The Bulldog is a rolling family dog that everyone loves and is suitable for many types of homes because it is so good-natured. But because of his flat face and heavy build, he is very sensitive to heat and always has to live indoors.
Laughter, love, and a face that everyone loves add to the Bulldog’s continued popularity. He’s a friendly companion today, but he was originally bred to fight bulls for sports – a past that, combined with his tough dedication, has made the breed the mascot of a number of colleges and the United States Marine Corps. No breed is admired anymore for the qualities of loyalty and determination that the Bulldog represents.
Characteristics of the Bulldog
Few breeds are as easy to spot as the Bulldog, with its wrinkled mug, distinctive underbite, and Churchillian cheeks. Sometimes referred to as the English Bulldog or British Bulldog, he is a short, sturdy dog with leg legs, weighing between 40 and 60 pounds.
If all you’re talking about is personality and temperament, the Bulldog is almost perfect. He loves children and is very easy to train as a pet. He is an endless source of entertainment, smart and very affectionate. He is also an attention magnet wherever he goes.
The Bulldog may have a perfect mind, but it’s essentially a different story. These dogs are intolerant of warm weather and can die if overheated. Too much exercise or stress can make it difficult for them to breathe. Without exception, Bulldogs should live indoors and need air conditioning, except in the mildest summer weather.
Most Bulldogs are born by C-section. Since breeding is expensive, so are the puppies. Love is an expensive proposition if you own a Bulldog.
In general, the Bulldog is a low maintenance breed. His training needs are manageable for even the most dedicated couch potato, and he’s not inclined to be a picky eater. He has a short coat that doesn’t need special care, but he does have some special needs when it comes to skin care. Last but not least, it is important for him to live in air conditioning, not only to avoid heatstroke, but also because he loves his family and wants to be with them. He is not a dog that can or should live outside.
Temperament and personality
Bulldogs are friendly, easy going, and get along with everyone, including children and other animals. They are not barkers and enjoy spending time with their people.
His love for people, tolerant attitude towards children, amiable temperament and solid bulk make the Bulldog a great companion for families with children. Bulldogs also do well with people on the other end of the age spectrum. Their calming character makes them suitable for anyone who likes a relaxed lifestyle.
He may be mellow, but the Bulldog retains a hint of the tenacity and willfulness that characterized his ancestors. He’s often considered difficult to train, but people who love him say that’s a fallacy. The Bulldog probably won’t be a high point in the obedience ring, but when he learns something, he knows cold. This breed learns best through fun training sessions involving repetition and positive reinforcement – treats and praise.
The Bulldog has a moderate energy level. A 15 minute walk has him ready for a nap. He’s willing to go a few miles if that’s what you want to do, but he’s also good with a short bend up and down the street. Don’t forget to walk it only when it’s cool outside, never in the heat of the day.
If not bred for good health, Bulldogs can be a mess. Their hips and spines can be deformed and they are prone to knee problems and injuries. Their many wrinkles and folds and tightly curled tails mean many skin infections if not kept clean. Cherry eye, inverted eyelids, cataracts and dry eyes are just some of the eye defects that can affect the Bulldog.
Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a common problem in Bulldogs. This developmental condition results in a narrowing of the upper airways, making it difficult for flat-faced dogs, such as the Bulldog, to breathe. Because there is more resistance to the upper respiratory tract, dogs with this syndrome cannot cool down as easily and can warm up faster than other breeds during warm weather or exercise.
Other conditions that can potentially affect Bulldogs include allergies and skin problems, different types of bladder stones, labor problems and cancer. Most of these problems do not have screening tests, but they are known or believed to be genetic. A DNA test for canine hyperuricosuria, a condition that can lead to a certain type of bladder stones, is now available for the Bulldog.
Bulldogs are also at high risk for stomach torsion. The stomach turns on its own, cuts off the blood supply and requires immediate surgery.
The Bulldog’s coat is easy to groom, but its wrinkles need some special care. Here’s what you need to know.
Brush the Bulldog’s short coat three times a week with a rubber curry or soft brush to keep it shiny and healthy. If you brush it well, it shouldn’t require frequent baths. Bulldogs don’t normally shed heavily, but during spring and fall you may see a little more hair coming off when you brush. Continue brushing until the sanding period ends.
Taking care of the wrinkles on the face and nose requires a little more effort. Depending on the individual dog, wrinkles may need to be cleaned a few times a week or every day. Wipe the mess out of the wrinkles with a soft, damp cloth or baby wipe, then dry them thoroughly.
If moisture is left behind, wrinkles become the perfect Petri dish for bacterial growth. Do the same for the notch at the tail and the outer vulval area. If you have any questions about skin or wrinkle problems, please contact your veterinarian who can prescribe a specific grooming regimen.
The Bulldog has been around for at least 500 years in any form. The earliest types were long and ferocious, necessary traits for a dog whose job was to grab a bull by the nose to keep it in place. Bull baiting, as this activity was called, had a real purpose – for example, breeding or spaying bulls – but it also became a popular form of entertainment at a time when there were no cinemas, televisions or video games.
The appearance of the Bulldog remained about the same throughout the early nineteenth century, but that began to change with the banning of dog fights in England (another popular “sport”) and the emergence of dog shows.
People who bred Bulldogs for the exhibit selected dogs with shorter legs and larger heads until they arrived at a dog with a heavy, thick, low-slung body, broad shoulders, and a massive head. They also moderate the dog’s temperament, from difficult to friendly, from aggressive to brave, but never mean. The modern Bulldog has a peaceful and dignified character.
It was only a matter of time before the Bulldog was on its way to the United States. The American Kennel Club first registered a Bulldog in 1886, and the Bulldog Club of America was founded in 1890. One of the successful show dogs of our time, Handsome Dan, was the original Yale mascot and all of his successors carried the same name. The University of Georgia also has a Bulldog mascot. Each name bears the name Uga.