Complete Guide To The Bulldog: Care, Exercise, Feeding and More

With his big and boisterous bark, sturdy stance, and intimidating prominent jaw, the Bulldog makes quite an imposing guard dog. But, underneath his tough exterior, the Bulldog is nothing but a loving and devoted family man. With minimal exercise requirements and a loving disposition, the Bulldog is an excellent choice for families with limited outdoor space to dedicate to exercise.

I graduated from the University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine, home of the probably the world’s most famous bulldog mascot – UGA. While at school, I did get to help treat both UGA V and UGA VI. I adore the breed and love seeing them come into my practice. I’ve been fortunate to see many of this breed over my career.

In fact, I always feel that if I see a Bulldog the week that UGA football is playing a game – they will win that game. It’s a silly superstition but it seems to have worked most week over the past 20 years.

Me With Two Of My Bulldog Patients

How Big Do Bulldogs Get?

Male14″-15″ at the shoulder Around 50 lbs
Female14″-15″ at the shoulderAbout 40 lbs

While the Bulldog may be short in stature, this pup can sure tip the scales. Males and females are generally around the same size reaching just 14 or 15 inches at the shoulder. Males tend to weigh more, tipping the scales at 50 pounds, while females are usually more slim, weighing just 40 pounds. 

If you see Bulldogs bigger than this, it’s likely because they are what I call “top-heavy.” While Bulldogs are typically depicted as having massive shoulders in comparison to their hips, the healthiest bulldogs are going to be more proportionate.

What Do Bulldogs Look Like?

The Bulldog is known mostly for its very distinguishable appearance. The Bulldog has a wrinkled face with plenty of loose skin around the head coupled with a squished and shortened nose, tiny ears, a protruding underbite, and a furrowed brow. The Bulldog shows a tough exterior which is enhanced by its short and glossy fur. 

The Bulldog’s coat can be a range of colors but is always cut short and is very smooth. The English Bulldog may be a solid or brindle pattern. Available colors include white, red, or fawn, or any pattern with these colors in a piebald pattern.  

What Is The Personality Of A Bulldog?

You don’t get a much better personality than the Bulldog. This dog is loving, devoted, sweet, and easy-going. The dog is the ultimate people pleaser who just wants to be close to his family members. This breed of dog is supper mellow and happy to sit alongside you as you binge-watch your favorite Netflix series. The dog requires minimal exercise and is happy to stay indoors.  

Don’t let the mellow disposition full you, though, because this dog can have a stubborn streak. Although generally easy to train, the stubborn streak can make learning certain behaviors difficult. Although, once a Bulldog has accepted the fact that he will learn a new behavior, the dog is usually able to execute the new behavior flawlessly, in a short amount of time. While the Bulldog won’t be a straight-A student in the obedience class, he can easily learn basic commands. It can be difficult to house train this breed of dog, but with patience and consistency, it is possible. 

With his sweet disposition, this dog is extremely good to house with children. He loves children and will consider them his own pet, someone to care for and look out for. He is affectionate and will want to follow both you and your children wherever you may go, always wanting to be a part of whatever is going on around your home.  

Although this dog is loving and affectionate, he can also make a wonderful guard dog. This dog is fiercely loyal to his own family and will be the first to notify you if stranger approaches who means to harm. Despite its small stature, this dog has a very loud and powerful bark that can be intimidating to people. Be careful with the Bulldog around other dogs. Although the dog can be friendly with the right training and socialization, the Bulldog has been known to be aggressive around other dogs.  

How Much Grooming Do Bulldogs Need?

When it comes to grooming, the English Bulldog is very easy to care for. The short and smooth coat only requires a quick brushing about twice per week. Use a soft-bristled brush to brush your Bulldog for about ten minutes. Not only will this help to keep his fur silky and smooth, but it will also help to reduce the minimal amount of shedding.  They will also love you greatly for this.

The biggest amount of maintenance required on this dog will be to keep his skin healthy. Although irresistibly adorable, the heavy wrinkles in this dog skin can be an excellent site for bacteria and debris to gather. If left to fester, debris can quickly cause infection and irritation in the folds of the English Bulldog’s skin. Be sure to use a cotton ball and peroxide to clean the wrinkles.

You can also use commercially available unscented baby wipes to clean between the folds of skin. Although this dog does not need to be bathed regularly, about twice per year, be sure to thoroughly dry the skin folds after a bath to remove any trapped water.  

Because this dog requires minimal exercise, you want to make sure the nails remain short and even. Trim the nails about once a month to keep them a good length. Walking on rough surfaces can also help to wear the nails down naturally. Be sure to keep the Bulldog’s teeth clean and tartar-free with daily brushing.

How Much Exercise Does A Bulldog Need?

The Bulldog has very few exercise requirements, and left to his own devices, would be happy to be a couch potato. But, to stay well exercised and the appropriate weight, this dog should go on daily walks to keep him fit. A simple brisk walk or a bit of moderate exercise playing fetch should be enough to keep this low energy dog in shape.  

Because this dog requires very little outdoor space to roam and run, they make a perfect apartment dog. Taking the dog for a quick walk through the city is enough to keep him happy. Remember, because of the shortened snout on this dog, he can be extremely sensitive to hot or humid climates.

Always be sure to house this dog in an air-conditioned space, and be sure to save exercise and walk time for the early morning or early evening after the sun has set. Exercising this dog in intense heat can cause the dog to overheat and potentially develop heatstroke, which can be fatal.  

There are outliers, however, that love activity and will require more of your time. I’ve seen Bulldogs in Agility competitions and they vary on their level of motivation and skill. I once watched a Bulldog literally walk through an agility course to the great amusement of the spectators. Compare that to the Bulldog in the video below:

What Is The Best Food For Bulldogs?

Bulldogs require no special dietary considerations other than they tend to lean towards obesity as they get older. They’re notorious scroungers and you’ll want to make sure you keep your trash containers closed and locked.

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

Over the Counter Weight Management Diets:

I can not stress how important that it is to keep your Bulldog at a healthy weight. An overweight Bulldog, especially an obese one, will have a harder time breathing and just walking.

How Long Do Bulldogs Generally Live?

Sadly, the Bulldog only lives to be between 8 and 10 years of age. Although, with the right care and treatment, the English Bulldog may live longer. The oldest Bulldog recorded was 20 years old.  

What Health Conditions Do Bulldogs Have?

Where do we start? This breed is prone to many issues, and prospective owners need to have an understanding that they might have to spend a fair bit of time at the vet. The following conditions are the most common:

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
  • Allergies/Skin Infections
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • ACL Tears
  • Arthritis in the Elbows and Knees
  • Cherry Eye

Ear infections and skin infections frequently come about as a result of allergies. However, because dogs sweat through their feet, Bulldogs have a pretty high rate of foot infections that can be caused by inadequate cleaning. If your Bulldog has frequent problems with their feet (infections, cysts, etc), soaking their feet in the bath with a few inches of cool water (no additives) every few days can help keep their feet cleaner and healthier.

Where Can I Find Out More About Bulldogs?

Bulldog Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find a Bulldog?

If you are just starting your search for the perfect English Bulldog puppy, consider starting with the Bulldog Club of America. This organization features a list of reputable and trusted breeders throughout the United States.

The AKC Puppy Page is also a good option.

f you are searching for a Bulldog from a rescue, consider starting with the Bulldog Club of America’s Rescue Network. This network provides plenty of resources to potential adopters to find a local English Bulldog rescue. By rescuing an English Bulldog, it is possible to get a purebred dog that also needs a home. 

Why Are Bulldog Puppies So Expensive?

Most English Bulldogs are born via C-Section. This medical procedure makes the birth of Bulldogs extremely expensive for the breeder (roughly $2000-$4,000 at minimum depending on where they live). To help absorb some of this cost, the price to purchase an English Bulldog puppy can be quite high compared to other dog breeds. Be sure to factor this higher cost into your purchase price before purchasing a new puppy.  

Interesting Facts About Bulldogs

  • Bulldogs, AKA English Bulldogs, are the national mascot of England where they originated hundreds of years ago (first known record was in the 13th century)
  • These dogs were originally bred to be fighters which is likely why they developed the skin folds that endure today. With so many skin folds it was likely difficult for another animal to actually hurt the Bulldog in a fight
  • They were added to the AKC in 1886 as the 26th breed to be recognized in America
  • In 2019, Sports Illustrated named the University of Georgia’s Bulldog mascot, UGA, as the greatest mascot in college football history