Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Breed Highlight: Bulldogs

by Kris Phillips

Adorable bulldog photo extreme closeupEnglish Bulldogs are probably one of the most recognizable breeds. They’ve come a LONG way from grizzly beginnings. Originally developed for the sport of bull baiting, in which a bull was tethered in an arena and then attacked by dogs the Bulldog was bred to be strong and heavy for it’s compact size. They were also incredibly courageous, resilient, and seemed impervious to pain. Fortunately for all involved, England banned blood-sports involving animals in 1835. Dog fighting moved underground and more agile dogs were preferred. The English Bulldog’s popularity with unseemly individuals gave way to a crossing with various terrier breeds and ushered in the Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier.Sad bulldog

The Bulldog as we know it would have gone extinct if not for some big fans of the dog taking it upon themselves to transform the breed from a violent gladiator into the mid-sized lovable lugs we know today. Their early breeders focused on creating a dog that was sweet and mellow and particularly great with kids. And I’d say they succeeded brilliantly! In fact, having had the opportunity to photograph a number of English Bulldogs it’s hard to even imagine their violent origins.Sassy bulldog in the woods

Today’s Bulldogs are generally sweet and gentle. Preferring to spend their time lounging in the shade or in your lap whenever possible.

Love from a bulldog pet parentBulldogs are considered a medium sized dog, topping out around 18 inches high and a whopping 50 lbs. Though, not as athletic as some of my previous highlights, Bulldogs do enjoy a brisk walk or game of fetch. Moderate exercise is necessary to keep them from getting too chunky. Though it’s best to keep their activity to the cooler hours of the day. Their trademark scrunched face makes them prone to overheating and labored breathing.

Two English Bulldogs in Spring flowersThe Upside:

  • That sweet smooshy face! Seriously, how could you not love that face?
  • With a short coat and moderate exercise requirements, day to day care for a Bulldog is pretty easy. With one important exception, which I’ll talk more about in the “downside” section.
  • They tend to be fairly laid back and get along well with other species despite their origin story.
  • Their extremely tolerant personality and stout build makes them a great choice for young kids. Though parents should ALWAYS be sure to teach little ones how to respect any dog in the house.

Bulldog puppyThe Downside:

  • Their stubborn nature can make them difficult to manage for inexperienced pet parents.
  • They are recognized as one of the most expensive dogs to own. And it’s not just about the purchase price that comes from a breeder.
  • Bulldogs are prone to food allergies. Which can lead to a host of vet visits and expensive prescription diet.
  • Their wrinkles MUST be kept clean and dry with daily attention. Including the one under their tails. Unmanaged wrinkles can breed bacteria and yeast which leads to discomfort, infection, and other medical problems if left unchecked.
  • Their expected lifespan is only 8-10 years. Which is on the short side for a dog of their size. Likely due in part to the aforementioned medical issues.
  • That adorable smooshy face has a down side. Bull dogs are prone to labored breathing and not great at cooling themselves through panting like other large active breeds. So exertion should be monitored carefully.

Happy bulldog runningThe overall takeaway: English Bulldogs are a breed apart from their breed origins. In general they are wonderfully loving, gentle, loyal and tolerant. Bulldog in a mountain field of flowers.But if you’re considering an English Bulldog please be prepared for the financial investment, as that’s the number one reason they’re surrendered. These dogs are perfect for someone with a mildly active lifestyle. Who enjoys a brisk walk around the park on a cool morning. But please don’t plan to summit any 14ers or run any marathons with your Bulldog.

Bulldog mom with her 2 year old dogBut seriously that adorable smooshy face, who doesn’t just want to kiss it?!

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