Breed Group: Non-Sporting
Temperament and Behavior
The bulldog personifies courage and determination. Bulldogs make up for their anti-social attitude toward other dogs, especially those of the same sex, with his love for family and outstanding ability with children. He is highly accepting of other, non-dog family pets and is at least cordial with strangers, with most being quite friendly. Only slightly more active outside than in, he is a real couch potato who is rarely awake for much more than four hours a day. But he is always ready for a short play session as long as temperatures are moderate and it does not involve running. With this low activity level and a reluctance to bark, it is understandable they make poor watchdogs. But with their bulk, large heads, and jowly jaws, they can be intimidating to a potential intruder who does not know him, resulting in an above average guardian. Bulldogs can be food aggressive and should be fed by themselves. Snorting, sobering, grunting and flatulence all go hand-in-hand with short-faced dogs.
Physical CharacteristicsWith the most recognizable mug in all of dogdom, the Bulldog is a short, squat dog that when viewed from above should resemble a pear. Standing about 14 inches at the shoulder, a mature male should weigh around 50 pounds with a mature female weighing about 10 pounds less. The coat should be short and flat with a glossy shine and no hint of feathering or a curl. The acceptable coat colors are, in order of preference, red brindle, any other brindle, solid white, solid red, fawn or fallow, piebald or inferior qualities of any of the aforementioned. Solid black is considered an undesirable color. Their short coat benefits from a quick weekly brushing to remove dead hair. They are average shedders. Bulldogs struggle to regulate their body temperatures. This results in a dog that is suited to neither hot nor cold temperatures. Requiring protection from both heat and cold, they are at great risk in hot humid conditions. If the outside temperature is higher than 80 degrees or the humidity is high, limit the time a Bulldog spends outside.
Trainer's NotesEasy to socialize but not easy to train, Bulldogs see no reason to repeat something they have already done and they can not be forced to anything they do not want to do. Training sessions must be kept very short. Boring them almost assures great difficulty in getting their attention for the next training session. The best motivation consists of lots of praise and a pocket full of treats. Bulldogs make a great choice for a first-time dog owner.
HealthBulldogs have some serious health issues. Almost 3 in 4 dogs have Hip Dysplasia with another almost 4 in 10 suffering from Elbow Dysplasia. They suffer from the multiple conditions that are called Brachycephalic Syndrome. Infections in the dog’s wrinkles can be kept to a minimum by weekly washing with a washcloth and mild soap or dog shampoo. If irritation persists, a dusting of medicated powdered or an antiseptic cream may help. The average lifespan of a Bulldog is eight to ten years.
PopularityWith more than 20,000 dogs registered each year with the American Kennel Club, the Bulldog ranks as the 13th most popular breed. Many females require artificial insemination to become pregnant and because of the Bulldog’s large head, a cesarean section for delivery. Combined with small litters and high mortality, this results in prices for puppies typically in excess of $2,000.
Breed HistoryAlthough the earliest known literary reference to a bulldog occurred in 1609, his history as a bull baiter, which started in 13th century England, suggests a longer history. The first Bulldogs were likely used to control unruly oxen as well as for hunting, guard duty and baiting, a popular sport where a bear, a lion, a bull or some other large creature would be restrained and the dogs would be released to attack the animal. Bets were made on how long the restrained animal would live and/or if the dogs would be able to kill it or be killed themselves. The sport was outlawed in the 1830s. The first Bulldog club was organized in England in 1865 and the first American Club, modeled after the English, was established in 1886.
Additional InformationFamous owners of Bulldogs include Winston Churchill, George Armstrong Custer, Tennessee Williams, Vincent Price, Ice-T, and Anna Pavlova. The US Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding were also bulldog owners. The National (US) Breed Club is The Bulldog Club of America.