The English bulldog is the unofficial mascot of all things British, but it is also one of the most controversial breeds too in terms of the current appearance of the modern English bulldog, how this has been developed via selective breeding, and the impact that this has upon the breed’s health and wellness.
Even so, the English bulldog remains one of the nation’s firm favourites, so much so in fact that despite their often prohibitively high purchase price, this is the UK’s 7th most popular dog breed overall. They’re a common sight all over the country, and for people who love bulldog looks and that are well informed enough to understand the breed’s challenges and how to pick a more moderate, healthy example of the breed, can make for excellent pets.
English bulldogs are not a breed to take lightly when it comes to understanding the complexities of owning a dog of this type, in more or less every respect from their potential strength to high average sale price to the ongoing cost of ownership and higher than usual incidence rate of health issues.
Just one facet of this, but one that all prospective English bulldog owners should research and understand, is the fact that dogs of the breed need special care taken in the summer when it comes to keeping them safe and comfortable; and in this article we will explain why this is, and what you need to bear in mind. Read on to learn more.
The English bulldog’s flat-looking face can vary greatly in degree, but the trait as a whole is called “brachycephaly,” which makes the English bulldog brachycephalic. This trait shortens the dog’s muzzle and narrows their nostrils, making the surface area inside of the mouth smaller (sometimes, leading to their tongues being too long for their mouths!) and elongating their soft palates too.
All of this means that English bulldogs sometimes struggle to get enough air when it is hot or they exert themselves in exercise, and they can and sometimes do develop heatstroke very quickly, much faster than the average dog might under the same circumstances.
English bulldogs should only be walked during the cooler hours of the day, and this should be undertaken with care to ensure they don’t begin to get dangerously hot and risk developing heatstroke.
Coupled with this, the English bulldog is also a dog with heavy bones and lots of muscle, which is by nature stocky and sturdy. This means that they have a tendency to gain weight easily, which increases their risk of overheating through hot weather, exercise, or a combination of both.
It is really important to keep your English bulldog at a healthy weight and maintain their fitness, not only to improve their general health but to make their summers less risky and more comfortable too.
No breed or type of dog can be left alone safely in a car, as the risk of overheating and developing heatstroke is high and rapid in onset. There are no exceptions to this, regardless of how cool the car seems, or how fast the owner of car and dog intend to be.
Bulldogs are once more at heightened risk, as they overheat faster than normal dogs, and are harder to cool down when they do.
This means not only ensuring that you never break the rule and leave your bulldog in a car or other vehicle, but also take care about leaving them in other enclosed spaces too. This might even extend to your home; if you close a dog in one room that feels cool, it may not remain so when the sun moves round later in the day, and your dog won’t be able to retreat to somewhere cooler.
English bulldogs have short, thin fur, which means those with lighter coats need to be protected from the sun with coverups and sunscreen, as they can burn quickly and often severely, even in seemingly weak sun.
Even darker dogs of the breed can burn too, particularly on their noses and tips of the ears, so always monitor this and apply sunscreen liberally, as well as ensuring your dog never has to be out in full sun.
Your dog needs to have free access to cool, clean water at all times, and to be able to move around enough to choose a shadier room or area, to stay cool. However, this may not be enough for some English bulldogs, and you might need to provide additional methods of cooling too, including ice vests that can be purchased for dogs, and placing ice in their water bowls and even sponging them off if they get too hot!
Caring for an English bulldog in the summer comes with some challenges, but by learning about them in advance and taking steps to mitigate them, you can help to keep your dog comfortable and safe, whatever the weather.