Popular Dog Breeds: Bulldogs

Known for their shuffling gait and adorable wrinkly face, the Bulldog wants nothing more than to be a lap dog. Although the breed originated to bait and fight bears and bulls several centuries ago, the breed today couldn’t be anymore cuddly or loving. They are one of the most popular dogs in the U.S. today.



Originating in Britain several centuries ago, the Bulldog was originally developed to be courageous and ferocious during the bloody sport of bull and bear baiting. Dog fighting became illegal in England in 1835 and these dogs could have become extinct but dog lovers were determined to breed out their fierceness and keep their other good qualities. Within a few generations the dogs had lost their fighting instinct and were known as affectionate and desirable pets. The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1886.



Although the original Bulldog was a fierce and savage dog used for dog fighting, it’s been nearly 200 years since the breed has been a fighter. Bulldogs today are almost comically sweet and loving. They make wonderful family dogs and are known for being particularly gentle and protective of children. They are so attached to their families that they often want to climb in your lap, even though they can weigh up to 50 pounds. They are kind, dignified, courageous dogs and they make an excellent pet.



In terms of appearance, the Bulldog typically weighs between 40 and 50 pounds. They are usually between about 12 and 16 inches tall at the shoulder though no specific height is given in the breed’s standard. The dog’s height should be proportional to their weight and body mass.


Bulldogs are easily recognizable by their short-faced, massive heads covered with heavy wrinkles. They are a medium-sized dog with a smooth coat and a heavy, thick-set, low-swung body. They have wide shoulders and sturdy limbs. The Bulldog may be brindle, white, red, fawn, fallow or piebald. The coat is short, straight, and flat. When the Bulldog walks he has a loose-jointed, shuffling, sideways motion that gives him a characteristic roll.


The Bulldog usually has thick folds of skin above his brow and round, black, wide-set eyes. There are characteristic folds called “rope” above his short muzzle and hanging skin under his neck. He also has drooping lips and pointed teeth. An underbite is desirable.



Bulldogs can suffer from some health problems. The Bulldog Club of America gives the lifespan for the breed as between 8 and 12 years. In Britain their lifespan is shorter – 6.5 years. According to a British health survey, the leading causes of death in the breed were: cardiac, cancer, and old age. Dogs that died due to old age lived to be 10-11 years old.


Hip dysplasia and luxating patellas are common problems in Bulldogs. Statistics from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ranks the Bulldog as the worst breed in terms of hip dysplasia with 73.9 percent of Bulldogs tested having some degree of hip dysplasia. Interdigital cysts can also be a problem (cysts that form between the dog’s toes), though these cysts can be removed by a vet. Respiratory problems, cherry eye, and allergies can also be problems for Bulldogs.


As a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed), Bulldogs can suffer from the same breathing difficulties as other short-nosed breeds during hot weather or if they over-exert themselves. They can also have difficulty flying on planes. If you have a Bulldog, you will need to take special care during warm weather months. These dogs generally do best in cooler weather or if air conditioning is provided. Do not leave them outside in hot weather.


It’s also necessary to watch for weight gain and obesity with Bulldogs. Hip dysplasia, arthritis, and breathing difficulties can all be made worse if a dog is allowed to become overweight.



Bulldogs are not the most athletic of dogs but they are tractable and very willing to please. You shouldn’t have any trouble training your Bulldog to learn basic obedience and good manners. They are such well-behaved dogs in the home anyway that it’s easy to teach them what they need to learn. Most Bulldogs respond very well to food rewards as motivation.