All American Bulldog Colors and Markings Explained (With Pictures!)

American Bulldog colors and markings

Aside from its lean and athletic build, the American Bulldog’s colors add to the breed’s overall appeal.

Though not as varied as other breeds like the Dachshund, Chinese Shar-Pei, and Border Collie, the American Bulldog has simple yet beautiful colors and markings that make every dog unique.

In this guide, I will share the different coat colors and markings of the American Bulldog breed. If you’re looking at getting one for yourself, this might help you decide which color you want to have. Let’s start!

Does American Bulldog Color Really Matter?

Dogs, regardless of their breed, come in different coat colors thanks to canine genetics. How this is made possible, I will discuss in the latter part of my article.

With these color variations are misconceptions and judgments based on coat color. Some scientific studies show that dogs of a certain color are more prone to getting certain types of illnesses than others.

However, canine color is not the primary reason because other factors are also in consideration.

Some people consider darker-coated dogs typically black-coated ones as more aggressive and harder to handle in terms of behavior. Different factors are at play in this as well.

As a dog owner (or a future one), you should bear in mind that canine color does not exactly dictate what kind of temperament your dog has or how good its health will be.

It’s good to be aware of the possibilities, but make sure that you don’t let it stop you from getting the dog you want.

What Are the Standard Colors of American Bulldogs According to Different Kennel Clubs?

American Bulldogs have a variety of coat colors such as solid white, black, white and black, white and brindle, white and brown, white and tan, lilac, blue, and chocolate. Not all colors, though, are considered standard or are accepted by kennel clubs.

The American Bulldog breed is recognized by only two kennel clubs which are the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC). Both clubs have their own set of breed standards that include acceptable coat colors.

Unfortunately, other clubs such as the Canadian Kennel Club and Federation Cynologique Internationale don’t recognize this breed nor do they have color standards for it.

Here are the American Bulldog colors accepted by the AKC and UKC:

  • American Kennel Club (AKC): The standard color is white. Non-standard colors are white and black, white and brindle, white and brown, and white and tan. Markings that are accepted are tan, brindle, black, red, and brown.
  • United Kennel Club (UKC): Any color, color pattern, or color combination is acceptable. The exceptions or unaccepted coats are solid black, solid blue, merle, tricolor (white with patches of black and tan), and a full black mask. Dogs should be examined in sunlight or bright light to check if coats are really solid black because some coats like dark brindle may appear like solid black.

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American Bulldog Coat Color Description and Pictures

The list above has given you an idea of the different coat colors of the American Bulldog breed.

Are you now ready to know what these color variations look like? You might even have encountered some of these before!

White American Bulldog

The only standard color considered by the AKC, the white American Bulldog simply has an all-white coat. You can say that this dog has a coat that is literally white as snow. There are no traces of other colors or markings making it white from head to tail.

Terms may differ among breeders and dog owners. Some refer to the white coat as platinum.

There are those who consider white American Bulldogs with markings that are less than 10% of their coat as white or platinum. In comparison, those with no markings at all are called true platinum.

White and Black American Bulldog

White and black American Bulldog
Photo from @oakley_ab (IG)

The white and black American Bulldog has white as its main background coat color plus black markings all over its body. Markings differ from one dog to another and may appear in patches.

There is no specific place or size of the black markings which makes every white and black American Bulldog different from the other.

Black and white are contrasting colors so an American Bulldog with this color combination is very nice to look at because of the contrast.

White and Brindle American Bulldog

Brindle is a very interesting coat variant in dogs. This brindle pattern gives dogs a color mix that resembles tiger stripes. You may have come across the brindle coat because it is present in different breeds from the small crossbred Bull Pug to the big Great Dane.

The white and brindle American Bulldog has a white main coat and brindle markings. Color combinations of the brindled patches may be brown, black, fawn, red, or brown.

A white and brindle American Bulldog is a very visually appealing dog mostly due to its stripes.

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White and Brown American Bulldog

The white and brown American Bulldog is another mix that is accepted by the AKC. It is a common coat variation so you have probably seen a dog with this coat.

Like the other white combinations, it has markings on top of a white coat. Markings are the usual brown — not to be confused with dark brown referred to as chocolate or tan that may pass off as light brown.

White and Tan American Bulldog

As with other white coat mixes, the white and tan American Bulldog carries a dominant white coat with tan patches. Tan is a yellowish color that may look like a diluted or lighter shade of brown.

Tan markings in this dog breed do not stand out much compared to darker-colored markings such as black and brown. Nonetheless, Bulldogs with this coat are equally as cute.

Lilac American Bulldog

Not as common as the solid white and white combinations, lilac American Bulldogs have coats that look faded. The reason for this is that the lilac color in dog coats is actually a diluted black.

Here is an interesting fact: the lilac color is diluted not once but twice! This explains why lilac American Bulldogs have greyish coats that are near the lilac or purple shade. The paw pads, nose, and eyeliner of this colored dog also are in the shade of purple.

Chocolate American Bulldog

Often mistaken for brown, the chocolate color in dogs is a darker shade of brown that resembles its name, chocolate. Chocolate American Bulldogs either have chocolate as the dominant color or white with chocolate patches.

Bulldogs with chocolate coats typically have paw pads and eyeliners that are also of the same color. Some have fawn undercoats which become evident when you rub their coats backward.

Blue American Bulldog

Yes, there is a blue American Bulldog! One thing you should know when it comes to dogs is that the blue color is not exactly blue. Blue coats are diluted black which manifests in different shades of gray.

That being said, a blue American Bulldog has a coat with a grayish tint. Because it looks diluted or faded, it is rarely mistaken for black. Other breeds carry this coat color too like the Great Dane and Doberman.

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Black American Bulldog

As simple as its name, the black American Bulldog has a pure black coat. There may be white points on the plain black background coat. Dogs of this coat color look sleek because of the dark fur. Their paw pads, nose, and eyeliners usually are in black as well.

Unlike the solid white color, the solid black coat is not accepted by both the AKC and UKC. Regardless of recognition, black American Bulldogs are just as good pets as standard colored ones.

Merle American Bulldog

Merle is a unique and interesting coat pattern in dogs. The University of California Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory describes merle as a pattern with irregular color patches in random areas of the dog’s body.

Aside from American Bulldogs, you can also find the merle pattern in Chihuahuas, Australian Shepherds, and Pitbulls.

Merle American Bulldogs may come in different combinations with the colors blue, black, white, and brown.

The common denominator among merle American Bulldogs is that they all have a background coat color with random patches of diluted or darker colors around the body.

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What Is the Rarest Color of American Bulldogs?

Now that you know what the coat colors and patterns of American Bulldogs are, you may be wondering which of these are considered rare.

Breeders usually stick to kennel club standards, which in the case of the American Bulldog have the standard white color. Because of this, it is unlikely for them to breed non-white American Bulldogs making these coat colors rare:

  • Lilac American Bulldog
  • Blue American Bulldog
  • Black American Bulldog
  • Chocolate American Bulldog
  • Merle American Bulldog

Since these coat colors are not considered the standard, fur parents of these American Bulldogs playfully call their dogs “American Bulldogs of color.”

What Is the Most Common Color of American Bulldogs?

Like I said earlier, breeders follow kennel club breed standards as much as possible. The standard color of the AKC for this breed is white. This explains why the white American Bulldog is considered the most common among its color varieties.

Aside from the solid white, those with colored markings are quite popular as well. Common color combinations you may find are:

  • White and black American Bulldog
  • White and brown American Bulldog
  • White and tan American Bulldog

American Bulldog Coat Color Genetics: Why Do American Bulldogs Have Many Different Colors?

A brindle and white American Bulldog color dog relaxing

It is your dog’s gene pool that solely decides what coat color and pattern it will get. In a litter of pups, you will never know exactly what colors you are going to get. Your baby American Bulldogs may come from the same litter but may have different coat colors.

Canine genetics is a fairly complex but really interesting topic. I will try to explain this as simply as possible so you too can understand how it works.

Genes are in-charge of two things in determining dog coats. First, they control which pigments are produced resulting in the colors of your dogs. Second, they control where these pigments are produced which explains why there are solid-colored, two-toned, brindled, and merle coats.

Color genes may also dilute each other resulting in different colors. Here’s a quick example. I mentioned earlier that lilac American Bulldogs are actually black dogs that are diluted twice.

Its chocolate gene [bb] dilutes its black color to brown, then its blue [dd] gene further dilutes it to blue. The result is a lilac Bulldog that is grayish with hints of lilac or purple.

There are different colors of American Bulldogs because of this gene system that are inherited from pups’ parents.

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The Effect of Coat Color on American Bulldog Health and Behavior

American Bulldogs, no matter their coat color, have a lifespan of 10 to 16 years. These dogs can live long when they are healthy and well-taken care of.

It has not been proven that coat color affects the health of American Bulldogs. The direct association between these two is yet to be explored. What is sure, though, is that different factors have a say on your dog’s health such as its lineage, lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise.

Regardless of what color your American Bulldog is, you should look out for these common health risks:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic problem where the thigh bone does not fit the hip joint causing Bulldogs to feel pain and limp.
  • Hypothyroidism: Bulldogs are prone to thyroid problems like hypothyroidism. Your dog’s body is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone which leads to symptoms like fearfulness, weight gain, hair loss, and behavioral changes such as aggression.
  • Cherry Eye: When your dog’s third eyelid gets inflamed or “pops out,” there is irritation and redness which is often referred to as cherry eye.

Aside from health, there are also concerns about the effect of coat color on the temperament of American Bulldogs. While black American Bulldogs may look more intimidating than others, there are no studies that prove how these dogs, or any color for that matter, are more aggressive than other variants.

In general, American Bulldogs are playful, sociable, and intelligent. The aggressive reputation brought by their bull-baiting past is a misconception as they are actually great for families and even with kids.

Early training and socialization are key to having a well-behaved and obedient American Bulldog companion at home.

Do American Bulldog Puppies Change Color When They Grow?

American Bulldog pups’ colors are already pre-determined by their genes. What coat color they have upon birth will still be the same coat color and pattern until they are fully grown.

However, it is not uncommon for their coats to become lighter or darker when they transition into adulthood. It may turn into another hue or shade on a case-to-case basis. After all, no two American Bulldogs are the same.

To give you an idea of how an American Bulldog grows from a small pup into a big adult, watch this growing-up video documented by a fur parent.

my American Bulldog! (4 weeks to 4 years!)

American Bulldog Eye and Nose Colors

Aside from its coat, the eyes and nose of the American Bulldog also have color standards set by the two kennel clubs that recognize the breed.

American Bulldog Eye Colors

Kennel ClubAcceptable Eye Colors
American Kennel Club (AKC)Eyes should be dark like black or brown. Blue, green, or parti colored eyes are disqualified.
United Kennel Club (UKC)All colors are acceptable, but dark brown is preferred. Eyes that do not match in color are disqualified.

The eyes of American Bulldogs are typically black or brown. There may be instances, though, where heterochromia occurs where each eye carries a different color. Kennel clubs consider heterochromia a cosmetic fault.

American Bulldog Nose Colors

Kennel ClubAcceptable Nose Colors
American Kennel Club (AKC)Any nose other than black is objectionable and a brown or liver-colored nose shall disqualify.
United Kennel Club (UKC)Black color is preferred, but shades of red or brown are acceptable. Lack of pigment is a cosmetic fault.

Commonly Asked Questions

An American Bulldog with white and brindle color coat

What’s the Difference Between an American Bulldog and an English Bulldog?

Because both are Bulldog breeds, there is often confusion between the American Bulldog and the English Bulldog. One look at their appearance will help you determine which is which.

English Bulldogs have stocky bodies and short legs while American Bulldogs have leaner and more athletic bodies and longer legs.

In terms of their head and face, English Bulldogs have broad heads with wrinkly faces. On the other hand, American Bulldogs have fewer wrinkles on their face.

Because of their size, English Bulldogs can be lap dogs. Comparably, American Bulldogs are larger and are more for working.

What Are the Two Types of American Bulldogs?

There are two types of American Bulldogs, both named after the breeders who saved the breed from near-extinction.

The first type is the Johnson American Bulldog or popularly known as the classic or bully type.

Named after John D. Johnson, this classic Bulldog is the larger one between the two types standing about 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder. Frame-wise, they have heavier bones, broader chests, and boxier heads.

The other type is the Scott American Bulldog, also called the standard type. This Bulldog named after Allen Scott is smaller in size at 22 to 27 inches. However, it has a more athletic build and is often mistaken as the Pit Bull Terrier breed.

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Is an American Bulldog the Same as a Pitbull?

The American Bulldog and Pit Bull Terrier are often interchanged because they both have similar bull-baiting backgrounds and aggressive reputations. The two, however, are different breeds.

In fact, the American Bulldog belongs to the Molosser dog family while the Pit Bull Terrier belongs to the terrier family. I can understand the confusion, though, because they have similar characteristics. There is even a hybrid between the two breeds called the Bully Pit!

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Final Thoughts: Which American Bulldog Color Is for You?

American Bulldogs may not have much variety in color compared to other breeds, but each dog has its unique characteristics physical-wise and temperament-wise.

Determining the coat color of your choice might be a challenge but it all boils down to your preference. Remember that your dog’s health and personality go beyond its coat color. Your Bulldog’s color won’t tell you what kind of dog it will turn out to be.

That being said, you should consider other factors apart from its coat like its bloodline and the breeder it is from. Always be cautious in choosing breeders and avoid puppy mills with poor living conditions.

Keep in mind that regardless of color, each American Bulldog deserves the same amount of love and care.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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