Characteristics and Care of the Bulldog Breeds

by Sundays

Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering bringing home a bulldog.

Bulldogs are one of the most recognized breeds out there. And it’s no wonder! Their distinctive ‘sour mug’ face and squat, muscular little bodies are unmistakably bulldog. The term “bulldog” is often used to describe a person who’s stubborn and unrelenting, and these lovable pups are certainly that when it comes to winning you over. As one of the silliest and friendliest breeds out there, you can’t help but fall in love. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering bringing home a bulldog.

History of the Bulldog Breed

The original bulldog breed, also known as the English Bulldog, can be traced back to the 1200s. They were forced to participate in a since-banned, barbaric sport called “bullbaiting”—hence their name. The original breed was a very different-looking dog physically—they were taller and more athletic—and they had a much tougher personality. 

Since then, the breed has made a complete 180. Breeders began refining the look of the English Bulldog to be the exaggerated features we see now and opted for pups with a mellow, friendly temperament. These traits are why they have a reputation for being wonderful family dogs.

The English Bulldog was eventually bred into two other sizes. First came the American Bulldog, who was brought over from England in the 1600s as a working dog to be used on small farms. In the 1800s, French Bulldogs gained popularity as lapdogs. They originated from miniature, or Toy Bulldogs, who came from England to France and were bred with small terriers. 

English Bulldog 

Physical Traits

There’s no mistaking this dog for any other breed. The loose skin around their face that causes adorable folds, their pushed-in nose, hanging jowls, and wide-set eyes are their most defining traits. With a squat, muscular body and little legs, this breed has a distinctive waddle when they walk. 

English Bulldogs have smooth, glossy coats that come in many patterns and colors, from white and brown to red and brindle. Although they have a short stature, standing anywhere from 12 to 16 inches, the English Bulldog can weigh up to 50 pounds. This, however, won’t stop them from trying to hop up onto your lap for a snuggle.

Personality Traits

Don’t let their muscular frame fool you, these pups are anything but tough. They are incredibly friendly and have a sweet, dependable temperament. These family dogs are also great with children and other dogs when trained and socialized at an early age. 

American Bulldog

Physical Traits

Similar to its cousin, the American Bulldog has a very recognizable face. They have the bulldog telltale droopy jowls and smooshed noses. They are also a muscular breed, however, the American Bulldog is much taller, standing at about 24 inches at the shoulders, and is also much heavier. This breed can weigh anywhere from 60 to 100 pounds. 

Thanks to their worker-dog background, this breed is extremely strong. They have a heavy, muscular chest and narrow hindquarters. 

Personality Traits 

American Bulldogs are giant clowns who love to be silly and playful when they are excited or happy. They are extremely intelligent and do well in an environment where they can be constantly stimulated by pet parents who will keep their minds active. 

French Bulldog

Physical Traits

There are many physical characteristics French Bulldogs share with English Bulldogs, like their small, compact body and the same wrinkly face and flat nose. They differ when it comes to the breed’s trademark bat ears. 

French Bulldogs are small dogs that stand up to 13 inches tall and weigh anywhere between 16 to 28 pounds. They have short coats of fur that shed slightly more than the average dog, so they aren’t the best dog breed for someone looking for a hypoallergenic pet.  

Personality Traits  

The French Bulldog originated as a companion dog so it’s no surprise that this breed has an especially fun-loving nature. They have big personalities with lots of energy. French Bulldogs love nothing more than to play with their family and enjoy lots of cuddles. 

Bulldog Breed-Related Health Issues

American Bulldogs are generally healthy dogs, living to 11 or 13 years. English and French Bulldogs sadly have shorter life expectancies and require a bit more care. 

Those adorable folds are cute but can be a health concern as they can lead to skinfold dermatitis. Signs of this condition look like excessive scratching, itching, and increased redness or sores in that area. 

Due to their short snouts, bulldogs are prone to developing Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. This can mean loud breathing, snoring, and even exercise intolerance. Keeping your pup at a healthy weight can help with symptoms. More extreme measures involve surgery to widen their nostrils and expand the airway. 

Bulldogs are prone to spinal problems (such as Intervertebral Disc Disease or IVDD), as well as bone and joint diseases like hip dysplasia and arthritis. They can also develop what’s known as “cherry eye,” which is when the eye gland begins to bulge out. This should be treated as soon as possible to minimize any permanent damage to the eye. 

Bulldog Breed Care

Grooming Recommendations

You’ll want to give your bulldog a thorough allover brushing at least once a week with a metal tip brush. This is a great time to bond with your pup. Given their mellow temperament, they will likely enjoy the pampering. Regular bathing is essential to maintain the bulldog’s glossy coat.

The most important grooming recommendation for bulldogs is to pay attention to their folds. Food and moisture can get trapped between them causing lots of irritation. For hard-to-clean folds, dip a cotton ball in dog shampoo and clean them thoroughly. Be extra careful around their eyes. 

Every few weeks, clean your pup’s eyes with a wet washcloth to avoid tear stains. Speak to your vet if this becomes excessive as it may need some extra attention. 

Exercise Recommendations 

All bulldogs require daily exercise, however, how much and what type of play will depend on the breed. English Bulldogs and Frenchies can become overweight so be sure to keep these pups active. A brisk walk is usually sufficient for these smaller breeds.

American Bulldogs require more exercise. They were originally bred to be working dogs and as such need tons of stimulation. Keep them active with plenty of time to run around. Playtime with their family will give their intelligent minds something to focus on, which will help prevent them from becoming bored and possibly destructive. 

Keep in mind that with English and French Bulldogs, there is a danger of heat stroke. It can be hard for these pups to cool themselves down naturally due to their breathing difficulties. Avoid being outside in extreme heat and maintain a cool indoor temperature during peak summer months. Always keep water accessible so they stay hydrated.  

Bulldog Breed Nutrition