Is a Bulldog right for you?

An English Bulldog may not be the right choice for every family. Living with an English Bulldog can be very rewarding, but you must be committed to meeting the Bulldog's particular needs.

Some things to consider:

  • English Bulldogs are perpetual children: they never grow up. An English Bulldog does best in a loving environment, free from fear and neglect. They are happiest when they are with their people and require lots of attention.

  • When left alone, English Bulldogs can be very destructive. They may chew throughout their lifetimes. Plenty of things for them to chew should be available to them unless you want your furniture destroyed. Anything that you don't want chewed should be made unavailable to them.They may need to be crated when they are not being supervised.

  • A Bulldog should never be left unattended in your backyard. Not only is it dangerous to your English Bulldog's wellbeing, but English Bulldogs are often targeted for theft.

History of the Bulldog

The Bulldog is one of the few breeds of dogs that are symbolic of a nation. It may perhaps be claimed, with some justice, that he represents more truly and aptly the English spirit, than does the traditional figure of John Bull.

Authorities differ so completely about the origin of the Bulldog that the name itself is in dispute. While some feel the breed may derive its name from the bull-like shape of the head, others maintain it came from the ancient English custom of using Bulldogs in the sport of bull baiting.

There appears to be little doubt, however, than an early canine species resembling the Bulldog came into existence in the 1500's.

Because of their courage and apparent capacity to endure pain, Bulldogs were shamelessly exploited for many years in the sports of bull baiting, bear baiting and dog fighting. Bull baiting was made illegal in England in 1835 and eventually dog fighting of all kinds was prohibited, resulting in a steady decline in the breed.

Happily enough, the beginning of the dog-show era in 1859 saved this fine old breed. Because of the interest and untiring efforts of a small group of sincere experienced fanciers, this small number of bulldogs served as a nucleus for the dogs of today. Fortunately, this group of fanciers was determined to preserve the fine characteristics and just as determined to eliminate all fighting and viciousness.

The first written Bulldog standard was drafted in 1864. A Standard of Perfection was formulated and published in England in 1875.

Bulldog Characteristics

The Bulldog's general appearance should "...suggest stability, vigor and strength. The disposition should be equable and kind, resolute and courageous (not vicious or aggressive)..." (From the Bulldog Standard.)

The Bulldog loves people and the attention people give him. As a rule, he is a good, quiet companion. They are not good watch dogs although their looks alone tend to deter any potential intruder.

A Bulldog does best in a loving environment, free from fear and neglect. They are happiest when there are people around. Left alone, a Bulldog (like any other breed) can be destructive. A dog crate is a good investment. Not cruel, a crate provides security for your Bulldog both when you are at or not at home -- as long as it is not used for a long period of time. A crate serves well for house training too. A Bulldog should never be chained. Not only is it dangerous for your Bulldog's well being, but makes him a target for "dog-nappers".

The Bulldog is a docile even-tempered animal. But he must be taught proper behavior. He isn't born knowing manners. However, today Bulldogs are successfully competing in Obedience competition as well as Agility and Tracking. He is not a robot that you wind up & turn on. He is an intelligent competent animal with his own mind. Sometimes he will do exactly what you ask him to and sometimes he won't, simply because he doesn't want to. I repeat he is not a robot!

 

Appearance

The bulldog was bred for bull baiting and their facial shape reflects this. The short muzzle and undershot jaw were necessary to enable a vice-like grip. The nose is placed far back on the face to allow the dog to breathe while holding a bull by the fleshy nose. Even though they are no longer bred for bull baiting, their facial features still reflect their past profession.

The bulldog is a medium-sized dog with a stocky built and broad chest. The legs are short and bowlegged and the tail is often curled. Their face and head usually is very wrinkled with many facial folds. The hair coat is short and can be Red, Fawn, Brindle, White or a combination.

 

Size

The bulldog stands 12 to 16 inches at the shoulder. The breed standard allows for males to weigh 50 to 60 lbs, and females to weigh 40 to 50 lbs.

 

Personality

The bulldog is a stubborn dog but is devoted and quite docile. They can do well in apartments with the occasional stroll in the park. Bulldogs are not fond of excessive exercise and do not have boundless energy. They prefer to spend their days lounging around the house.

 

Home & Family Relations

The bulldog loves to be in company of family and is generally good with children. The breed will alert their family to the presence of strangers by barking and growling but tend not to attack. Their imposing figure is generally enough to ward off evildoers.

 

Training

The bulldog doesn't do very well in obedience training. They are quite stubborn and tend not to follow instructions quickly. Some feel this trait indicates that the bulldog is dimwitted but most bulldog owners feel this simply reflects the bulldog's need to think about things before they act.

 

Lifespan

The average lifespan for the English bulldog is 9 to 15 years

Bulldog Health

As with other short nosed breeds, it is necessary to keep a watchful eye on your Bulldog in hot weather or in any stressful situation, making sure he has shade and clean water. Exercise is important for a Bulldog to build stamina and prevent obesity, but don't overdo it, particularly when it is hot or humid.

Like many other breeds, Bulldogs may be prone to a variety of health problems. Before you buy a puppy, ask the breeder about problems in his bloodlines. Hopefully he will be honest with you. Even if both parents are healthy, a puppy can develop any one of the more common health problems from several generations back. This is why buying a puppy should be done with care, and not on the spur of the moment.

Bulldog health problems that may be encountered are: elongated soft palate, small trachea, ectropian and entropian (eyelid anomalies), stenotic nares, and hip dysplasia problems. 

A Bulldog must have no cosmetic surgery - he faces life as he is born. His ears remain uncropped, tail undocked and dew claws intact. His toenails will require frequent trimming, his ears and wrinkles frequent cleaning and he will need an occasional bath.

As with any dog, always provide your Bulldog with clean water and a correct and nutritious diet.

Danger of Overheating

English Bulldogs are extremely intolerant of heat. They must be kept in an air-conditioned area with limited trips outside when the outside temperature is over 80 degrees or the humidity is high. Close supervision is required during outside activity, especially in spring and summer to prevent over-exertion leading to over-heating. They also are not usually capable of prolonged physical activity whether the temperature is very warm or cold: a Bulldog is not for someone who enjoys taking a dog for long walks through the countryside.

Because there are doubts about an English Bulldog's ability to deal with certain situations, we put restrictions on the type of home in which one will be placed. We also provide guidelines for the new owners to ensure that they are aware of any special treatment the English Bulldog may require. With the application of a little common sense in following the guidelines, new owners will find the transition into owning an English Bulldog to be relatively simple.

With roots deeply planted in British soil, the English bulldog is a stubborn yet relatively docile breed that has been quite popular since the late 1800s. Initially bred for ferocity and courage, the bulldog is now a devoted and sweet member of the non-sporting group of dogs.

Learn more about the care of your bulldog.