Bulldog Standing in Grass

Getting to Know Your Bulldog

We have to admit that bulldogs get a bad rap but the truth is, they couldn’t be a more gentle and loving breed. Read this guide to learn more about this misunderstood breed and decide whether or not it is the right dog for your home.

Physical Characteristics

The bulldog is a medium dog weighing in at a max of about 40 or 50 pounds. They will grow to be around 1 foot tall at the shoulders. Their coat is short, fine and smooth and his skin is loose and soft, particularly around the neck and shoulders.

Bulldog on all 4

Their fur can come in a wide variety of colors including red, white, gold/tan, cream, yellow, or patched with two or more colors.

Personality and Temperament

Bulldogs were originally bred to perform in a bloody and violent sport called bullbaiting. The sport involved the dog biting down onto a bull’s nose and shaking it roughly. It was done to tenderize the bull meat.

However, the practice has been banned for nearly 200 years now and since then the bulldog has become much smaller and lighter than its bullbaiting ancestors. Considering their large, muscular build that might sound surprising but it is true.

After it was outlawed, breeders began breeding out aggressive tendencies and instead breeding for a sweet, affectionate companion dog. In the end, he retained his fighter appearance but replaced his temperament with that of a gentle, patient friend.

Bulldog Sleeping

The biggest downside of a bulldog today is that they do tend to learn a bit slower than other breeds so it’s important to start training early and be as consistent as possible (but still expect all training to take longer with a bulldog than you would need for other breeds).

Common Health Issues

Unfortunately one of the greatest drawbacks of the bulldog is that it is prone to quite a few health problems. Here are some of the main ones that might afflict your bulldog:

  • Cherry Eye: this is not a deadly condition but it does sometimes require surgery. The gland under your dog’s eyelid will protrude outward. It looks somewhat like a cherry (hence the name). If you notice this, take your dog to the vet and they can remove the gland.
  • Dry Eyes: if you notice a bluish haze in the dog’s eye, this may be a sign of dry eye. This means your dog’s eyes do not produce enough tears on their own to keep the eyes sufficiently moist. Your vet can test to see if this is the case. If it is, you can manage it by using eye drops to keep your dog’s eyes moist.
  • Entropion: continuing with the eye problems (something bulldogs deal with a lot), entropion is a condition where the eyelashes turn inward instead of outward. As a result, they scratch against the eye which can be irritating and painful. Your vet may need to do surgery to fix this.
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome: this condition causes difficulty breathing. It happens often in dogs with short heads or narrow nostrils. You can recognize it by signs of labored breathing, frequent snorting, or snuffles. Treatment will depend on how severe the condition is. If severe enough, the vet may perform surgery to widen the nostrils. If less severe, they may just instruct you to give your dog oxygen therapy.

Cute Bulldog Puppy Eyes

Basic Care Instructions

Here are some basic guidelines for providing the proper care for your bulldog:

  1. Feed your bulldog anywhere from 0.5 to 2 cups of dry food per day. The wide range is because it will really depend on how active your particular bulldog is. Divide this into at least 2 meals per day.
  2. Bulldogs do not require and, in most cases, do not want a lot of exercise. They are content to relax for most of the day. But for his own good (and to prevent obesity), you should make sure he is getting at least 15 minutes per day and 30 minutes certainly wouldn’t do him any harm.
  3. Keep a close eye on their weight. Their size can be deceiving. You will be tempted to feed them more than they really need because they just look like they need more.
  4. Keep them indoors. Bulldogs do not tolerate heat or cold very well so they should be kept as primarily indoor dogs. Their low energy levels make them suited to this environment anyway.
  5. Grooming needs are not too crazy but you should wipe his face with a damp cloth daily to clean inside the folds. Make sure to pat dry after cleaning.
  6. Bulldogs don’t shed any more than usual but a nice brushing once per week can keep his coat extra soft and smooth (and help minimize shedding in the process).

For training, always expect it to take a little longer than the time that is usually stated as average. For example, most breeds can usually be potty trained fully by 4 to 6 months. A bulldog might take until 7 months (or even a full year).

Bulldog on a Leash

While training, we recommend sticking to predominantly positive reinforcement. These are gentle and affectionate dogs that will respond better to reward than punishment. However, mild punishments can be used for stopping behaviors as long as you do it appropriately. But focus on consistent, positive training methods.

Final Word

Don’t let their violent reputations fool you. Bulldogs are some of the sweetest and most loving dogs out there. They are a great indoor pet since they are pretty low energy (and they don’t handle heat or cold well so they should be kept indoors). While they may be prone to quite a few health problems, we think the love and joy they will bring to your life is worth taking the risk.

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