Are American Bulldogs Illegal to Own?

The American bulldog is a breed that often gets a bad reputation, but is it illegal for you to own one? Are American bulldogs banned in the U.S. and other parts of the world?

American bulldogs are banned in some parts of the U.S. and other countries because there is a common stereotype that they are aggressive. This is not necessarily true, but their strong physique and powerful jaws can make them dangerous if they aren’t raised by responsible owners.

Why do certain places ban ownership of the American Bulldog?

The American bulldog breed is one of the few dog breeds that have been banned in certain parts in and outside the U.S. Some local governments believe American bulldogs are dangerous to the public and therefore ban the ownership of them. In the U.S., more than 700 cities have enacted Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL), which regulates and/or bans people form owning certain breeds, including the American bulldog.

States and Territories that have Banned the Ownership of American Bulldogs

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

These states enforce and carry out restrictions on the breed in different ways. In some states, owners might be required to prove that they can safely handle this breed. Some states require American bulldog owners to buy liability insurance to cover any incidences of harm, while others might be required to post warning signs about the dog outside their homes.

Countries That Have Bans on American Bulldogs

  • Belarus
  • Bermuda
  • Denmark
  • Italy
  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela

Countries that restrict the ownership of American bulldogs have stringent laws and regulations that owners must adhere to. Since the breed is considered aggressive and dangerous, restrictions are put in place to protect the public from incidences that might endanger their lives. Some restriction guidelines include:

  • Being of a legal age to own an American bulldog and be able to take good care of it to avoid jeopardizing the safety of the public
  • No criminal record
  • Owners are expected to be mentally and physically healthy

Other Commonly Restricted or Banned Dog Breeds

Apart from the American bulldog, there are other restricted or banned breeds. These include:

  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Pitbull
  • German shepherd

Just like the American bulldog, these dog breeds are considered by some regional governments to be dangerous and aggressive to the public. Part of the reason why these dog breeds exhibit their aggressive and dangerous nature is poor and excessive breeding. In this regard, Farrell et al (2015) argue that selective breeding, whether it is responsible or irresponsible, has been known to contribute to such aggressive behavior, over time. While these dogs might exhibit aggressive behavior, the primary issue is the failure to train these dogs well by irresponsible owners.


American bulldogs are not entirely banned in the U.S., but they are banned and restricted in some states and cities. Even in cities that don’t have outright bans, some apartment and housing boards might put their own restrictions on this breed. This means that households might be able to own American bulldogs as long as they meet certain requirements. The fact that some states and countries have bans and restrictions on this breed shows that American bulldogs have an unfair bad reputation. It is best to learn about your city’s restrictions and regulations before getting an American bulldog and it doesn’t hurt to have some previous experience of owning and handling larger dogs.

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