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Can Bulldogs Play Fetch? And How to Train Them!

Bulldogs have a lazy reputation. Unlike other dogs, they are not very active and prefer to sleep as they like a relaxed lifestyle. In fact, their short noses make it hard, if not impossible to play as hard as other dogs, but they are playful.
Can bulldogs play fetch? Yes, bulldogs can play fetch and enjoy doing so. Playing fetch is a great way to exercise your bulldog. Be aware of your bulldogs limits, play outside in mild temperatures, and play in short spurts. Always stop playing when your bulldog shows any signs of exhaustion. 
For dogs, it’s an instinct to fetch. They love chasing objects and retrieving them back for their owners. Historically, many dog breeds were trained to provide for humans in the past by hunting and retrieving food. Bulldogs have this instinct regardless of their lazy personality. Although bulldog’s history reveals that they were trained for bull baiting in the past, efforts of rehabilitation have made them desirable pets who love to play and please their family. Despite the lazy reputation, many bulldogs love to play fetch. Like other dogs, they also like chasing toys and bringing them back to their owners. In fact, you can see bulldog owners playing fetch with their bulldogs in parks nowadays. However, bulldogs are not retrievers, and it may not come as naturally to bulldogs as it does to retrievers or Labrador breeds. For example, I had two greyhounds growing up and they are not retrievers. I had to train them to enjoy the game, which worked out great since they do love to run and chase things. What dog doesn’t? Follow our steps below to teach your bulldog to play fetch and enjoy it.

Condition Your Bulldog to Play Fetch

Bulldogs are trainable. They can be trained to play with continuous and repeated exposure to the nature of the activity. Although playing fetch is an instinct which requires no training for the skill to be acquired, some bulldogs may need training to help them enjoy playing fetch.
In training your bulldog to fetch, you may apply the concepts of classical conditioning. These conditioning techniques were proven useful in training dogs. You may apply classical conditioning by getting a ball and throwing it not too far from you for your bulldog to retrieve. It is noteworthy to remember that classical conditioning requires following a repeated pattern. Thus, it requires consistency to be effective. The steps to train your bulldog to play fetch are pretty simple.
  1. Show your bulldog the ball or item to be fetched.
  2. Let them smell it and look for it.
  3. Throw the ball a few feet from where you are standing.
  4. Encourage your bulldog to get the ball. If your bulldog does not move to the ball, have your bulldog walk with you to the ball and pick it up. Repeat steps 1-3 until your bulldog understands.
  5. When your bulldog brings the ball back to you, praise your bulldog and show them lots of love.
  6. Throw the ball a little further each time until your bulldog gets the hang of it.
You’ll be playing a fun game of fetch in no time. Remember that this is supposed to be a fun game so don’t get frustrated if your bulldog doesn’t catch on right away. Just keep trying when you go out for walks or bathroom breaks. Never use force or show frustrating to your bulldog. These pups are sensitive creatures and also always need positive socialization and training to keep them from becoming aggressive.
With these training methods, it is important to remember that the distance where the ball is thrown should not be very far so that your bulldog will not run too fast or too far to retrieve it. Never make your bulldog a race with another dog. Remember, bulldogs get exhausted easily. Therefore, keep your conditioning training at medium energy level. If you are interested in teaching your bulldogs some other tricks, check out our article on how to train your bulldog to rollover or how to train your bulldog to stake board.

Best Weather To Play Fetch

Before you play fetch with your bulldog, put in mind that they are extra sensitive to extreme heat or cold. Playing fetch with them in these kind of temperature can cause heat stroke and even death.
Exposing them to extreme heat would make them experience trouble in breathing while cold weather could make them chill. Having these thoughts in mind, play fetch with your bulldog in moderate and cool weather. Make sure that their exposure to the sun is not too long. Bring water with you on walks or during play time to help keep them cool. Here is more information about bulldogs and staying outside in hot or cold temperatures

Choose the Best Toys and Objects to Play Fetch With

The best toys and objects to play fetch with are those that fit the characteristics of your bulldog. Thus, it is important to be educated with the general characteristics of bulldog so that you know what type of toys to get.
Consider some characteristics as follows:
  • Bulldogs love toys
  • Bulldogs love destroying toys
  • Bulldogs have a powerful bite
  • Bulldogs love to chew
  • Bulldogs cannot distinguish some colors
Knowing these characteristics, you should buy fetch toys that address the aforementioned characteristics if you want to save money and make your bulldog enjoy playing fetch longer. Consider the following tips:
  • Choose toys that cannot be easily ripped apart when chewed. Durability is a key consideration if you want toys that will last long.
  • Consider your bulldog’s health. As bulldogs love chewing and ripping things apart, make sure that the material that the toys are made of is not toxic so as not to kill your bulldog when ingested. Buy toys specifically designed for dogs so if they swallow anything on accident, they won’t be put in any risk.
  • As to the color of toys, it is believed that dogs are partially blind, unable to see colors other than black, white and grey. Thus, they largely depend on color shades and tones. Some suggested colors that attract dogs are purple, yellow and blue. Consider buying toys that are within these color shades.


Making your bulldog play fetch may not be easy, but it is not also impossible. By proper training and conditioning, you may be able to make your bulldog with a lazy reputation love playing fetch.
However, the success of your efforts is heavily dependent on your ability to use training techniques effectively and make your bulldog love playing. To achieve that, you will need to start by using its characteristics to meet its basic needs like meeting the ideal weather condition for play and buying the proper toys to play with. Above all playing fetch should be fun and help you and your bulldog bond. It should never feel like a chore. Bulldogs love feeling loved and will be happiest when playing and being involved with their family. Make your bulldog a full part of the family and make it a fun game of fetch for your bulldog and catch with the kids.

Related Questions

  1. Do bulldogs need exercise? Yes, bulldogs absolutely need exercise. Each bulldog is different, but about 2 fifteen minutes walk each day and some play time is the average amount of exercise bulldogs need to stay healthy and happy. While they do tend to sleep more than other breeds and need to stay indoors most of the time, bulldogs will become destructive if they don’t receive the appropriate amount of exercise each day. Not only that, but with all the health concerns bulldogs have, its best to keep them fit and in appropriate weight range with a healthy diet and daily exercise.
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