The English or British Bulldog has a very different temperament from those of its early ancestors. Bulldogs are descended from the archaic Asiatic Mastiff, but their breed development took place primarily in Great Britain. The name Bulldog that has its origin in medieval history, refers not only to the stout look of a little bull, but also to the stout look of a little bull, but also to the ferocity and power with which this dog breed attacked bulls in the arena for people’s entertainment (this practice was later deemed inhumane and subsequently banned in the 19th century).
Bulldogs tend to be short in stature, but are thick and compact, with thick neck and wide, generally large head. The broad head is complemented with big pudgy cheeks that extend to the sides of the eyes. The skin on the skull and forehead has large, dense wrinkles or folds. Its muzzle is short and pushed in (a trait known as brachygnathic. Eyes are round, set widely apart, and tend to be dark brown or chestnut in color. The ears are small thin, and pendant to folded back. The tail is short and carried low.
Bulldog coat colors are red, fawn, brindle, pale yellow, washed-out red, or white, and any combination of these colors is considered normal. Black is not considered a breed standard. The legs are its stocky and set squarely at each corner of its compact, thickly muscled body, the Bulldog’s deliberate gait incorporates something of a waddle.
Although the English Bulldogs appearance may seem a bit intimidating to some, in reality, it is truly among gentlest breeds of dogs. Even so, a Bulldog will typically no hesitate to attempt chasing off an intruder. The Bulldog is a very affectionate, loyal canine, gentle with children, but takes naturally to guarding. Willful and even considered at time to be Bullheaded, Bulldogs can be very persistent and do not yield easily.
Bulldogs thrive on attention from people, and in fact crave and revel in it. Some English Bulldogs can exhibit dominance behavior toward owners and household members and require an owner who displays strong leadership and knows how to parry and discourage canine alpha tendencies. A best tempered Bulldogs understand their place in the “pack.” And act consistently with household members and invited guests.
Bulldogs who display guarding behaviors, such as with favorite beds, food, toys, or other “territories” in the house, or who display unusual dog aggression, tend lack a person or who are asserting themselves as the dog’s leader. Dominance behavior such as is the result of a dog who craves leadership to understand his role in the family dynamic, and without it, will try to assert himself into that role. It is important for dog owners in general to understand that pack members do not exist as equals in the canine world – this is especially true with Bulldogs.
Bulldogs are generally good with other family pets, but some can be aggressive with strange dogs. As young dogs, Bulldogs are filled with energy, but slow down considerably as they approach middle age. They snore very loudly when sleeping (even sometimes when awake), and most drool and slobber to varying degrees.
English Bulldogs are good candidate for apartment living, as they are quite inactive indoors and will do okay without a yard. Bulldogs do best in temperate climates since they tend to chill easily in cold weather, while typically having trouble with overheating in hot weather.
Bulldogs can be very lazy and actually not mind doing a lot of laying around, not exercising much at all. However, for the sake of the health of the dog, in order to keep a Bulldog lean, well muscled, and fit and all the health benefits that come with that, the dog should be regularly walked. Fit Bulldogs are capable of remarkably quick bursts of running and activity. However, with Bulldogs not genetically built for sustained exercise and endurance, it is important for Bulldogs to not be overworked. It is also very important not to promote prolonged or intense exercise in hot weather, as Bulldogs have difficulty cooling, commonly overheat, and are thus susceptible to heat stroke.
The Bulldog’s smooth, fine, short haired coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. The face should be wiped with a damp cloth or Wet Wipe daily to clean inside the wrinkles. Bulldogs are mild to average shedders.
Height: about 10-20 inches.
Weight: Males 55-75 pounds. Bitches 45-65 pounds.
The unique physical characteristics of the Bulldog, many of which are not physiologically optimal, as well as the degree of selective breeding that went into the breed’s creation, make them prone to many health problems. Conformationally, the Bulldog often suffers from excessive soft palate and turbulent flow of air through the pushed in nose, which subsequently can lead to severe snoring and breathing difficulties. Genetically, they are prone to entropion, hip dysplasia, dilative cardiomyopathy, medially luxating patella, collapsing trachea, elbow dysplasia, skin allergies, and progressive retinal atrophy. They also have difficulty breeding naturally and require artificial insemination for conception. Bulldog puppies also commonly have to be delivered surgically by caesarian section because of their large heads and mom’s relatively narrow birth canal. For this reason, it is important to ask a breeder for documentation of pre-breeding screening of the bitch and sire for these diseases prior to purchase of a puppy. Also for this reason, if prospective Bulldog owners have a small budget for veterinary care, they should either consider another breed, or strongly consider carrying pet insurance.
Average life expectancy is 8-10 years.
Roger L. Welton, DVM
Founder and Chief Editor, Web-DVM.net
President, Maybeck Animal Hospital
Article updated 10/5/2012dget