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Can Bulldogs Clean Themselves? And Why it Matters

I love bulldogs, but I don’t enjoy cleaning them. Wouldn’t it be nice if bulldogs could clean themselves? I was curious to see if I could afford to skip my bulldog’s bath this week, so I did some research and here is what I found.
Can bulldogs clean themselves? No. The anatomy of a bulldog will not allow for them to clean all parts of their body. Dirt, grime, and other detritus will stick to their body. The best way to take care of a bulldog is to check their hygiene daily, paying special attention to problem areas like the ears, anus, tail pocket, and skin folds.
Bulldogs are super cute, but they sure can stink. Be your dog’s hero and help it out with regularly planned washing every now and then.

Why Can’t Bulldogs Clean Themselves?

Breeding is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can emphasize desirable traits (intelligence, cuteness, etc.) while simultaneously eliminating traits that would make dogs weaker. But on the other hand, breeding can lead to unintended consequences.
Those unintended consequences come out in full force with the bulldog. Unfortunately, bulldogs are built in such a way that doesn’t allow them to reach all parts of their body. A Labrador Retriever, for example, is able to stretch and bend in multiple directions, which allows it to clean all the areas that are in danger of getting seriously dirty.
Bulldogs, however, do not have such easy access. Their large heads and broad shoulders make it impossible to reach their own genitals and other such messy areas to clean. This leaves bulldogs especially vulnerable to infections and rashes.
In order to remain healthy, a bulldog requires constant and diligent maintenance on the part of the owner. This practice will ensure that your dog remains clean and healthy. We will talk more about specifics a bit further down.
For now, grab your plastic gloves and a bar of soap because we are going to take a look at the dirtiest parts of a bulldog.

Dirty Bulldogs

Like anything that moves and breathes, bulldogs are liable to get dirty. They, however, are at a special disadvantage due to their unfortunate anatomy. Where are a bulldog’s most stubborn cleaning areas and what can be done about it?
Let’s start with some good news before we get down and dirty.
Bulldogs shed surprisingly little when compared with other dog breeds. A bulldogs coat is short, soft, and smooth. When the hair is shed, it doesn’t come out in clumps of long hair as it would with other dogs, rather it falls out in short stubble like individual strands. Imagine the little hairs on the back of your neck after a haircut and you have a general idea.
Their short hair is easy to clean, which is a huge relief to a lot of dog owners.
Now that we have had a chance to appreciate the easy parts of a bulldog, let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty.
A bulldog has 10 main problem areas that should be checked regularly. They are:
  1. Eyes
  2. Ears
  3. Gums and teeth
  4. Chin
  5. Skin
  6. Snout
  7. Paws
  8. Wrinkles and folds
  9. Weight
  10. Genitals
To help with grooming and cleaning you will also need the right supplies. Read this post Best Grooming Brush for Bulldogs Plus 9 Grooming Essentials!.
Now let’s take a look at how to specifically help your dog maintain each one of the aforementioned areas.

Bulldog Eyes

Bulldogs have a lot of issues with their eyes. All that drooping skin really causes some issues for these poor guys. If their eyes aren’t cared for regularly, your bulldog may end up scratching or rubbing his face too hard, resulting in permanent eye damage.
Be on the lookout for any of these issues:
  • Swelling
  • Infection and inflammation
  • Boogers and gunk
  • Tear Stains
  • Cherry eye
Cherry eye is an issue common in bulldogs and other short-nosed dog breeds. All dogs have three eyelids. An upper eyelid, a lower one, and an inner eyelid. Dogs have a connective tissue in their lower eyelid that holds the inner eyelid in place. Bulldogs have this too, but due to their anatomy this connective tissue is longer than in other dogs and can result in the occasional slippage of the inner eyelid.
The inner eyelid protrudes from the bottom and is red like a cherry, hence the name cherry eye. Cherry eye is common and is usually brought on by aggressive playing or shaking of the head. While this issue isn’t fatal in any way, it can cause your bulldog a great deal of irritation and can be the cause of the aforementioned eye issues if not resolved.
You can always take your dog to the vet who can easily solve the issue or you may choose to fix it yourself. Have someone teach you how to roll the inner eye back under the lower eyelid.
I know it sounds scary to perform, but it actually is pretty easy.
For other issues, such as infection or gunk, make sure you regularly wash your dog’s face with dog-friendly soap and water.

Bulldog Ears

Dogs navigate the world largely through hearing. Proper ear care is essential to your bulldog’s health and happiness.
Be on the lookout for:
  • Ticks and mites
  • Infections
  • Waxy buildups
  • Pungent odors
I recommend checking your dog’s ears at least once a day, but you will probably be fine as long as you check once a week. Ticks, mites, and bugs are pretty easily taken care of with an anti-bug bath.
If you encounter a waxy buildup, a foul smell, or red swollen skin, it is more than likely a sign of a potentially dangerous infection. Make sure you consult a vet and get any needed antibiotics.

Bulldog Gums and Teeth

The gums and teeth of a bulldog are great indicators of your animal’s overall health. Make sure that your bulldog’s gums are a healthy pink color. Pale or white gums are a sign of serious, potentially fatal, internal distress that warrant an immediate trip to the vet.
The teeth should be white and free of plaque. Plaque buildups are common in bulldogs and could potentially contribute to cardiovascular distress.

Bulldog Chin

Acne is common for bulldogs and will typically crop up anywhere from 5 to 8 months of age and will persist their whole lives through. To keep acne down, clean the chin frequently with baby wipes. Serious acne is potentially dangerous and may require the attention of a professional.

Bulldog Skin

Brush your dog regularly and bathe him at least once every two weeks.
Look for any bumps, bald spots, or other irregularities.

Bulldog Snout

Be mindful of dry or sunburnt noses. If the nose seems cracked or dry, apply a dab of natural moisturizer like almond oil to relieve some pain.
I have heard that Shea nut butter is a good moisturizer and it acts as a natural sunscreen. It’s worth looking into if you want a combination product for your bulldog.

Bulldog Paws

A dog’s paws are prone to cracking and dryness. Be aware of any slivers or infection between your dog’s toes. Look under the paw pads where gunk likes to hide.
Make sure that your bulldog’s nails are trimmed and tidy. They should be short, but not too short.

Bulldog Wrinkles and Folds

People love the fatty folds of bulldogs but unfortunately so do germs and bacterium. Your bulldog is unable to reach these infection hiding crevices, so daily cleaning is a must.
In order to clean, simply slide a baby wipe into the fold to prevent fungus and bacteria buildup.
If left unchecked, serious infections and molds may inflict your pooch.

Bulldog Weight

Too much weight may put a deadly strain on the internal organs of your bulldog. Make sure that your dog is getting frequent exercise on the daily. I recommend at least a 15-minute walk every day.
Bulldogs have a proclivity for inactivity, so take the initiative and get your dog up and moving.

Bulldog Genitals

Due to their anatomy, bulldogs are unable to reach their own genitalia. Make sure you gently wipe your bulldogs bottom after every poop and keep an eye out for any redness of abnormalities.
For full details on cleaning your bulldog from head to toe, we have tons more information here that you’ll want to know.

Related Questions

Do bulldogs stink? Bulldogs can smell pretty bad if you don’t wash them. Their folds and wrinkles require daily maintenance to prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria. Bulldogs should be washed at least once every two weeks.
When should I take my bulldog to the vet? If your bulldog is behaving abnormally then it may warrant a trip to the vet. Be on the lookout for any red, inflamed, dry, or infected patch of skin on your dog’s body which may be a sign of a greater issue. Keep an eye on your dog and check vulnerable areas frequently.
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