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Bulldog: What to Know Before Bringing One Home

Profile photo of Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH.By Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH, DACVPM


English Bulldog Breed Information

Sporting the distinctive bulldog appearance, mature Bulldogs are among the easiest breeds to recognize at first glance.

Perhaps it’s all the loose skin on their head and furrowed brow.

Or maybe it’s their tiny ears coupled with a pushed-in nose.

Whatever you notice first, you can be sure you’ll know it’s a Bulldog when you first say hi.

And say hi you probably will.

Bulldogs are the fifth most popular dog in the United States (according to AKC).

So if you are one to visit dog parks and pet-friendly areas, chances are high you’ll encounter a bulldog or two along the way.

 

While their large size may at first appear intimidating, there’s nothing to fear with a well-trained, mature Bulldog.

Inside that muscular body is actually a canine pal who is extremely affectionate and fond of people – including children.

They are easy-going to a fault, never quick to get roused up.

And thanks to their relaxed nature, they will have no problem adapting to both apartment living (hello naps on the couch!) as well as country living.

 

Health is not high on the priority list for a Bulldog.

As a result, it’ll be up to you to tell your pal when it’s time to stop eating and get outside for some exercise.

Although be sure you avoid extreme heat.

Thanks to their short snout, breathing in extreme heat and humid climates is difficult for Bulldogs, regardless of their age.

 

A fun side note for the Bulldog is its popularity as a mascot for country and college alike.

You better believe it’s the Bulldog who serves as the mascot for England, the United States Marines, and even schools including the University of Georgia and Yale University.

They have a face you won’t soon forget.

Plus, they have the muscles to intimidate many a foe.

Let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t want the Bulldog as mascot?

 

With no further adieu, let’s look at what you want to know before bringing a new Bulldog home.

Following, you’re about to discover more on Bulldog appearance, personality, and how to care for Bulldogs of all ages.

You’ll also learn about common health problems along with where (and why!) the Bulldog first originated.

Let’s get started.

Bulldog Appearance

White and Brown English Bulldog

Medium in stature, the Bulldog flaunts a smooth coat of short hair that is fine in texture and glossy in appearance.

Their body is low-slung and heavy, weighing up to fifty pounds.

(Note: If you are planning to lift or carry your dog often, you’ll likely want to find a smaller dog variety.)

Their muscular physique embodies strength as they stride through life with wide shoulders and a sturdy gait.

Not to mention, the Bulldog smiles through an undershot jaw, meaning the lower teeth actually stick out further than the upper teeth.

 

Eyes are dark and round, and coat color?

You’ll find a wide plethora of shades.

From brindle to white, red, and even black, you can take your pick in the world of color.

There are even piebald varieties, where a Bulldog will have large patches in two or more colors.

Last but not least, at their tush you can find a short knobby or corkscrew tail.

 

Bulldog Personality

Don’t be fooled by that muscular build.

Behind every wrinkled Bulldog face, provided they are well-trained and socialized, is a docile and charming canine friend.

They are courageous by nature and deeply loyal to loved ones.

You’ll even find a touch of charm mixed with lots of pupper affection.

And in place of a bark, you can expect a variety of wheezing, snorting, and even snoring instead.

How to Care for a Bulldog

How to Best Care for a Bulldog InfographicWhile Bulldogs are quick to adapt, they may not be a great fit for first-time dog owners. They take skilled training, careful diet supervision, and assistance in whelping, to name a few.

Here’s what you want to know when caring for a Bulldog.

1. Diet

First up is diet.

Unlike you and I, a Bulldog doesn’t know when to stop eating.

They will eat themselves to obesity and beyond if allowed.

So intervening on how much your pal eats is an absolute must.

 

Rather than leaving a bowl of food always out in the corner, give your pal between 1/2 and two cups of dog food each day, divided between two meals.

Note that if your Bulldog is more active one day, he may need a little extra food.

Whereas if he’s been on the couch all morning, you’ll benefit by cutting back on food intake at the next meal.

As you closely monitor your Bulldogs calorie intake, it’ll be far easier to be proactive in preventing obesity.

Obesity specifically in Bulldogs places extra stress on the joints and can lead to longtime health problems.

 

A further thing to note in regards to diet is the quality of dog food you are feeding.

Look for high-quality dog food that is appropriate to the age of your dog.

Depending on if your Bulldog is just a puppy, a grown adult, or an aging senior can directly impact which kibble he should be fed.

Also, high-quality dog food will go far in providing the daily nutrients your pupper needs to live a healthy and vibrant dog life.

Not to mention, bulldogs are prone to flatulence and skin allergies as well. So a high quality food can actually reduce the occurrence of smelly odors and itchy skin.

And always, no matter what, make sure your Bulldog has constant access to fresh, clean water.

 

2. Energy

The energy level of your typical Bulldog is only moderate, meaning a daily walk should suffice in keeping your pooch happy.

If you do opt for a play session, keep it short and stick to times of the day when it’s cooler outside so your Bulldog doesn’t overheat.

The rest of the time?

They’ll be happy to serve as Netflix partner and favorite snuggle pal.

Thanks to not being particularly active indoors, Bulldogs are actually great for apartment living.

 

3. Training

They are slow to learn but once they have it, they really have it!

So work in lots of patience as you teach your pooch the rules of life.

Begin training early – as in, the first day your puppy is home.

Be firm, kind, and consistent.

And while you can tackle training at home, there’s also the option of enrolling your puppy in a training class or even hiring a private trainer as well.

 

In addition to training, also be proactive in socializing your Bulldog from an early age.

This can be as simple as visiting dog parks together, going on outdoor shopping excursions, and inviting guests into your home.

As you go on new ventures with your fur pal, she will benefit richly from the many new sites, sounds, and smells encountered along the way.

4. Hygiene

Thanks to a short coat of hair, a weekly brushing should suffice in keeping your Bulldog looking great.

You may want to opt for an additional brushing on occasion if you’re finding excess hair throughout your home.

(Tip: More brushing means more hair on your brush and less making its way onto furniture, clothing, and other household items.)

 

Those handsome wrinkles on the face? They need to be wiped daily.

You can use either a damp cloth or even wet wipes with aloe-vera added.

By constantly keeping the face wrinkles clean, you are protecting your Bulldog against unwanted infection and bacteria buildup in her face area.

 

Plan to brush your canine’s teeth several times each week.

Look for a vet-approved toothpaste to do the job.

Then enjoy a pooch who not only has gleaming pearly whites but also pleasant doggy breath too!

And when you hearing a clicking sound as your Bulldog walks across the floor, you know it’s time to trim those nails.

 

As you spend time grooming your canine, it is a perfect opportunity to bond deeper with your pal.

Grooming is just one more opportunity to spend quality time together.

Also as you groom your dog each week, look for any signs of infection and illness.

Do you notice sores anywhere? What about unusual redness or inflammation in the skin?

Are the eyes clean and clear?

DO you see wax or smell something funky coming from the ears?

By taking time to closely observe your dog’s health and appearance, you’ll be able to spot many health issues early.

For more about dog grooming, here’s a complete guide to grooming your dog at home.

5. Whelping

Whelping a new litter of puppies is no joke for the momma Bulldog.

Thanks to a Bulldog’s large head, plus the shoulders being wider than the rear, most Bulldog puppies need to be delivered via cesarean section.

If you are planning to breed your female Bulldog, speak with your local veterinarian and know what signs to look for when your momma dog is ready to deliver.

 

Bulldog Health

Unfortunately, Bulldogs are not immune to health problems.

The structure of their head and body combined actually makes them more prone to unwanted health obstacles.

Specific ailments they are more likely to develop include:

  • Respiratory problems. This is a direct result of their short nose. Often the nostrils are smaller as well. 
  • Joint difficulties. Because of their low-slung body and muscular build, joint problems are quick to occur.
  • Skin problems. Allergies, skin infections, and ear infections are all common in Bulldogs.
  • Overweight. Remember Bulldogs don’t actually know when to stop eating. If there’s food, they’ll just keep eating. And yes, relaxing is a favorite pastime, meaning exercise is nowhere high on their to-do list. So unless you are closely monitoring your Bulldog’s calorie intake and exercise, it’s easy for a Bulldog to become overweight.

Bulldogs absolutely hate – and cannot tolerate – hot weather.

When you go on walks, choose the cool of the day.

If you’re chilling in the backyard, provide a shady spot or small kiddy pool where your Bulldog can stay cool.

And always, keep fresh drinking water nearby.

 

Bulldogs are very susceptible to heatstroke, so any time the temperatures are even just slightly warm, watch your Bulldog closely for signs of overheating.

One sign they’ll give that’s easy to recognize is heavy breathing.

If you notice your Bulldog breathing heavily, find a cooler space for your Bulldog immediately.

 

Also, while a small kiddy pool is a fun way to keep your Bulldog cool on hot summer days, do note that Bulldogs cannot swim.

Their massive head will drag them underwater, straight to the bottom.

Plus, their short nose makes them more likely to breathe in water while trying to swim.

So never try cooling your pupper pal off in anything larger than a kiddy pool.

 

Bulldog History

The Bulldog has an ancient history, one dating back as far as 13th century England.

Their original purpose was far from glamorous.

In fact, they were bred for the primary purpose of bullbaiting.

Bullbaiting was a common sport in ancient England in which staked bulls would fight entire packs of dogs.

Because this was their purpose, the first Bulldogs were vicious and full of courage.

 

It wasn’t until 1835 when England finally banned blood sports for animals.

At this point, rather than completely vanishing, bullbaiting simply went underground and became a secretive sport.

Bulldogs started being crossed with Terriers in order to become quicker and more animated for the ever-changing bullbaiting scene.

 

In 1886 the Bulldog became officially recognized by the AKC and began its slow transformation into a charming, docile canine companion.

The Bulldogs you meet today stand in stark contrast to their ancient 13th-century ancestors.

Rather than vicious or aggressive, when properly trained and socialized, the Bulldogs you meet today are fond of children, loyal to their people, they take life at ease, and they’ve proven themselves as affectionate too.

 

Bulldog FAQ

Q. Are Bulldogs easy to take care of?

Not exactly. In comparison to other dog breeds, Bulldogs are prone to many health problems. In addition, they are exceptionally vulnerable to heat and require extra cleaning for their signature face wrinkles.

 

Q. How can you tell if a Bulldog is happy?

An unhappy Bulldog will be destructive and drive you crazy. A happy Bulldog will be calm and a good member of the family. They will want to snuggle up with you and stick close to you rather than sneak off to get into mischief.

 

Q. At what age do Bulldogs calm down?

With good training and socialization, most puppies reach adulthood by two years of age. There is always the exception, however, many Bulldogs reach maturity (and start calming down) when they’re two years old.

 

Q. What to know before getting a Bulldog?

Bulldogs require wrinkle care, they’re sensitive to heat, and they need just a little daily exercise. For dog breeders, Bulldogs whelp via c-section and are not a great match for first-time dog owners.

Also, before you get a Bulldog, find good pet insurance right away since bulldogs are prone to several health issues that can be quite pricey to treat.

Q. How do you discipline a bulldog puppy?

Bulldogs are not super sensitive, however, it is still important to use positive reinforcement training. Bulldog puppies are goofy and silly and probably don’t realize you didn’t want them chewing your shoe. Discipline should involve management such as putting your puppy behind a baby gate or crate if you don’t want him to chew something he shouldn’t, or to help with potty training if he has an accident. Yelling and getting mad at your Bulldog puppy will only sour your relationship.

 

Now that you know how to care for Bulldogs (and so much more!), why not bring home your very own brand new Bulldog puppy?

You’ll meet our very newest Bulldog puppies right here.

 

As always, thanks for being here.

We value you, and I’m here to see you succeed as a puppy parent!

If you have questions along the way, don’t hesitate to send them my way.

-Heather
Dr. Heather Venkat's Signature

 

References:

AKC (n.d.). Bulldog. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bulldog/.

Bulldog (n.d.). Dogtime.com. Retrieved from https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/bulldog#/slide/1.

Burgos, S. (n.d.). Bulldog (English bulldog or British bulldog). Retrieved from https://www.dailypaws.com/dogs-puppies/dog-breeds/bulldog.

Profile photo of the author Heather Venkat, DVM, MPH.Dr. Heather Venkat has been a veterinarian since 2013, working in companion animal medicine with dogs and cats, as well as veterinary public health. Her passion is in prevention, One Health, and strengthening the human-animal bond. A bonafide animal-lover, she competes in dog sports and currently shares her home with a border collie mix named Luna, three cats, and two leopard geckos.

 

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