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Honest FAQ for English Bulldogs

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

English Bulldog

Due to the expense of artificial insemination, C-sections, and high puppy mortality rates, Bulldogs are expensive. I can't stress enough that this breed has special needs in hot weather.

What kind of temperament and personality does the English Bulldog have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding English Bulldog temperament and behavior are:

amiable, dependable, easygoing... but can be seriously food-possessive (keep kids and other pets away from his food), spends much of the day snoring on the sofa, often dignified but also has sudden comically frisky moments, usually polite with everyone, obstinate to train but is naturally well-mannered and doesn't misbehave much

I give you my honest opinions about English Bulldog temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, English Bulldog Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

Where did the name English Bulldog come from?

Most breed clubs call this breed simply Bulldog. But he is also referred to as English Bulldog  to distinguish him from other bulldog-type breeds such as the French Bulldog or American Bulldog.

What were English Bulldogs used for?

The kind of English Bulldog you see today would be used for... no type of work. (Except loyal companionship.) Modern Bulldogs have been deformed such that they're lucky to be able to breathe, let alone work.

The Bulldog's ancestors, however, were both powerful and athletic and were used in barbaric competitions called bull baiting.  The bulldogs were placed into a pit with a bull and encouraged to mercilessly tease or "bait" the bull in order to weaken and kill it.

What traits would help Bulldogs accomplish their work? That's right... powerful drives to confront and attack other animals, great strength, endurance, athleticism, courage and tenacity, and high tolerance for pain.

So you can see that some of the ancestral Bulldog traits (strength, bravery, tenacity) are still in the DNA of modern Bulldogs. But the ferocity has been bred out.

How big are English Bulldogs? Height and weight?

About 14-16 inches at the shoulder, and 40-50 pounds, which puts them in the MEDIUM-SIZE category. Even though they're shorter than most medium-sized breeds, their hefty weight qualifies them.

In recent years some breeders (who I would never choose to purchase from) have been breeding smaller Bulldog individuals and calling them Miniature Bulldogs or Toy Bulldogs. These are not purebreds, but crossbreds – an English Bulldog crossed with a Pug. The pups do not breed true, so what you end up with in terms of size and temperament will be a mixed bag.

What colors do English Bulldogs come in?

Lots of colors – both solids and patterns. For example, common colors include fawn, red, white, and brindle.

Do English Bulldogs have a doggy odor?

Well, um, yes. But it doesn't come from their skin or coat. Due to the deformities of their head and digestive tract, Bulldogs are forced to swallow air when they eat and drink... and swallowed air has to go somewhere, after all. So yes, the breed can be smelly.

How much exercise do English Bulldogs need?

Just a few walks in cool, pleasant weather. Bulldogs should never be taken out in hot or humid weather; they can't regulate their own body heat because they can't breathe or pant effectively. So they can quickly succumb to heatstroke.

Same is true of other short-faced breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, etc. But English Bulldogs are the worst.

Do English Bulldogs need a fenced yard?

Yes. All dogs appreciate a yard where they can (safely) stretch their legs and trot around a bit without being restrained by a leash.

Are English Bulldogs easy to train?

English Bulldog puppies and adolescents are always ready to "test" your rules, so a prospective Bulldog owner should be a confident person who can establish a healthy leader-follower relationship with a strong-willed breed.

You need to be consistent and persistent, encouraging and rewarding, and not giving in when they try to "charm" you with comical antics. Stick to whatever rules you've established. Then your Bulldog's behavior should be just fine.

The good news is that adult Bulldogs are generally well-mannered and seldom get into trouble... although they'll still be stubborn at times, and not always quick to obey.

Are English Bulldogs easy to housebreak?

Most are fine, though some are a little slow to pick up the concept. Use a crate or pen and don't give in to the temptation to let him loose in the house too soon.

Are English Bulldogs friendly with people?

Many Bulldogs are outgoing and friendly with everyone. Some are a bit more standoffish (though still polite) with strangers.

Are English Bulldogs good with children?

Most are very patient with children. And yet... I don't recommend the various Bulldog breeds for children younger than about 8 years old. My concern here is resource guarding, which means being possessive of their food and chew toys. You should never allow young children (or other pets) near a Bulldog who is engrossed in his food or bone.

Are English Bulldogs good with other dogs?

Most English Bulldogs are fine with other dogs in their own family.... but I prefer them to be of opposite sexes. Because when two Bulldogs are the same sex, they might one day quibble over whose bed or sofa or chew toy it is. And among Bulldogs, quibbling can quickly turn into a pitched battle of two stubborn "tanks".

Are English Bulldogs good with cats?

Most Bulldogs are fine with cats, but some individuals still have at least a limited prey/chasing drive, so...

How much do English Bulldogs shed?

Bulldogs are above-average (high side of average ) shedders. They shed moderately in the spring and fall, and mildly the rest of the year.

Are English Bulldogs hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

No, not at all.

How much grooming do English Bulldogs need?

Just an occasional quick brush to sweep the dirt, dander, and loose hair off your dog's skin.

However, with an English Bulldog, grooming is more than just brushing! On a daily basis, you need to check all those loose folds of skin all over his head and body, thoroughly clean them, and thoroughly dry them. Parasites, bacteria, and fungi love to hide in dark dirty wrinkles. The dog's loose floppy lips/jowls also need to be kept clean and dry.

What's a good training schedule for training English Bulldog puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for English Bulldogs: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do English Bulldogs tend to have?

If they really don't want to do something, they might brace their legs and resist, or they might not obey quickly. But the good news is, as long as you have established the right leader-follower relationship, Bulldogs are usually content to go with your flow and not do things that are problematic to live with. Once they're adults, they're pretty calm, quiet, and undemanding.

Two issues I might mention:

For the Bulldogs signed up for my behavior modification classes, a pretty common issue has been aggression toward dogs of the same sex.

But the most worrisome behavior problem in Bulldogs (and other mastiff-type breeds) is food-possessiveness, also called resource guarding, which can be difficult to treat and usually leads to aggression. This is the main reason I don't recommend bulldog/mastiff breeds for young children. Even other pets should not be allowed around an eating Bulldog. For whatever reason, they can become deadly serious about their food!

What health problems might English Bulldogs have?

Health and lifespan are, by far, the weakest aspect of the Bulldog breed. Breeders have chosen to deliberately impose structural deformities on these poor dogs, and the sad result is a very long list of resultant health issues.

It's disheartening to me that some people actually find the breed's snorting/snuffling/gasping/choking sounds "endearing".... even after they learn that those sounds mean the dog is struggling to breathe normally.

Even worse, breeders could easily fix these deformities. But they're content with the status quo, people are paying high prices for their pups, and after all, they themselves aren't struggling to breathe.

What breeds are similar to the English Bulldog?

If you want something a little smaller, the French Bulldog or Boston Terrier might do.

Frenchies weigh 20-28 pounds, which is a lot less than the 40-50 pounds of most English Bulldogs. The majority of Boston Terriers weigh less than 15 pounds, but you can find some larger Bostons (20-25 pounds).

Where can I buy an English Bulldog puppy?

I would only buy one from a breeder who can show me the proper health certifications for both parents. Parents haven't had those tests? No thanks, I'll pass. Which health certifications? Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older English Bulldog?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new English Bulldog. Which pages should I read first?

  • English Bulldog Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your English Bulldog puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training English Bulldogs, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your English Bulldog puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male English Bulldogs have pros and cons, and female English Bulldogs have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable English Bulldog puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible English Bulldog breeder would ever place one of their English Bulldog puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best English Bulldog puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for English Bulldogs?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my English Bulldog to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your English Bulldog until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my English Bulldog, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about English Bulldogs that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
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