Bulldogs are friendly, assertive, and social dogs that make excellent family pets. They love being near humans and are happy to spend time lounging on the sofa, playing a game of fetch, and going for walks. Though all Bulldogs have a strong, muscular, stocky build and a large head, the American Bulldog actually covers a range of types. Some Bulldogs more closely resemble their ancestor: the Old English Bulldogs. This type of dog is stockier and shorter. Their large, powerful head has a much more pushed in nose. Because of their nose, they are prone to breathing problems and do not do well in extreme temperatures. This "type" is generally a low-energy couch potato.

American Bulldog
American Bulldog Original image by MasterBully Kennel
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The American Bulldog also includes a more athletic dog with a longer muzzle, slightly lighter build, and square head. In general, these dogs also tend to be more active. This type of Bulldogs is sometimes used as a working dog, often helping to eliminate feral pigs. Many Bulldogs are a hybrid of the two general types. But, most Bulldogs share a fun-loving, out-going and amicable personality. All dogs require socialization, but Bulldogs, in general, are happy to be out and about, meeting new people and making new friends. Bulldogs do well with large families and generally exist happily even with the tiniest of humans.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Bulldog breed is also commonly known by the names American Bulldog.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 8 - 10 years

Breed group: Non-Sporting Dogs (AKC), Hound Dogs (KC), Scenthounds Dogs (FCI)

Size: Small

Male Female
Height 22 - 28 in 20 - 26 in
Weight 53 - 53 lbs 49 - 51 lbs

Coat: Short

Colors: Black, Red, Brindle, Brown, White, Yellow

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Average shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Yes

Good with other pets: Not really

Intelligence / Trainability: Rather low

Exercise needs: Average

Tolerates being alone: Average

Hunting drive: Low

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Very sensitive

Good for novice owners: Yes

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very high

Barking: Frequent

General health: Good

Cost to keep: Average


The Bulldog has an interesting history. These tough, sturdy dogs are descended from ancient mastiff-type dogs but bear little resemblance to those dogs, today. Early Bulldogs were heavier and taller than today's Bulldogs and served a very specific purpose: they were used for "bull-baiting". In bull-baiting, the dog would grab on to a bull's nose and shake it. This served multiple purposes. The process was actually thought to thin the bull's blood and tenderize the meat before slaughtering the animal. It was a common practice and was required by law at one time. In addition to tenderizing the meat, bull-baiting was popular with spectators. The practice was finally outlawed in 1835.

Fans of the breed decided to attempt to breed a dog with a similar appearance, courage, and stamina, but with gentler, kinder temperament. They succeeded and were one step closer to developing the Bulldogs we still see today.

In 1859, Bulldogs began appearing in dog shows. In 1864, the first Bulldog breed club was formed by a man named R.S. Rockstro. Samuel Wickens wrote the first breed standard, using the pseudonym Philo-Kuon.

Bulldogs were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1890. In addition to being excellent companion dogs, Bulldogs have a history as working dogs, most notably "hog dogs" used to deal with feral pigs.


A Bulldog is a dignified dog with a sturdy build. They may appear tough but they are a kind, good-natured breed with many fans.
Typical characteristics are:

  • The head should be large, broad, and square, topped by a high folded ear. A distinguishing trait is the flat, short, and very broad muzzle with a large, broad, black nose.

  • Bulldogs are medium sized, with a thickset, low-slung body, wide shoulders, broad chest, and an overall sturdy build.

  • Front legs are shorter than the hind legs, but all our strong and muscular.

  • A thick tail is short, low-set, and either straight or knotty.

  • The coat is short, straight, flat, and smooth. Coats come in a variety of colors: red brindle; all other brindles; solid white; solid red, fawn, or fallow (pale cream to light fawn, pale yellow, or yellow red; and piebald (large patches of two or more colors).


Intelligence/ Trainability

The Bulldog is not considered to be highly intelligent, and are somewhat difficult to train. Bulldogs require time, repetition, and patience as part of a consistent routine. Rewards, especially food-related, will help Bulldogs learn skills. Though it will take time and positive reinforcement to train them properly, once Bulldogs learn something they are unlikely to forget it.


Bulldogs are relatively low energy and do not require lots of exercise. They are kind, affectionate dogs and are happy to spend the day lounging around the house. However, they are prone to obesity, so it's important to remember that they may need at least some exercise daily to prevent weight gain. A brief walk around the block or a bit of time playing in the back yard should suffice.

Because of their pushed in face, Bulldogs do not do well in extreme temperatures and care should be taken when exercising in hot or cold weather. Even a short period time in hot weather (more than 85 degrees) can cause distress and even death.

Though Bulldogs are happy to lay around with their family members, they are good-natured, playful dogs, and will enjoy games and play time. Because they are low-energy and not incredibly sensitive, they are good dogs for novice owners.


Though they are not as high-energy and sensitive as some breeds, Bulldogs develop strong bonds with their humans. It's important to remember that they are loving, affectionate dogs who appreciate being near their family members and don't like being left alone for long periods of time.


Bulldogs generally love their family and will become very bonded and affectionate. However, even though they are attached, they are not incredibly protective. They are friendly dogs and are happy to meet up with new people. Though they are always pleased to make new human friends, Bulldogs may be suspicious meeting new dogs, and introductions should be thoughtful and careful.

As with all dogs, early, consistent, and positive socialization with people and other pets will ensure that Bulldogs will get along well with other pets and people in the future.

Living Conditions

Bulldogs are versatile pets and despite their fairly large size, they do well in apartments and smaller living conditions. They do not need a lot of room to run and play and are happy to go on leash walks.

Because they don't do well in hot temperatures, it's important that they have a cool, air-conditioned place during warm weather.

Children and Other Pets

Bulldogs are excellent family pets and fit in remarkably well with families with children, including young children. Their easy-going personality allows them to put up with the poking, prodding, and crying children. That said, extra care should be taken, especially with young children (under the age of 6).

  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

However, it is important to remember children should be taught how to correctly interact with any dog. In addition, young children should never be left unsupervised with any dog.


The average life expectancy of a Bulldog is between 8 - 10 years. Like all breeds, the Bulldog is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Bulldog is prone to these diseases:
  • Patellar Luxation (hereditary) : Patellar luxation is a very common orthopedic disorder in dogs. A patellar luxation occurs when a dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated or slips out of its normal position. More info»
  • Tail Problems (hereditary)
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (hereditary) : Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a very common genetic orthopedic trait, which is affected by environmental and dietary factors. Canine hip dysplasia occurs when there is an abnormality in the development of the hip joint. More info»
  • Demodectic Mange (hereditary)
  • Head Shakes (hereditary)
  • Inverted Or Reverse Sneezing (hereditary)
  • Entropion (hereditary)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) (hereditary)
  • Cherry eye (hereditary)


Though Bulldogs have short, easy to groom coats, a weekly brushing with a stiff brush is still recommended. They are average shedders, and regular brushing will help to minimize the amount of shedding hair around your home. In addition, a weekly grooming allows you to notice any sores, rashes, or signs of infection so that they can be treated easily.

Because of their soft, wrinkly skin, a Bulldog's face and wrinkles should be cleaned daily with a damp cloth or an aloe and lanolin baby wipe. They should be dried completely after washing and checked for any redness or irritation in their wrinkles. A vet may be able to suggest a soothing ointment in case of irritation. Finally, a Bulldog's nose should be washed daily and petroleum jelly applied lightly to keep it soft and prevent dryness and flaking.

Your Bulldog's nails should be trimmed once or twice a month - if they are clicking on the floor then they are too long. Teeth should be brushed at least two or three times per week to remove plaque and bacteria. Start nail trimming and teeth cleaning early on for puppies so that it will be an easy routine when they are adult dogs.


Bulldogs are low-energy dogs and generally require 1/2 to 2 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals. How much food your dog needs depends on his size, age, and activity level – a very active dog will need more than a lazy one. It also depends on the quality of the food - higher quality food will be digested more easily so you will need to use less.

Bulldogs are prone to obesity, so feeding the proper amount is very important. They should be fed two meals per day - free-choice food should not be left out. Obesity will negatively affect your dog's joints and overall health.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.