1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a English Bulldog ?
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
11. Caring for a English Bulldog
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a English Bulldog
Among the oldest breeds native to the UK, the English Bulldog is considered a national treasure. In fact, the breed is Great Britain's National dog known the world over as the personification of determination as well as being a constant reminder of the legendary John Bull. The shorter faced and squatter dog we see today came about in the mid eighteen hundreds and the breed first appeared in the show ring in 1860.
Considered to be a wonderfully gorgeous, yet ugly looking dog, the Bulldog is among one of the most popular choices of family pets due to their delightfully kind and loving natures. They are especially good and tolerant around children of all ages although they can get a little protective of them. The English Bulldog is a comical character yet they can be extremely dignified too which are just two of the traits that make the breed so endearing to owners the world over.
The English Bulldog is native to the UK and was used for bull baiting and dog fighting until the blood sport was outlawed in the 19th Century. The original Old English Bulldog was to outlive the breed's usefulness in it's native England, but they were saved from vanishing altogether by emigrants to the New World who used these strong dogs to round up wild bulls so they could be captured and safely fenced in areas away from towns.
The breed continued to be promoted by Bill George and other enthusiasts who began developing and improving them by crossing Old English Bulldogs with Pugs. The result was a much friendlier and less aggressive character that made for a loyal companion and great choice as a family pet. Today, the English Bulldog is as popular in other countries of the world as they are in their native UK.
Height at the withers: Males 31 - 40 cm, Females 31 - 40 cm
Average Weight: Males 24 - 25 kg, Females 22 - 23 kg
The English Bulldog is a proud and noble dog, if somewhat delightfully 'grumpy' looking character. They are powerful, smooth coated dogs that boast being thick set, broad and compact, standing low to the ground. The large face and head of the English Bulldog is its defining physical trait, this together with their very pronounced undershot jaw with canine teeth pointing upwards and which are usually very visible, make the Bulldog one of the most recognised dogs in the world.
The folds of skin around their faces and noses are large with the conspicuous folds being called 'ropes' over their black noses. The skin around the mouth droops downwards hanging under the neck giving the British Bulldog their famous 'sourpuss' expression. Their snout is short, but should never be too short that it causes a dog to have difficulty in breathing. The English Bulldog is a brachycephalic breed and any exaggerated physical traits which includes shorter faces and muzzles, would make breathing that much harder for them especially during the warmer weather.
A Bulldog's eyes are set low and wide apart being round and medium in size. Their eyes should never protrude or be sunken and they should be quite dark in colour leaning towards black showing no white at all when a dog looks straight at you. Their ears are set high and wide apart falling neatly down each side of a dog's head yet as far away from their eyes as possible.
Their body is powerful and muscular with their hindquarters being higher than their forequarters and strong looking. Their chests are wide and deep with broad shoulders and these dogs are quite short backed. One distinctive characteristic of the breed is their slightly arched back. Tails are set low always jutting outwards before dropping downwards and are average in length leaning towards shorter rather than longer, but never docked.
When it comes to coat, the Bulldog boasts a short coat over their entire body. The recognised Kennel Clubs colours can be whole or smut and includes the following:
The English Bulldog may look intimidating, but quite the opposite is true. They are known to be among one of the most gentle, loyal, alert and courageous dogs on the planet which is why they are such a popular choice as family pets. They are known to be exceptionally tolerant and kind when they are around children too although they can become a little protective of them.
They are known to have a bit of a stubborn and determined streak in them which needs to be overcome during their training. They will not give up which means they can be a little persistent at times. Bulldogs crave being around people and they thrive when they spend as much time as possible with their owners. However, they need to know who is the "alpha dog" and have to be reminded of this on a constant basis or they may start to show a more dominant side to their characters which is something to be avoided at all costs. As such, a Bulldog is not the best choice for first-time dog owners because they may get the better of their masters if not given the right signals as to who is the "boss" in a household.
These dogs, like many other breeds are not fond of being left on their own for longer periods of time. If they do find themselves alone, they can develop some unwanted and destructive behavioural problems. In short, the English Bulldog prefers the company of people than being left to their own devices.
When young, the Bulldog can be quite an excitable character, but they tend to calm down as they mature and as long as they have been well socialised as puppies, they are generally very good around other family pets and animals. With this said, some Bulldogs can be a little aggressive when they first meet other dogs especially if they do not already know them.
One trait that's worth making a note of, is that Bulldogs are notorious for snoring due to their flatter faces and snouts. But one myth that needs to be dispelled is that these dogs have a tendency to drool which they do not. The only time a Bulldog would really slobber is after they have had a drink of water or when they are waiting in anticipation for an owner to put their food bowl down on the ground for them.
Another thing worth making a note of is that if allowed to, a Bulldog would happily turn into a couch potato which in short, means they need to be given regular daily exercise and to be fed a good quality diet to suit their ages. If not, these dogs have a tendency to plough on the pounds and it could lead to them developing all sorts of health issues which could shorten their lifespans considerably.
English Bulldogs are known to be intelligent dogs, but with this said they have a bit of a stubborn streak and they are not that easy to train. However, in the right hands and with the correct amount of training that needs to be consistent and started when dogs are still young, English Bulldogs respond well to voice commands. Any harsh training would not be very successful and the same can be said of commands given in a harsh way. These dogs really do not like being shouted at preferring to end a training session so they can hide away totally ignoring an owner.
The Bulldog is renowned for being extremely tolerant and good around children of all ages. However, because they are such heavy dogs, it's never a good idea to leave toddlers and Bulldogs together unsupervised. They can become very protective over family and children which means you need to keep an eye on things when other people are about.
If well socialised as puppies, Bulldogs generally accept being around other animals and family pets although it's always a good idea to keep a watchful eye on things when Bulldogs meet other animals for the first time.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an English Bulldog is between 8 - 10 years although some dogs have been known to live longer especially when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Bulldog is a brachycephalic (short faced) breed due to their flatter faces and shorter muzzles. As such, care must be taken when they are exercised, especially during the hotter summer months of the year when a dog might overheat very quickly and easily. These dogs need to be kept in a cool and shaded area when the temperatures rise or they might develop hypothermia.
English Bulldogs are known to be one of the breeds that suffer the most from Hip Dysplasia and have the worst of all scores among breeds tested by the British Veterinary Association and Kennel Club's scoring scheme. Other health issues that affect the breed, but to a lesser extent, include the following:
Bulldogs are also predisposed to certain hereditary and congenital health conditions which includes the following:
It's worth noting that over 80% of all Bulldogs puppies are born via caesarian section. This is due to the unusually large heads that puppies have which makes it hard for dams to give birth naturally. As such, birthing needs to done by a qualified vet to ensure nothing goes wrong during the birthing.
As with any other breed, English Bulldogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and in particular their skin is kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, English Bullogs need to be fed a good quality diet throughout their lives to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.
The folds on a Bulldog's face which are known as "ropes" need to be checked and cleaned daily otherwise moisture and debris collects in them which can lead to painful infections taking hold. This is best done with a damp, not wet, cloth before towelling dry the folds and wrinkles. Some Bulldogs have very tightly curled tails and these need to be regularly checked, cleaned and an ointment applied if necessary. It's also essential that any areas that are wiped are towel dried afterwards to reduce the chance of any moisture remaining in the folds which is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in.
When it comes to grooming requirements, Bulldogs are easy to look after because they have nice, short coats. This means a weekly brush will not only keep their skin and coats in good condition, but it will help keep any shed hair under control. Like most dogs, they shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn and are considered "average" shedders for the remainder of the year.
Bulldogs don't need to be bathed more than 3 times a year. Over-bathing a dog could result in an imbalance of the naturals oils found in their coat and skin which could lead to an irritation and skin allergies.
As with every dog, Bulldogs need to be given regular daily exercise, but because they are brachycephalic, you have to be careful how much exercise these dogs are given during the hotter summer months. Bulldogs have small nasal cavities and therefore find it harder to regulate their core body temperature. If they overheat, they run the risk of suffering from hypothermia and in a worst case scenario, it could prove fatal.
Bulldogs have a tendency to put on weight all too easily and will happily become couch potatoes if they are allowed to. This is especially true of older more mature dogs. In short, it's really important to keep a watchful eye on a dog's weight and to ensure they are given enough regular daily exercise to burn off their calorie intake. Carrying excess weight can lead to all sorts of health issues which includes putting too much strain on their joints and it could lead to dogs developing lung and heart issues which can shorten their lives considerably.
Puppies and young dogs under 7 months old should only be given short daily walks because they are still growing and developing. Their exercise can be gradually increased as they mature.
Bulldogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but they do need to be fed a good quality diet that's full of all the right nutrients to suit their ages. It's also a good idea to feed an English Bulldog twice a day because it reduces the chance of them suffering from gastric torsio and it also helps reduce flatulence, a problem that many of the breed is known to suffer from.
It's also essential that young Bulldogs be fed correctly and given the right amount of exercise to prevent them putting on too much weight when they are still growing and developing. Carrying the extra weight puts a lot of strain on the joints, bones and ligaments which is to be avoided at all costs.
If you get a puppy, the breeder would recommend feeding them the same diet they are used to and to gradually change this over a few weeks to avoid any tummy upsets. Puppies also need to be fed at regular intervals and ideally this needs to be between 3 to 4 times a day until they are around 14 to 18 weeks old. After this, a young Bulldog can be fed twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening.
English Bulldog puppies can go from £1000 to well over £4000, depending on their breeding and bloodlines. If you are hoping to share your home with an older Bulldog, you would still need to pay a few hundred to a thousand pounds for a well-bred dog. When it comes to insuring a male 3 year old British Bulldog if you live in the north of England, you should expect to pay just over £52 a month for basic cover to just over £107 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of March 2016). It's worth noting that lots of things are factored in when a company calculates a dog's insurance premium and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age.
The cost of feeding an English Bulldog would set you back anything from £30 to £40 a month and you would need to ensure you only buy good quality dog food that's produced by a well-known and respected pet food manufacturer. Vet bills for Bulldogs can be expensive if a dog develops any sort of breathing or hip disorder and unless you want to use a dog for breeding purposes, you would need to have them spayed or neutered which is another unavoidable expense of keeping a dog. On top of this, your Bulldog would need to be vaccinated both initially and then annually.
As a rough guide, the total average cost of sharing your home with an English Bulldog would be in the region of £90 to £140 a month depending on the type of pet insurance you opt to buy and this does not include the initial cost of buying a pure breed English Bulldog puppy.
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