The playful, good-natured Bulldog is a loyal companion with a gentle disposition. The breed has overcome its objectionable history and the easygoing Bulldog is now considered a devoted, family-friendly pick. Though they are generally an easy breed to care for, there are some special considerations for a dog with such unique features as the Bulldog. The short, bow-legged Bulldog cannot tolerate hot weather or excessive activity, and may overheat with either. It is a relief, then, that the Bulldog does not require a lot of exercise—only enough to keep him happy and fit.
Bulldogs are also known as English Bulldog and British Bulldog.
Bulldog mixes are often available from shelters and rescues. Benefits of adopting a Bulldog mix include the potential for reduced health concerns as related to brachycephaly and mobility issues. A Bulldog mix may present physical traits and temperament similar to a purebred Bulldog, but the characteristics cannot be guaranteed as the dog may display traits passed from the other breeds in its heritage. Most shelters do not do DNA testing, so breed is usually based on appearance and any information shared when the dog is surrendered and may not be accurate.
If you want a Bulldog mix, shelters and rescue groups often maintain waiting lists for specific requests such as mixed breed or AKC registered Bulldog. It is important to note that even in an AKC registered Bulldog, an individual dog's personality may differ from the breed standard due to its unique genetics, experiences, training, and socialization.
Common Bulldog mixes include Labrador Retriever, Boxer, Beagle, and American Staffordshire Terrier.
The Bulldog's short coat is smooth, with a fine texture. The breed standard includes 10 colors and 6 marking styles. Perhaps the most recognizable feature of the Bulldog is the loose skin at the head and shoulders, and heavily-wrinkled face and throat.
Average Height: 14-15 inches
Male: up to 50 pounds
Female: up to 40 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Medium and wide-set with a sturdy build, the Bulldog has a strong appearance. Draping 'chops' complete the Bulldog's short face and deep-set nose. Broad, strong jaws are square with the lower jaw extending and turning up past the upper jaw. The chest is deep and full with wide shoulders and stout, widset forelegs for a powerful stance. Heavily wrinkled skin and a short, fine coat. A shuffling gait. The Bulldog is kind and dignified, never aggressive. – AKC Breed Standards
Bulldogs have been mentioned since the 1500s, or possibly prior, when they were used primarily as working dogs. They were bred tough and sturdy in order to assist with bringing bulls in for farmers. Bulldogs would bite the bull's nose until he complied or the farmer could secure it. This practice turned to using Bulldogs in the cruel sport of bull-baiting. When inhumane bull-baiting and bear-baiting was banned in 1835, the Bulldog's future seemed grim. But, careful breeding helped the Bulldog name overcome its reputation and become a favored companion animal. Breeders selected Bulldogs with the most desirable traits and worked to develop the breed we know today. Now, any fierceness and aggression has been replaced by a gentle, kindly manner.
The Bulldog is the national animal of Britain and is the mascot for dozens of colleges and the United States Marine Corps. Calvin Coolidge had a Bulldog named Boston Beans.
AKC Breed Category
The playful, kind-hearted Bulldog also has a reputation as a couch potato. They are tolerant, mellow, and easygoing by nature. Though generally calm and quiet, the Bulldog's goofy side often makes an appearance. The Bulldog can have a stubborn streak and may try to assert dominance over family members or other pets, but cooperation can often be attained through encouragement and praise.
Are Bulldogs Good with Kids? Bulldogs are patient and loving and do well in homes with children. They are affectionate and bond with family members easily.
Are Bulldogs Good with Other Pets? Bulldogs can do well with other pets in the home with proper socialization and training, but may need time to acclimate to new or visiting dogs.
The Bulldog is protective by nature, but doesn't carry the same aggression of its ancestors. The breed can make a good watchdog.
The low-energy Bulldog is happy to laze about for the majority of the day, but will perk up for a short walk or playtime.
- Can be stubborn
- May attempt to assert dominance over people or other dogs
- Known to chew
- Physically cannot swim
- Can display food guarding behaviors
The English Bulldog is an ideal apartment dog and does well indoors. Air-conditioned or cool spaces are a requirement as excessive heat can cause this breed to overheat. They do not need much exercise and are happy to nap most of the day.
A Bulldog does not require much space to run. They are a slow, lumbering breed, and while they'll have bursts of energy, they prefer a leisurely stroll to games of chase. Bulldogs do not tolerate hot or cold weather, so a moderate climate is ideal. Bulldogs cannot swim and should be well supervised near pools or water to prevent accidents.
Though short and stocky, the brawny Bulldog still enjoys a bit of exercise throughout the day. He will usually be ready to call it a day after a 20-minute walk. Enough exercise is important to prevent weight issues that can exacerbate already present breathing concerns.
The very low endurance of the Bulldog breed is partly attributed to the brachycephalic face and tendency to overheat.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: The Bulldog is not made for running, and though there may be short bursts of activity during play, running should not be expected of this breed.
- Hiking Miles: The Bulldog is not well-suited to the trail due to the risk of overheating and breathing problems.
This breed may require a soy-free diet as many Bulldogs are allergic to soy. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food (based on average weight and activity level) to feed is 1 ½ to 2 cups of food per day. Free feeding is not ideal for the Bulldog as they are prone to overeating and bloat is a greater risk with the breed, so food should be split between two or three meals.
Bulldogs can exhibit food guarding behaviors, despite their easygoing nature. Feeding Bulldogs and other dogs separately may be necessary to prevent resource guarding. Any instances of resource guarding should be discussed with a trainer before it escalates. Children should never be allowed to touch or remove food from any dog while it is eating.
Though the Bulldog is a loyal family dog, they do not mind being left to their own devices. They're always happy to take a little snooze, and they don't require a person to entertain them constantly. They can be known to chew, so rugged toys and a dog-proof play area should be provided. Crate training may be necessary.
Health and Grooming
The short, smooth-coated Bulldog does not require extensive grooming, but daily care is required. The thick folds of a Bulldog's skin should be cleaned regularly to prevent irritation and infection. Their eyes and folds on their face need to be wiped daily. Brush a Bulldog weekly, and bathe as necessary. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail.
Common Health Issues
While generally healthy dogs, Bulldogs have a shorter life expectancy than many other breeds. There are also breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Brachycephalic-related breathing difficulties
- Hip dysplasia
- Cherry eye
- Uncomfortable cysts between the toes
- Skin infections
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Bulldog by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
The Bulldog, though tenacious, can learn basic obedience with repetition and positive reinforcement. They are not considered a highly intelligent breed, but they can learn the basics and be well-behaved. Their stubbornness and attention span may be a hindrance when it comes to training, so keep training sessions short and offer praise and rewards so they don't get bored or distracted.
Bulldogs may guard their food, so teaching the 'leave it' command early is important. Trying to remove an unsafe item or food from an adult Bulldog's strong jaws can be dangerous, so add 'leave it' or 'drop it' to early training to prevent problems later.
Discourage play biting in young Bulldogs. Every time a Bulldog puppy bites, get up and walk away. Do not interact with a dog who is biting—instead, ignore the rough, rude behavior and offer lots of praise for gentle play.
Early socialization with other dogs and people is important for the English Bulldog.
While the Bulldog is not considered highly intelligent, they still enjoy time with family. You can teach a Bulldog advanced tricks with persistence and repetition, as well as treats and praise. Surprisingly, Bulldogs can learn to skateboard—and many do—thanks to their low center of gravity and wide stance.
Agility and other sports are not ideal for the Bulldog as they cannot tolerate heat and too much exertion may worsen breathing issues.
Sporting Dog Training
Due to the Bulldog's breathing concerns, low energy, and little endurance, the breed is not suitable as a sporting dog.
The English Bulldog is expensive to purchase because it is expensive to breed. Many breeders must artificially inseminate their Bulldogs. Most Bulldogs require c-section births because the puppies' heads are too large to fit through the birth canal. Care of newborn Bulldog puppies is more intensive than caring for puppies of other breeds. Getting a Bulldog from a reputable breeder for a higher cost is preferable, however, due to the health concerns and risks that a less expensive puppy may carry.
The Olde English Bulldogge is a fairly new breed of dog that is not recognized by the AKC. The breed was meant to resemble the original—now extinct—Old English Bulldog from England. The goal was to create a healthier Bulldog through selective breeding—minimizing health concerns such as hip dysplasia and breathing difficulty.
No. While they both come from the Old English Bulldog, the American Bulldog is a mixed breed dog not recognized by the AKC. The American Bulldog is an athletic, muscular dog that was originally bred in the 1800s to round up feral hogs in the Southern United States.