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Bulldog

Bred in 13th Century England, the Bulldogs ancestors were originally bred for a horrendous “sport” known as bullbaiting where dogs would fight against a bull. Bullbaiting gradually fell out of fashion and the modern Bulldog was developed with breeders selecting for smaller dogs with more amiable personalities than their bullfighting ancestors. 

During World War II the breed rose to fame after their looks were compared with those of the Prime Minister at the time, Winston Churchill who had the nickname of, you guessed it, the “British Bulldog”. The Bulldog Club in England was formed in 1878 and the Bulldog Club in America in 1890. 

Today the breed is a popular choice as a sports mascot, due to their muscular build and endearing appearance, but despite still having a fierce appearance, they are gentle and friendly companions.

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Bulldog Facts and characteristics 

Origin

England, 1700’s 

Bred for

Fighting bulls   

Size 

Medium, 31-40cm 

Weight Range

18-23 kgs 

Colours

White, Fawn, Piebald, Brindle & White, Fawn & White, Red, Red & White, Red Brindle

Life expectancy

8-10 years 

Coat

Short and soft, sheds   

Temperament

Loving, headstrong, relaxed

Exercise requirements

Moderate

Best suited for

Families or individuals with time to give them company and attention 

Apartment Friendly

Yes, if given exercise, attention, and entertainment

Grooming

The Bulldog coat is short and soft making it easy to maintain but does shed frequently. A good going over with a grooming glove throughout the week will help remove loose hairs and give you great bonding time with your pup. 

Part of their regular upkeep should also include frequent cleaning in between their skin folds as these build up moisture and dirt and can become infected quite easily. Drying the folds thoroughly once clean helps prevent infection.

Weekly ear cleaning with a dog ear cleaner is also an important part of Bulldog care.

Make sure your pup is on flea and tick control year-round to prevent parasites. 

Personality 

Bulldogs are known for being sociable and sweet natured which makes them a popular choice for households with small children and other pets. They are also quite famously stubborn, and when they dig their heels in about doing something – or not doing something, you’ll know about it! So early and ongoing training is important to help the Bulldog grow into a well-mannered companion.

Socialisation with other dogs, pets and people from a young age will also help the Bulldog become a more well-adjusted adult. Bulldogs can be quite lazy and will gladly lay about the house, but that doesn’t mean they should!

Exercise and play are important but be sure to avoid doing it in the heat of the day as being a brachycephalic breed they are predisposed to overheating and respiratory problems. With adequate exercise, company, and entertainment, they can adjust to apartment living, but they’ll also appreciate a backyard to sniff around in. 

Feeding

With their laidback attitude, Bulldogs can quickly gain weight which puts extra strain on their respiratory system, bones, and joints. So, be sure to choose a premium dog food appropriate to your dog’s life stage and follow the feeding guide to help avoid adding unwanted kilos. 

Ensure your dog has always has fresh, clean water available.

Common health concerns

According to PetSure data from 2013 to 2018, brachycephalic breeds have a higher prevalence for many major health problems including patella luxation, skin conditions, eye conditions, anal gland problems, digestive diseases, and ear infections. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome is caused by changes in the airways which can result in lifelong breathing problems and poses a significant welfare risk to these dogs. 

Read more about brachycephalic dogs.

According to PetSure data from 2020, the five most common reasons for Bulldogs to require a vet visit (excluding for routine visits like vaccinations) were: 

Rank

Condition

Average cost for single treatment

(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment

(highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)

1

Skin Conditions, including allergic skin disease

$199

$2,912

2

Ear infections and aural haematomas

$164

$3,949 

3

Eye conditions, including third eyelid prolapse (cherry eye) and entropion

$490

$5,392

4

Gastrointestinal problems, including canine haemorrhagic gastroenteritis

$331

$3,712

5

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

$986

$8,906 

Most popular Bulldog names: 

  1. Winston
  2. Frankie 
  3. Betty
  4. Luna
  5. Daisy
  6. Boris 
  7. Nala 
  8. Rosie 
  9. Winnie 
  10. Diesel 

Most popular female names:

  1. Frankie
  2. Betty
  3. Luna
  4. Daisy 
  5. Nala 
  6. Rosie 
  7. Winnie
  8. Lola
  9. Bella
  10. Bonnie 

Most popular male names:

  1. Winston 
  2. Boris 
  3. Diesel 
  4. Frank
  5. George 
  6. Bruce
  7. Hugo 
  8. Boss
  9. Bronson
  10. Hank 

Did you know 

Dogs make it into the Guinness World Records for all sorts of things, including the tallest or ugliest dogs but Tillman, an English Bulldog held the record from 2009 to 2013 for the fastest 100-meter…on a skateboard! Apparently, Tillman was also quite the surfer as well. 

Bulldog FAQs

Where can I get a British Bulldog?  

It may be possible to adopt a Bulldog from a breed specific rescue organisation. Check your local animal shelters, rescue groups and humane societies for bulldogs or other medium sized dogs who are looking for loving homes – you may just find your best friend! 

Do Bulldogs bark a lot?

Bulldogs aren’t famous for being big barkers, but like many dogs may bark if someone is at the door, if they are excited, or if they are lonely or upset. Making sure your pup has plenty of dog toys, exercise and company helps to prevent barking out of boredom and loneliness.

Being brachycephalic, they do tend to make various noises associated with breathing like snoring for example. So, if you want a very quiet pup, the Bulldog might not suit you. 

Are Bulldogs easy to toilet train?

Every puppy is unique, and some will pick up toilet training quicker than others. In saying that, Bulldogs are known for being stubborn, so some may be resistant to changing their habits! Start early, be consistent and patient and your Bulldog will get the hang of it. Visit this link for more information on toilet training your puppy

Are Bulldogs indoor or outdoor?

The optimal situation for a Bulldog is access to indoors and outdoors. It’s nice to have a snuffle around in the grass, but during the heat of the day, these pups are best off in the coolest part of the house so that they don’t overheat.

Exercising your Bulldog should take place in the cool parts of the day to avoid putting strain on their respiratory system. 

Can you leave a Bulldogs home alone?

Bulldogs do love company, so long days at home may result in a lonely pup. With exercise, plenty of great chew toys and company, it may be possible to leave your Bulldog at home alone but if you are out all the time, a Bulldog may not be the pup for you – or maybe you need two! 

How much should you exercise a Bulldog?

Always avoid exercising Bulldogs in the hottest part of the day as they can develop breathing problems and overheat very easily due to their facial and respiratory structure.

A brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes a day combined with active play time should be sufficient, but as always, every pup is different so if you notice your pup seems to have surplus energy or is gaining weight, then it might be a sign they need more activity. 

Who is best suited for a Bulldog? 

Bulldogs make an appealing option for families looking for a gentle companion. As they can be a little stubborn, they may be better suited to a household with an experienced dog person who can help with training.

Households with time for exercise and spending time with their pup would be ideal. 

References 

  1. American Kennel Club, British Bulldog, accessed on 23/06/2021. 
  2. Wikipedia, British Bulldog, accessed on 23/06/2021 
  3. Farewell to talented Tillman, former fastest dog on a skateboard record holder, Oct 2015, accessed on 07/07/2021

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Noah
Noah
Bei Bei
Bei Bei
Meeka
Meeka