Being in the American Bully breed for as long as I have, you start to develop a certain understanding. From structure, to breed type and even temperament. Even from seeing a dog move once I can pick up certain ques in the movement that gives me hints of what is good or bad about how the dog’s structure is set up. Luckily, this article is not about the entire dog yet one specific thing. This thing I believe is plaguing the American Bully breed. What I’m talking about are weak pasterns. Is it really from bad breeding that so many American Bullies are riddled with this fault? Or is it the lack of understanding and speed in which the breeders of these dogs were able to breed this dog bigger and bigger.
Weak pasterns are somewhat of a pet peeve of mine. You could probably tell because I’m able to write a whole article on what basically is a dog’s wrists. So, a few weeks ago I set about learning all I could on just that part of the structure when I had an epiphany. I asked myself “could all of these dogs really suffer from bad genetics and breeding or is there a deeper reason?” looking back only a decade ago this breed’s foundation dogs were not 100-pound 17-inch monsters like they are today. I’ve heard tell of some dogs being 110-115 pounds but those were few and far in-between. Now my hypothesis is this. There are two main reasons we have so American Bullies with weak pasterns, easty westy feet, or even splayed feet.
The number 1 reason is selective breeding. This is an obvious one. Not so much that people weren’t keeping in mind to breed in traits like strong pasterns yet, what they are focused on is adding more weight, more muscle, more bone. I can’t help but think that these dog’s ancestors either APBT or even bull dog’s ligaments were ever meant to carry 80, 90, or 100 pounds on them. It’s astonishing how far the breed has come in 10 years, would the ligaments keep up or were they bound to give out.
The Second reason and I believe the main reason the American Bully is riddled with these problems is a puppy food. Iv recently read a few articles on this as well as watched some videos. What they basically state is that the growth rate of bones can be influenced by an excess of calories. When a puppy takes in two many calories it would cause their bones to grow faster but no excess of calories can get the soft tissue to grow with it. So, if the bone growth rate surpasses the tissue or ligaments growth rate the puppies tissue will stretch causing the feet to go awry. Taking that into account as well as these dogs’ ancestors only a decade ago weren’t as big so their ligaments didn’t need to be as strong it’s easy to understand why this is an issue with the American bully.
Now remember I am not a vet and I urge you to talk with your vet before your change your puppies diet, but I believe we can solve these problems with a few precautions. 1. Don’t use premium puppy foods with a lot of calories to feed your pups. Instead, use a premium adult food that has fewer calories allowing the puppies bones to grow at the same time as the ligaments. Remember that these dogs are bred to have more muscle, more bone, more substance than their ancestors so as puppies they should be bigger, have more weight, and more bone. 2. Do not feed your puppy to try to make it gain weight. I hear all too often “what do I feed my bully to make him gain weight?” this is a mistake. You need to keep as much weight off as possible to allow your dog to develop properly. (I don’t mean starve the dog. It needs to be healthy). 3. A puppy’s growth plates will stay soft anywhere from 12-18 months. Within that period, you need to make sure you’re not overfeeding your dog and no strenuous exercise. Any injury to a growth plate and you can kiss your show career with that dog goodbye.