Bulldogs Deep Dive – The Evolution From Fierce to Friendly

Squishy and wrinkly faces with an adorable stout stature, who wouldn’t love a bulldog? Bulldog fur parents will definitely tell you they are worth it! Cuddly, friendly, and lazy, these dogs are great companions.

Unfortunately, they are also prone to suffering from a slew of health issues and require a lot of care. Another unfortunate point is that bulldogs (especially English bulldogs) were bred to have short and squat bodies with more facial wrinkles.

Let’s take a look at how the breed evolved, where it came from, and how to care for these adorable dogs.

What is a Bulldog?

Bulldog
Photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash

The bulldog has various subbreeds such as the French bulldog, American bulldog, and English bulldog. Most of the time when people use the term “bulldog” they are referring to English bulldogs, which are among the largest. 

These dogs have cute wrinkly faces, well-muscled bodies, and are short and wide set. You can’t mistake them and it’s easy to single them out from a group of dogs with their defining features.

Where Did the Bulldog Originate From?

Where Did The Bulldog Originate From
Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Bulldogs have a history that traces back to 13th century England. They were mostly used for sport (more on that in a minute), which is a far cry from their companionship in the modern day. When you think of a bulldog, images of the stout brawler canine come to mind, and bulldogs have long been a symbol associated with England.

What Was the Bulldog Bred For?

Bulldogs Playing At The Beach
Image by Frank Knoche from Pixabay

Have you ever wondered how the bulldog got its name? Well, the origins of the bulldog are quite dark. These loveable dogs were initially bred for bullbaiting. It’s hard to imagine these lazy, chill and affectionate creatures were capable of such sport back then.

What is bullbaiting? It’s an animal blood sport back in the day that involved a bull and a pack of dogs trying to take it down. People would pay to watch and bet on the outcome. Bulldogs back in old England in the earlier days were brutish, extremely tough, and fierce.

The good news came in 1835 when bullbaiting was banned. Some people were afraid this also meant the end of the bulldog since bullbaiting was its main purpose. However, humans started cross-breeding the bulldog with other terrier breeds to create a more agile breed of dog for dog fighting.

As time went on, others started breeding the bulldog for companionship, and slowly and gradually, we ended up with the pile of lazy wrinkles we see today.

What Does a Bulldog Look Like?

Brown Bulldog
Image by Cyril from Pixabay

We’re tackling the English bulldogs and you may think they all pretty much look the same. While that is mostly true, these endearing animals can have different coat colors. 

Color

There are 8 standard colors for the English bulldog: Black, chocolate, seal, brindle, fawn, blue, lilac, and white. You can also find these colors on other types of bulldogs such as the Frenchie.

Bulldogs can be solid colors, but some can have mixes of white on their bodies, which is referred to as piebald. Black, chocolate, and white are pretty self-explanatory, but what are the other colors?

Seal is a rare color found in some dog breeds. It is a mixture of dark reddish brown that can almost seem black sometimes. Brindle is what we usually see, it is a common coloring that most people think is brown. While it is brown, brindle dogs also possess what looks like faint black tiger stripes within the brown coloring.

Fawn is a buttery tan color that is seen on many dog breeds. There are many shades of fawn and it can range from a light beige to a deeper reddish tan.

Blue bulldogs are very rare, and they possess what seems to be a greyish silver with a blue tinge. 

Lastly, lilac bulldogs are also very rare. The color can resemble blue, but it is grey with a purplish tinge rather than blue.

Unique Physical Characteristics

1. Eyes

Bulldogs have dark eyes either black or brown, but French bulldogs can have light-colored irises. Their eyes will seem smaller in proportion to the rest of their body and face and are wide set.

2. Tail

A bulldog’s tail is naturally short, so it can be hard to tell that they do come in different shapes. They can have straight tails, which are just a few inches in length, and tapers to a point.

The corkscrew tail is a popular type of tail shape that many people look for. It is a tightly curled shape that has the tail wrapped around and sitting tightly against the bulldog.

Your bulldog could have a long tail, but this is considered “faulty” according to some, but dogs are adorable, amazing, and loveable creatures regardless of what they look like. 

3. Ears

A bulldog’s ears typically fold down. They are soft and bulldogs don’t have large ears, while the French bulldog could have erect bat-like ears. 

4. Snout

The bulldog is another brachycephalic breed, which means smaller nostrils, and shorter snouts with a flattened appearance. The flat snout gave them an advantage from their bullbaiting days, but in the modern day, it is tougher on the bulldog’s respiratory capability. 

How Big Does a Full-Grown Bulldog Get? 

Full-grown English Bulldog
Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

As we briefly mentioned, the English bulldog is one of the larger types of bulldogs (mostly due to their weight). If you want a small and “easy-to-handle” companion, then go for a French bulldog, which is known to be smaller. Let’s take a look at the average size and weight of a full-grown bully.

Height

Bulldogs aren’t very tall, what pushes them over the threshold from being a small breed is the weight. In terms of height, an English bulldog is typically 16 to 17 inches tall from the withers (the area above the shoulders).

Weight

Bulldogs are considered medium to large dogs and can weigh in at around 50 to 60 pounds. Same as the height, the weight will depend on lineage and gender. 

Male vs Female

As you may have guessed, male bulldogs are larger and heavier than females. The males are the ones that can weigh in at around 60 pounds and stand at 17 inches tall. Females are typically smaller around 16 inches tall and closer to 50 pounds. 

Different Types of Bulldogs

There are quite a few variations of bulldogs, but let’s cover the most common ones.

English Bulldog

English Bulldog
Image by Валентин Симеонов from Pixabay

The English bulldog sometimes referred to as just the bulldog, is the standard and what this article focuses on. These dogs have the pushed-in faces, the innocent expression, and the low-set bodies we think of when we think of a bulldog.

French Bulldog

French Bulldog
Image by Martin dalsgaard from Pixabay

French bulldogs are among the most popular breed of bulldogs. These loveable creatures are smaller in size and are descendent of the English bulldog. Even though they are smaller, they have a personality that’s larger than life, with large ears to match!

American Bulldog

American Bulldogs
Image by B Wills from Pixabay

The American Bulldog is exactly what it sounds like. A bulldog that has gone American! The ancestors of the American bulldog were English bulldogs that British immigrants brought over in the 1800s. This is why their faces greatly resemble the English bulldog, but they have slimmer, taller, and more athletic bodies. 

Australian Bulldog

Australian Bulldog
Image by Carrolquadrio via commons.wikimedia.org/

The Australian bulldog is right in between the English bulldog and the American bulldog in terms of size and appearance. They can be quite large and heavy and can reach 20 inches in height and close to 80 pounds in weight! 

Continental Bulldog

Continental Bulldog
Image by Pitsch from Pixabay

The continental bulldog, or Conti, is quite a new breed compared to some of the others on our list. They are also very large and look like the Australian bulldog.

Olde English Bulldogge

Olde English Bulldogge
Image by Sara Landvogt at de.wikipedia via commons.wikimedia.org/

Remember how we mentioned that people tried to create a more athletic version of the English bulldog before companionship? The olde English bulldog is the result. The olde English bulldogge of today still resemble their ancestors. 

How to Take Care of a Bulldog?

Bulldog Is Taken Care By Letting Them Exercise And Play
Image by Daniel Borker from Pixabay

As we mentioned, taking care of a bulldog is not the easiest task, but it is if you’re not an active type of person.

Exercise

Depending on the type of bulldog you have, the amount of exercise can vary. More athletic types, such as the American bulldog, will require at least an hour. However, English bulldog owners may find that their canine companions are perfectly happy going for a relaxing walk around the neighborhood and spending the rest of the day just chilling.

Grooming

Since they have very short coats, the bulldog will not need regular trims. They don’t shed that much, and even if they do, it’s not as obvious as long-haired breeds. Giving your pooch a once-over with a soft-bristled brush will do the trick once a day. Give your dogs a bath as necessary. It may be once every 2 weeks if they get really dirty or once a month.

One thing to be aware of is the wrinkles! Don’t forget to wash between the folds and to dry those areas properly or it could cause skin issues.

Diet

1. How much to feed

How much to feed your bulldog will depend on the activity level and life stage. A puppy will need more food than a senior and an active bully will definitely need more energy (food) compared to one that’s lazier.

The food you choose to feed should have feeding guidelines on the package. When in doubt, you can always ask your vet!

2. How often to feed

Bulldog puppies should be fed 3 to 4 times a day. Puppies need smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to help with digestion. As your dog ages and nears a year old, you can start to eliminate meals until you’re left with 2 times a day, once in the morning and once at night. 

3. Common Food Allergies

Bulldogs are prone to skin allergies, which could be triggered or worsened by food. We would suggest steering clear of beef, eggs, and chicken to be safe if your dog shows signs of allergies.

Are Bulldogs Easy to Train?

Training A Bulldog To Fetch
Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay

They are adorable, sweet, affectionate, and friendly, and most positive adjectives can be used to describe bulldogs. However, they also embody negative ones such as stubbornness. Yes, although your bully is super sweet, it may be really stubborn, which can make training a little frustrating at times. Luckily, these dogs are pretty food motivated and positive reinforcement training can make things easier.

Are they Easy to Potty Train?

They are stubborn, but potty training with bulldogs won’t be much more challenging than other breeds. Be consistent, and patient, and use plenty of positive reinforcement! It’s also important to understand that accidents do happen and punishment will only make the process more difficult for both parties. The best way is to reward the good and ignore the bad.

What is the Bulldog Temperament?

Bulldogs Do Well With Children
Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay

One of the biggest factors to consider when deciding on a dog breed is temperament. Let’s get to know the bulldog a bit more and see what type of environment it thrives in.

Does this breed do well with children?

Do you have kids? If so, a bulldog is great! They are great with kids and some types have enough energy to keep your children busy and keep up with their energy output. 

Does it do well with other pets?

Bulldogs are usually fine with other pets as well, but a lot of how they act will depend on each individual dog’s personality. You will have a better chance if you introduce the bulldog after the other pet. However, proper socialization from a young age will typically help the bulldog develop into a well-rounded individual.

Are Bulldogs aggressive?

Due to their origins, you may be worried about aggression in bulldogs. Again, this is something that depends on your dog’s personality, but bulldogs in general now are not aggressive. However, that inner fierceness can still come out at times at unfamiliar dogs.

What Environment is Ideal for the Bulldog?

Bulldog Plays Water in a Beach Gets Enough Exercise
Image by Валентин Симеонов from Pixabay

A bulldog’s short snout and sensitive skin can mean it won’t be comfortable in certain environments. If you have a lazy bulldog, then it’s okay if you don’t have a very large space, as long as your pooch gets to go out for enough exercise.

Bulldogs can be city dogs as most we have seen live in metropolitan cities or in a suburb close by. Bulldogs don’t need acreage to be happy and can handle city living just fine. 

As for the weather, it isn’t something we can control but where you live can help determine if a bulldog is right for you.

Ideally, bulldogs would be in a cooler climate with 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius) being the most optimal. Bulldogs don’t do well with either very hot or cold temperatures.

What Is the Average Life Span of a Bulldog?

Bulldog With Proper Care
Image by Q K from Pixabay

Bulldogs have a long history of professional breeding to appear the way they do now. Unfortunately, a lot of the progress had to do with aesthetics more so than health, which is why these dogs don’t have as long a life span as some other breeds.

Bulldogs typically live around 8 to 10 years, but with proper care, many can live longer. Other types of bulldogs such as Frenchies, American bulldogs, and even the olde English Bulldogge have longer life spans that can reach 15 years.

Bulldog Common Health Issues

Bulldog With Joint Health Issue
Image by Myléne from Pixabay

Due to the brachycephalic nature of bulldogs, many of them can suffer from cardiac and/or respiratory issues. Other than that, they can also be prone to skeletal and joint issues due to their barrel-chested shape.

How Much Does a Bulldog Cost?

Bulldog Puppies with Rare Color
Image by Mar from Pixabay

Bulldogs can cost anywhere from $1500 up to $4000. The average price should be around $2500. This will depend on the coloring (remember how we mentioned some rare colors?) and the pedigree. 

Other Similar Dog Breeds

Aside from the different variations of the bulldog, what other dog breeds are similar to the bulldog?

Dogue de Bordeaux

The Dogue de Bordeaux has a similar face shape and short snout like the bulldog, but has taller and slightly more elongated bodies. If you want a devoted pet that is larger than the standard bulldog, then Dogue de Bordeaux is the way to go!

American Pitbull Terrier

The American pitbull terrier is a descendant of the old bulldogs from back in the 1800s. It can be considered a branch of the bulldog, and while pitbulls do have a bad rap, they can be very sweet and loyal companions.

Boxer

The boxer also has a pretty short snout but compared to the bulldog, it is much more athletic in build, slender, and tall. They are very high-energy dogs boxers can also give you a barrel of laughs for all the mischief they can get up to. 

Bullmastiff

The bullmastiff is part of the mastiff breed but it definitely shares certain traits with the bulldog such as the squished-in face and short snout. These dogs may look very fierce, but they are actually quite loveable and gentle.

Bull Terrier

We included the bull terrier on our list not for appearances because they look quite different from a bulldog. The reason we included this dog breed is the shared personality traits. Bull terriers, like bulldogs, are loyal, confident, and strong. 

Finding the Right Breeder 

A Man Carrying a Bulldog
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

The right breeder should be registered, have deep knowledge about the breed, are very passionate about dogs and what they do, and provide a responsible and safe environment for breeding and caring thereafter. 

AKC (or similar organizations in your country) should have a list of trusted breeders you can refer to. Your vet may also have helpful information or a reputable shelter is a great place to look for a lifelong companion. Just be aware that dogs in shelters could require a lot of work and training to adjust to a new environment, especially if they have experienced trauma.

Below are some tips to help you vet breeders find the right one! A good breeder will:

  1. Answer questions about the breeding environment and let you visit.
  2. Only produce 1-2 litters a year or less. If they produce more they should have many sires and moms and rotates between parents.
  3. Have a waiting list due to responsible breeding circumstances and times.
  4. Know everything about the breed, how to care for the dog, and offer training tips.
  5. Properly socialize the dog and do some basic training before sending off the pups.
  6. Not send a puppy home before 8 weeks.
  7. Work with a reputable vet.
  8. Engage in responsible mating.
  9. Have positive references, reviews, etc.
  10. Ask you questions about your circumstances as well to ensure their pups are going to good homes.
  11. Keep in constant contact with you and are always available for advice and help for the duration of your pup’s life.
  12. Provide a contract that stipulates returning the pup rather than giving it up to a shelter should your circumstances change and it should come with a health guarantee.
  13. Provide necessary documents and paperwork (for pedigree and where applicable).
  14. Not set off any alarm or warning bells. You should feel very comfortable with the breeder you choose!

Conclusion: Is the Bulldog Right For You?

Standard English bulldogs are not very sporty dogs, so if daily relaxing walks and spending time cuddling with your pooch at home is your ideal lifestyle, then a bulldog may be great for you! If you live in places with extreme cold or heat in winter and summer, make sure you have adequate preparation to make your bully as comfortable as possible. 

A bulldog can be a lot of work, as with every dog breed. You may get lucky and have one that is very well-behaved, but if not, remember that patience, consistency, determination, and positive reinforcement will do the trick!

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