One of the most distinctive breeds in appearance, the Bulldog has changed dramatically over the years. Originally bred for bull- and bear-baiting, their origins have defined much of their appearance. Their strong jaws and short muzzle were perfect for hanging tenaciously onto a bull, and their front-heavy weight distribution and short back made it difficult for the bull to shake them. Although today's Bulldog retains many of those physical characteristics, the personality of the modern Bulldog is completely different. They are loving, gentle dogs who live for human attention but demand very little. They love to play, but rarely initiate it. Their docile, tolerant, and attentive nature makes them excellent with children, although older Bulldog puppies can be a little too playfully strong and clumsy for toddlers. As adults, they're more careful and passive about play, but they never completely grow up.
It is a widely-held misconception that Bulldogs are not very intelligent. In general, they are actually highly intelligent dogs who want to play, cuddle, or have their tummies rubbed, rather than learn some obedience trick. However, if you can keep it fun, they can learn the basic commands. Their true intelligence, though, is more subtle. They are masters at figuring things out... most especially figuring out how to get their way. In fact, they often think 'no' means 'wait until I'm not looking;' they are great at making you think they can't reach the table, or the bed... until you're not looking; and if all else fails, they're masters of the guilt trip. They seem to know that the sad, pouty face and the carefully-placed sigh can get them most anything. They truly have a human-like quality, and their feelings are easily hurt. But they're quick to forgive, especially with a treat and a hug!
The Bulldog is not a demanding breed by nature, but they do require a family to have a strong knowledge of the breed and its healthcare requirements. If you aren't willing to commit to possible frequent vet visits, then a Bulldog isn't for you. The breed is essentially man-made, and they have been bred for specific physical traits. Unlike most breeds, where nature has shaped their physical characteristics to fit their function and their environment, Bulldogs aren't built for thriving in any natural environment. So before welcoming a Bulldog into your home, the first step is to become knowledgeable about the breed, and the second step is to find a vet that is experienced with Bulldogs. That is not to say that Bullies can't be healthy... they simply rely on you to keep them healthy, and to care for them in general. One critical note: Anesthetizing any dog has its risks, but with Bulldogs, it is very serious. Because of their unusual airways and difficulty breathing, the muscle relaxation that comes with anesthesia can easily cause their airway to collapse. Sadly, many Bullies have been lost in simple, non-emergency procedures that involved anesthesia. That is but one reason for finding a vet that is very experienced with the breed. It is also a reason that breeding is undertaken by only the most knowledgeable, experienced, and committed families... over 90 percent of litters are born via Caeserian section, and care of the newborn puppies is extremely difficult.
Overall, the Bulldog can be a wonderful addition to your family, if you are willing to commit the time to learn about the breed and provide the proper health care. Equally importantly, they need your time, companionship, and love. In return, you will get unconditional affection (except for the occasional pouting) and a delightful, often comical friend.
Quote from the Bulldog Mind: 'I'm not a dog, I'm a Person!... only shorter.'
Bulldog Common Health Screenings
The following health screenings are often performed by responsible Bulldog breeders:
Cardiac Evaluation - OFA
CERF Screening (Canine Eye Research Foundation)
Hip Dysplasia (OFA or PennHIP)
Patellar Luxation Test - OFA
Bulldog Health Issues
The following conditions may be a concern in the Bulldog: