- Breed group — Non-sporting group
- Height — 14-15 inches
- Weight — 40-50 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Short, smooth, shiny
- Coat color — Brindle, fawn, white, red, brown, fallow, blue, merle or seal, though not all colors are recognized by the American Kennel Club. Bulldogs can be solid-colored, bi-colored, or tri-colored with unique markings. English bulldog puppies have a more vibrant color that fades with age.
- Exercise needs — Moderate
- Intelligence — Medium
- Barking — Barking is seldom, but English bulldogs make plenty of noise by snoring and grunting.
- Life span — 8-10 years
- Temperament — Friendly, mellow, gentle, affectionate
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — England
English bulldog fun facts
- The original Old English bulldog was vicious in nature. After the “game” of bull baiting was outlawed in the 1800s, breeders changed the dog and eventually produced the loving couch potato we know today.
- At least 15 U.S. colleges and universities have a bulldog mascot. This makes the bulldog the most famous mascot in the United States.
- 80% of bulldog moms give birth by c-section. This is because an English bulldog’s head is so large, it’s difficult for bulldog moms to deliver naturally.
English bulldog temperament and characteristics
There are many types of bulldogs, all with similar personalities. The English bulldog is easily the most recognizable breed of bulldog, with its stocky stature, folds of fur, protruding teeth, and squishy face. The American bulldog is a bit taller, while the French bulldog is more compact. All bulldog breeds are loving, family-oriented dogs.
English bulldogs, sometimes known as British bulldogs, are obsessed with their people. They particularly adore kids and most are gentle enough even for a baby. Despite being built like a tank, English bulldogs may try to curl up in your lap. Although mellow, bulldogs are courageous and make excellent guard dogs. If the family bulldog senses any threat from a stranger, they’ll call on their ancestral instincts and won’t hesitate to defend the family.
For that reason, it’s important to socialize and train English bulldog puppies early, so they don’t view a visit from the neighbor as a cause for alarm. English bulldogs can coexist with other animals in the home, particularly if they are of the opposite sex. Bulldogs can be territorial, which can cause a scuffle between pets in the same house, but generally speaking, they can be trained to play nicely with others.
Common English bulldog health problems
English bulldogs are one of the most popular breeds in America, but they have their fair share of health problems and a shorter life span than most. It’s suggested that decades of breeding have physically altered the bulldog so much that their unique build now causes several conditions and genetic dispositions that pet parents should be aware of.
- Brachycephalic syndrome. Also known as “short-headed syndrome,” this condition is the number one cause of health problems and even death in English bulldogs. Breeding practices that produce a very short face obstructed the upper airway to some degree. Snoring, labored or mouth breathing, and exercise intolerance are all signs of the condition and can sometimes be alleviated with surgery. Short-headed dogs shouldn’t be over exercised or exposed to extreme heat.
- Hip dysplasia. Thick bodies, broad shoulders, and narrow hips are the perfect storm for hip dysplasia, and this breed’s chronic skeletal disorder makes them particularly susceptible. Normal hips at birth can develop abnormally, resulting in dysplasia which can affect mobility. Like other breeds, it can also develop from poor nutrition. Your veterinarian should be able to identify hip problems as early as five months old.
- Allergies. Both skin and food allergies are familiar to bulldogs. All those fuzzy flaps of skin can trap moisture, leading to infection. Additionally, English bulldogs have a high occurrence of food allergies, particularly to protein sources like beef, chicken, or pork. You can keep your bulldog healthier and more comfortable by regularly cleaning all their folds and monitoring any signs of food intolerance like vomiting.
- Heart failure. Pulmonic stenosis is a genetic heart defect commonly found in English bulldogs. Heart disease and abnormalities will affect your bulldog’s breathing, ability to exercise, energy level, and appetite, among other things. There is no cure for progressive heart disease, but you can manage symptoms for a time. Regular veterinary checkups are important to recognize any heart murmurs or signs of underlying issues.
Cost of caring for English bulldog
English bulldogs are among the most expensive dogs you can own, due to the plethora of health problems they experience. Apart from the common health conditions listed above, the sour-faced breed often experiences head shakes, cherry eye, spinal abnormalities, hypothyroidism, teeth problems, and more. Some bulldog owners equate the cost of caring for an English bulldog to the cost of caring for a child! While the initial cost of an English bulldog puppy can range from $1,500 to $4,000, prospective pet parents should factor in plenty of veterinary visits for their bulldog. Pet health insurance can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket expense for pet parents and should be among the first orders of business for an English bulldog adoption. Bulldog parents may also consider a pet savings account.
History of the English bulldog
Centuries ago, Old English bulldogs were bred for bull baiting, an inhumane recreational practice in which bulls were tied to a stake and bulldogs were encouraged to attack. The original bulldogs were ferocious and bred for the sole purpose of this “game.” After the practice was banned, bulldogs almost became extinct. However, enough people wanted to keep them around and began breeding them differently, working to eliminate the vicious characteristic that once defined them.
The Old English bulldog was bred to preserve the pleasing aesthetic without the ferocity. Many years of breeding produced the English bulldog we recognize today. Unfortunately, the alterations to the bulldog came at the expense of its health.
Caring for your English bulldog
English bulldogs require a lot of time, money, and attention, but the payoff is often worth it. While caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming, pet parents should know the upfront investment of an English bulldog adoption. After bringing your pup home, you’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. Our guides can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. We’d all hate to think of losing our fur-baby, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag, making it incredibly easy for people to find your lost pet and tell them they are safe. Training, early socialization, and frequent cleaning will also be essential in caring for your English bulldog. Here are some other basics specific to an English bulldog.
Due to their mellow disposition, an English bulldog doesn’t ask for much as far as space. A single person living in an apartment is equally well suited for an English bulldog as a large family living on a farm. That’s because English bulldogs only require moderate exercise, and rigorous exercise should be avoided. Rather than a long run or zoomies in the fenced-in area, English bulldogs will do better with short, brisk walks. Be mindful of your English bulldog’s respiratory constraints in hotter temperatures, and avoid exercising your dog in extreme heat. English bulldogs shouldn’t be outside much when it’s overly hot because of their genetic disposition to overheat quickly. One thing your bulldog will require is a lot of attention and affection. Your bulldog will be the first to suggest foregoing a walk around the block for snuggles on the couch. Still, ensure your bulldog has reasonable exercise and talk with your vet about how much is too much.
Your English bulldog’s short, glossy coat should be brushed weekly with a soft rubber brush to shed dead hair. Your pup is likely to enjoy his brushing and wouldn’t mind if you bump it up to a couple of times a week just to get your undivided attention. The most important aspect of grooming an English bulldog is to keep its many rolls and wrinkles clean. Food and dirt can get stuck in the folds and cause irritation or infection. Make sure to wipe the folds around the eyes with warm water. You can also use a cotton ball with a dab of doggie face wash to clean the flaps of the face and body. To help dry, you can apply a small amount of cornstarch but always avoid the sensitive eye area. Bulldogs can be bathed with a gentle wash for sensitive skin every couple of months. Make sure to get inside those ears, too!
Diet and nutrition
English bulldogs commonly have an allergy to chicken, although it doesn’t affect all bulldogs. English bulldogs tend to do well with fish or lamb-based food. The general recommendation is to feed your adult bulldog 3-4 cups of high-quality food daily, split into two different feeding times. English bulldog puppies need to eat more, and the amount your adult bulldog requires will vary by size. Refer to your veterinarian for food portioning. Bulldogs tend to overeat if not monitored, and obesity can significantly exacerbate health problems like breathing conditions or hip dysplasia. Make sure your pup is getting quality food in the appropriate amount, and be sure to factor in treats when planning a balanced diet. English bulldogs also eat quickly, and their facial structure can lead to increased gas. Pup parents may consider puzzle bowls or slow feeders.
Training your English bulldog
Despite their sweet temperament and irresistible snoot, English bulldogs are pretty challenging to train. Their personalities are quite stubborn, and their natural bent is to do what they want, not necessarily what you want. The bulldog’s saving grace is their pure love for their families, so persistence, gentleness, and positive reinforcement will eventually pay off when it comes to training. Early socialization will help English bulldog owners with training, as it’s easy to let your pup learn the law of the land. Even though you’ll be tempted to lavish your English bulldog with whatever they want, be sure to make it clear that you are in charge from a young age. Lovingly establishing your leadership will help the long-term success of training your English bulldog.
Breeds similar to the English bulldog
Not quite sure an English bulldog is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- American bulldog. The American bulldog shares many characteristics with the English bulldog but has some key areas of difference. The American bulldog is taller, lives longer, requires much more exercise, and can be aggressive, particularly toward strangers.
- Boxer. Boxers and bulldogs share a short muzzle, similar color combinations, and muscular builds. Boxers are great family dogs but require much higher energy and more activity.
- French bulldog. English and French bulldogs are loving companions, but Frenchies are more playful, while English bulldogs prefer nice naps. French bulldogs are much more compact and are easily recognizable by their big bat ears.
Frequently asked questions
Do English bulldogs shed a lot?
English bulldogs aren’t big shedders. They shed their short, glossy coat less than other breeds.
Are English bulldogs hard to take care of?
They can be more difficult to care for because of their health conditions. Regular wrinkle cleaning and teeth brushing are required more so than other breeds, as well as a lot more vet visits and a shorter lifespan.
Is getting an English bulldog worth it?
Ask any English bulldog owner, and they’ll say “yes!” Despite so many health challenges, English bulldogs are among America’s top five most popular dogs because of their personalities and irresistible grumpy faces.
Can English bulldogs be left alone during the day?
Yes, English bulldogs can be left alone for up to eight hours and will likely snore until you return.
Are English bulldogs smelly?
Yep! English bulldogs have their fair share of gastrointestinal issues. Not only that, but their many folds and flaps can trap dirt and odors, making them quite stinky at times. Pet parents can cut down on the odor with regular cleaning and grooming.