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The English Bulldog: Everything Owners Need To Know - PawSafe

The English Bulldog: Everything Owners Need To Know

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

The English Bulldog

If you’re as captivated by the charmingly wrinkled faces and gentle, laid-back nature of English Bulldogs (also called the British Bulldog) as I am, you’re in the right place. Known affectionately as the ultimate cuddle machine, these pups are not just adorable but packed with personality.

Tracing back to the much more ferocious old English Bulldog, the modem bulldog is an extremely popular family pet. But if you are looking for a Bulldog puppy for sale, it’s vital to do your research first.

Drawing on insights from experts like Dr. Keith Stewart Thomson, who has intensively studied the breed, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about these lovable, snoring giants. Whether you’re a seasoned Bulldog owner or considering bringing one into your home, let’s dive into the world of English Bulldogs together, exploring their unique needs, joys, and challenges.

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English Bulldog Keypoints

  • Adult English Bulldogs typically weigh between 40 to 50 pounds (18 to 23 kg) and stand about 14 to 15 inches (36 to 38 cm) tall at the shoulder.
  • Known for their loving and gentle disposition, English Bulldogs are excellent family pets that thrive on human companionship.
  • They require minimal exercise, making them well-suited for apartment living. However, they should have regular, short walks to maintain health.
  • Prone to several health issues like brachycephalic syndrome, joint problems, and skin conditions, requiring attentive and proactive care.
  • English Bulldogs have a relatively short average lifespan of about 8-10 years, influenced heavily by their health and lifestyle.
  • The cost of an English Bulldog puppy can range significantly, typically between $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the breeder’s reputation, the puppy’s lineage, and geographic location.

English Bulldog Temperament and Personality: A Deeper Dive

English Bulldogs are renowned for their endearing, relaxed demeanor. They are affectionate companions who prefer a cozy nap on the couch over more vigorous activities.

Emily, a Bulldog owner, affectionately notes, “Benny, our Bulldog, could spend the entire day just lounging and cuddling. He’s always there to welcome me with a gentle wag when I get home.” Despite their sometimes stern appearance, Bulldogs are full of affection and are happiest when close to their humans.

Recent studies reinforce the view of Bulldogs as low-energy yet highly affectionate family members. However, research shows that Bulldogs may exhibit certain behaviors like excessive greeting or object fixations, which could be misunderstood as separation anxiety or lack of trainability. 

These behaviors highlight the Bulldog’s need for consistent, understanding training to manage their strong desire for companionship. 

Family Dog Qualities: Why Bulldogs Are Great with Kids

Known for their incredible patience and sturdiness, English Bulldogs are excellent with children. They are tolerant and often protective, forming strong bonds with younger family members.

Jonathan, a parent and Bulldog owner, shares, “Maggie is fantastic with our kids. She’s gentle and seems to naturally understand how to be careful around them.” Their protective nature does not mean aggression; rather, it reflects their loyalty and love for family members.

This breed’s gentle nature is often accompanied by a behavior that matches their unique physical appearance, which may trigger nurturing responses from humans, according to studies.

These features, which align with Lorenz’s ‘baby schema’, can make Bulldogs particularly appealing to families. The distinctive facial traits of Bulldogs are known to evoke strong emotional responses, playing a significant role in why they are so beloved.

Suitability With Other Animals

English Bulldogs generally get along well with other animals, especially when proper socialization has occurred from a young age. They can coexist peacefully with cats and even smaller pets, provided they’ve been gradually and positively introduced under controlled conditions.

However, it’s worth noting that Bulldogs sometimes have same-sex aggression, so housing them with opposite-gender companions can often lead to a more harmonious environment.

Early and continuous socialization is key to developing their comfort and friendly behavior around other animals. This approach encourages them to be more accepting and less territorial, fostering a friendly disposition that Bulldog lovers cherish.

Is an English Bulldog Right for Me?

face of red and white English Bulldog is the Bulldog right for you pros and cons of having Bulldog

Choosing the right dog breed involves weighing various factors, and the English Bulldog comes with a unique set of characteristics that might be perfect for some and challenging for others. Remember, the English is only of several types of Bulldog, but it is one of those most suited for families.

Let’s explore what it means to own an English Bulldog, their suitability for apartment living, and the pros and cons you should consider.

Can English Bulldogs Live in Apartments?

English Bulldogs are known for their laid-back nature, which makes them suitable for apartment living. They don’t require a large yard and are relatively inactive indoors. However, their need for a cool environment is crucial due to their brachycephalic nature, which makes them prone to overheating. Living in an apartment that can stay cool or has air conditioning is essential for keeping them comfortable.

Pros and Cons of Owning an English Bulldog

Low Exercise Needs: They require minimal exercise, making them great for less active owners or those with limited space.High Veterinary Bills: Bulldogs are prone to various health issues that can lead to frequent vet visits and high medical costs.
Affectionate Companions: Known for their loving and loyal nature, they make excellent family pets and are good with children.Breathing Issues: As a brachycephalic breed, they often struggle with respiratory problems, which can limit their ability to exercise and play.
Good for Apartment Living: Their small size and low energy make them well-suited for apartment living, as long as the space is kept cool.Prone to Overheating: Their facial structure also makes them susceptible to heat stress, requiring owners to manage their environment carefully.
Low Maintenance Grooming: They have a short coat that requires minimal grooming, which is ideal for owners who prefer a low-maintenance pet.Snoring and Drooling: Their unique facial structure leads to loud snoring and frequent drooling, which might be bothersome for some owners.
Adaptable: Bulldogs are quite adaptable and can thrive in various living situations as long as they feel loved and cared for.Same-Sex Aggression: They can show aggression towards dogs of the same sex, which means careful socialization and possibly selective pairing in multi-dog households are necessary.
Good Family Dogs: They are gentle, deeply empathetic, and form strong bonds with family members, making them excellent companions in a family setting.Not Allergy-Friendly: Bulldogs are not hypoallergenic and can shed quite a bit, which might not be ideal for households with allergy sufferers.
Quiet Nature: Bulldogs are relatively quiet and do not bark excessively, which is beneficial for apartment living and for owners who prefer a quieter environment.Stubbornness: Training a Bulldog can be challenging due to their stubborn streak, requiring patience and consistent training methods.
Suitable for Older People: Their low exercise requirements and manageable size make them ideal for older adults or individuals with physical restrictions.

When considering an English Bulldog as a pet, it’s crucial to assess not only your living environment but also your ability to meet their health and emotional needs. They offer a lot of love and companionship but also require dedicated care to manage their unique health challenges.

Caring for an English Bulldog

Owning an English Bulldog is a rewarding experience filled with lots of snuggles and character, but it also comes with a set of specific care requirements due to their unique physical structure. Here’s what you need to know about their daily care essentials and specific health considerations.

Daily Care Essentials

While Bulldogs have a short, fine coat that doesn’t require much brushing or bathing, their grooming needs extend beyond their fur.

It’s crucial to regularly clean their wrinkles to prevent skin fold dermatitis, a common issue in Bulldogs due to moisture getting trapped between the folds. Additionally, their tail pockets (the area under the tail) need regular cleaning to avoid infections.

Dental Care

Bulldogs are prone to dental problems, so regular dental care is essential to prevent disease. Daily brushing and routine dental check-ups can help maintain their oral health.

Ear and Eye Cleaning

Due to their facial structure, Bulldogs often need their ears and eyes cleaned more frequently than other breeds. This helps prevent infections and keeps them comfortable.

Moderate Exercise

Despite their laid-back nature, English Bulldogs need regular, moderate exercise to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity-related health issues. Short walks in cooler parts of the day and indoor play are sufficient to keep them active without risking overheating.

Addressing Brachycephaly and Breathing Issues

Bulldogs are well-known for their brachycephalic (flat-faced) features, which can lead to breathing difficulties. Monitoring your Bulldog during exercise to ensure they don’t overexert themselves is vital. Providing a cool, air-conditioned environment can help prevent breathing distress due to overheating.

Surgical Correction

In severe cases of BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome), where the dog struggles with significant breathing problems, surgical intervention might be necessary to widen the nostrils or shorten the soft palate.

Sleep Issues

Due to their breathing issues, Bulldogs can suffer from sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea. Recognizing signs of disturbed sleep and consulting with a vet can help manage this condition effectively.

Managing Drooling

While not directly related to brachycephaly, Bulldogs are known to drool, which can be managed with regular face cleaning and home remedies. Learn more about managing drooling in our article on home remedies for dog drooling.

Caring for an English Bulldog requires a significant commitment to their health and wellbeing. By understanding and addressing the unique challenges posed by their anatomy and needs, you can ensure a happy, healthy life for your Bulldog companion.

Training Your English Bulldog

Training an English Bulldog can be a delightful experience filled with rewarding moments, as these gentle giants are known for their amiable nature. However, their stubborn streak can pose some challenges in training. Here are some effective strategies and tips to help you navigate the training landscape with your Bulldog.

Training Challenges and Effective Strategies

English Bulldogs often display a charming but stubborn temperament, which can make training a test of patience and consistency. They may not respond as quickly as some breeds to traditional training methods, so it’s crucial to keep sessions short, engaging, and positive.

Utilizing clicker training, as recommended by expert breeders from Warrior Bulldogs, can be highly effective. This method uses a sound to mark the desired behavior, followed immediately by a reward. This clear form of communication helps Bulldogs understand exactly what behavior is being rewarded.

High-value rewards, especially raw meat treats, can significantly motivate a Bulldog during training sessions. These treats not only capture their attention but also make the learning process enjoyable and more impactful.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Obedience Training

Positive Reinforcement

Bulldogs respond well to positive reinforcement. Praise, treats, and playtime are effective after successful obedience practices. This not only reinforces the behavior but also strengthens the bond between you and your pet.


Start socialization early to help your Bulldog get accustomed to various environments, people, and other pets. This is crucial, as Bulldogs can exhibit same-sex aggression and may need more exposure to coexist peacefully with other animals, especially of the same gender.

Place Training

This is a technique where the dog is taught to go to a specific place (like a bed or mat) and stay there until released. This command is particularly useful for managing space and encouraging calm behavior in your Bulldog.

Handling Distractions

Gradually introduce distractions into your training sessions to teach your Bulldog to follow commands in any situation. Start in a quiet environment and slowly build up to more distracting settings as your dog becomes more proficient at focusing amid disruption.

Training your English Bulldog offers a wonderful opportunity to deepen your relationship while providing them with the skills to navigate the world safely and happily. Remember, the goal of training is not only to teach your dog commands but also to foster a well-adjusted and content companion. Keep sessions fun, reward generously, and celebrate every small success on your journey together!

Best Dog Food for English Bulldogs

Bulldog running on grass what is the best food for Bulldogs

Selecting the right dog food for your English Bulldog is crucial to their health and well-being. Given their unique dietary needs and common health issues like obesity and joint problems, it’s important to choose a diet that supports their overall health while catering to their specific requirements.

Nutritional Needs: Diet Tips to Support Their Health

English Bulldogs benefit from a balanced diet that is high in protein but low in calories to help manage their weight. Obesity is a common concern in Bulldogs due to their laid-back nature and propensity for weight gain, which can exacerbate joint issues and other health problems.

High-Protein, Low-Calorie Diet

Look for dog foods that are rich in high-quality animal proteins to support muscle maintenance and overall health. The protein content should be complemented by a lower calorie count to help manage weight effectively.

Joint Support

Given their susceptibility to joint problems, English Bulldogs require diets fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin, which help maintain healthy cartilage and reduce joint discomfort.

Dental Health

Bulldogs are also prone to dental issues, so dry kibble is often recommended to help reduce tartar buildup. Alternatively, ensure they have access to plenty of chew toys that promote dental health.

Tailored Diets for Health Issues

For Bulldogs prone to specific conditions like kidney stones, it’s important to choose a diet that’s tailored to avoid exacerbating these issues. Consult with your vet to select a food that supports their particular health needs.

Age-Specific Diets

Puppies, adults, and senior Bulldogs have different nutritional requirements. Puppies need more calories and nutrients to support growth, adults require a balanced diet to maintain health, and seniors may need additional support for joint health and easier digestibility.

Best Dog Foods For English Bulldogs

When selecting a dog food brand, it’s important to choose one that uses high-quality ingredients and doesn’t rely heavily on fillers like corn, wheat, or soy. Here are a few top recommendations that are well-suited for English Bulldogs:

1. Royal Canin Bulldog Adult

Specifically formulated for English Bulldogs, this food addresses skin, joint, and digestive health while maintaining a balanced weight.

2. Orijen Original Dry Dog Food

High in protein and made with fresh, regional ingredients, this food is great for keeping your Bulldog in top shape without adding unnecessary calories.

3. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

This grain-free option is high in protein and enriched with antioxidants, probiotics, and omega fatty acids, making it a good choice for Bulldogs with sensitive stomachs or allergies.

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Specially formulated for adult dogs, this food includes LifeSource Bits — a precise blend of antioxidants and vitamins tailored to the health needs of Bulldogs.

5. Eukanuba Breed Specific Boxer Adult Dry Dog Food

While tailored for Boxers, this food is also excellent for Bulldogs due to its muscle-maintaining high protein content and added nutrients for heart health and stamina, which can benefit active Bulldogs.

Always consult with your veterinarian before changing your Bulldog’s diet, especially if they have specific health issues. Regular check-ups can help you tailor their diet more precisely over time, ensuring they stay happy and healthy at every stage of life.

Common English Bulldog Health Problems

Bulldog puppy how long do Bulldogs live and do they have health issues

For those charmed by the English Bulldog’s lovable demeanor and distinctive appearance, it’s crucial to understand the breed’s health challenges to ensure you can provide the best care. Dr. Alex Gough’s comprehensive guide on dog health issues provides invaluable insights into the specific needs of English Bulldogs, which you can explore further here.

Overview of Prevalent Health Issues

1. Respiratory Issues

English Bulldogs are famously brachycephalic (having a broad, short skull), which leads to Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This can cause breathing difficulties, snoring, and in more severe cases, life-threatening obstructions.

2. Dermatological Conditions

Issues like atopic dermatitis and demodicosis are common due to their sensitive skin, which requires regular monitoring and care.

3. Orthopedic Problems

Hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and other joint issues are prevalent due to their robust physique. It’s essential to manage their exercise and weight to prevent exacerbation of these conditions.

4. Cardiovascular Problems

Conditions like pulmonic stenosis and ventricular tachycardia have been noted, which require veterinary attention to manage effectively.

5. Eye Issues

Problems such as “cherry eye” and corneal ulceration are frequently reported, necessitating regular check-ups to ensure their eyes are healthy.

6. Gastrointestinal and Reproductive Issues

Bulldogs can suffer from conditions like hiatal hernias and dystocia, the latter often making pregnancies high-risk scenarios that require veterinary intervention.

Preventive Measures and Signs to Watch For

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for catching and managing health issues early. Diet plays a significant role in managing weight and supporting joint health, which can help mitigate some orthopedic issues. Additionally, keeping Bulldogs in a cool, air-conditioned environment can help prevent overheating due to their compromised breathing.

Knowing the signs of distress, particularly related to their breathing or signs of heatstroke, is vital. Early signs include excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy. Regular grooming to manage skin folds and maintaining dental hygiene will also support their overall health.

Average Lifespan

The lifespan of an English Bulldog is notably shorter than many other breeds, typically around 6.7 years. This underscores the importance of comprehensive care and preventive health measures to ensure they live full and comfortable lives. You can read more about their lifespan in a detailed study here.

English Bulldog Breeders vs. Rescue

Choosing between a breeder and a rescue when getting an English Bulldog involves several factors, each with its own pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Breeders


  • Health Certifications: Reputable breeders often provide health screenings and genetic testing of their puppies, which can assure you of the puppy’s health.
  • Predictability: With a breeder, you generally have a better idea of the puppy’s background, care, and upbringing.


  • Cost: Bulldogs from breeders can be quite expensive. Prices can range significantly based on lineage and breeding practices, often ranging from $1,500 to $4,000.
  • Ethical Concerns: There are ethical concerns regarding breeding practices, especially with a breed prone to health issues like the English Bulldog.

Pros and Cons of Rescues:


  • Cost-Effective: Adopting from a rescue is generally less expensive. Adoption fees often cover initial veterinary costs, including vaccinations and spaying/neutering.
  • Supporting Good Causes: By adopting, you help reduce the number of homeless dogs and support organizations that provide care for animals in need.


  • Unknown Background: Dogs from rescues may have unknown medical histories or behavioral issues that haven’t been fully assessed.

Ethical Considerations

Choosing where to get your Bulldog should also consider the ethical implications of your decision. Supporting breeders who adhere to high standards and avoid contributing to overbreeding and health issues is crucial. The Bulldog Club of America is an excellent resource for finding reputable breeders and rescue groups.

Fun Activities for English Bulldogs

Given their laid-back nature, Bulldogs don’t require extensive exercise but they do need regular, moderate activity to stay healthy.

  • Short Walks – Keep walks short and enjoyable to prevent overexertion, especially in hot weather.
  • Puzzle Toys –  Engage their minds without taxing their bodies. Puzzle toys can help keep them mentally stimulated and physically relaxed.
  • Playtime in the Shade –  On warmer days, short play sessions in the shade or indoors can help keep your Bulldog active without the risk of overheating.


Owning an English Bulldog is filled with joys and challenges. They are affectionate, loyal companions who fit well into various lifestyles, from singles to families with children.

However, potential owners must be prepared for their significant healthcare needs and ensure they have the time and resources to provide for these loving pets. Integrating a Bulldog into your life means embracing both their charming quirks and addressing their unique health issues with diligence and care.


Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.