The English Bulldog is a wide, medium-sized, compact dog with short legs. The body and head are massive with extra skin on both the skull and forehead falling in folds. The cheeks extend to the sides of the eyes. The muzzle is wide, short and pug with a broad, deep stop. The black nose is broad with large nostrils. The dark eyes are deep set. The rose ears are small, thin and set high on the head. The jaws are massive, very broad, and square with hanging upper lips. The teeth should have an under bite. The tail is either straight or screwed and carried low. The short, flat coat is straight, smooth and glossy. Coat colors include red brindle and other shades of brindle, solid white, solid red, fawn, fallow, piebald, pale yellow or washed-out red or white or a combination of these colors.
The English Bulldog originated in the British Isles, descended from the ancient Asiatic mastiff. The dog was given the name “bull” because of its use in bull baiting and for its robust look of a little bull. They were aggressive, ferocious and courageous with the power to attack full grown bulls, which they did in arena combat before the practice was banned by law in the 19th century. Bulldogs would attack from the bottom up going underneath the bull and aiming for the neck, making it hard for the bull to fight back. Today’s Bulldog has a very different temperament from those of his ancestors, but still retains a strong determination.
Although the English Bulldog’s appearance can be somewhat intimidating, it is among the gentlest of dogs. Just the same it will see off any intruder, and few would risk a close encounter with a dog brave enough to bait a bull. It is described as a very affectionate and dependable animal, gentle with children, but known for its courage and its excellent guarding abilities. Bullheaded and determined, this breed can be very persistent. They do not give up easily. Bulldogs are very much a people’s dog, seeking out human attention and loving every bit it can get!! A lot of human attention is required for the breed’s happiness. Some English Bulldogs can be a bit dominating and need an owner who knows how to display strong leadership and understands alpha canine behavior. A Bulldog who understands its place in the human pack is nice to, and reliable with all people. This breed is good with family pets, but some can be combative with strange dogs if they do not see themselves as followers in their pack. When Bulldogs are young, they are full of energy, but slow down as they get older. They snore very loudly, most have drool and slobber tendencies and are messy eaters. Bulldogs that display guarding behaviors, such as guarding furniture, food, toys, or other spots in the house, or that are dog aggressive do not have humans who are being the dog’s pack leader. This behavior only happens when dogs are allowed to take over. These behaviors can be corrected when the owners start displaying the proper leadership. Dogs that feel they need to run the home are not as happy as dogs that know they are human followers, as it is very stressful for a dog to need to keep “his” humans in line.
The English Bulldog needs to be taken on a daily walk to fulfill its primal canine instinct to migrate. Those individuals that do not get this need met are more likely to have behavior issues. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog’s mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Teach them to enter and exit all door and gateways after the human. English Bulldogs that are in good shape are capable of moving very quickly for short periods of time.
The smooth, fine, short-haired coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. Wipe the face with a damp cloth every day to clean inside the wrinkles. This breed is an average shedder.
Bulldogs have numerous known genetic defects and are subject to various illnesses that affect many breeds. Common Bulldog health problems you may encounter include: elongated soft palate, small trachea, allergies, dermatitis, demodetic mange, eye lid anomalies, hip dysplasia and heart problems. Some of them have a tendency toward self-mutilation (especially if they have itchy skin), so owners should watch carefully for signs of skin irritation and scratching. If you are adopting an older dog, many of these conditions will already have been identified.
Twenty-four hour care by a qualified veterinarian must be available. Since not all veterinarians are knowledgeable about the health problems Bulldogs may have, you should consult experienced Bulldog owners or the rescue to find a capable veterinarian. Any veterinarian who will be doing surgery on your Bulldog should have previous experience with putting Bulldogs under anesthesia.
Bulldogs are extremely intolerant of heat. They must be kept in an air-conditioned area with limited trips outside when the outside temperature is over 80 degrees or the humidity is high. Close supervision is required during outside activity, especially in spring and summer to prevent over-exertion leading to over-heating. They also are not usually capable of prolonged physical activity whether the temperature is very warm or cold: a Bulldog is not for someone who enjoys taking a dog for long walks through the countryside.
Although all Bulldogs that we place are subjected to a thorough veterinary examination and are evaluated for soundness of temperament, we do not guarantee that they will not have any problems in their new homes. In fact, a period of adjustment is expected during which the Bulldog and the new owner will be getting acquainted with each other, and the Bulldog will be “settling in” to a new routine.
If we have any doubts about a Bulldog’s ability to deal with certain situations, we put restrictions on the type of home in which it will be placed (for example, by requiring no young children and/or no other pets.) We also provide guidelines for the new owners to ensure that they are aware of any special treatment the Bulldog may require. With the application of a little common sense in following the guidelines, new owners will find the transition into owning a rescue Bulldog to be relatively simple.