At a glance
The Bulldog came from the British Isles where it was once used for bull baiting, which explains why they are called a “bull” dog. After 1835, however, bull baiting and the sport of dog fighting was banned. This resulted in breeding out the fighting instincts in the dog, making it a more suitable companion breed. Today it is a popular family pet.
- Names – British Bulldog, English Bulldog, Bully, Sourmug
- Group – AKC: Non-Sporting Group; KC: Utility
- Size – medium
- Life expectancy – average of 8; range of 7 to 10
- Cost of ownership – medium
- Ease of ownership – medium
- Aggressive tendency – medium
- Amount of Exercise – low
- Amount of Grooming – low
- Ease of Training – medium
- Obedience level – medium
- Suitable for Children – medium
- Amount of Care Required – medium
- Susceptibility to Health Problems – high
The general external impression of the Bully should be powerful and compact with a short, sturdy (not stout) body and a curious rolling motion. One of his famous features is his loose skin, which is pronounced at the head, neck and shoulders. The dog’s skull is also massive. Despite his half-shuffle, half-amble walk with an amusing sidewise motion, he moves unencumbered and with vigor.
- Bitch: 49 lbs to 51 lbs (22 – 23 kg)
- Dog: 53 lbs to 55 lbs (24 – 25 kg)
- Bitch: 12 in to 16 in (31-40 cm)
- Dog: 12 in to16 in (31-40 cm)
- Color – brindle, solid white, red, fawn, or any of these shades on a white background
- Coat – very short, fine and smooth coat that is of uniform length on the body that has pronounced folds in the skin on the head, around the tail and on the chest
- Shedding – medium
- Allergies – medium
- Causes Allergies – low
This short nosed and stocky breed loves attention. Very reliable, loving, and gentle, he makes an excellent companion for children and adults. Though more of a human companion, the English Bulldog can also be friendly with other dogs and cats. If proper training is provided while the dog is still young, this breed will be obedient to his owner and less inclined to do things his own way.
- Separation Anxiety – medium
- Barking tendency – low
- Aggressive tendency – medium
- Compatibility with other animals – medium
- Suitable for children – medium
- Watchdog suitability – high
Some Bulldogs are too friendly to be good guard dogs. That said, any family member in need of protection can rely on a Bulldog to give offenders a scare. A Bully’s personality generally alternates from peaceful, to pensive, to goofy. This is a breed that thrives on the attention he receives and happily and patiently will take part in any activity that suits his owner, including being dressed up in costumes.
Bullheaded and determined, this breed can also be very persistent. Once they are fired up, they do not give up easily. They require firm and gentle training and do not respond well to harsh methods. Some English Bulldogs will try to dominate their humans and need an owner who knows how to display strong leadership. A Bulldog that lacks a human pack leader can develop possessive and aggressive behaviors, such as guarding furniture, food, toys, or other spots in the house or displays aggression towards people and other animals.
Even though he can be stubborn and training will take time and effort, the Bulldog is an intelligent breed and can effectively learn commands with the proper guidance. The key to training the Bulldog is to employ consistency and firmness. Owners need to keep in mind that a raised voice and scolding tone will make the dog withdraw and even more stubborn.
- Obedience – medium
Since this breed is prone to obesity and their weight needs to be watched, the Bully requires regular walks. Naturally very lazy, an English Bulldog will not feel inclined to engage in self-exercising indoors. Thus, he needs to be persuaded to go on walks or play games.
Once they are on their feet, Bullies can travel fast for short distances; moreover, they enjoy long casual walks. In addition, many English Bulldogs will want to join in a bit of rough housing for short periods with other dogs. When all is said and done, the goal of Bully owners is to keep these dogs from becoming too lazy indoors, as well as taking care not to exercise this breed in very hot or cold conditions. When it is cold, the Bulldog’s short coat provides little protection and, when it is too hot, their brachiocephalic (short muzzle head formation) invites the risk of overheating and heatstroke. It is best to exercise this dog in the coolest times of the summer months and when he is outside he needs to have plenty of shade and water available to him.
- Energy – low
- Amount required – Two relatively short walks at a strolling pace, each lasting 20 to 30 minutes. Walks should be taken along paths with plenty of shade and should never occur in the heat of mid-day. He should be provided a jacket in cold winter months and walks need to be shortened.
Bulldogs are loud snorers and have the tendency to drool and slobber. The English Bulldog is considered an average shedder, and does not shed seasonally.
The skin folds on the face, neck and tail need to be kept clean using a damp cloth to remove any trapped debris and dead hair. Any dirt trapped in the wrinkles can cause irritation, leading to lesions and other infections in the folds of the skin. After cleaning with the damp cloth, a soft dry towel or cloth needs to be used to ensure the area is free from moisture.
The English Bulldog needs bathing only when necessary, and never frequently. Too much bathing can dry out the coat and result in itchy, flaky and irritated skin. Nail clipping is as important as regular teeth brushing. A finger sleeve or dog toothbrush and toothpaste can help keep teeth clean.
Food that consists of meat (poultry or lamb) or fish mixed with boiled pasta or rice and easily digested vegetables, or high-quality dry kibble that is free of allergenic additives, are best for a Bulldog.
Owners who choose to feed their Bully quality dry food do not need to add anything to the kibble to ensure their dog is being fed a healthy diet. Nevertheless, examples of extras that can be added to make food more flavorful are cottage cheese, yogurt and oil, all of which are healthy food items. Treats can include dog biscuits and the occasional bite of meat, vegetables, fruit, chicken, ice cream, etc. However, chocolate, onions and soybeans or soybean oil are off-limits. In any case, good criteria for choosing dog food is to make sure it will provide a nice coat, keeps the puppy round but not obese, produces solid stools and he likes it.
Most dogs over one year old do well on one or two meals per day; it depends on the owner’s preference.
The short and very smooth coat of the English Bulldog is very easy to care for and should be groomed on a regular basis. A stiff bristle brush is all that is needed to gently groom the dog two or three times per week. Bathe only when necessary. Wipe the face with a damp cloth and dry towel every day to clean inside the wrinkles.
- Ease of grooming – high
- Amount of grooming – low
Bulldogs are hard to breed and ordinarily are born via Caesarean section, because puppies have large heads and pregnant Bullies have small hips, which restricts their birth canals. Nevertheless, a more plausible argument is that Bulldog bitches ignore the instinct to push the puppies out because of the dog’s natural high tolerance for pain. Any dog will take time delivering an entire litter of puppies. An hour or more between pups is not unusual, and if the litter is large, the delivery time can last 8 or more hours.
Secondly, Bulldogs have a higher than normal record of producing “Anasarca” puppies. This presents the danger of a few fetuses that do not properly drain fluid, and which have become too large for the pelvic opening in the birth canal. Little is still known about Anasarca, but experts think it may be hereditary.
On the other hand, a risk to C-sections is that the puppies may not be accepted. However, a hormone injection can be given to stimulate milk production and encourage the maternal instinct. The length of time between birth and acceptance depends on when in the gestation period the C-section was performed.
Furthermore, the breed’s anatomy also hinders mating, with many litters conceived via artificial insemination.
- Litter size – average of 4; range of 4 to 5 puppies
- Puppy cost – average and range of $1,500 to $2,400; anything below even $1,000 may require a closer inspection of the dog being sold since the crucial C-section will require a higher price
Due to its physical eccentricities, the Bulldog is shadowed throughout his life by a cloud of health problems. Elbow and patellar dysplasia are not uncommon and all breeding dogs should be checked for these two diseases. Hip dysplasia can occur but it is difficult to screen for due to the Bulldogs unique anatomy. The massive head of a puppy and the relatively narrow hips of a pregnant Bulldog means delivery can only be achieved through caesarian section.
- Life expectancy – average of 8; range of 7 to 10
- Susceptibility to illness – High
- Common health problems – Heat intolerance, anascara, uterine inertia, Pulmonic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, inherited metabolic liver defect, deafness, elbow dysplasia, cherry eye, skin mites (“mange”), skin allergies.
Bulldogs are not an easy breed to handle and most bulldog breeders and owners alike agree that they are not fit for a novice dog owner. It is true that everyone has a first dog at some point, but bulldogs are simply not recommended for first-time dog owners.
A Bulldog is not the right breed for anyone who leads a very active lifestyle and would like a dog that enjoys long walks or jogging beside a bike. While Bulldogs do need some exercise, they are not high energy canines.
A Bully’s health can also be a major concern for the owner. A Bulldog is an indoor dog that is not meant for outdoor living. If potential owners live in a very warm climate, a Bulldog may even need an air-conditioned room when the temperature soars too high. A cold climate will require a sufficiently heated and not too draughty nor humid living space.
Lastly, experienced owners will be able to keep a keen eye on anything suspicious about the dog, since he can be quite stoic and has a high tolerance for pain and/or discomfort.
- Living conditions – The English Bulldog is happy with apartment life but still requires long regular strolls outside. They are relatively inactive when inside the house; however, the ideal home for them is one that has a wide yard where they can move about as much as they like. Bulldogs do best in temperate climates, as the breed can chill easily in cold weather and have trouble cooling off in very hot weather.
- Good with Children – Loves children of all ages and will even learn to get along with other pets if introduced to them at an early age
The English Bulldog breed is a descendent of the ancient Asiatic mastiff; however, their development into a notorious blood-sport participant occurred in Great Britain. The name Bulldog refers to the arena combat of bull baiting, which the Bully was bred for until the practice was abolished in the nineteenth century.
- County or origin – Great Britain
- Group – Mastiff, Non-Sporting (AKC), Utility (KC)
- Recognition – CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, KCGB, CKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
Did you know…
- Famous dogs and dog owners include:
- Singer John Legend – Puddy
- Actor Adam Sandler – Babu (late pets are Meatball and Matzoball).
- Band vocalist Pete Wentz – Hemingway
- Cartoon character Jonny Quest – Bandit
- Band vocalist Fred Durst – Bizkit
- U.S. President Calvin Coolidge – Boston Beans
- Singers Captain & Tenille – Broderick and Elizabeth
- Actor Truman Capote – Maggie
- U.S. President Warren Harding – Ol’ Boy
- Like a snapping turtle, once a Bulldog’s jaws are closed or locked they remain this way for quite some time, even if the dog is rendered unconscious.