The Bulldog has been around for over 500 years, but it’s changed a lot since its earliest days in the 1500s. The breed used to be a lot taller than its squat, present-day relative, and Bulldogs earned their name as “bull-baiters.” Believe it or not, at one time Bulldogs were used to draw bulls out and hold them by the nose. This was done for practical reasons, such as to help in the castration of bulls, but it was mostly a form of entertainment.
Bulldogs were successful at bull-baiting because they were able to use their powerful necks, jaws, and bodies to hold the nose of a bull to the ground. Gradually, Bulldogs were bred to be squatter and thicker to improve their effectiveness in the ring.
As the centuries wore on, dog-fighting and bull-baiting was outlawed in England and replaced by dog shows. People began to select dogs for shorter legs and bigger heads, and the modern bulldog eventually emerged: a thicker, squatter version than before. Also, the aggressiveness of the original Bulldog was bred out, leaving Bulldogs, as we know them, some of the gentlest dogs around!
Today, the Bulldog is the sixth most popular dog breed in the United States.
Some common physical characteristics of Bulldogs are:
- Weight: 45-55 lbs.
- Height: 12-16 inches
- Coat: Short, flat, sleek
- Color: Red, fawn, white, brindle (mix), or piebald
- Lifespan: 8-12 years
What are they like?
The Bulldog might look fearsome, but there’s hardly a friendlier dog around! Bulldogs are very laid-back, easygoing dogs who love the companionship of people. They do great around children as well as other pets, including cats. Bulldogs are said to “hold their beauty,” meaning they look great as puppies and as seniors.
Bulldogs love going for a ride in the car, usually with their big heads out the window and their tongues hanging out in the breeze. They can be perfect dogs for an apartment or urban setting, too. They don’t need a ton of exercise – a 15-minute walk around the block will have a Bulldog ready for a snooze – and they really love to laze about. When they’re not stretched out in a sunbeam, snoring away, Bulldogs can be found loyally following their favorite humans around.
Bulldogs are a generally healthy breed, but can be prone to a variety of health problems:
- Respiratory problems, such as brachycephalic airway syndrome, which makes overheating more likely
- Allergies and dermatitis, including skin infections, particularly in and around the folds of skin on their faces
- Hip dysplasia
- Luxating patella (dislocation of the kneecap)
Right for you?
Bulldogs are popular for a lot of reasons, but that doesn’t mean they are right for everyone. Here are a few things to consider:
- Bulldogs have a very hard time with heat, but they do a lot better in the cold (within reason). In fact, if you live somewhere really warm, it’s important to have air-conditioning. A Bulldog left out in the hot summer sun can get heatstroke and die within 30 minutes. That means that it’s important to give a Bulldog exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s cooler out.
- Bulldogs are expensive! Because they have some health problems, it’s important to find a Bulldog bred for good health. This can run you $2000-3000. Be wary of bulldog puppies costing a few hundred bucks – you might get what you pay for in terms of health and longevity.
- Grooming. Bulldogs require regular grooming, but this has less to do with their short coat and more to do with the wrinkles and folds of their face. Without daily care, they can develop skin conditions and diseases.
- Bulldogs are hard to train – in fact, they’re one of the least trainable breeds available. It’s not because they’re dumb, it’s just because they’re thinkers and don’t automatically respond to commands. They can be just plain stubborn.
- They are tenacious – if not well trained and socialized, a bulldog that decides to bite or be aggressive is formidable. They have incredibly strong jaws. Ensuring that your bulldog is trained in a way that brings out his or her natural sweetness is important.
Overall, Bulldogs can make great pets for the right pet parent!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Diet and Nutrition
Bulldogs love to eat. Their love of food can cause some to eat more than they should and put on too much weight, which adds stress to their joints. Work with your veterinarian to determine how much your Bulldog should be eating daily, and feed measured meals at scheduled times. Leaving food out all the time (free feeding) or eyeballing the amounts instead of using a measuring cup can pack on the pounds.
Many Bulldogs also exhibit extreme possessiveness of their food. Called resource guarding, this is a serious issue that can become dangerous if not controlled. Talk to your veterinarian or professional dog trainer about ways to prevent or reduce resource guarding in your Bulldog. Additionally, always feed your Bulldog alone. Don’t allow other pets or people—especially children—to approach your Bulldog while eating.
General Health Information for your Bulldog
Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your Bulldog is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If we don’t prevent or treat dental disease, your buddy will lose her teeth and be in danger of damaging her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. In fact, your Bulldog’s life span may be cut short by one to three years! We’ll clean your dog’s teeth regularly and let you know what you can do at home to keep those pearly whites clean.
Bulldogs are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, her age, and other factors.
Obesity can be a significant health problem in Bulldogs. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease. Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when she looks at you with those soulful eyes, you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie treats. Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk. She’ll feel better, and so will you!
All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your English Bulldog's body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest her skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your canine friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so it’s important that we test for them on a regular basis. We’ll also recommend preventive medication as necessary to keep her healthy.
Spay or Neuter
One of the best things you can do for your Bulldog is to have her spayed (neutered for males). In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Performing this surgery also gives us a chance, while your pet is under anesthesia, to identify and address some of the diseases your dog is likely to develop. For example, if your pet needs hip X-rays or a puppy tooth extracted, this would be a good time. This is convenient for you and easy for your friend. Routine blood testing prior to surgery also helps us to identify and take precautions for common problems that increase anesthetic or surgical risk. Don’t worry we’ll discuss the specific problems we will be looking for when the time arrives.
The English Bulldog at a Glance
To help answer the question “are English Bulldogs good pets,” let’s look at some basic information about this breed.
English Bulldogs are medium-sized dogs, if only because of their height — only 14 to 15 inches tall — but can weigh up to 50 pounds.
This makes them relatively hefty considering their short stature. And they are.
Bulldogs come in a variety of colors and markings and have a very distinct appearance. Their smushed faces are similar to a pug’s face, plus some wrinkles around the muzzle.
English Bulldogs commonly have undershot jaws, meaning their bottom teeth protrude over the upper teeth due to a longer lower jaw.
Some people find these traits cute, but they are a result of decades of questionable breeding practices that, unfortunately, led to a number of common health issues with this breed. Plus, these health traits mean the English Bulldog becomes one of the most expensive dog breeds out there.
We will talk more in-depth about these health problems later in the article.
There certainly is no mistaking the look and rolling gait of the English Bulldog who can trace his roots to 13 th century England. This dog was used for “bullbaiting” during the reign of King John who considered it a sport to stake a bull in a field and having it fight a pack of dogs—hence the name bull dog. (This barbaric and grisly pastime was outlawed in 1835 when England banned blood sports.)
When bull baiting was outlawed, Bulldogs faced extinction until admirers of the breed began the process of taking this dog from fighter to family companion. If it weren’t for Bulldog enthusiasts who worked to transform the breed from fighter to family pet they would almost certainly have perished. They bred out the dog’s fighting instinct and they eventually became sweet family companions. Later, the English Bulldog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886.
A national symbol of England, the Bulldog and was likened to the jowly, tenacious Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In America, the breed is a mascot for many sports teams. Handsome Dan, the Yale University Bulldog mascot was considered the first sports animal mascot. The Bulldog is also the face of the US Marine Corps and the Mack Truck Company.