English Bulldog - Trupanion Dog Breed GuideEnglish Bulldog - Trupanion Dog Breed GuideEnglish Bulldog - Trupanion Dog Breed Guide

English Bulldog



English Bulldog Breed Highlights

A white English bulldog playing with a large yellow ball

  • English Bulldogs are a favorite choice for team mascots, probably due to their tenacity, loyalty, and never-give-up attitude. Over 40 universities use the Bulldog as their mascot, as well as other organizations, including the United States Marine Corps!

  • Winston Churchill was known as the British Bulldog, but he never actually owned this breed (he actually had miniature poodles).

  • Otto, an English Bulldog in Peru, holds a Guinness World Record for skateboarding through the longest human tunnel. He made his way through the 30-person tunnel like a pro.

  • Due to their large heads that make natural birth difficult, nearly all of English Bulldog puppies are born via cesarean section.

  • English Bulldogs are not natural swimmers. Their flat faces, broad heavy chest, and their short legs make swimming difficult if not impossible. Make sure your Bulldog wears a life vest when around water!

Unique Physical Features

English Bulldog illustration

English Bulldogs are known for their wrinkles and drooly jowls. While these squishy-faces are adorable, those wrinkles actually had a gruesome purpose when the breed was originally developed for bull baiting. While holding onto the bull with their powerful jaws, the face wrinkles would divert any blood and sweat away from the Bulldog’s eyes so that they could see.

VETERINARIAN TIP

As with many other brachycephalic breeds, English Bulldogs often have narrowed nostrils, extra-long soft palates, and other abnormalities in their respiratory system, making up a condition known as “Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome,” or B.O.A.S. for short. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your Bulldog has B.O.A.S. and if corrective surgery to widen the nostrils and shorten the soft palate might help your dog have a better overall quality of life.

Unique Personality

English Bulldog illustration

English Bulldogs are a loving and dependable breed, with their wrinkly faces and stocky build they still somehow tend to come off a little bit “royal” (it must be a British thing). They do have a bit of an independent streak — once they set their mind on something, it takes a lot of convincing to change their mind. Strong and playful, the English Bulldog enjoys meeting people almost as much as they love a long nap on the couch.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - low (couch potato)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

This sturdy and friendly breed does well with children.

With Other Pets

Icon - cat and dog outline

Though they can be a bit territorial at times, with proper socialization as puppies they’re happy to have other pets in the household.

Environment

Icon - outline of a house

The English Bulldog can adapt to a variety of lifestyles, from apartments to a home with a yard, though they are sensitive to hot temperatures and high humidity.

Average Lifespan
(Range)

8 - 10 years

Average Size
(Range)

40 - 50 pounds

Breed Group

Non-Sporting

Similar Breeds

History of the English Bulldog

A brown English Bulldog running in a park

English Bulldogs are believed to be descendants from ancient Roman working and military dogs called Alaunts, which were also the forebearers to the mastiff breeds. As the breed was refined through time, these “broad-mouthed” dogs were used as butchers’ dogs that helped them bring livestock to slaughter. The predecessor to the current English Bulldog had unique characteristics that were related to their function in baiting bulls (whether for slaughter or for sport as it became a popular pastime during the 17th and 18th century), with a wide mouth and strong jaws, shorter and stockier body that helped prevent injury when tossed by the bulls, and a tenacity and drive to keep going no matter what. When this grisly “sport” was banned in England in 1835, the breed almost went extinct due to no longer having a job to do.

Fortunately, Bulldog fanciers saved the breed by focusing on breeding for a calmer temperament, smaller size, and more appealing features, which created the current English Bulldog breed we have today. The Bulldog Club of England (which is also the oldest specialty breed club) formed in 1878, and the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886.

Changes Over Time

The English Bulldog has been a popular breed due to its calm and patient demeanor that makes it a great choice for a family pet. The breed has changed quite a bit from its predecessor, both physically and in temperament. Modern English Bulldogs have shorter legs and a heavier body and a much sweeter disposition. While they aren’t as physically capable as they used to be, they make an excellent companion dog that is loyal and protective of their family.

As their popularity has increased throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the English Bulldog has seen some unfortunate overbreeding, resulting in more prevalent health issues due to the desire for the excessively flat face and wrinkles, a prevalent underbite, along with shorter legs. In 2009, the British Kennel Club revised their English Bulldog standards in an effort to encourage healthier Bulldogs, but the American Kennel Club and the Bulldog Club of America have not followed suit.

English Bulldog Behavior and Training

The modern English Bulldog was bred to be a companion dog, but they still retain the courageousness and independent streak of their forebears. While not able to keep up for a daily run, they do enjoy getting out and about with their family to socialize. Their slow, lumbering gait is a magnet for attention and their sweet disposition and goofy antics make for constant entertainment.

TRAINING MYTH

Many people describe English Bulldogs as being a “stubborn” breed and hard to train. It all comes down to knowing what motivates them and using that to your advantage. They are descendants of bulldog and terrier breeds that were created specifically for working independently and not giving up, so some hard-headedness is to be expected. With positive reinforcement training methods and consistency, an English Bulldog is a joy to train and will be an excellent companion. Punishments, whether verbal or physical, not only damage the relationship between a Bulldog and their owner but also tend not to work in the long run. Often, it creates long-term behavioral issues. By focusing on teaching an English Bulldog what to do, rather than on reprimanding or otherwise correcting unwanted behaviors, they will be well-behaved, flat-faced rockstars.

Plays Well with Others?

  • English Bulldogs are known as a very social breed, and proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy is essential for their socialization.

TRAINER TIP

Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet so it doesn’t get overwhelming.

  • Bulldogs do especially well with children if they have been properly introduced and socialized from puppyhood. Their medium size and ability to handle handling make them a great choice for a family pet. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • English Bulldogs can enjoy the companionship of other animals in the home, as long as they have been properly socialized as a puppy and introduced. It’s especially important to properly manage a home with other dogs when you have a Bulldog, as the breed can be territorial or guard resources, especially with dogs of the same sex.
Graphic - bouncing red ball image

Exercise Requirements

  • English Bulldogs need small amounts of regular exercise to stay in shape, such as a short daily walk or playtime. Then they’re ready for a long nap on the couch or a Netflix binge for the rest of the day.

  • Be very careful in warm or humid temperatures, as the Bulldog is very sensitive to breathing issues in these environments. Don’t exercise them when it’s hot out and make sure they have access to plenty of cool water or a cooling mat. Bulldogs, like all flat-faced breeds, should always be monitored for heatstroke symptoms, which often include: heavy panting, drooling, bright red tongue or gums, rapid pulse, and wide, panicked eyes.

Mental Enrichment Needs

  • English Bulldogs love to eat and their food motivation can be used to keep their brains sharp as well! (Ask your vet how much is too much, to avoid weight gain.) Interactive treat toys or food puzzles keep them entertained, and puzzle bowls also help to slow down their eating speed (which also helps prevent gas!).

  • Bulldogs also love to chew, and not just when they’re puppies. Having a rotating menu of appropriate and safe chew toys helps to keep them from gnawing on your favorite pair of shoes and provides them with much needed mental enrichment.

Common Behavioral Issues

English Bulldogs can seem a bit domineering since they like to use their strong stocky body to simply push their way to where they want to go. This can be easily addressed by teaching them what to do instead, using positive reinforcement techniques. Simple consistency in teaching them appropriate behaviors like sit or stay will prevent them from just plowing through people or things to get them what they want. Bulldogs can also become territorial or guard their food and other resources from other dogs in the home. Feed them separately from other animals to prevent this and socialize them from puppyhood, paired with positive reinforcement for sharing things with others.

Activities the English Bulldog Enjoys

English Bulldog puppy illustration

English Bulldogs aren’t known for their physical prowess, but they do enjoy some quirky activities, such as:

  • Skateboarding

  • Trick training

  • Conformation

  • Belly Rub Connoisseur

  • Rally Obedience

English Bulldog Coat Type

The English Bulldog has a short smooth single-layer coat. You’ll see a variety of patterns and colors, including white, red, fawn, black masks, brindle, and piebald.

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 2 of 5 piles of fur

2 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Low Maintenance
  • Regular Bathing

To keep their short coat shiny and clean, English Bulldogs should be brushed twice a week. It’s incredibly important to keep their wrinkles clean to prevent any infections from developing. Daily cleaning is recommended with regular all-over baths. It’s a great idea to introduce your Bulldog puppy to basic grooming experiences in a positive and calm way. This will make lifelong care easy and stress-free.

Best brush for English Bulldogs: Bristle brush

Famous Owners of the English Bulldog

  • Ice-T and Coco Austin (Rapper/Actor, Model)

  • Adam Sandler (Comedian)

  • P!nk (Singer)

  • Willow Smith (Singer)

  • Olivia Wilde (Actress)

  • Ozzy Osbourne (Singer)

  • Brad Pitt (Actor)

  • Gloria Estefan (Singer)

  • Michael Phelps (Gold Medal Olympic Swimmer)

  • Danny Trejo (Actor)

Famous English Bulldogs

  • Tillman, the amazing skateboarding, surfing, Guiness World Record Holding Pup

  • Uga, the University of Georgia’s official mascot

  • Adam Sandler’s bestie, Meatball, who starred with the actor in Little Nicky, and also served as the ringbearer in Sandler’s wedding.

  • Zsa Zsa, the winner of the 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog Competition

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the English Bulldog Breed

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for English Bulldogs. Every English Bulldog is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Trupanion member Kelly

Kelly

Groton, CT

Condition: Sarcoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $18,522.39

"My golden Kelly was young when I found a softball-sized lump on Kelly’s left hind leg. Four weeks straight of radiation, six rounds of chemo and checkups every three months, including x-rays and full blood panel were needed. Because of Trupanion, I didn’t have to address the biggest deciding factor that most people face—can I afford this? I can honestly say Kelly is alive today because of the financial support Trupanion provided."

- Lori

Trupanion member Axl

Axl

Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

The Trupanion policy paid: $2,084.01

"At two, our German shepherd Axl was diagnosed with pneumonia. Trupanion took care of all our financial concerns. At four, his hip issues led to pain medications, rehabilitation and rest, which all resulted in improved pain-free movement. I’m so grateful that we chose a plan that not only covers the cost of his treatment but also any physical therapy or rehabilitation he may need."

- Nanette K.

Trupanion member Bella

Bella

Ellijay, GA

Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

The Trupanion policy paid: $15,283.83

"Bella was treated for Cushing’s disease and a pituitary tumor with radiation therapy. Had we not had insurance for her, the decision for her medical care would have been more difficult, as each treatment was expensive. However, because we have Trupanion, these decisions were easier. Rather, we could focus our attention on her treatment and recovery instead of the financial impact these procedures would have on our family."

- Jason P.

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