Bulldogs as Pets: Breeds, Life Expectancy, Cost, and Temperament
Bulldogs are loyal, friendly, affectionate and have that squishy face you can’t help but love. They are great pets for just about any family. From the apartment dweller to the large family with a sprawling estate, the bulldog can fit right in.
What to expect with Bulldogs as pets. Bulldogs are incredibly loyal and gentle. They were originally bred to fight bulls but don’t let that strong, broad body fool you. Bulldogs are the most affectionate dogs on the block, happiest when they are in the company of their family and are gentle with children in the home. When well socialized, pet bulldogs can get along well with other animals.
Looking for a dog that is low maintenance? Look no further. The bulldog is the king of couch potatoes and do not need or even want a lot of exercise. A short walk around the block is all the exercise the bulldog pets need. They will be ready for a long nap after a short walk. Because of the anatomy of a bulldog, they can not tolerate much more. Hiking and long runs are not for the bulldog.
So you are thinking about getting a pet bulldog and having a bulldog join your family. Let’s talk about the different breeds, life expectancy, cost, temperament, and the best place to buy a bulldog puppy. Then you can take all these factors into consideration as you choose a bulldog puppy.
Bulldogs can be traced back to the all the way to the 5th century. The bulldog wasn’t always a house hold lazy dog. They were originally used to help herd livestock. By the 15th century, bulldogs were used in bull-baiting. Bull-baiting includes the bulldog biting onto the nose of the bull and pulling the bull to the ground. Bulldogs were bred and trained to be aggressive and fight. Bull-baiting was finally outlawed in 1835 and the breed seemed destined to become extinct.
However, the bulldogs were exported to the United States and Germany. They worked as herding dogs. In Germany the dog was bred and created the Boxer. As the bulldog’s popularity increased, many breeds were created for different purposes, all of them strong, loyal, and completely lovable. Although they were once working dogs, they definitely aren’t working dogs now. The American Kennel Club puts them in the non-sporting group for good reason. Today bulldogs would pass out if they had to work like they did back in the 5th-15th century, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Breeds of Bulldogs
There are many different breeds of bulldogs, each one with different traits and things to consider when you choose a bulldog pet. Bulldogs have been bred over the century to be much less aggressive dogs. In fact, they look entirely different than they did when they were used for bull baiting in the 15th century. Let’s face it, the modern bulldog is not built to take on a bull more than 10 times its size. The bulldog has been bred with other dogs for over hundred years and all new dogs have been created, and thank goodness because bulldogs are the best pets. Let’s review the top 5 bulldog breeds.
English bulldogs, also know as British bulldogs, has its own distinct look. Broad shoulders, short, stout and strong, not to mention that flat, wrinkly face. The squishy mug is their signature look. Originally bred for bull-baiting, the English bulldog has been bred into a shorter breed. English Bulldogs weigh anywhere from 40-50 pounds and stand at about 15 inches tall. Their fur is short and smooth with their faces are flat and wide, joules hanging below the jaw and a massive under bite that give the English Bulldog its distinct look (and drooling problem).
They are very friendly dogs, but pet English bulldogs come with a laundry list of health concerns. From gait and hip dysplasia to low tolerance to hot and cold temperatures, the English Bulldog is a little high maintenance when it comes to health, but don’t let that hinder you from choosing an English Bulldog as a pet.
English bulldogs as pets are loyal, compassionate, good with small children, and love to be around people. They also have low exercise needs, and tend to be pretty passive dogs, although they can become aggressive when they feel threatened. They would make an excellent pet for someone who wants a companion or the company of a dog, but don’t want or are unable to go on long walks or jogs with their dogs.
Olde English Bulldog
Not to be confused with English Bulldogs, the Old English Bulldog (or Olde English Bulldogge) was bread in the 1970’s to be a healthier version of the working bulldog. The Old English Bulldog is a mix of English Bulldogs, American Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, and the American Pit Bull Terriers. This mix brought back the athleticism of the bull baiting dogs of the 1820’s, but has a calm temperament and better health than the English Bulldog.
As far as looks go for the Old English Bulldog, females can weigh from 50-70 pounds while males can weigh between 60-80 pounds. They a have short coarse coat of fur, typically a brindle red with white.
The Olde English Bulldog has quickly become respected as a working dog. They are very obedient dogs, helpful therapy dogs, and often excel in weight pulling. They are very sensitive to cold and hot temperatures, like most bulldogs are, they do not suffer from breathing problems like English Bulldogs do.
While the Olde English Bulldog is typically healthier than other bulldog breeds, they can have the same health problems.
French bulldogs have a unique look. Their tall-pointed cat-like ears have give them a distinct look. Much smaller than the typical bulldogs, they usually weigh in at less than 25 pounds. Don’t let that silly little face fool you though, these are very smart, playful dogs. This breed was created in the 1800’s as a cross between bulldog, and a Ratter (a dog who hunts for rats and other vermin, belonging to the terrier breed.)
The French Bulldog is a companion dog and loves to be close to their family. French bulldogs can suffer from separation anxiety especially at a young age, but can be a cause for concern even as the French Bulldog becomes older. French Bulldogs left alone for too long tend to become bored and destructive.
While the French Bulldogs love company they do need some exercise, at least two short walks a day. French bulldogs as pets are the perfect dog for the apartment or townhouse dweller. While they need to get energy out, they are also calm, quiet, and patient. They were also the 4th most popular dog in the United States in 2017.
The boxer was originally bread in the 19th century and is a mix of the extinct Bullenbeisser, a Mastiff, and of course, the bulldog. The Boxer Bulldog is probably the most intimidating of the bunch. It still has the upturned nose, but slightly less wrinkly face, and the body build is much stronger than the French or English Bulldog counterparts. The Boxer was used in the armed forces during World War II for many purposes. A messenger dog, an attack dog, and guard dog. When World War II ended, many soldiers took the Boxers home as a pet and soon the Boxer became a popular dog choice.
The personality traits of Boxers make them loyal guard dogs. They are brave, strong, and territorial. That being said, these Boxers as pets need careful training and plenty of exercise. Unlike the other bulldogs, Boxers have A TON of energy and need a lot of exercise. Boxers make for very playful, active companions. This is not the Bulldog breed for families that like a slower pace. Because of their intelligence and loyalty, Boxers make great therapy dogs and K9 Unit police dogs.
Bulldog Life Expectancy and Health Problems
As far as dogs go, the bulldog pets have a generally short lifespan 8-12. The English Bulldog lives for about 8-10 years, the French Bulldog has the longest average lifespan for the bulldog family of 9-14 years.
While these dogs are totally and completely lovable, bulldogs come with a laundry list of health concerns to keep to watch and care for as your bulldog grows. Bulldogs have the highest occurrence of cancer for any breed, and many bulldogs also suffer from heart disease and arthritis. Let’s touch some of the other on the common health issues for bulldogs.
Bulldogs are prone to skin problems, especially the English Bulldog. Because of the folds in their skin, moisture and bacteria can get trapped in the folds and wrinkles and the skin can quickly develop a condition called Fold Dermatitis. This typically occurs in the folds around the face and tail of the bulldog. Bulldog’s unfortunately have the perfect combination of skin folds and lots of drool to make them prone to Fold Dermatitis. Outbreaks can be acute if treated quickly and properly or Fold Dermatitis can be chronic.
Symptoms of Fold Dermatitis include
- Scratching, rubbing, biting the affected areas
- Excessive licking
- Swollen, foul smelling lips
- Blisters and sores
To prevent Fold Dermatitis, clean and dry the areas around your bulldog’s skin folds daily, especially around the face and tail. Fold Dermatitis is often treated with an antibiotic.
Cherry Eye in bulldogs is a condition in which the whites of the eyes, as the name suggests, turn red. When a bulldog has Cherry Eye, the soft tissue in the eye (the nictitating membrane also known as the third eye lid) has become inflamed or prolapsed. There are no ways to prevent this condition. Typically, anti-inflammatory creams are recommended but sometimes surgery is required.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is caused by the flat face of the bulldog. This syndrome literally means shortened head. The shortened skull bones give the bulldogs their signature look, with the flat face. With their small face structure, the soft tissue in the nasal are compromised. Because of their small upper jaw and under bite, their teeth become overcrowded and their nasal passages are small and narrow, these bulldogs are susceptible to heat stroke and have a low exercise tolerance.
Symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome include:
- Noisy breathing while inhaling
- Gagging while swallowing
- Nlue tongue or gums from a lack of oxygen
- Fainting, especially after exercise or excitement
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome should be evaluated and treated by a veterinarian If your bulldog is showing any of the previously described symptoms, it is important to seek veterinarian care to treat your bulldogs brachycephalic airway syndrome promptly. if diagnosed, surgery would be required (staphylectomy) to improve this syndrome.
Bloat or Gastric Dilation Volvulus
While tall, narrow dogs are most at risk for bloat, bulldogs are not immune. If your bulldog has Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV), it is an emergency and must be treated immediately. If GDV is left untreated, the dog will go into shock and die in 1-2 hours, even in mild cases.
GDV is a condition in which the stomach turns, cut off blood vessels and then fills with gas. While the stomach fills with gas, pressure pushes on the diaphragm, cutting off blood flow to the body and heart. GDV in bulldogs is likely to occur after exercise or eating.
Signs and symptoms of GDV include
- Enlarged Abdomen
- Heaving, as if to vomit
- Salivating, more so in bulldogs
- Pain when you press on the dogs stomach
Veterinarians are not entirely sure what causes bloat/GDV in dogs. To prevent GDV, encourage your dog to eat slowly, and separate dogs from eating next to each other during meal times, so meal time is not a competition.
Hip Dysplasia in Bulldogs
Hip Dysplasia is one of the most common health problems that plagues bulldogs. This is a condition in which the hip socket does not form properly. Thus, the ball of the femur does not fit into the socket properly. The socket is either to short or too big. The bulldog’s body will try to repair this on its own by forming cartilage over the socket. This leads to inflammation and other problems including muscular atrophy and osteoarthritis (when the protective cartilage over your bones wears down).
Treatment for hip dysplasia in bulldogs include exercise, physical therapy, medicine, and in severe cases, surgery. For further help read this great article Do Bulldogs get Hip Dysplasia? And What to do!
Cost of a Bulldog
The cost of a bulldog varies between each specific breed, but you can expect to spend anywhere between $1,500-$4,000 on a bulldog puppy. Boxers tend to be the cheapest of the breeds, ranging between $700-$1,500, French bulldogs usually cost between $1,400-$2,000, and the popular English Bulldog can range between $1,500-$4,000. Check out our full article on bulldog costs for real life examples and explanations.
The actual price of a bulldog puppy can depend on the breeder and their reputation, location, and if the puppy is show quality. Show quality puppies will usually cost a bit more, and come from a lineage of show dogs.
$1,500 may seem like a lot for a new puppy, but if you think about how a bulldog is bred and born, it will make sense. Most bulldogs are bred using artificial insemination and have to be born via C-section because the shape of the bulldog’s body make it difficult to do so naturally. Many reputable breeders will also do genetic testing to test for genetic diseases common in bulldogs.
If you happen to come across a bulldog puppy that costs less than $1,500 proceed with caution. The breeder most likely does not have a good reputation or the breeder is a large for-profit company. The breeder probably doesn’t know much about the lineage or health problems that could possibly be genetic.
However, where ever you purchase or rescue your bulldog from, it will still be a wonderful, lovable addition to your family. If you do decide to bring a bulldog home, the initial cost of purchasing a bulldog is just the beginning. Be prepared for vet visits, immunizations, and the cost of helping the bulldog with any health problems, as this breed is ailed with many.
Given that bulldogs costs can quickly add up, this is something you must consider and be prepared for before purchasing a bulldog. Many bulldogs can be adopted from a shelter. They are frequently abandoned because their needs can quickly become too much for their owners to pay for. Check your local animal shelter and humane society first if you’d like to adopt.
Temperament of Bulldogs
Although bulldogs can appear fierce and intimidating, thanks to breeding practices, the bulldog’s temperament is a car cry from what it used to in the 19th century when Bulldogs were bred to bait bulls. In the 19th century, bulldogs were very aggressive and ready to fight. Breeders have bred out those aggressive genes and what we have now is a loyal, expressive, passive, companion dog.
Their calm temperament make them a great pet. They will demand cuddles, and they will love children who want to play. They just want all the love they can get. Bulldogs don’t enjoy being alone for long periods of time. They get lonely and bored and can become mischievous and destructive. Since they are an indoor dog, this may make it difficult to leave for work for an entire day. You never know what you may come home to.
While bulldogs are calm and mostly passive, they can quickly become aggressive if they feel threatened. This aggression needs to be managed to prevent injuries to others. Bulldogs can become particularly aggressive around food. They will defend their dinner bowls and need to eat in a quiet corner, away from people and other animals.
Male bulldogs in particular tend to be more aggressive if they haven’t been around other dogs often. Expose your bulldog to other dogs starting at a young age. Bring them to a dog park, or go on a walk with a friend or neighbor who also has a dog. Watch them carefully and train them when they become aggressive.
The Boxer breed is the exception to this. Boxers needs a ton of attention and exercise. They will quickly become bored and destructive if left unattended for long periods, especially if he hasn’t been out of the house to run around. The Boxer will need extra training to learn how to control themselves.
Training a Bulldog
While the bulldog may be cute and cuddly, they can be extremely hard to train. They aren’t known for the train-ability like boarder collie. Bulldogs are extremely stubborn and resist your attempts to train them. However, bulldogs are intelligent dogs and are capable of being trained. This just means you have to be extremely persistent when your bulldog is ready to be trained. Use positive trained methods with rewards. They are capable learning a lot and are very smart dogs. In fact, English bulldogs are known for the skateboarding skills. As long as you are persistent, they can be trained. And once they are trained, bulldogs are extremely loyal pets.
Is a Bulldog Right for me?
If you are looking for an active companion to take running or hiking with you, this is not the breed for you. If you are looking for a companion dog, you are home often, and love to snuggle, then ask yourself a few more questions before bringing home a bulldog.
- Do you have a separate place for the dog to eat their meals alone?
- Do you have a temperature colored home?
- Are you home often?
- Do you have time to walk a dog 15 minutes every day?
- Are you prepared to care and pay for the many medical conditions your bulldog may have?
Taking on any dog can be a challenge for any family, especially if you haven’t had a puppy before. They are a lot of work that will require training and a lot of extra attention as they adjust to their knew life.
Where to Buy Bulldogs
Finding the right Bulldog puppy might require a little patience. You should start by looking for a reputable breeder. First and foremost, avoid any breeder that claims to have mini bulldogs and avoid foreign breeders that sell through U.S. brokers. Importing a dog to sell it is the sure sign of a puppy mills. Puppy mills further health problems in bulldogs. Another place to steer clear of is pet stores. Pet stores also purchase their puppies from puppy mills. Thankfully, there have been fewer puppies for sale in pet stores in recent years.
Now that we’ve talked briefly about where NOT to buy a bulldog pet, here’s a few tips to find the right place to buy a bulldog. Before doing business with the breeder, look up their qualifications. Breeders should be registered with the American Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club has a Breeder Referral Program which is an excellent resource for you. You can also check with the Bulldog Club of America and ask for a referral that is local or at least within 100 miles of your home.
Another great resource is the community around you. Check on Facebook or search for a Bulldog club in your area. You can ask them for suggestions and pick their brain. They will probably have great suggestions for you. These are people that already have a Bulldog in their family.
When you select a breeder, expect the breeder to do a home check. Good breeders will care where the puppies are going and want to ensure they are going to a good home, prepared for the commitment of a bulldog. If the breeder does not want to do a background check on your family, you should be weary of them.
When you select a puppy, ask for a pedigree and genetic testing. A good breeder will have this. A good breeder will also want to be aware of any trauma or extenuating medical problems the bulldog may have. This will help him further the breed. You may also appreciate a good relationship with the breeder as it will give you opportunities to ask questions as the puppy grows.
Lastly, you may have to be patient. Breeders may already have a waiting list for their next litter of puppies, so once you’ve found a breeder you can trust, pay your deposit, and wait for the perfect puppy to come along.
Have I convinced you or scared you away from bringing a bulldog into your home? I sure hope I didn’t scare you away! Pet bulldogs can bring so much love and enjoyment into your life. They are expressive, cuddly, and full of personality.
But you should be aware of the magnitude of your decision. Bulldogs are a 10 year (or more!) commitment. They are lovable, easy-going, cuddly, and fun! They make great companion dogs. But they are also a lot of work. Not only will they need your affection and attention, they are unfortunately plagued with health problems. Bulldogs need you to be their best advocate. This may take your time to give proper care to your dog, and it can also be costly if your bulldog ends up needing surgery.
Bulldogs can be great additions for older couples who would like the company of a dog and large families. If you are looking for a dog to take hiking, running, or to spend the day on the lake with, this dog is perhaps, not what you are looking for. They do make great guard dogs, always alert, even when they are sleeping. While hard to train, they are protective of those they love.
If you decide a bulldog is a right fit for your lifestyle, it is important to know what essentials you should purchase and plan for when bringing home a new pet. Read this informative article on What Do I Need for a Bulldog Puppy?
Lovable, friendly, affectionate and will return all the love, all day long. Bulldogs as pets are a great addition to a loving home.