English Bulldog Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
English Bulldog Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The AKC Standard says the disposition of the English Bulldog should be "equable and kind, resolute and courageous...demeanor should be pacific and dignified."
Despite his gloomy mug, the English Bulldog is one of the most amiable of all breeds.
Bulldog puppies are frisky, but adults are quiet and rather phlegmatic, spending much of the day snoring on the sofa. They do need some exercise to stay fit, preferably walks in cool weather.
Some English Bulldogs are friendly with strangers, while others are politely reserved.
Though not a barking watchdog, his blocky build and odd, rolling, shuffling gait give intruders pause. It takes a tremendous amount of serious teasing or threatening to provoke this sweet-natured breed, but once aroused, he can be a force to reckon with.
His tenacity and resolve mean that it's difficult to change his mind once he decides to do something.
Usually peaceful with other pets, some male Bulldogs may engage in a battle of wills (or jaws) with other males.
Though stubborn, the English Bulldog is surprisingly sensitive, remembers what he learns, and responds well to patient, persistent training that utilizes food motivation. Jerking this breed around accomplishes absolutely nothing.
If you want a dog who...
- Is moderately-sized -- built low to the ground but very heavy
- Has a short easy-care coat that comes in many colors
- Is easygoing and dependable with most of the world
- Doesn't need much exercise and spends much of the day snoring on the sofa
- Seldom barks
An English Bulldog may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Tenacious stubbornness if he decides he really, really doesn't want to do something
- Serious food possessiveness -- Bulldogs should not be fed around small children or other pets
- Snorting, snuffling, wheezing, grunting, loud snoring
- Slobbering and drooling
- Gassiness (flatulence)
- A multitude of health problems, a short lifespan, and sky-high vet bills
- High cost ($1000 and up)
An English Bulldog may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the English Bulldog
If I was considering an English Bulldog, I would be most concerned about...
- Stubbornness. Despite their sweetness, English Bulldogs are not Golden Retrievers. They are not pushovers to raise and train. Most Bulldogs are extremely stubborn. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. (Food rewards help a great deal!)
To teach your Bulldog to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Bulldog Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Occasional animal aggression. Some male Bulldogs may act aggressively toward other male dogs. Some Bulldogs do not get along with cats. Never feed an English Bulldog in the presence of other animals.
- Shedding. Bulldogs shed more than you might think. Their short, coarse hairs come off on your hands when you pet them, and stick tenaciously to your carpeting, upholstery, and clothing.
- Bulldog sounds. Though they seldom bark, English Bulldogs are far from silent. Because of the short face, they snort, snuffle, wheeze, grunt, and snore loudly. The sounds are endearing to some people; nerve-wracking to others.
- Slobbering. Most people are not prepared for how much English Bulldogs slobber and drool, especially after eating or drinking. When they shake their heads, you will literally be toweling saliva and slime off your clothes, furniture, and walls.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Bulldogs who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Bulldog Health Page for more information.
- High cost. English Bulldog breeders charge $1000 to $1500. They explain that this is to cover their costs of artificial insemination (because most English Bulldogs can't mate without assistance) and C-sections (because the puppies' heads are too large to be born normally). But that's just the beginning of your money outlay, because typically you'll be spending a great deal of money on veterinary care for this breed.
- Serious health problems. Make no mistake about it, English Bulldogs are grossly deformed. It's been said that if you feel like supporting your vet with great chunks of money, get an English Bulldog. They suffer from hip problems, heart problems, and skin problems. Their compromised respiratory system makes it very risky to anesthetize them.
Many Bulldogs can't even walk normally, or run without gasping for breath. Many of them struggle to breathe in hot or humid weather. In the summer they should be kept in air-conditioning and supervised during outside activity so they don't over-exert themselves and become overheated.
To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Bulldog Health Page. In addition, search hard for a breeder who produces Bulldogs with more natural-looking faces that can breathe, rather than the ridiculous squashed faces that win ribbons in the show ring.
To learn more about training English Bulldogs to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your English Bulldog the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy English Bulldog puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the English Bulldog might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your English Bulldog home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT English Bulldog...
When you're acquiring an English Bulldog PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult English Bulldogs who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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