Bulldog Breed 101 – Temperament, Health Issues and Care Tips

The bulldog is one of the most iconic and beloved dog breeds. With their squishy faces, stocky bodies and sweet dispositions, it’s easy to see why they are so popular. As an ancient breed that dates back hundreds of years, bulldogs have a long and storied history.

While bulldogs make wonderful pets, there are some important things prospective owners should know before bringing one home. Like all breeds, bulldogs come with their own unique set of traits, health issues and care requirements.

This complete bulldog breed guide provides an in-depth look at everything you need to know about the bulldog’s temperament, common health problems and how to properly care for them. Read on to learn all about what makes bulldogs such special dogs.

Overview of the Bulldog Breed

The bulldog originated in England and has a history dating back to the 13th century. They were originally bred for the gruesome sport of bull baiting, which involvedpitting dogs against bulls. Their tenacious personalities and sturdy, compact builds made them the ideal canine gladiator.

Thankfully, bull baiting was outlawed in the 1800s. Since they no longer had a “job” to do, bulldog numbers dwindled. However, a group of ethical breeders decided to save the breed from extinction. They selectively bred bulldogs for their calm, friendly temperaments, transforming them into the mild-mannered companions we know and love today.

While they no longer fight bulls, bulldogs have maintained their courageous spirit and athleticism. These medium-sized pups pack a lot of spunk into their stocky frames. They are known for their kind, sociable and gentle dispositions.

With their signature squashed muzzles, undershot jaws and adorable wrinkles, the bulldog’s appearance is unmistakable. They come in a variety of colors including red, fawn, white, brindle and piebald. No matter what shade their coats are, they will quickly wiggle their way into your heart.

Bulldog Temperament and Personality

Despite their tough exterior, bulldogs are total softies on the inside. They are extremely affectionate, often attaching themselves to one special human. They thrive when showered with love and attention.

Gentle and Loving:

Bulldogs are kind, gentle dogs that adore people. They are very attached to their families and aim to please their owners. With proper socialization and training, bulldogs get along wonderfully with children, other pets and strangers. Their sweet, mellow dispositions make them an ideal family companion.

Calm and Friendly:

While they can be boisterous as puppies, bulldogs mature into chill, laidback adults. They are content snoozing on the sofa and relax happily in their own company. Bulldogs are friendly and polite when greeting new people. They might bark to alert you of visitors but are rarely aggressive.

Courageous and Tenacious:

Even though they are total softies, bulldogs still retain the courageousness and tenacity of their bull baiting ancestors. They are brave, determined dogs that never back down from a challenge. With their alert watchdog abilities, bulldogs make exceptional guard dogs.

Entertaining and Comical:

The wrinkly, loose-skinned bulldog can’t help but make you laugh. Their silly antics, grunts, snores and grumbles are endlessly entertaining. They love showing off their goofy personalities and clowning around to make their families smile.

Intelligent and Trainable:

Bulldogs are bright, trainable dogs when properly motivated. They aim to please their owners and respond well to positive reinforcement training techniques. Starting training and socialization early is key to bringing out their best behaviors.

Mellow Companions:

Once a bulldog has expended their energy as a young dog, they transition into laidback adults who enjoy napping on the couch. They don’t require intense exercise and are perfectly content being loyal lap dogs. Bulldogs thrive when close to their families.

Common Bulldog Health Issues

Unfortunately, the exaggerated physical features that give bulldogs their endearing appearance also come with numerous health problems. Selective breeding and inbreeding has led to severe issues in some bloodlines.

Prospective owners should be aware of the various health conditions bulldogs are prone to. Reputable breeders should provide health clearances proving their dogs are free of genetic diseases.

Brachycephalic Syndrome:

Their adorably short muzzles and compact skulls make it difficult for bulldogs to breathe properly. Brachycephalic syndrome can cause snorting, snoring, exercise intolerance, collapsing trachea and overheating.

Skin Fold Dermatitis:

Bulldog’s loose, wrinkly skin can easily become infected if not cleaned properly. Moisture trapped in their facial folds and tail wrinkles allows yeast and bacteria to grow.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia:

This inherited musculoskeletal condition leads to malformed hip and elbow joints. It causes severe arthritis and lameness. Reputable breeders screen breeding dogs.

Cherry Eye:

Prolapse of the third eyelid, appearing as a red mass in the corner of the eye. It’s common in young bulldogs and requires minor surgery to correct.


Bulldogs are prone to skin allergies, often related to food. Signs include itchy skin, recurrent ear infections and skin infections. Finding the allergy trigger and managing with diet is key.

Cleft Palate:

A birth defect resulting in an opening in the roof of the mouth. Bulldogs with this condition can face feeding difficulties, respiratory issues and speech problems.

Interdigital Cysts:

Painful fluid-filled nodules that develop between dog toes. They are common in bulldogs and caused by hair or debris trapped in skin folds irritating tissue.

Heat Sensitivity:

Due to their short muzzles, Bulldogs cannot pant as efficiently to cool themselves. They are very prone to overheating and require extra care in warm weather.

Caring for Your Bulldog

While their goofy personalities make them ideal companions, bulldogs require some specialized care. Their brachycephalic features, skin folds and tendency towards obesity necessitate a thoughtful approach.


Bulldogs need dedicated skin care to stay happy and healthy. Follow these grooming tips:

  • Brush coats weekly to remove loose hair and distribute oils.
  • Clean facial wrinkles daily removing dirt, debris and moisture.
  • Clean tail pocket and skin folds several times per week.
  • Trim toenails monthly.
  • Check and clean ears weekly for infection. Many bulldogs are prone to chronic ear issues.
  • Use a dog-safe moisturizer on dry skin. Their coats benefit from added oils.
  • Invest in cooling dog products like moisturizing wipes, cooling beds and vests to prevent overheating.


While energetic as puppies, adult bulldogs are content with one or two brisk walks per day. Keep these exercise tips in mind:

  • Walk bulldogs during cooler parts of day.
  • Bring a bottle of water and take frequent breaks to avoid overheating.
  • Monitor them carefully in summer. Heat stroke comes on quickly in this breed.
  • Supervise activity to avoid injury. Their stocky build and poor breathing can cause exercise intolerance.
  • Discourage jumping on and off furniture. It can put stress on joints.
  • Bulldog puppies should not engage in strenuous exercise. It can harm developing joints. Gentle play and socialization is ideal.


Bulldogs can be stubborn but respond well to positive reinforcement training. Try these tips for success:

  • Start training early and establish yourself as a firm, fair leader.
  • Keep training sessions short and upbeat ending on a positive note.
  • Use high value treats, praise and belly rubs to motivate your bulldog.
  • Crate train your bulldog to help with potty training and preventing household destruction.
  • Socialize them extensively and enroll in puppy obedience classes.
  • Discourage jumping and mouthing from a young age. Bulldog puppies can be rambunctious.
  • Consider clicker training which uses a clicker to positively mark desired behaviors.


To avoid obesity, feed your bulldog a high-quality diet suited for their life stage. Follow these guidelines:

  • Feed puppies 4 scheduled meals per day. Adults do well with 2 meals daily.
  • Choose a dog food formulated for brachycephalic breeds with fish oil for brain development.
  • Avoid dog foods with wheat, corn, soy or by-products. Look for quality ingredients.
  • Use a slow-feed bowl to prevent choking, vomiting and bloat. Elevated bowls also help brachycephalic breeds.
  • Count treats as part of their daily calories to prevent weight gain. Bulldog obesity is a huge health threat.
  • Provide constant access to fresh, clean water. Limit exercise during hot weather.

FAQs about Owning a Bulldog

Prospective bulldog owners often have lots of questions about bringing this special breed home. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Are bulldogs good family pets?

Yes! When raised with proper socialization and training, bulldogs make wonderful family companions. They are gentle, affectionate and tolerant of children. Their calm demeanor makes them an ideal house pet.

How much exercise does a bulldog need?

Bulldogs require moderate exercise to remain fit and healthy, around 1 or 2 twenty minute walks per day. Take precautions during warm weather to prevent overheating and breathing issues. Mentally stimulating games and playtime are also important.

What health issues are common in bulldogs?

Unfortunately, bulldogs are prone to many health problems due to selective breeding and poor breeding practices. Brachycephalic syndrome, dermatitis, allergies, hip/elbow dysplasia, cherry eye, joint issues and bloat are common. Choose health-tested parents.

Are bulldogs easy to train?

Bulldogs are intelligent but can be stubborn. Positive reinforcement training is most effective, starting in early puppyhood. Proper socialization and establishing leadership is key. Bulldog puppies benefit greatly from obedience classes.

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How often should you bathe a bulldog?

Bulldogs only need bathing every 4-8 weeks. Over-bathing strips their coat of beneficial oils leading to dry, irritated skin. Spot clean facial wrinkles and skin folds between baths. Some bulldogs are prone to chronic skin issues.

Do bulldogs drool a lot?

Heavy drooling is quite common in bulldogs. Issues like elongated soft palates, allergies, dental alignment and skin folds exacerbates drooling. Making sure their lips seal properly when at rest can help reduce excessive drool.

Do bulldogs do well in apartments?

Due to their moderate exercise needs and calm temperament, bulldogs can thrive in apartments. Ensure they get out for short daily walks but they are very adaptable to small living spaces if their people are home often. Bulldogs crave companionship.

Are English and French bulldogs the same breed?

No. While they share similarities, English and French bulldogs have distinct differences. French bulldogs are smaller with large bat-like ears. English bulldogs are stockier with more wrinkles. Both make wonderful companions when responsibly bred.

How expensive is it to own a bulldog?

Bulldogs are somewhat pricey to own due to their extensive health care needs. Purchase price ranges from $1,500-$4,000 from a responsible breeder. Expect to budget around $2,500 or more per year for medical costs like vet visits, medications and insurance.

The Lovable, Sweet-Natured Bulldog

With their endearing personalities, distinctive looks and goofy antics, it’s easy to see why bulldogs have earned a special place in so many hearts over the centuries. They make wonderfully devoted companions when their unique needs are properly cared for.

If you’re ready to open your home to a bulldog, be sure to do your homework. Seek out a responsible breeder that health tests their breeding dogs. Prepare yourself for the financial commitment and specialized care these brachycephalic breeds require.

With their gentle, affectionate nature, bulldogs aim to please their families. Shower them with love and attention, keep up with their grooming routines and schedule regular vet checkups. In return, they will reward you with years of squishy snuggles and endless laughs. There’s never a dull moment when you share your life with a charming bulldog!

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