Thinking of getting a bulldog. . .

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Ying Yang

Barked: Mon Nov 15, '10 3:57pm PST 
I've been considering an english bulldog for my household but I just can not seem to decide. I have done days of research on the breed and from all the books I'm reading they really do not explain the possible health issues of bulldogs. The main ones they list are heart conditions, arthoritis, displasia, slipping knea cap, bloat, eye (cherry eye) and eye lid problems. But is that is? It seems so few compared to every TV show and forum discussing bulldogs saying "So many health issues"

Other than the health issues I know everything else about a bulldog. About cleaning wrinkles, cleaning the tail pocket, don't do to well in excessive heat or cold (indoor only dog), swim like a brick (Even though I have seen some that can), not a long walk kind of dog, drooling, passing gas and etc.

I wanted to get info from owners of bulldogs for possible health issues that are not listed in my books. Maybe if you know of a good book to recomend let me know. I just don't want to get one and then find out I can't handle it.
Audrey- Hepbull

I am not dumb, I- am ignoring you.
Barked: Mon Nov 15, '10 7:06pm PST 
Your best bet is to contact a breeder you can visit. Look at their dogs, how they move, how they breathe. And go to shows so you can see for yourself how a bulldog can and should move, what they are supposed to sound like when they breathe. What they should look like. There are so many misconceptions about bulldogs! Many people seem to think their entire lives are spent in oxygen deprived suffering, which is ridiculously untrue. YES they can breathe, no they are NOT constant couch potatoes, they DO run and DO need exercise.

Some important things to consider before buying:
You need to see the parents first, at least the dam. Does she have allergies? Is her skin healthy? Coat should be glossy. Sire should not have allergies either.

You need to see the results of the health tests. heart, eyes, hips, knees

You need to make SURE neither sire nor dam has needed ANY SURGERY. NO DOG SHOULD BE BRED that has needed surgery to correct a genetic or hereditary condition. Some common surgeries needed for bulldogs are palate enlarging, nares enlarging, entropian. If a breeder tries to tell you that it was only a small, not life threatening issue, and it is OK to breed the dog, RUN the other way. People who breed bulldogs with these genetic conditions are the reason bulldogs have the reputation for being so unhealthy. NO it is NOT OK to breed dogs with these conditions. Ever.

A bulldog is still growing for up to 2 years. So the hips, knees, heart need to be tested once they are mature. Make sure you SEE those test results!

Bulldogs DO have a reputation for being walking vet bills. The problem is that SO MANY don't care about those 'little' issues and breed dogs with them anyways. Those little issues ARE a big deal though. No dog should have painful eyes. No dog should have itchy allergy prone skin. No dog should have such disproportionate legs that it can not even run. It is absolutely NOT normal or acceptable for a bulldog to be unable to breathe. Of course they will pant when exercising and it will be more pronounced than a long snouted dog, but it is NOT normal to hear them breathe when they are doing normal low key activities. There should be no raspy or gurgly or 'snoring while awake' sounds.

If you make sure to find a breeder that is dedicated to healthy dogs, you should not have more health issues with a bulldog than other purebred dogs. You will have to consider the fact that they can not cool themselves well and you will have to avoid exessive heat. They are not water dogs, some can swim some can not. I wouldn't take the chance. Nasty gas is not normal either. A food change is in order if your bulldog is frequently stink bombing your house.

As bulldogs gain popularity, (they made the top 10 akc list again last year)there will be people who see a golden opportunity to make a lot of $$ off of an expensive dog. They don't care at all about the health of the dogs, just how much they can get out of a litter. It's up to the buyers to be very careful about picking a reputable breeder, to keep the unscrupulous ones from perpetuating the unhealthy stigma attached to bulldogs.

I made a LOT of mistakes when I got my bullodg. I am very lucky she doesn't have serious issues. I will say though, there is NO OTHER dog like a bulldog. They have a special quality about them that is unique and SO amazingly wonderful. cloud 9
Brodie Bear

The Furry- Bull-Dozer
Barked: Thu Nov 18, '10 2:02am PST 
Well said!

I do think that there are many steps you can take to preventing health issues.
I learned a lot from Brodie. Had it not been for him and his allergies, I would probably still be feeding my dogs are crappy foods like pedigree.

A good quality grain free food will help a lot in bulldog health along with some natural supplements if needed. Brodie does great with a probiotic and raw apple cider vinegar. They both help with his skin and digestion.
Also grooming is a must. Keeping the wrinkles, feet, ears, tail pocket, etc cleaned.
The gas won't be an issue on a good food that the dog does well on.
Brodie doesn't drool unless he smells something really tastey or is hot.

Bulldogs do not need to be in extreme temps. They don't need to get too cold or too hot so living inside is a must.
They can be very stubborn in training and mature slowly but are wonderful and loving companions.

If you do get a bulldog be sure to socialize it to many things, people, and other dogs at a young age to prevent aggressiveness. Brodie wasn't socialized enough and tends to be aggressive toward other dogs outside of his pack.

Edited by author Thu Nov 18, '10 2:05am PST


Bob, CGC

To err is- human-to forgive- canine
Barked: Thu Feb 17, '11 2:25pm PST 
Knock on wood bob has had no health issues. He is 4 and no allergies or any real problems at all. We do feed a very high quality food and he gets regular checkups and is from a good breeder. I think like with all dogs good care plays a huge role

Member Since
Barked: Fri Feb 15, '13 5:26pm PST 
please adopt...

Barked: Thu Mar 7, '13 9:19am PST 
You hear it all the time, English Bulldogs are a walking vet bill. It is not a joke.

Audrey said it all - proper breeding plays a very important role in this. ANY dog breeder should ONLY breed towards the improvement of a line. Money should be of a lower priority than this. But, even then, the traits that make an English Bulldog an English Bulldog is detrimental to its health.

The snub-nose on a massive head that gives the EB its distinctive look gives the EB a breathing disadvantage. Therefore, these dogs have a relatively more difficult time breathing than most dogs. Therefore, a bulldog has a disadvantage when trying to cool itself during hot weather or while exercising and has a disadvantage when sticking its head out of a car window and has a disadvantage with air pressure like on the cargo of an airplane, etc. Common genetic respiratory issues are stenotic snares and elongated soft palate. You might say - get only a bulldog with a long pedigree that doesn't have this problem then you won't have this problem. Not necessarily. If you're breeding a snub-nosed dog, you have a higher chance of having this problem crop up in the litter. You can always breed for a longer snout... but then, you won't be breeding a standard English Bulldog. A lot of these issues can be alleviated by proper care of the Bulldog. Don't exercise him when it's hot, space out his exercise to several times a day instead of one long one if he starts to breathe heavily, when you make long car trips make sure the car is well ventilated and air-conditioned, and avoid the cargo area of the van on longer trips, etc.

The thick, wrinkly skin of an EB also give EBs a disadvantage. It is prone to yeast/bacteria infections, demodectic mange, pyoderma, etc. A lot of this can be alleviated by proper care of the wrinkles from head to tail.

The massive chest of an EB also give EBs a disadvantage. A lot of EBs suffer from an enlarged heart, valve defects and heart murmurs. Structural joint problems are common such as elbow and hip dysplasia, athritis, etc. As EBs are predisoposed to these issues, proper nutrition is very important. The problem is - even vets have no clue what is proper nutrition for a dog, let alone an EB! An EB parent would need to research and study dog nutrition. Giving the dog the cheapest food you can find at Petsmart may just end up costing you thousands at the vet office.

The tail of an EB is naturally stubbed. This EB trait can also be detrimental to its health. A lot of EBs are prone to tight tails prone to infection, inverted tails that would require surgery, and impacted anal glands. Proper care of the EBs tail pocket and regular cleaning of anal glands is needed.

A female bulldog is at a very high risk when having babies. EB puppies have a relatively big head so it is common for the puppy to get "stuck" on its way out putting the mother and the puppy at great risk. If you don't plan to breed your bulldog, spay her. If you plan to breed your bulldog, plan for a c-section.

EBs are also prone to allergies, urinary infections, bladder infections, pyometra, etc. EBs have a weaker immune system than most dogs and they can be either allergic (over-active immune system) or yeasty (non-active system). This is also alleviated by proper nutrition. And just a note - one EB may do really well with Blue Buffalo Wilderness while it would cause health problems on another EB. What's the best food for an EB? The good quality food that your EB does well on...

I have 2 English Bulldogs. But if anybody asks me if they should get one, I always say, get a non-standard one. Look for one with a longer snout, lesser wrinkles, narrower chest... basically, the ones that are not cute. When you're looking at a bulldog, don't pick the ones with the eyes far apart ("Mongoloid" looking). And yes, always know the history of its parentage and what health problems they have. There are some breeders that are breeding non-standard bulldogs to eliminate the common issues with bulldogs. An example is the Amitola Bulldogs. I'm not recommending them. I just found them on google. But, if I was to buy a bulldod instead of rescuing one, I would get one from breeders like those.

Because... even with all the health problems of a bulldog and having to be ready to mortgage your house to pay the vet, these dogs are just the most amazing personalities of all the dogs that I've had. They're not for everyone, that's for sure. They are independent dogs - they act like human children - having the "terrible two's" stage (between 0 - 2 years old) when they're puppies, stubborn brats at "teen-ager" age (2-3 years old), and mellow lazy bums at "adult" age. You tell them to "Sit" and they look at you with their brains working, weighing out what advantage it would be for them to "Sit" or just ignore what you said... I love that about them!