Traits, Personality and Behavior
Few breeds are as easily recognized as the Bulldog, with his wrinkled mug, distinctive underbite and Churchillian jowls. Also known as the English or British Bulldog, he's a short, sturdy dog with a bow-legged gait, weighing between 40 and 70 pounds.
If all you're talking about is personality and temperament, the Bulldog is just about perfect. He loves children and is very easy to train as a family pet. He's an endless source of amusement, clever and very affectionate. He's also an attention magnet everywhere he goes.
The Bulldog may be perfect in spirit, but in the flesh is a different story. These dogs are intolerant of warm weather, and may die if over-heated. Too much exercise or stress can make it difficult for them to breathe. Without exception, Bulldogs must live indoors and need air conditioning in all but the mildest summer weather.
More than 90 percent of all Bulldogs are born by C-section. Because breeding them is expensive, the puppies are, too. Love is an expensive proposition when you own a Bulldog.
Health Issues Common to Bulldogs
Bulldogs' hips and spines are often malformed, as are their mouths. They suffer from a long list of respiratory ailments. Their many wrinkles and folds, and tightly curled tails, mean lots of skin infections. Cherry eye, inverted eyelids, cataracts and dry eye are just a few of the eye abnormalities that can affect the Bulldog.
Many conditions have no screening tests, even though they're known or believed to be genetic. These include seizure disorders, allergies and skin problems, several kinds of bladder stone, a long list of airway defects, birth defects, infertility and cancer, and more. Bulldogs are also at high risk for "bloat and torsion," where the stomach twists on itself, trapping air inside, and requiring immediate emergency surgery.
|Condition||Risk Profile||Cost to Diagnose and Treat|
|Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)||High||$1,500-$7,500|
|Fold Dermatitis||Very High||$300-$2,500|
6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Bulldog Puppy
Don't ever buy a Bulldog puppy from a pet store. The Bulldog's popularity means he's often found in pet stores, puppy mills and in the hands of people more interested in the thousands of dollars a Bulldog puppy commands than the well-being of the dogs themselves. The lucrative trade in Bulldogs has even interested international crime syndicates, and some puppies advertised as "locally bred" may have in fact been imported from overseas puppy mills.
Look for a good, reliable Bulldog breeder. While the Bulldog Club of America is usually a good place to find a responsible breeder, the traits that make a Bulldog a show ring success are the very ones that lead to many of the health problems common in the breed. Look for a breeder who abides by the club's Code of Ethics and seek out one whose dogs are active in agility, obedience and other sports that require athleticism and good health, and not just ribbons from the show ring.
Don't fall for a bad breeder's lies. Many breeders who have no motive other than profit will try to take advantage of people seeking a healthier Bulldog. These breeders seem too good to be true -- because they are. They will brag that they're trying to breed an "original" or "genetically improved" Bulldog, so don't be fooled.
Ask your breeder for the results of genetic screening tests. Those include testing for the spine, hips, elbows, knees, thyroid, hearing and heart from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), and for eyes from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).
Puppy or adult, take your Bulldog to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Pet Insurance for Bulldogs
Pet insurance for Bulldogs costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Bulldogs are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are preexisting) to which Bulldogs are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Bulldogs is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.