Bulldog Dog Breed

Bulldog Lying Down Outside
iStock.com/apomares
  • Other names:
  • British Bulldog
  • English Bulldog
Overview

The bulldog is one of the most recognizable dog breeds due to its unique appearance and its frequent use as a mascot for many sports and businesses. The breed today is considered a gentle family dog with a lazy attitude, which is nearly opposite of the breed's ancestors which were bred solely for a gruesome sport called bull baiting.

Today's bulldog is a child loving companion dog with a gentle nature. Their high pain tolerance and lazy attitude makes them ideal dogs for young rambunctious children whose curiosity and rough housing may intimidate or upset other dogs breeds.

Bulldog Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred8-12 yrs.13-15 in.49-55 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Long ago, Bulldogs were bred to be fighting dogs. Typically, that is no longer the case. These dogs are best as companion animals for people who spend a lot of time away from home or who are not overly active. In some ways, Bulldogs are not bad for people wanting their first dogs. In other ways, this breed is best for people who know to have a great amount of patience and other significant resources to attend common Bulldog problems. Because there are some places with Bulldog bans as well as the growing trend of severe health problems, there are many companies that offer Bulldog insurance. You should consider this and other Bulldogs facts if you want to adopt one of these dogs.

Here are some Bulldog pros and cons:

PROS

  • Lovable
  • Very sweet
  • Highly tolerant
  • Doesn't bark much
  • Low grooming needs
  • Good with mature kids
  • Easy going temperament
  • Few exercise requirements
  • Doesn't mind being left alone

CONS

  • Lazy
  • Stubborn
  • Over eats
  • Sheds a lot
  • Prone to obesity
  • Drools constantly
  • Very sensitive to cold
  • Highly intolerant of heat
  • Expensive in many ways
  • May be very bad with cats
  • Long list of severe health problems
  • Noisy — as in snoring, gassy and snorting
  • Lots of ill-informed, disreputable breeders

Bulldog Breed Description

The bulldog is an extremely thick dog. They have a heavily muscled body, yet are no taller than 15 inches from ground to shoulder. Their body shape and size is a direct result of centuries of careful breeding for bull baiting as dogs which were heavier and lower to the ground were more difficult to be flipped over by the bull's horns. This makes today's bulldog a very stocky and heavy dog.

Today's bulldog is a loving sweet natured dog, with a face that only a mother could love. The breed gets along with everyone and will let strangers step over them without concern. Despite the breeds fierce history, today's bulldog is not a fighter. Bulldogs are excellent with children. The breed will put up with a lot from bored kids and will generally walk away before getting frustrated by children.

The bulldog requires very little maintenance. They are a very low activity dog breed and can meet their exercise needs with a short walk or playtime in the yard. Their coat will need to be brushed once per week to keep it clean, but they will need the wrinkles on their face wiped with a damp cloth every day to prevent dirt and bacteria from accumulating in their skin.

Bulldog Breed History

It is thought that Bulldogs were first seen in the 16th century. They were produced to fight bulls, bears and other fierce beasts for highly popular gambling events called "bull baiting." Although the large game animals were tethered or attacked by entire packs, many dogs were gored, crushed and killed. All levels of English society partook in this pastime; there was much money and fame to be had for the person who produced the biggest, hardest and strongest dogs. Prior to being called "bull dogges," they were known by a number of names: Bear Dog, Bolddogge, Bondogge and Butchers Bull were popular ones. The scientific term, Canis Pugnax, was applied in 1666.

The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 put an end to public bull baiting and similar bloodsport. It was a watershed moment that apparently jump-started a Bulldog evolution. The shorter muzzles, lesser endurance and sweeter temperaments of today's Bulldogs was probably the result of the 1835 law. It was not too many decades later when, in 1878, The Bulldog Club (England) was founded. Now the oldest single breed club in the world, it was formed at the Blue Post, a pub on Oxford Street in London. To this day, the Club helps to maintain English Bulldog ancestry and hosts a championship show every March.

In 1890, the American Bulldog Club was established in New York by English immigrants who took their Bulldogs with them to the "new world." This club was incorporated under New York State laws in 1904 and was one of the first breed clubs to join the American Kennel Club. In 1922, the U.S. Marines formally adopted the English Bulldog as the corps' mascot. The first formally enlisted Bulldog, Pvt. Jiggs, was inducted at a ceremony at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia — the same place where, in 1927, his death was mourned after having reached the rank of Sergeant Major in 1924.

Bulldog Appearance

Bulldogs may look ferocious in logos, cartoons, and the occasional news story, but there are fewer gentle dogs than this formerly bull-fighting breed.

The broad, boxy and heavy body is low to the ground, and the dog's massive, square-shaped, short-nosed head will have lots of wrinkles. Bulldog jaws have an underbite, and it is not uncommon for the tongue to hang out too. You may have heard a lot about Bulldogs' eyes and that sideways stare; it is too cute! The short, stubby legs are very strong and end in those massive Bulldog paws. Those legs are often depicted as being bowed, and they may even look that way in person, but the legs are straight. Bulldog tails are typically docked; if it isn't, it will be kinked or just hang down.

The coat is loose and wrinkly with short, smooth hair that should not shed much unless there is a dietary or other problem.

Bulldog Coloring

There are a fair amount of Bulldog colors. There may not be universal agreement on which are accepted, however. The AKC only recognizes 10 colors, and they are basically the brindle, red, white and fawn Bulldogs. The Bulldog Club of America advocates a list of preferences, starting with the red brindle Bulldog.

Then there are the rare colors that few breeders produce. Those who do tend to say that Blue bulldogs are one of the rarest. Lilac Bulldogs seem to be highly coveted too. There are also the occasional Merle bulldogs as well as black Bulldogs.

These are the colors that Bulldogs come in:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Lilac
  • Black
  • Fawn
  • White
  • Merle
  • Fallow
  • Chocolate
  • Red brindle
  • Red and white
  • Fawn and white
  • Fawn and brindle
  • Red brindle and white
  • Fawn brindle and white

Bulldog Size

English Bulldog sizes vary from kennel club to kennel club, nation to nation and by variety. The basic full grown Bulldog size, however, is about 12 to 15 inches high. An English Bulldog's weight tends to be determined by the dog's sex. Males weigh 53 to 55 pounds, and females are a little lighter at 49 to 51 pounds. What you will learn if you get a Bulldog is that they are heavier than they look!

Average Adult Height

13-15 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

49-55 lbs

Bulldog Variations

While it's generally accepted that there are four basic types of Bulldogs, some people also include miniatures, regional breeds and exotic Bulldogs from elsewhere in the world. The four primary variations, however, are English Bulldog, French BulldogAmerican Bulldog and Olde English Bulldogge. In the UK, the English Bulldog is called just a Bulldog and is very flat-faced. The French Bulldog is the smallest Bulldog breed. The American Bulldog is the biggest bulldog breed. The Olde English Bulldog is actually a rare American "variety" that is meant to be much more like the original bulldog: taller, leaner and with a smaller head.

One of the regional Bulldogs is the Alano Español. This breed is native to Spain and has some resemblance to the Presa Canario. Some of the other recent American varieties, which established breed clubs state are basically Bulldogs but which some breeders insist will one day be dog breeds unto themselves, are the XXL Bulldog and the Dwarf Bulldogs. There are a lot of unrecognized, informal names which you might hear too: mini Bulldogs, pocket Bullies, etc.

There are also some extinct varieties, some of which are said by some people to have been breeds: The Bullenbeisser (aka the German Bulldog), the Old English Bulldog (which was the original bull baiting dog and is the model for the Olde English Bulldogge in the USA), and the Toy Bulldog (which became extinct in the early 20th century).

Bulldog Temperament

The typical English Bulldog temperament is a little goofy, a little headstrong, a little lazy and a little sloppy. They are far more gentle than their ancestors that were used in death matches against bulls and bears. They can be aggressive around other male dogs or if you try to take away their food. For the most part, they prefer to stay cool dry and asleep. They don't get upset if you're away for long or frequent periods of time, and they don't get anxious if they don't exercise daily. (They just get fat!)

They tend to not get excited around noisy children or most non-canine pets. They are highly sociable dogs who enjoy making new friends and just hanging out. The Bulldog character, however, includes a high tolerance for pain that is good and bad: good when children want to roughhouse, and bad when it comes to pain that can indicate health concerns.

When it comes to training, be prepared to be patient and have a lot of snacks on hand. This may be when one of the most annoying English bulldog traits is on display: stubbornness.

Bulldog and Children

A bulldog and babies may sound like a disaster waiting to happen, and yet there are so many stories that contest this. While it is not at all recommended that you simply get a Bulldog and then leave her with your baby (or toddler, or kids), there is apparently very little to worry about. Of course, proper socialization and training are required. You want to make sure kids understand what to do and not do and that the dog understands they are part of the English bulldog family.

There are some things that simply won't work — like messing with the dog's food — and some things that may or may not work depending on the dog's personality, history, age, etc. Some Bulldogs are fine with having their ears and tail pulled, and most Bulldogs literally have a thick skin. The family Bulldog can be a bit like a runaway bulldozer when excited, however, and they may plow through small kids. Supervision of Bulldogs and children is essential to making sure things don't get out of hand.

Bulldog and Other Pets

Are you wondering, Do English Bulldogs get along with other dogs? Yes, but there can be some dog aggression among male Bulldogs and other male dogs. If the Bulldog is the "new kid on the block" and you have dogs that already live at home, be sure to keep them separated at first. Get them used to each other's smell and presence (in a crate, or through a closed door). Then, start with the home's alpha dog and introduce the dogs one by one — and with patience. Other dogs (and pets) should not be fed in the same room as your Bulldog.

A Bulldog and cat, as well as other non-canine pets, should be fine. Even if the cat is not exactly friendly at first, they should warm up in time. Bulldogs don't typically see cats as prey or things to chase. That means running, and running gets in the way of napping! If you happen to have Bulldogs and rabbits, you'll know how wonderful these dogs get along with small, furry creatures.

Bulldog Photos

Below are pictures of the Bulldog dog breed.

Fawn & White Bulldog
Fawn Bulldog
Fawn & White English Bulldog
Fawn & White English Bulldog
Fawn Brindle & White English Bulldog Puppy
Bulldog Lying Down Outside

Living Requirements

Owning a Bulldog may seem simple enough judging from all the wonderfully fun photos that Bulldog owners post: Bulldogs with babies, with cats, rabbits, other dogs and so much more. What you should understand is that there is a real story happening between those photos, and that story often involves cleaning wrinkles, allergic reactions and lots of flatulence.

On one hand, Bulldogs tend to not bark much, are usually friendly with strangers, and tend to not chase other animals much, if at all. On the other hand, it doesn't take much to give them gas.

Although they have short hair and don't typically shed much, you will find out quickly enough if you are allergic to Bulldogs. The secret is in their wrinkles, and as they have a lot of them on their face, and the dogs drool a lot, that saliva can prompt an allergic reaction. That drool will get on floors, furniture, and clothes.

Random Details

When it comes to the ugly Bulldog, you should know that "ugly" is a pet word for "cute" and that even an ugly English Bulldog is hugely adorable. While they may be big, unwieldy and occasionally impatient, these dogs have a legendary high tolerance for screaming, curious and playful children. In the UK, nanny Bulldogs are well-known despite the dangerous dog bans they may have.

You may be looking to adopt a Bulldog from overseas or far away or want to take your dog when you move (or travel). If so, you should know that English Bulldog air travel rules may be different than for other breeds. Be sure to look up the rules and confirm the airlines' guidelines on Bulldogs before you book a flight.

Bulldog Health

The health profile of Bulldogs has deteriorated rapidly over the past few decades. Veterinarians have published articles about this decline. Beloved dog whisperer Cesar Millan has asked, "Have we overbred Bulldogs?" Crufts and other dog shows have even refused entry to Bulldogs due to health issues. If you are planning on adopting a Bulldog, you should consider this breed very carefully as well as make sure you find a reputable breeder who will provide all the health tests and vet checks.

Here is a list of the many Bulldog problems:

  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Deafness
  • Dystocia
  • Cataracts
  • Cystinuria
  • Cherry eye
  • Cleft Palate
  • Spina Bifida
  • Skin allergies
  • Head tremors
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Heart disease
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hemivertebrae
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Ectopic Ureters
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Urate Urolithiasis
  • Genetic Dwarfism
  • Demodectic mange
  • Eyelid abnormalities
  • Hypoplastic Trachea

Bulldogs have an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years.

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
  • Cherry Eye
  • Demodectic Mange
  • Dry Eye
  • Entropion
  • Head Shakes
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Reverse Sneezing
  • View all 9...

Bulldog Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Bulldog as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 14...
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