English Bulldog

English Bulldogs are friendly, loving, social dogs that make excellent family pets. In fact, they were historically bred for their sweet disposition. 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 English Bulldog is different in stature than the American Bulldog. English Bulldogs are stockier and shorter and tend to be less athletic in general. 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.

Bulldog close-up
Bulldog. Original image by user alexanderlemke1 on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.
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Due to their popularity as sports mascots, English Bulldogs are popular and easily recognizable. The English Bulldog has been chosen to represent Yale University, the University of Georgia, and even the United States Marine Corps. They are also quite easy to identify as they move because of its unique, rolling gait. There are a few drawbacks to their muscular body type. They are prone to muscle, joint, and respiratory issues and are prone to obesity. However, their wonderful personalities 'outweigh' the possible drawbacks.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The English Bulldog breed is also commonly known by the names None.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 8 - 10 years

Breed group: Non-Sporting Dogs (AKC), Utility Dogs (KC), Pinschers and Schnauzers, Molossoids and Swiss Mountain Dogs Dogs (FCI)

Size: Large

Male Female
Height 12 - 16 in 12 - 16 in
Weight 53 - 55 lbs 51 - 53 lbs

Coat: Short

Colors: Red, Brindle, White, Fawn

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Not a heavy shedder

Grooming requirements: High

Good with children: Yes

Good with other pets: Yes

Intelligence / Trainability: Rather low

Exercise needs: Low

Tolerates being alone: Average

Hunting drive: Low

Suited as Guard dog: Not really

Sensitivity: Very sensitive

Good for novice owners: Yes

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very high

Barking: Rare

General health: Below average

Cost to keep: High

History

Though the English Bulldog differs in appearance from the taller, more athletic American Bulldog, both breeds originate from the same ancient dogs. 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 English 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.

Appearance

An English 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).

Temperament

Intelligence/ Trainability

The English Bulldog is not considered to be highly intelligent, and can be 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.

Activity

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 English 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.

Independence

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.

Protective

English 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

English Bulldogs are versatile pets and even with their medium to large size 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

English 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.

English Bulldogs will typically get along well with other pets, though proper early socialization is important.

Health

The average life expectancy of a English Bulldog is between 8 - 10 years. Like all breeds, the English Bulldog is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A English Bulldog is prone to these diseases:
  • Cherry eye (hereditary)
  • Entropion (hereditary)
  • Reverse sneezing (hereditary)
  • Demodectic Mange (hereditary)
  • Head Shakes (hereditary)
  • Tail Problems (hereditary)
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome (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»
  • 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»

Grooming

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, an English 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.

Feeding

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.