Bulldogs Temperament & Personality
Whenever you think of a ferociously tough guard dog, a few breeds come to mind. For most people who grew up watching cartoons, their first thought is most likely going to be the Bulldog.
With their wide and muscular bodies, massive heads, jutting lower jaw, and general grumpy appearance, it’s easy to see how a Bulldog is so intimidating. However, their intimidating appearance is merely a facade for one of the most chill and loving dogs in the animal kingdom.
As the years went by, and humanity realized that killing animals for their amusement was not a great idea, the bulldog slowly adapted to home life. The once ferociously aggressive breed is now considered one of the best breeds to own for a homebody.
Bulldogs are one of the most unique looking dogs. Pop culture has done a great deal to make sure nobody forgets their appearance. It’s reached a point where people from any country can recognize a bulldog on sight.
- Broad chest and shoulders
- Thick and muscular limbs
- Long jowls
- Wrinkled forehead
- Strong Jaws
- Beady, round, and dark eyes.
- Small, folded ears
- Short tail
- Distinctive waddle
In addition, most female bulldogs have trouble giving birth due to their unique body structure. Most of them end up getting C-sections just to safely retrieve the puppies from their wombs. This is because even as puppies, the heads of the Bulldog pups are so large that they have trouble exiting the birth canal without causing great pain to the mother. Breeding bulldogs is a very expensive venture, so keep that in mind if you ever want pups of your own.
Unlike their portrayal in pop culture, bulldogs are not vicious guard dogs that will bite at the faintest smell of a child. They are more often than not lazing about in your home, and asking for you to pet them. Not that they don’t make decent guard dogs.
Their old ferocity is awakened if they feel their family is threatened, and they can be really stubborn.
The Bulldog has a plethora of health problems common to their breed. Their unique body structure, as well as squashed heads and pinched nostrils, make their lives difficult if they ever become unhealthy. Respiratory problems and joint pain is common for the Bulldog. Make sure that they get enough exercise, and to not let them overeat.
The Bulldog is a great breed, but there will be difficulties in handling them. They are not an active type of dog, and will spend the majority of their time just lying on the ground or playing with kids. Their dense musculature also makes them surprisingly heavy for their size.
Upon maturity, most Bulldogs, both male and female, will stand at a height of 12 up to 15 inches at their shoulder. Males, however, may sometimes be a bit taller.
Bulldogs, on average, only live about 8 to 10 years. There is no real disparity between the lifespans of both genders.
Bulldog males weigh in at 23 to 25 kilograms, while the females are slightly lighter, only weighing in at 18 to 23 kilograms on average. Do note that Bulldogs are prone to obesity if left to their own devices, so take care not to overfeed them.
Bulldogs are a very friendly and affectionate breed. They have a penchant for being courageous when the situation calls for it, and are great watchdogs for their instincts. Their appearance and the threat of a 305 PSI dog bite should be enough to ward off any possible intruders. They are a stoic breed, and will “play” with children by just standing in place or doing their own thing while the child chases after them trying to get its attention. However, they will still wag their tails when pet.
They are easygoing and will often spend the better part of their days lazing about or napping. They are hard headed when it comes to tricks, but the moment they learn it, they will never forget it. They are great home dogs because of their quiet nature, and usually don’t bark.
The Bulldog’s temperament is dictated by several possible factors. Their ancestry, former environments and current environment has a significant effect on how they will act. When adopting a puppy for your family, always think about what you want in a dog.
Do you want the big and playful one, or the shy and quiet one in the corner? If the parents are there, ask the breeder/owner what they are like and what their health history is. A pup born to a large litter are oftentimes used to socialization, which is a good thing.
A Bulldog needs socialization from an early age. To practice their good nature, they need to see a lot of different things. Be they different places, experiences or people. A Bulldog’s easy going nature is borne from experience. As with a lot of dogs, a kindergarten class is highly recommended. It provides company for the dog, as well as company for you. For the most part, Bulldogs love children, and are tolerable of most other pets so long as they don’t bother the Bulldog. They might be on guard upon meeting strange dogs.
The Bulldog’s ancestors have a bloody history and they were bred to be especially adept at bloody gladiator games, the most popular of which was bull baiting. Their low on the ground stance was because they crept along the ground on their stomachs, to avoid being gored by the bulls they would face. Their powerful jaws were meant to lock onto a bull and to never let go. Their flat noses enabled them to still breathe while biting down on something for extended periods of time. Their folds of muscle, fat and numbed nerve endings made them highly resistant to pain.
While the Bulldogs’ adaptation to their terrible occupation is admittedly impressive, it was still abuse brought about by bored humans who wanted to take advantage of dogs for their own amusement. In much the same way we watch boxing today, bull baiting was a sport often advertised and gambled on, except in this case, the contestants couldn’t refuse to join. Some say bull baiting was once believed to “tenderize” the bull’s muscles.
It was only in 1835 that bull baiting was outlawed, and it looked like it was going to be the end for this ferocious monster of a breed. Bull-baiters, the awful breeders they were, chose the most aggressive and violent dogs to be their “champions”. Their whole lives were nothing but fighting. For a while, it seemed that the Bulldogs were cursed to an existence of violence.
However, some people took pity on this breed. Despite their bloody occupation, they still had a savage nobility to them. Their strength and stubborn nature was admirable. To save the breed, breeders chose to selectively start breeding the most gentle and kind Bulldogs. The violent dogs were no longer allowed to breed.
Over time, the Bulldog went from monstrous to the gentle dogs you see today. The Bulldog is proof of humanity’s dedication to their canine companions. By being compassionate, humans somehow turned a vicious breed into one of the most unwavering companions a human can have.
Since 1835, multiple Bulldog clubs have opened up. These owners greatly admired the new breed of Bulldogs, and loved their unique appearance dearly. The first Bulldog club was opened in 1864, 29 years after the sport of bull baiting was banned. Unfortunately, this club would only last for three years. Their successors in 1875 fared much better. They are still a club to this very day. Finally, in 1890, the existence of the Bulldog was brought to the attention of the American Kennel Club. Since then, it has consistently ranked high in the companion rankings!
Bulldogs are slightly more prone to maladies than other breeds usually are. Their bodies are unfortunately the source of most of these problems. Their lack of interest in activity means you have to exercise them, but at the same time, not exercise them too much. In addition, their unique body structure can cause them some problems that usually wouldn’t be so severe in other breeds. A bulldog is generally healthy, but just plagued by a plethora of mild genetic discomforts.
They are a heavyset breed and it’s possible for too much exercise to amplify joint problems due to them carrying their weight. Not only that, they are also privy to a list of specific maladies, as seen below:
In scientific terms, it is called patellar luxation. The patella (kneecap) is essentially not lined up properly with the rest of the leg bones. If your dog has a strange gait or starts to hop, this is likely the malady that they have. It’s usually present at birth, but misalignment can occur much later in life. The malady often amplifies the chances of a bulldog getting arthritis.
Bulldogs are notorious for respiratory problems, and this malady can be found in particularly severe cases. Their unique bone structure and physical appearance (narrow nostrils, squashed face, etc.) combine together to form a malady that gives them a hard time breathing.
Sometimes, a dog will violently shake its head. This is usually the result of low blood sugar and/or stress. Give your pooch a small amount of honey to stabilize its blood sugar, or play with it for a little while to keep it from the shaking. If neither works, take your dog to the vet to know what’s happening.
Bulldogs can be afflicted with any of the following eye-related diseases:
- Entropion – A condition where the bulldog’s eyelashes grow the wrong way (inward) and irritate the eye. Usually, mild surgery is required to fix this rare eye disease.
- Dry Eye – This is when bulldogs cannot generate enough tears to clear their eyes. Best take your dog to a vet for the proper medication, as this can be a painful experience for your dog, especially if they are often in dusty areas.
- Cherry Eye – This is a condition in which one of the glands underneath the third eyelid protrudes and swells, looking like a “cherry”. You can have a vet remove this.
- Demodectic Mange – Demodectic mange, alternatively titled demodicosis, is a malady where the bulldog carries a parasite named the demodex mite. It’s usually hereditary, as the mite passes on from the bulldog’s mother.
In fact, this is the only way the demodex mite can be passed on. They live inside the hair follicles of bulldogs and are oftentimes harmless. However, should the bulldog have their immune system compromised, these mites will start developing into a demodectic mange. When this happens, patches of reddened skin with no hair will appear all over the dog’s body. It’s a puppy disease, and usually takes care of itself. Regardless, you should bring your dog to the vet to ensure that they don’t develop a generalized form of the mange.
Similar to slipped stifles, this malady is caused by the dislocation of bones at birth. The thigh bone does not properly fit inside of the hip joint. Due to the bulldog’s strange wide stance, the malady affects them more than most. They can have this malady even without them knowing. Symptoms only become visible when the dog is either overweight or overexerted during their puberty period. If diagnosed, get a second opinion and look for alternative treatment before resorting to surgery.
Some bulldogs can have what are called “screw” tails. These tails are formed in a sort of “screw” pattern, like a cinnamon roll. This can cause skin problems for the bulldog. Just cleaning the tail and keeping it dry as often as possible should keep these problems at a minimum.
Bulldogs, like all breeds, are still vulnerable to cancer. In particular, Bulldogs are vulnerable to lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Obesity is usually a factor for this vulnerability. It can be treated with chemotherapy or surgery. Early detection is key to destroying the cancer before it becomes too severe.
While bulldogs are not a breed predisposed to seizures, it is still a possibility. If your dog starts to show any signs of having a seizure such as collapsing, twitching or drooling excessively, bring them to a vet immediately after the episode has subsided. During the seizure, pet their head gently and put cold water on their paws to prevent overheating.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a digestive disease wherein the Bulldog’s stomach and intestines are attacked by inflammatory cells. These can cause vomiting and diarrhea. IBD is significantly worse than simple IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome) as IBD also causes ulcers and can damage the bowels, while IBS does not.
The recommended amount of dog food a Bulldog can eat should be a minimum of 1/2 cups to a maximum of 2 cups daily, split between two meals. Of course, this is only a guideline. Depending on your Bulldog’s size, weight and lifestyle, you may want to add or subtract a few spoonful from these suggestions. An active dog will require a lot more sustenance than a lazy dog, for obvious reasons. If you like to include leftovers along with dog food when feeding your dog, make sure the leftovers will not adversely affect their health.
Here’s a list of food that you should never feed your dog:
- Chocolate (of any kind)
- Bitter almonds
- Caffeine in any form
- Tea and Tea leaves
- Macadamia nuts
- Onions (in any form)
- Grapes (raisins include)
- Spoiled foodstuff
- The green parts of the potato
- All parts of an avocado except the flesh
- Fruit Pits and Seeds
Do not overfeed your Bulldog. Bulldogs, more than most other breeds, are greedy eaters. They are prone to morbid obesity, and so you should take care not to let them eat more than their fill. The extra weight will put extra wear and tear on their already existing joint problems, so it’s best to just keep the food at reasonable levels.
A Bulldog’s coat is often short and straight, with a fine, glossy smooth texture to it. The skin is very loose wrinkly, particularly on the head, neck, and shoulders. These folds are the result of their ancestry, forcing them to develop thick skin to be more resistant to pain. The loose folds at the throat are what you would call a dewlap.
Bulldogs don’t have any one default color. They come in a large variety of colors, be it pure solid or a mixed pattern.
All of these colors can come in either a pure solid, or as a mixed pattern called “piebald”, where the different color are in a few large spots across the body.
A Bulldog’s coat’s biggest problem is likely going to be smell. Luckily for you, they do not like going out often or engaging in too much activity. Just keep their area clean and you will only have to brush their coats about once a week. Some grime may get stuck in their folds. Instead of a full bath, conserve water by simply going in there with a damp cloth soaked in soap water, and giving it a thorough washing.
If their skin starts looking reddish and irritated, use a veterinarian approved ointment to soothe their skin. Always check if your Bulldog’s eyes have any crusts forming, as their sleep and lack of exercise may lead them to be lazy about grooming themselves.
Ensure that the Bulldog’s nose is not dry by moistening it with some mild lotions or petroleum jelly. They do not shed often, but during their season, it’s best to dedicate an area of the house for brushing. Brush off any excess hair at least twice a week to avoid getting fur all over your good sofa.
Bulldogs are big eaters, so make sure that their teeth are thoroughly brushed twice a week. They are already prone to sneezing and flatulence, so cleaning their mouth of bacteria will help in making them less smelly.
Nail trimming could be a stressful event for both you and your Bulldog, so make sure to do it rarely, but carefully. Clean the ears once a month, and remove all the wax and gunk inside it with a cotton swab dipped in cleaning solution. Make sure to check if their rear has any dirt or waste and wash it off, as they spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on it.
Proper checking of physical ailments while grooming can save you lots of headache in the future.
Rescue Groups and Organizations
Bulldogs, like other breeds, can be left up for adoption by owners who do not know how to deal with them. There are plenty of advantages to adopting an adult. They will most likely be trained already, as well as used to the company of others. The United States and Great Britain have organizations solely dedicated to the rescue and adoption of Bulldogs. Make sure to check your local adoption centers. A cursory Google search should reveal all the nearby Bulldog clubs and rescue groups in your area.
https://www.rescuebulldogs.org/ (USA and Canada)
Bulldogs are a very caring breed, but they do require a moderate amount of maintenance that you would not expect from such an easygoing dog. However, they are a stable family dog in many homes for a reason. They are friendly to all humans that their family introduces as a friend. Their easygoing attitude and lack of need for much activity make them the perfect candidate for an indoor pets.