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Bulldog in grass
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Breed Details

  • Average Height: 12-16 inches
  • Average Weight: 40-55 pounds
  • Coloring: Red, fawn, white, piebald, and brindle
  • Coat Type: Fine, short, and flat
  • Dog Breed Group: Non-Sporting Group
  • Average Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Key Personality Traits:
    Lazy Lazy
    Docile Docile
    Stubborn Stubborn

The sweet and adorable Bulldog, also known as the English Bulldog, is one of the most recognizable dogs. It’s hard to believe that this breed once nearly went extinct. 

But this pudgy, wrinkle-faced dog breed has won over people’s hearts and is among the most popular dogs in the country. Having a Bulldog requires a considerable amount of commitment and money, but those who call these dogs family are rewarded by a calm, lazy, and often comical companion who wants nothing more than to relax by his human. 

Find out historical origins, fun facts, and information needed to properly care for the beloved Bulldog. 

History and Origin

Profile of old Bulldog

The history of the Bulldog breed is controversial. It “probably goes back to at least the 1600s, when it was used for bull baiting and dog fights,” writes Derek Hall in The Ultimate Guide to Dog Breeds (Chartwell Books, 2016). The barbaric practice of bull baiting in England involved the Bulldog holding onto the bull’s nose in its wide jaw and hanging onto it until either the bull is brought to the ground or the dog is killed. 

The purpose of this “sport” was two fold: To provide entertainment for humans and to create higher-quality meat. This practice lasted for nearly 350 years and was abolished in the 19th century, when Bulldogs nearly went extinct. 

However, the ferociousness was bred out of the breed and they became popular in the United States and Germany where they worked to herd cattle and horses. In Germany, they were mixed to create the Boxer. The American Kennel Club recognized the Bulldog in 1886. 

Types of Bulldogs

There are some slight variations in types of Bulldogs including:

  • The English Bulldog
  • The American Bulldog
  • The French Bulldog

The English Bulldog is the face of this iconic breed, and is smaller than the American Bulldog. Still, English Bulldogs have the same boxy characteristics and distinct wrinkles.

The American Bulldog is bigger and better suited for an active family. The American Bulldog originated from the American Southeast where it was used for farm work and protection. They have box-like heads, powerful jaws, and a stocky appearance. They can weigh from 60 to 120 pounds. However, unlike their English counterparts, they are more agile and light on their feet. Today, the American Bulldog is an affectionate and protective pet adored by many.  

For those looking for the physical characteristics of a Bulldog, but want him in a smaller size, the French Bulldog is a good choice. This breed was created in England to be a miniature version of the Bulldog. 

Bulldog Physical Characteristics

Bulldog in autumn woods

The Bulldog is a sturdy dog, and his most distinctive features include a broad head, wrinkled face, pushed-in nose, and an upturned lower jaw. The breed has a small body with a deep and broad chest, stout legs, and a short tail. The front legs are placed far enough apart to make them seem bow-legged, but they aren’t.  

Male Bulldogs weigh upwards of 55 pounds and females cap out at around 50 pounds. They tend to be 12 to 16 inches in height. Their coat is fine and short and comes in the colors of fawn, white, and pied (with spots). They reach adulthood at 12 months.   

Bulldog Temperament

Silly Bulldog with tongue out

Bulldogs are known to be sweet, easy going, and loving. They are not active, and would much rather spend the day snoozing than playing outside. “They enjoy affection and may often want to climb up onto your lap for a cuddle, despite their weight of up to 50 pounds,” says Jamie Richardson, chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary in New York City.  

But as most Bulldog parents would agree, they tend to be a bit stubborn. “Bulldogs make great family pets, as they’re very calm and affectionate, and gentle with children,” Richardson adds. “However, they are known for being stubborn and may get up to mischief, particularly as puppies when they have higher energy levels.”

As for living with other pets, she warns that Bulldogs could show aggression, especially towards dogs of the same sex. She recommends early socialization and training to “instill positive behaviors when interacting with other animals.”   

Bulldog Care Guide

Three Bulldogs walking on leashes

Although Bulldogs tend to be low maintenance when it comes to grooming, they do have a tendency to get obese because of their sedentary lifestyle. Their facial folds also require regular attention as they are prone to infections. 

Pet parents need to pay attention to their Bulldogs and ensure that they are getting the right amount of food and exercise and that their skin is properly taken care of. Here’s an overview of the Bulldog care guide:  

Diet and Nutrition

Bulldogs do not have any specific dietary requirements, but attention must be given to the amount of food and treats given to the dog. “They simply need a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their life stage (puppy/adult/senior) and size,” says Richardson. 

“Bulldogs can often be prone to weight gain, so owners should regularly check their weight and be careful to avoid over-feeding them or providing too many treats,” warns Richardson. 

Exercise and Activity

Bulldogs would sleep all day if it was up to them, but like any other dog, they need the right amount of exercise and activity to lead a healthy lifestyle. 

“While they enjoy their walks, they don’t require a great deal of exercise. A moderate amount is sufficient,” recommends Richardson. 

Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture in New York City says that Bulldogs need to move at least a little to keep them at a healthy weight. “Lack of movement makes Bulldogs prone to obesity which can be very detrimental to overall health and make them prone to many health conditions.”

Bulldogs are short nosed and tend to overheat on walks. “Care should be taken when going on walks and exercising in the warmer months,” says Barrack. These dogs thrive in cooler, less humid climates. 

Grooming and Nail Care

Bulldogs need brushing twice a week with a soft brush as they tend to shed frequently. Trim your dog’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks.  

More importantly, pet parents need to keep a lookout for any signs of irritation and/or infection in their facial folds, which tend to get bacterial and viral infections, especially in the warmer months. 

“Their skin folds can contribute to skin infections as these are warm/moist areas that can become hotbeds for overpopulation of bacteria and yeast, leading to infections,” explains Richardson. Some of the common symptoms include itchiness, red or swollen skin patches, a foul odor, and incessant scratching or licking.  

“Your vet can also prescribe medicated wipes, which can help to keep superficial bacteria and yeast at bay that may otherwise accumulate in these areas,” adds Richardson.  

Bulldog Health Issues

Tired Bulldog lying down

Bulldogs tend to face a number of health issues, mainly due to the fact that they are brachycephalic dogs (flat faced and short nosed). Some of these problems include:

Upper respiratory issues: “This short face and narrow nasal passage makes them prone to many upper respiratory issues commonly referred to as Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Syndrome (BAOS),” says Barrack. “They tend to snore, wheeze, and generally breath loudly.”

Gas: Barrack also explains that the breed’s short nose causes them to gulp air, which makes them more prone to gassiness than other dog breeds. 

Heatstroke: To keep these dogs comfortable, pet parents need to make sure they are not overheated. “Bulldogs do not do well in hot climates. They must be kept inside on hot summer days as they cannot cool themselves effectively and quickly become at risk of heatstroke,” warns Richardson. To combat this, some pet parents may opt to get airway surgery for their Bulldog. 

“Airway surgery can help to counteract some of these breathing difficulties by widening the airways slightly. This type of surgery can often be done at the same time as a spay/neuter,” suggests Richardson. 

Interesting Bulldog Facts

Bulldogs need to be artificially inseminated to get pregnant and they need help with birthing due to the large heads of the babies. Since a natural birth is impossible, a majority of these dogs are delivered via C-section. 

Bulldogs are considered a symbol of strength and courage and are often used as mascots for universities and high schools. The Bulldog is also the mascot of the U.S. Marines. 

Spike and Tyke from Tom and Jerry are two of the most famous American Bulldogs.  

Otto, the famous skateboarding Bulldog, broke the Guinness World Record for traveling through the longest human tunnel on a skateboard in Peru in 2015. He glided effortlessly between the legs of 30 people. 

Popular Bulldog Mixes

Due to the popularity of the Bulldog breed, several Bulldog mixes have originated from crossing Bulldogs with other dog breeds. Here are a few of the more common mixes.

  • Bullypit: This is a cross between the American Bulldog and American Pit Bull. 
  • Beabull: This adorable canine is a cross between the English Bulldog and Beagle.
  • BullPug: A combination of an English Bulldog and a Pug creates this tiny and cute dog. 
  • Valley Bulldog: A cross between the Boxer and English Bulldog breeds. 

Bulldog Adoption Tips and Things to Consider

Adopted Bulldog giving five

Bulldogs aren’t likely to be found in shelters. “Most Bulldogs seem to come to our attention through owner surrenders,” says Brittany Dare, president of the East Coast Bulldog Rescue Inc

The rescue takes dogs from as far west as Arkansas and south as Florida. Bulldogs for adoption can be found in breed-specific rescues throughout the country. “It is extremely important to be cautious of adopting a Bulldog online because people get scammed a lot,” warns Dare. “Never give money to someone to secure a dog.” 

Dare further states that pet parents need to be aware that this special breed needs a lot of time, attention, and money. “This breed has a lot of health issues that need tended to. Being financially secure to take care of them throughout their life is very important.” 

Bulldog Rescues

Bulldog FAQs  

Bulldog puppy outside

Before adding a Bulldog to your pack, it’s essential that you have all of the information on how to live with and care for this breed. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Bulldogs.

How Long Do Bulldogs Live? 

Bulldogs can live up to 10 years.  

Do Bulldogs Shed? 

Yes, Bulldogs do shed their coats. However, their shedding is not as noticeable as dog breeds with longer hair. 

Can Bulldogs Swim? 

They can’t swim without proper training. Even with swimming lessons, Bulldogs are unable to swim due to their stocky bodies. If your Bulldog is near water, make sure to invest in a life vest. 

What Were Bulldogs Bred For? 

They were originally bred for bull baiting, a deadly and viscous sport that dates back to the 1600s. After that practice ended, Bulldogs were used as herding dogs, before transitioning to family pets. 

Are Bulldogs Aggressive? 

Although the original Bulldogs were bred to be aggressive, the modern-day Bulldog isn’t aggressive. With proper training and attention, this breed of dog is gentle and friendly. 

Bulldog Pictures

With their wrinkly faces, stocky bodies, and fun-loving personalities, Bulldogs really know how to ham it up for the camera. That’s why we’ve rounded up a gallery of Bulldog pictures—so you can get a dose of cute and cuddly. Enjoy!