of the monthly premium as well. Just how much you choose will depend upon your budget and personal financial situation but it something to keep in mind as you comparison shop.
It should be noted that these are only sample pet insurance costs that relate to our friends Mikey and Alice, your pup's personal quote will depend on their age, current health, pre-existing health conditions, vet area you live in and more. As a guide though they do provide a look at the kinds of costs you can expect to face when buying coverage for your pup.
Price should not be the only thing you compare when shopping for pet health insurance, you need to understand exactly what each policy will - and will not - cover as well.
The most basic of health insurance policies for pets primarily provide coverage in emergencies and little else. These are usually the plans without a deductible, so they allow pet parents the peace of mind of knowing they can take their fur kid to an emergency vet to get the treatment they need knowing that many of the expenses involved will be covered. This can be a huge relief at a time when you are already likely to be very upset at the thought of your pup being ill or in pain.
Other health insurance policies provide coverage for certain general vet expenses, like well visits, diagnostic testing and vaccinations and medications. These plans are often the best choice for older pups like Alice, an American Bulldog who is likely to be in greater need of such things in the near future.
For those willing to pay the highest premiums some pet insurance plans also offer coverage for less conventional treatments that many pet parents nevertheless feel really benefit their pup's health and wellbeing, These include things like chiropractic, acupuncture, physiotherapy and even behavior modification and professional training.
As important as it is to understand what each pet insurance plan will cover you also need to be clear about what it will not in order to judge how useful it will be to you and your pup. Usually health conditions considered to be purely genetic are covered at a lower rate, if they are covered at all, and it is very rare to find a pet insurance plan that will provide coverage for a pre-existing condition.
The way that claims are paid is something else you should take into consideration. The majority of pet health insurance companies still work on a more traditional post treatment basis, meaning that as a pet parent you pay the bills initially and then submit them to the insurance company for reimbursement.
There are some companies that will pay vets and other medical providers directly. While this sounds ideal make sure you read all the fine print. Often you may be limited to a certain set of vets or treatments in order to receive coverage benefits and the company may not pay the bills in full - 80-90% is common - and you will then be obligated to pay any remainder (copayment).
If you are considering purchasing pet insurance for your American Bulldog comparison shopping - and careful shopping - are musts. Only by putting in a few hours research time can you be sure that you will be getting the coverage that is right for your pup's health - and your wallet - so you can be assured it will be time well spent!