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English Bulldog

Renowned for its broad stance, muscular build, and distinctive short, wrinkled face with an underbite, the English Bulldog has a rich history dating back to the 13th century when they were selectively bred for the now-outlawed practice of bull-baiting.

Characterized by its short-haired coat and medium-sized frame weighing between 40 to 50 pounds, the English Bulldog boasts a robust, low stature, prominent wide shoulders, and a substantial, short-muzzled head adorned with an underbite. Its countenance is marked by drooping lips and numerous folds and wrinkles of loose skin around the face and neck region. Additionally, it features a stubby tail, completing its iconic appearance.

Caring for an English Bulldog

The English Bulldog is generally known for its friendly yet stubborn nature, often making it a wonderful addition to any family. However, being a brachycephalic breed, meaning short-nosed, English Bulldogs may struggle in hot climates, requiring owners to be vigilant during warmer seasons or if residing in warmer regions.

Due to their short snouts, English Bulldogs tend to be quite vocal, with plenty of panting, snorting, and snoring. Owners should be prepared for these noises. Additionally, their wrinkled skin demands regular upkeep to prevent potential skin infections.

The distinctive physical characteristics of the English Bulldog predispose it to various health issues. The shortened face, sensitivity to temperature fluctuations, excessive skin folds, and the higher position of their hips (compared to the shoulder line) can lead to medical complications. Some of these conditions might necessitate ongoing treatment or surgical interventions, potentially resulting in significant expenses.

Considering the potential medical costs, pet insurance emerges as a prudent choice for any prospective English Bulldog owner.

English Bulldog Health Issues

The English Bulldog’s distinctive traits have contributed to its widespread recognition and popularity as a breed. However, these features also bring with them certain health concerns and potential risks.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

Among dog breeds, the English Bulldog ranks high for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). This condition stems from a blend of anatomical irregularities such as narrowed nostrils, elongated soft palate in the upper mouth, larynx swelling, and compressed or distorted nasal passages. The amalgamation of these abnormalities results in breathing difficulties and inadequate oxygen intake.

Given the inherently brachycephalic features of the English Bulldog, they are predisposed to, or already exhibit, some or all of the anatomical issues associated with BOAS. Their brachycephalic nature also renders them sensitive to temperature extremes, making them especially susceptible to overheating. Additionally, the characteristic snorting and snoring sounds stem from their brachycephalic facial structure.

Skin Fold Pyoderma and Allergies

The numerous skin folds across the face and neck area pose a risk of skin problems for the English Bulldog. Moisture can become trapped in their wrinkles whenever they get wet, providing an ideal environment for bacterial and yeast growth—known as skin fold pyoderma.

To mitigate skin fold pyoderma, it’s essential to regularly clean and thoroughly dry the skin folds to prevent bacterial and yeast proliferation and moisture entrapment. English Bulldogs are also prone to allergies, which can exacerbate skin infections and pyoderma. Environmental and seasonal allergies, food allergies (commonly chicken and beef), as well as flea and insect allergies, can all contribute to skin issues. Depending on the allergy type, special diets, medications, or medicated wipes may be necessary for management.

Hip Dysplasia

The English Bulldog faces a high risk of developing hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint functions improperly, causing discomfort. Due to the English Bulldog’s elevated hip joints above shoulder height, the abnormal positioning can lead to the femur’s awkward fitting in the pelvis at the hip joint. This instability can result in arthritis and potential bone fractures over time.

PennHIP screening is available to assess the likelihood of hip dysplasia development. Treatment options include medications, joint supplements, and surgical intervention for long-term management. Weight management is crucial, as excess weight worsens discomfort and exacerbates the issue.


Entropion, the inward rolling-in of the eyelids (usually the lower eyelids), can affect the English Bulldog. This condition causes the outer eyelid hair to contact the eyeball surface (cornea), leading to irritation, redness, pain, swelling, and discharge.

While products like artificial tears and pain medication can alleviate symptoms, surgical correction may offer permanent relief.


English Bulldogs are prone to obesity, which can aggravate existing health issues. Pet owners must regulate food type and quantity to prevent unnecessary weight gain. Given their sensitivity to extreme temperatures and susceptibility to breathing difficulties, managing weight through dietary control is paramount as exercise can be challenging.

What to Feed an English Bulldog

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for English Bulldogs due to their short, robust build. For English Bulldogs under a year old, it’s recommended to provide them with high-quality puppy food endorsed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Older English Bulldogs, aged 7 years and above, should be offered high-quality senior dog food also approved by AAFCO.

Some dog foods designed specifically for English Bulldogs are available in the market. These breed-specific diets feature dry kibble shapes tailored for easier consumption and incorporate ingredients aimed at promoting gastrointestinal, joint, and skin health.

English Bulldogs tend to be quite food-driven, so it’s important to avoid overfeeding or excessive treat-giving throughout the day.

How to Feed an English Bulldog

Similar to many dog breeds, it’s advisable to feed an adult English Bulldog twice a day—once in the morning and again in the evening.

Certain English Bulldogs may benefit from using a specialized feeding bowl to prevent rapid eating, which can lead to food regurgitation or aspiration pneumonia. “Slow feeder” bowls feature unique designs that require dogs to exert more effort to access their kibble. Additionally, puzzle toys can engage your dog mentally and physically, encouraging them to interact with the feeder to access their food.

How Much to Feed an English Bulldog

The quantity of dog food provided should generally align with the ideal weight range of an adult English Bulldog, which typically falls between 40 to 50 pounds. Your veterinarian can assist you in determining the suitable daily food portion for your English Bulldog.

For English Bulldog puppies, the amount of puppy food given should correspond to their current weight as puppies.

Nutritional Tips for the English Bulldog

Several supplements are beneficial for maintaining the general health of the English Bulldog. Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, and glucosamine supplements contribute to healthy skin and joints.

Probiotic supplements support a healthy balance of gastrointestinal bacteria, aiding in reducing flatulence and enhancing digestion. Consult your veterinarian to determine which supplements are most suitable for your English Bulldog.

Behavior and Training Tips for the English Bulldog

English Bulldog Personality and Temperament

The English Bulldog is known for its friendly, loyal, and somewhat stubborn nature. They are great with children and other pets and enjoy being noticed without being aggressive. Their stubbornness may sometimes manifest as laziness, but they do benefit from moderate daily exercise.

English Bulldog Behavior

While generally calm, English Bulldogs can show curiosity in new situations and exhibit protective behaviors toward their family. They are not shy about seeking attention from their pet parents or others.

English Bulldog Training

Early training and socialization are crucial for English Bulldogs, as with most dogs. Their loyalty makes them responsive to training, particularly when rewarded with toys or food.

Basic commands should be taught early to prevent stubbornness from becoming an issue.

Fun Activities for the English Bulldog

  • Engaging in brisk walks
  • Playing tug-of-war
  • Enjoying a swim, ideally in a shallow pool
  • Cuddling sessions

English Bulldog Grooming Guide

English Bulldogs have short, smooth coats that shed moderately and come in various colors like red, white, fawn, fallow, piebald, or brindle. Their wrinkles require regular cleaning to maintain skin health.

Skin Care

Clean the skin wrinkles and folds daily with a soft, dry cloth to remove debris and moisture. Thoroughly dry the wrinkles to prevent bacterial growth.

Coat Care

Brush the coat twice a week to minimize shedding.

Bathe the English Bulldog once a week to every other week, paying close attention to the skin wrinkles. Ensure the wrinkles are thoroughly dried after bathing to prevent infections.

Eye Care

Regularly clean around the eyes to prevent discharge using pet-safe wipes. Thoroughly dry the area after cleaning.

Ear Care

Clean the ears with a dog-specific ear cleaner after baths or water exposure.

Considerations for Pet Parents

English Bulldog owners should be mindful of potential health issues such as brachycephalic syndrome, sensitivity to extreme temperatures, skin fold pyoderma, allergies, hip dysplasia, and entropion. These conditions may require ongoing medical care, including surgical intervention. Considering pet insurance for English Bulldogs can help manage potential medical expenses.

English Bulldog FAQs

Is the English Bulldog a suitable family dog?

Yes, indeed! Most English Bulldogs make wonderful family pets, especially when it comes to interacting with children and other animals. However, some English Bulldogs, particularly those with challenging developmental backgrounds, might exhibit fearful or aggressive behaviors that are not typical of the breed.

Are English Bulldogs intelligent dogs?

Absolutely. Despite their laid-back and occasionally stubborn demeanor, English Bulldogs are quite adept at training and demonstrate unwavering loyalty to their owners.

What are the downsides of owning an English Bulldog?

One of the most significant challenges of welcoming an English Bulldog into your home is managing their health issues. Investing in pet insurance for your English Bulldog immediately after adoption can help alleviate a substantial amount of emotional and financial strain.

Additionally, some owners may find the breed’s tendency to pant, snort, snore, and drool excessively to be a downside.

Is the English Bulldog prone to aggression?

Although historically bred for bull-baiting, modern English Bulldogs have largely shed their aggressive tendencies over time. Today, they are recognized for their friendly and gentle disposition.

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