The American Bully is one of the fastest growing breeds and currently sits in 3rd place of our ‘Top Four FITDOG Breeds’.
In todays blog we are going to review the specific exercise and conditioning considerations when it comes to getting your American Bully in the best shape possible.
To understand the American Bully’s health and fitness requirements it’s important to know the breed’s origin, make up and ideal application. Despite its popularity no one really knows for certain the exact breeds and percentages that were used to create the American Bully. Originally started in the USA in the 1980s as a companion dog it’s said the main breeds used include the American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier with strong influences from English & French Bulldog including a variety of Mastiff related breeds such as the Cane Corso and Dogue de bordeaux.
Initially the American Bully had no breed standard until recently, and although there are now officially four main types of American Bully, it’s important to note that there is great variation even within the four types and many breeders still do not agree to the standards.
For simplicity though, this review will be referring to the non-extreme versions of the American Bully which would relate to the Standard / Classic types.
Although a companion / family breed, some American Bully’s have proven their ability in a variety of sporting and working applications ranging from Weight pulling, Athletic competitions, Personal protection and Therapy work. In general the breed is a bigger, bulkier and a more extreme version of its ancestor the Amercian Pit Bull Terrier but without the drive and dog aggression.
It’s fair to say the American Bully carries High amounts of muscle mass, heavy bone structure and is considerably shorter in height than their body length. This is both an advantage and disadvantage.
The American Bully is one of the strongest breeds in the world. Especially when it comes to absolute strength which is defined as the most weight that can be moved by a dog in a single effort regardless of their size or weight (Relative strength is a different type of strength). This is owed in part to the American Bullys significantly high type II muscle fibre composition and high bone density which is perfect for strength based activities such as Weight Pulling.
An added benefit is their long, low slung body which can be an advantage when doing weight pull as it gets them lower to the ground with more pulling traction. Weight pulling is a perfect sport for the american bully not only because they are genetically and physically suited to it but also because the sport itself has so many benefits such as:
- Increasing the handler – dog bond
- Reducing hyperactivity
- Increase lean muscle
- Reduces risk of hip and knee injuries
- Great for socialisation
Unlike their Pit Bull ancestor the American Bully generally lacks agility. Canine agility is defined by the dogs ability to rapidly change body direction, accelerate, or decelerate. This is mostly due to the heavy, exaggerated frames that they posses. Like a truck or a lorry which can pull or carry heavy loads in one direction, turning fast and rapidly like a formula 1 car can be a challenge due to the excess structure that’s involved.
One of the best way to boost your dogs agility is flirt pole conditioning. The flirt pole is one of the most dynamic conditioning tools because it works not only agility but also power and muscular endurance. However, like most tools, it’s not what you do its how you do it and so many dog folks use the flirt pole incorrectly. Use the following tips to flirt for agility:
- Keep your dogs feet on the ground
- No air time, jumping or landing.
- Only circular movements to begin with until your dog is at least a ‘3’ on the Canine Body Assessment Scale.
- Progress from circular movements to back and forth movements
- Make sure you add in a rest period of at least 1:1 work to rest ratio. So for example if they flirt for 1 minute then rest them for 1 minute and continue in sets. Most people get this wrong and they get the dog too tired to the point where they are not increasing agility anaerobically but rather doing an aerobic exercise. This is a big error as aerobic exercise is proven to reduce muscle mass and decrease agility.
Building Lean Mass
One of the most effective (and safest) ways to build lean mass is straight line sprinting. This is because sprinting in one direction ‘Straight line’ does not involve the risk of the high forces to the ACL ligament that multi directional free sprinting can add. Sprinting on a Slatmill or Carpetmill provides the most safety for your dogs ACL.
The most common questions we get asked from Bully owners is how to increase their dogs stamina. Firstly, the Bully is not built for endurance. A dog of this size and mass is just not suited to long duration activities and events. Sure you can improve it but they will never be an endurance dog. That being said the way to improve endurance without the risk of injury is to slowly progress your dogs workouts with ample recovery.
Overall the American Bully is best suited to strength based activities and should focus on improving agility in order to reduce the risk of injury. Though it is not best suited to endurance activities, the best form of weight management and lean mass production is straight line sprinting either on a Slatmill or Carpetmill or via Fetch training. Just make sure to progress all workouts slowly and do not incorporate any air time / jumping based exercises until your dog is at least a ‘3’ on the Canine Body Assessment Scale otherwise you run the risk of ACL injury.
For more specific individual conditioning contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for our next blog article which will review specific conditioning considerations for the Belgian Malinois
Comment below and let us know of any other breed(s) you want to add to this list!
Keep Them Fit!