Getting to Know the Bulldog

The next breed we are featuring in our Getting to Know Your Dog Breed series is the lovable English Bulldog. We’ll cover the French Bulldog in a separate post in a few weeks.

Life expectancy: Bulldogs have a short life expectancy of only 8-10 years.

Size: The average Bulldog stands 14 – 15” tall and weighs about 40-50 lbs.

Color: The Bulldog has a short, smooth coat of red, white, fawn or a combination of these colorings.

Origins: The Bulldog is thought to be a mixture of Pug and Mastiff. As their name suggests, these dogs were originally bred and trained to fight bulls or for ‘bull-baiting’. This practice was popular in Great Britain from the 15th century until the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 outlawed bull-baiting and the dog was no longer useful as a ferocious fighter.


The dogs were also used in the New World to help farmers capture bulls as they would fearlessly grab the bull by the nose until the farmer was able to lasso the animal.

Eventually, the dog evolved into a loving and gentle family pet and although they can no longer perform the duties they were originally bred for (too short, heavy and with a snout that is much too short), they can be a faithful companion and excellent watchdog.

Personality: Despite their bloody past, Bulldogs are known for their endearing lumbering gait and sweet disposition. They are also known for their patience and gentleness with children and so they can make great family pets.

Health Issues: Unfortunately, the Bulldog comes with many health issues. They are members of what is termed the brachycephalic breed class with the signature short head and snout. While this characteristic is sought after by breeders, it makes them susceptible to health issues related to their eyes, ears, nose and breathing. They tend to snore, snort, wheeze and are susceptible to sleep apnea. They are also known for their flatulence.


According the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Bulldog breed has the highest occurrence of hip dysplasia, so it is imperative to keep their weight controlled. They are voracious eaters, so daily walks and controlled diet are critical to their health.

While they are well-known for their distinctive wrinkly face, those wrinkles can be another source of problems for the dog and must be kept clean and dry to prevent infection.

Fitness/energy level: Bulldogs are low maintenance when it comes to physical activity and would be happy to just sit on the couch all day. Due to their brachycephalic issues, they have limited stamina. They have difficulty in cooling themselves as other dogs do, so overheating from too much exercise or heat should be avoided. Their short and squat physique can also make it a challenge for them to be physically active.

But, given their health issues as noted above, it is imperative that Bulldog owners don’t let them veg out on the couch and get them out for daily exercise to help keep them trim and fit. Remember that Purina study we wrote about in our recent Get Your Dog and Get Moving! post. A thin Bulldog can be expected to live 1-2 years longer than an overweight one. Try short periods of exercise, 15 minutes at a time, instead of long sessions. This type of exercise is more well suited for the English Bulldog.

Native foods for the Bulldog: Some common foods that the Bulldog may have been fed back in the 1500-1800’s include deer, hare, salmon, apples and cherries.

Good foods to feed your Bulldog:

  • Nature’s Variety – Rabbit Formula
  • Orijen – Tundra
  • Canine PowerFood – Only Natural Red Meat Feast

Fun facts about the Bulldog:

Bulldogs come in ten different varieties including brindle, white, fawn and piebald! President Warren G. Harding owned a Bulldog named Oh Boy. Bulldogs are frequently used as mascots for sporting teams, including the University of Georgia and U.S. Marines.



Personalize your pet’s daily meals.

Feed the right amount each day with the SmartFeeder and SmartDelivery.