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The Bulldog is a medium-sized dog breed with a distinctive wrinkled face, flat nose and sturdy build. Despite their muscular appearance, they are affectionate, loyal and good-natured companions. They make great family pets, thriving in homes with attentive individuals.
Bulldogs (also known as English Bulldogs) are known for their affectionate nature, outgoing personality, bold attitude and devotion to their humans, making them great companions and family dogs.
They bond with almost any kind of person, young or old, boisterous or quiet. When you take your Bulldog for walks, others can’t help but stop to pet them—and your pup will be happy to oblige, charming everyone from your usually grumpy older neighbor to the toddlers at the playground and everyone in between (postal workers included!). Bulldogs are truly social creatures. But their favorite social interaction of all is curling up next to you on the couch. In fact, you’ll find that snoozing in a comfy spot is their most favorite thing to do.
When they’re not cuddling, Bulldogs will get your attention with their—perhaps unintentional—sense of humor. Some pet parents have experienced the “relocation” of belongings like slippers, books and hats, just to get attention. They will pout and sulk if they feel rebuffed, making some hilarious faces in the process. Once you give them the attention they crave, Bulldogs immediately slip into silliness and roll all over the floor with excitement and paw at you for more. It’s no surprise that Bulldog pet parents say their dogs make them laugh every day.
But Bulldogs can be resolute, too. They’re not the kind of dog who changes their mind easily. When it comes to training, you’ll want to makes sure you have high-value treats to encourage these strong-willed dogs to learn things like “sit,” “stay” and “leave it.” Although, Bulldogs usually don’t have a problem with returning to you when called because they simply love their humans so much.
How to Care for a Bulldog
Though the English Bulldog breed is easy in temperament and they only require moderate exercise, they’re not necessarily low in maintenance. Their characteristic wrinkles can lead to skin problems if not properly cared for, and since they’re not the most active dogs, gaining too much weight can also be a concern. But understanding your Bulldog’s unique needs will help you keep them healthy and happy (and snorty) as ever.
For all the fantastic things there are about the Bulldog, there is one drawback. Their overall health is not that great, and their life expectancy is only 8-10 years. Years of breeding for the smooshed, flat face have created myriad problems for the English Bulldog. It is important to get your pup from a reputable breeder and to be aware of these health concerns to help your Bulldog stay healthy.
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome: BOAS is an inherited condition that almost all Bulldogs have to some degree due to their short muzzles and the shape of their heads. Basically, BOAS means that Bulldogs don’t breathe easily. That’s why Bulldogs tire out very easily, overheat in the sun even when it’s not very hot out, and breathe and snore very noisily. Keeping your Bulldog at a healthy weight is one way to help them breathe more easily. If their breathing problems are more severe, surgery may help.
- Skin Infections: Bulldogs are prone to developing skin infections in their delightfully wrinkly skin. It is essential you clean and dry their folds every day. Signs of infection may include increased itching or scratching, a bad odor or a greasy or really dry coat. If you do suspect your pup has a skin infection, get to your vet pronto! Your vet can determine the best course of action, which may be topical or oral medications.
- Eye Issues: Bulldogs tend to experience these two eye issues:
- Cherry eye, which looks like a red or pink bulge in the interior corner of their eye. It occurs when their third eyelid swells and is out of place, sometimes due to weakened connective tissue or inflammation. If your dog develops cherry eye, don’t wait to go to the vet; the condition can worsen the longer you wait to treat it. There are surgical and non-surgical treatments depending on the severity.
- Entropion, a condition in which the eyelid rolls in and rubs the eye, causing irritation. Entropion can be treated by surgery depending on the severity.
- Hip Dysplasia: This often-genetic condition occurs when the joints don’t form properly resulting in looseness that can cause limping, pain and arthritis. Treatments typically include joint supplements, pain medication, and in severe cases surgery.
Were you once a college athlete who now gets winded bringing the laundry upstairs? That’s basically the 800-year history of the Bulldog, also known as the English Bulldog, in a nutshell.
Though their precise origins are unclear, Bulldogs most likely originated in England and may have descended from ancient mastiff-like breeds. Sometime between the 13th and 16th centuries, the dogs were noted for their muscular builds and athleticism and were originally bred for bull baiting, in which Bulldogs were trained to bite down on a bull’s nose and roughly shake it. This brutal practice was gruesome and bloody for both the bulls and the canines; naturally, it became a popular spectator sport. Gamblers bred Bulldogs for vicious temperaments and shorter and shorter snouts, which could latch on to the bull more easily.
Thankfully, bull baiting was outlawed in 1835. By this time, the peculiarly cute, compressed faces of the Bulldog had won the hearts of the English people, who continued to breed them for their looks, not their aggression. Shortly after, Bulldogs were brought to America, where the American Kennel Club recognized them as an official breed in 1886, and the Bulldog Club of America was formed in 1898.
Today, most of the qualities that made Bulldogs such successful bull baiters have been bred out of them. Modern Bulldogs are far from athletic, and they’re one of the friendliest breeds around. Their lovable personalities make them a popular breed in the country. Their flat faces, though, continue to be popular symbols of pluck and determination: Bulldogs serve as a mascot for many high schools, colleges and universities (think Yale University and the University of Georgia), Mack Trucks, and the US Marine Corps.
But just because your Bulldog’s gladiator status—and your sporty college days—are over doesn’t mean the two of you can’t throw down on your living-room carpet with a rough-and-tumble game of tug-of-war.
Are you looking to add an English Bulldog as a family member? It depends on the breeder and the region where you live, but generally, a Bulldog puppy will cost between $1,500 and $3,500. Check out the AKC puppy finder to find a reputable breeder. You can also seek out local English Bulldog rescues to find a worthy, loving dog to call your own, keep an eye out for the breed at your local shelter, or search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area.
Are Bulldogs hypoallergenic?
No, Bulldogs are not hypoallergenic. While they aren’t heavy shedders, Bulldogs tend to drool a lot and that factors into the allergy-inducing equation.
Are Bulldogs dangerous?
No, Bulldogs are not dangerous. Though Bulldogs were originally bred to fight massive bulls, they are now considered to be one of the gentlest, easygoing breeds. Bulldogs will likely get along well with everyone in your life, from your baby niece to your elderly uncle and everyone in between.
Can Bulldogs swim?
Yes, technically, Bulldogs can swim. Is it advisable? No. The Bulldog’s special combo of short legs, short snout, and a massive head make it tricky for them to keep their airways above water. If you’re determined to swim with your Bulldog, be sure to outfit them in a well-fitting life jacket like this one and never leave their side.
What are the most common Bulldog mixes?
- Bulldog-Boxer mix (Valley Bulldog or Bull-Boxer)
- Bulldog-Husky mix (Buskdoggy)
- Bulldog-Poodle mix (English Boodle)
- Bulldog-Labrador Retriever mix (Bullador)
- Bulldog-Beagle mix (Beabull)
Note: These are not purebred dogs but mixed breeds.
If “easygoing,” “social,” and “strong-willed” are the characteristics you look for in a significant other, then a Bulldog would be perfect as a pet for you. These funny-faced, doughy-bodied little tanks will be your best friends forever… so long as you pay them all of your attention. Yes, Bulldogs make a lot of unique noises and have a number of health issues (you and your veterinarian will be well acquainted), but truth be told, they’re also very easy, rewarding pets. They don’t need much besides your love—and air-conditioning.
Expert input provided by Jennifer Coates, DVM, a veterinarian in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, a veterinarian in Greeley, Colorado.
Breed characteristic ratings provided by veterinarian Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.
The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.
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