Buying a pet

Bulldog: Breed info & health advice

Date updated: 17 11 2017

At first glance, those big slobbering chops and powerful swagger suggest a pooch who’s ready to rumble. But don’t be fooled: the English Bulldog is most definitely a lover not a fighter! Loyal, affectionate and gentle; your typical bully is a people person who thrives on lots of love.

Bully’s don’t need too much in the way of exercise and can settle nicely into a small home. Fave hobbies include snoozing and eating - so to avoid obesity, be careful not to spoil your buddy with too many treats!


Average lifespan: 8-10 years

Weight: Males 24-25 kg, Females 22-23 kg

Height: Males and females 31-40 cm 

Colouring: The classic combo is red and white, but solid white and red are also pretty common.

Grooming requirements: moderate to high maintenance (they’re big shedders!).

Average purchase cost: around £1,500 for a Kennel Club registered pup (slightly less expensive if non-registered)

Bet you didn’t know...

  • Those wrinkles originally had a grisly purpose. This dog’s distant ancestors were bred to battle with bulls. The wrinkles were bred into the breed to stop the blood from getting into the dog’s eyes.
  • That chilled-out temperament comes from their pug ancestry. When bull-baiting was finally put to a stop, breeders realised they make great companions. Careful selective breeding with pugs has resulted in the breed we know and love today.
  • Bulldogs are pretty awesome on four wheels. In 2015, Otto the skateboarding bulldog broke the world record for skating through the longest ever human tunnel. Check out this video from The Guinness Book of Records!
  • Your neighbours will love him... Good news, bullys don’t bark much. That said, they more than make up for it with all those snorts, slurps, snores and flatulence!
  • Adam Sandler, Brad Pitt, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Jackson, Pink, Reese Witherspoon: just a few of the celebs who’ve owned English Bulldogs. 



Great for…
They’re lovable and loyal, but these guys definitely know their own mind. This stubborn streak needs a combination of confidence and patience to get a handle on - worth bearing in mind for newbie dog owners.

Spike the Bulldog from Tom and Jerry wasn’t exactly best buddies with his feline housemate, but thankfully real life with a Bulldog is a lot less chaotic. This breed is not naturally aggressive to other four-legged family members, so with proper socialisation everyone should get along just fine.

Bulldogs usually form very strong bonds with their owners. If the house is empty all day, be prepared to take the time and effort to help your buddy overcome any separation anxiety. If you’re looking for a jogging partner, this probably isn’t the dog for you. One or two short walks a day is all the typical Bulldog needs.

Behaviour & Training
If an English Bulldog really doesn’t want to do something, it can be tough talking him round. Getting too cross has little effect (they’ll probably just waddle away and sulk for a while). But if you start training from a young age and focus on the basic “Sit”, “Stay”, “Wait” and “Leave” commands with confidence, your Bully should understand who’s boss and learn to respect you.

These pooches are big fans of (and very possessive of) food. On the plus side, this can help with your training regime. Small treats are perfect for encouraging good behaviour or luring an apprehensive Bulldog puppy into their new crate.

While usually non-aggressive, the Bulldog is no pushover - and they’ll stand their ground if they feel it’s called for. So whether it’s new people or pets, always be on hand to ensure a smooth introduction. This applies to children, too. Bulldogs can make great family pets - as long as the kids understand that they don’t like to be tormented, and need their own space sometimes.


The flipside of that healthy appetite is your buddy will pile on the pounds given half a chance. Intake depends on size and age - so always listen to your vet’s advice as to how much to give and how often.

With this comes the need for an exercise regime; essential to keep your Bulldog active and keep their joints nice and strong. Again, check with your vet, but for most adult Bulldogs, 20-40 mins each day (ideally split into a brief walk twice a day) should be perfect. Don’t overdo it, as over-exertion can put too much pressure on your dog’s frame.

As a flat-faced breed, panting enough to keep cool can be a challenge. So keep your buddy out of the hot sun (morning and evening walks are probably best when it’s really warm).

Those folds (aka “ropes”) on your Bulldog’s face should be checked, cleaned and dried daily. Do the same with the tail if it’s tightly curled. This prevents the build up of moisture and grime, which can quickly lead to infection. Any signs of redness or soreness should be reported to your vet.

In terms of grooming, a short coat means that brushing once a week should be fine. This might need to be done more frequently in Spring and Autumn when shedding is more common. A bulldog’s coat and skin stays moisturised naturally, so your buddy will probably only need a bath once every three months or so (anything more frequent can lead to skin irritation).

Common health issues to watch out for...

  • Brachycephalic syndrome is the collective name for a range of upper airway problems that can arise in all flat-faced (brachycephalic) dogs - including the Bulldog. Symptoms can include a real struggle with breathing, wheezing and excessive snoring and a reluctance to exercise. Treatment can range from lifestyle management and medication, right through to surgery.
  • Joint problems are common with these short, stocky dogs. This is often as a result of dysplasia - i.e. where the joints fail to knit together properly. If it’s a major issue, surgery may be the right way forward.
  • Eyelid problems can arise due to all of that extra skin around the face and eyes. This can cause the eyelid to droop either downwards or towards the eye. If needed, it can be corrected through a surgical procedure. 
  • Corkscrew tail happens if your pooch's tail doesn’t form correctly. The pain that arises due to associated nerve problems means that surgery is sometimes needed.
  • Birthing complications. A small hind and pelvic bones means that Caesarean procedures are the norm.