One of the most iconic breeds of dogs is the Bulldog, also known as the English Bulldog. While they are cute and personable, bringing one into your family is a major decision not to be taken lightly.
So, are Bulldogs good pets?
That depends on what qualities you are seeking in a pet. For the right pet parent, a Bulldog makes a wonderful pet, but for the wrong pet parent, they will not.
If you are looking for low energy, easy to groom, loving and friendly dog, the Bulldog may be a good pet for you, if you are prepared to pay veterinary bills and if you are prepared to have a dog with a potentially shorter life span.
This article will help you determine if a Bulldog would be a good pet for you based upon the breed's characteristics; compare what you are looking for in a pet against the Bulldog's traits to make your decision.
Begin By Specifying The Breed
When most people say "Bulldog" or "English Bulldog" they are referring to the same dog, but the breed is technically recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the Bulldog.
Another highly popular breed is the French Bulldog. While they share some of the Bulldog's traits, they have some differences too. If you are considering a Bulldog but want a slightly smaller dog, the Frenchie is worth considering.
If you like the Bulldog look but want a more athletic and fit dog, the American Bulldog might be the right dog for you.
They are relatives of the English Bulldog that resemble the American Staffordshire Terrier also known as the pit bull terrier. They have higher energy than Bulldogs.
Personality: The Charm Under The Folds
The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the Bulldog as "calm, courageous and friendly". Hills Pet describes them as dependable, predictable, and sweet with a gentle disposition.
Most Bulldog owners will agree with these descriptions and tell you that their canine companion's calm and friendly nature makes them very good pets.
Their easygoing demeanor makes them the perfect companion for someone who wants to take their dog with them everywhere; for example, Bulldogs are usually so calm that their presence does not cause a distraction at work.
Bulldogs often solicit attention from humans, which makes a Bulldog a great way to make new friends when they accompany you on errands or other adventures.
According to Cesar's Way, the ancestors of today's Bulldogs were used for the blood sport of bull-baiting. The breed has retained the courageous nature used for bull baiting, which makes them good watchdogs.
Energy Level: The Notoriously Slow Bulldog Bandwidth
Bulldogs are NOT an active breed. If you are searching for a jogging buddy to help you crush your fitness goals, this is not the breed for you.
Not only is their energy level naturally low, but due to their brachycephalic anatomy, they should not be exercised as hard as other breeds of dog in general, but most especially in hot weather.
According to Canna Pet, exercise can actually be dangerous for these flat-faced furry friends; they are more susceptible to overheating than nonbrachycephalic breeds. Even a slow walk in the summer is not always easy for these dogs.
Many Bulldogs will tell you they are done walking by stopping and refusing to continue walking. As such, you will need to be able to carry your Bulldog in the event that they refuse to continue walking or they cannot continue walking due to difficulty breathing.
If you have a less active lifestyle and are looking for a dog who prefers the couch to the outdoors, and who will not be heartbroken if he or she misses their daily walk, Bulldog owner Ron says that the Bulldog would make a good buddy for you.
Home: What Type of Residence Do Bulldogs Need?
Unlike their more active counterpart the American Bulldog, Bulldogs do not need much space. Due to their low energy level and affectionate nature, most Bulldogs can do well in a smaller residence such as an apartment, condominium, or townhome.
In fact, most Bulldogs are happy in a small space because it means they are always near their people and they do not have to go far to find them!
Being able to live in a small space is a bonus for many potential pet parents in urban areas who want a larger dog with lower energy who will be happy in a small home.
Health: The Draw Back To The Bulldog
The most significant drawback to Bulldogs is their health. It is difficult watching your dog suffer, so it is important to be prepared to care for your dog through medical conditions.
All breeds of dogs are more prone to certain conditions than others as a result of their genetics; Bulldogs are no exception. This breed is prone to health conditions that are cause for concern, such as:
- As some Bulldogs age, they need a facelift procedure to allow them to see out from under their facial wrinkles and to allow them to breathe easier.
- While their face wrinkles are endearing, if not properly cared for, they may experience skin infections. You should be prepared to thoroughly clean out the wrinkles of your Bulldog's face after meal times to prevent unpleasant odors and infections. If a Bulldog does not have to deal with their face being cleaned regularly, they will not be very cooperative, making it crucial that this maintenance be taught from the first day you bring home your puppy if you want him or her to be cooperative for face cleaning sessions as an adult dog. Ensuring that the wrinkles are dry is important to prevent yeast infections. Review this article by Pet Care RX to learn how to clean your Bulldog's face folds properly.
- Their trademark smushed, flat face puts them in the category of brachycephalic dog breeds. They are particularly sensitive to heat and are prone to heatstroke. This anatomy can cause difficulty breathing in general even during day-to-day life; as a result, they are easy to overexert with exercise even in cooler weather. These dogs also tend to snore loudly.
- The breed's low energy level and genetic disposition to difficulty breathing make it crucial that these dogs be kept at a healthy weight. Be prepared to carefully monitor your Bulldog's daily calories and ensure that he or she gets exercise to stay at a healthy weight.
Life Expectancy: How Long To Expect Your Bulldog To Be A Part Of Your Family
You will love your Bulldog like a member of the family, which means you will want to have as much time with him or her as possible. Bulldogs live approximately 8 to 10 years. Therefore, you must plan to be financially responsible for your dog for at least 8 years if not more.
However, according to CBS News, breeding practices have significantly shortened the average Bulldog's life span. Sadly, some of these dogs may only live to age 4.5 to 6 as a result.
This makes finding a responsible, caring, and ethical breeder crucial to adding a healthy four-legged friend to your family who is more likely to be around for many years to come.
According to the Bulldog Club of America, papers do NOT guarantee health; you must investigate breeders before choosing to purchase a puppy.
To understand the qualities of a responsible breeder, read this article by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
As Bulldogs are a popular breed, they are often victims of puppy mills. To learn about puppy mills, read this article by the ASPCA.
Grooming: What Work Goes Into The Bulldog's Glamor
As far as grooming goes, the Bulldog's short and smooth coat is fairly low maintenance, another quality that makes them good pets. However, Bulldogs do shed regularly and often drool.
As the breed can have skin issues such as allergies, some dogs may need to be bathed more frequently than others. The Bulldog's face folds should be cleaned after meals daily to prevent infection.
While not a difficult task, as it must be done daily after each meal; as a result, some pet parents choose another breed to avoid the constant cleaning.
Carefully consider if you are up for this maintenance before bringing home a Bulldog, as it is crucial to keeping him or her healthy.
Companionship: Are Bulldogs Compatible Companions?
Another reason Bulldogs make great pets is that they generally do well with other dogs, adults, and children. However, some Bulldogs may be aggressive with unfamiliar dogs.
Their affectionate and loving nature, combined with their endearing wrinkled faces, helps them make friends wherever they go.
Keep in mind that the socialization a Bulldog receives greatly impacts their preferences for companionship.
If you work on socializing your Bulldog puppy and ensuring that he or she has good experiences, you may expect your puppy to bloom into a social butterfly as an adult.
Training: How Trainable Are Bulldogs?
Some dog owners really love training and want to go beyond basic obedience. While the American Kennel Club (AKC) gives Bulldogs a high rating for trainability, they are not often seen going beyond basic obedience.
Some owners will describe their Bulldogs as bullheaded while others would say highly trainable.
Either way, most owners agree that the breed is most suited to companionship than obedience competitions.
Ethics: Is Breeding Bulldogs Ethical?
Due to common breeding practices among Bulldog breeders to obtain puppies that conform to the classic Bulldog stature, the genetic pool in most Bulldogs is fairly shallow.
This passes health conditions along consistently throughout generations which range from uncomfortable to painful experiences for the dogs.
Their trademark brachycephalic anatomy causes breathing trouble, which causes some animal lovers to question, is it ethical to continue breeding these dogs who often suffer from medical conditions?
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.