The name might conjure up images of a largish dog that looks a bit like the American Bulldog, so those unfamiliar with the Bullnese are likely often surprised when they first see one. The Bullnese is a short, squat dog with a heavy head and upper body. Its face is pushed in, with lightly hanging jowls, and they always seem to be smiling. The coat is short and dense and can come in any color. The Bullnese’s long body and stumpy legs give it a rather adorable running hop.
These traits are seen in all Bullneses, but they can vary in appearance. Some have bat ears, reminiscent of the French Bulldog; some have a few facial wrinkles, some a lot; and some have longer legs than others, which could be seen as a fault.
Despite the occasional differences in appearance, it is easy to recognize these big dogs in little dogs’ suits — just look for the clown in the room.
The American Bullnese is a natural clown, known for its sense of humor and antics. Their size and laid-back demeanor make them perfect for country or city living. These are true companion dogs who prefer cuddling to playing ball — they make excellent lap warmers. Because of their long backs and short legs, exercise them a few short times a day rather than taking them on long hikes.
Grooming the short-coated Bullnese is a cinch: They need only an occasional bath and brushing. If they have wrinkled faces, they need occasional cleaning to prevent infection.
Training a Bullnese is easy as long as you have lots of treats. They are not typically yappers like some other small breeds.
The American Bullnese was bred for its sunny temperament, but also its short nose and squat body. This means you might have a heavy-breathing pup who has trouble sleeping because of congestion. Their long torsos and short legs may result in back trouble, which is why it’s important not to overexercise them. However, they have a tendency to obesity, so they do require light daily exercise.
The American Bullnese is typically a healthy breed, but they can suffer from corneal ulceration, hernia, pinched nostrils, and disk disease.
The American Bullnese was created in Florida in the late 1980s by Robert E. Rice, who selected the traits he loved — humor, amicability, a short snout — from several existing breeds. There is a Bullnese Hybrid that is a cross of the French Bulldog and Pekingese. The American Bullnese breed is a combo of those two dogs plus three others that remain secret, though a guess could be the Pug, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and perhaps the Bulldog. Rice insists the breed did not originate from the American Bulldog.