published February 2018
Bulldogs are one of the most recognisable breeds because of their hefty bodies, cute, wrinkled faces and pushed in noses.
Bulldogs can be known by many names including English Bulldog, British Bulldog, French Bulldog and American Bulldog. There is also an Australian Bulldog which is a mix of Staffordshire Bull Terrier and British Bulldog.
They are one of the more popular pure breeds, mainly because of their docile and loveable nature and courageous personality.
The average Bulldog is 30 – 38cms in height, weighs 18 – 23kgs and generally lives between 10 – 12 years. A Bulldogs colouring is usually red, fawn, white, brindle and piebald (pigmented spots on an unpigmented white background) or a combination thereof. There are usually thick folds of skin under their eyebrows, jowls under their neck and an under bite with an upturned jaw. Their tail is naturally short and either straight or screwed.
Bark Busters have trained hundreds of Bulldogs because behind that affectionate nature is a stubbornness and wilfulness to be in charge! Early training and socialisation and constant leadership is suggested or you will have a dog that is “bull-headed”!
Bulldogs were originally bred in England dating back to the 16th century and their main purpose was bull baiting. This is why they have a low centre of gravity and an under bite (making it easier to bite, grip and hold, while still able to breath).
Their wrinkles kept the blood from the bulls from flying into their eyes. In bull baiting, numerous dogs were used (with wagers placed on each) pitting the dogs against a tethered bull. The dog that grabbed the bull by the nose and pinned it to the ground was the winner.
When bull baiting was outlawed in 1835 (the Cruelty to Animals Act), the Old English Bulldog was crossed with the Pug to create a more affectionate family pet. The Bulldog retained its protective and fearless nature, but aggressive and ferocious tendencies were removed from the breed.
Now Bulldogs are known for being lovers not fighters!
Even though this breed looks grumpy, a Bulldog’s personality is by nature lovable and sweet. However, it’s tenacity and resolve means that it's difficult to change his mind once he decides to do something. It is important that you establish right from the start who is the leader of the pack, or else he will try and take control. They respond well to the Bark Busters style of training which is based on all natural and positive techniques.
Remember that dogs learn how to communicate with each other as a member of the pack on their Mother’s teats. Their mum gets them to behave not by using treats or prong and shock collars. That is exactly what the Bark Busters style of training teaches these dogs – how to communicate between human and dog. We teach you how to set rules and boundaries early on. Good training involves repetition, positive reinforcement and consistency. You have to let your Bulldog know that you mean what you say.
The good news is that although Bulldogs are slow to mature, once they have grown up, they seem to stay out of trouble. We have seen Bulldogs with serious cases of food guarding, which is why we don’t recommend feeding them around children or other pets.
Points of interest:
Although most Bulldogs generally get along with other pets in the family, we have seen many Bulldogs act aggressively toward other dogs of the same sex. Others don’t seem to get along with cats. It takes a tremendous amount of serious teasing to make this dog mad, but once he is, look out!
Most Bulldogs are friendly with strangers, but some can be politely reserved.
The Bulldog gets along best in temperate climates. They may want to be couch potatoes, snoring away, but you need to get them up and exercising every day since the breed can be prone to obesity. However, remember that Bulldogs are intolerant of warm weather, and may die if overheated. Too much exercise or stress can make it difficult for them to breathe.
As with other breeds, Bulldogs seem to have a face that some people find adorable, whereas others can’t take their drooling, snorting, wheezing and farting! Even though they are not barkers, you can hear their “dog noises” from far away!
Personality and Temperament
Bulldogs love kids, which makes them great for families. Loving as they are, a bit of the old-world Bulldog endures, which also makes them well-suited for the night shift guarding the house. Because of their gregarious nature, you’ll find Bulldogs to be people magnets wherever they go.
Bulldogs love to snuggle under the covers with you … don’t try and tell them they are not lap dogs!
You'll find Bulldogs to be:
The Right Training For Your Bulldog
This very lovable breed is trainable, but you must be patient and be prepared for their over-enthusiasm when trying to please you.
To begin with, start out slow, with small and brief exercises each day and build on these depending on your dog’s personality and energy levels. Making sure you allow lots of stops for your dog to have a drink of water.
It is not wise to give your Bulldog too much to do in the beginning or you could tire him, which could lead to your pet trying to avoid any efforts towards training in the future.
The best approach is to keep everything you do calm and your body movements to a minimum as this breed is easily distracted.
Best to initially start out on a lead around the home and advance to some off-lead training as your dog learns what you want.
They definitely have the intelligence to learn anything if you have the patience but you have to understand the breed’s capabilities and personality to understand what is possible.
As previously mentioned, the Bulldog does not like the heat and it can run out of steam quite quickly on a hot day. It is best to train them during the cooler parts of the day and only in short spurts.
Your local Bark Busters trainer is very experienced at helping you with the training of your Bulldog and knows the best way to get the most out of your pet.
Our training is based on communication, no harsh methods and more than 30 years-experience in dealing with all breeds. We can teach your Bulldog basic obedience (sit, come, stay) to help you to overcome tougher issues like aggression, sibling rivalry, separation anxiety and lead training.
The Bulldog was bred to be strong, powerful, effective, determined and assertive. It’s not typically an agile breed and does have some limitations to its capabilities. Having said that, we see many Bulldogs riding skate boards, surfboards and jogging along with their humans and even playing football. This will depend on the personality and energy levels of your particular dog.
It’s always wise to begin any exercise regime with short bursts of activity, making sure that you build your dog’s exercise routine up gradually.
Shy personality types might shun public life, preferring to stay at home where they feel safe and secure, surrounded by things they know. Outgoing and confident personalities will want to join in outdoor activities and be more than happy to join in most activities.
Just remember to monitor your dog’s activities and don’t let them overdo it. After all, they need you to look after their welfare.
Bulldogs are a very popular breed. Many people love their determined personality. They do however have a tendency towards infections in the folds of skin on their faces if they are not kept clean and dry. This can be challenging so it’s important to establish a routine as soon as possible. This is certainly an instance when an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. More than a few times we’ve been asked to help when Bulldogs have developed infections and the folds needed to be cleaned and medication applied. The infections cause the area to become very sensitive and many of these dogs will become reactive to attempts to clean their faces.
Whenever we work with a Bulldog owner, we always work on helping our client’s Bulldog build a positive association with getting their face cleaned. Building the positive association before there are problems is much easier than starting when there are already problems. Depending on how active the dog is and how dirty it likes to get, we suggest they practice daily. Here’s a process that has been successful for many clients.
If the dog likes treats, having a supply of small stinky treats or tiny pieces of cheese will be helpful. Start by calling the dog to you for petting. Start petting under the chin. Go slowly and talk to your dog in a calm loving tone of voice. Slowly bring your hands up to the cheeks and gently probe the folds of its cheeks with your fingers. You can occasionally give a treat, if the dog remains calm and non-reactive. Continue gently probing the folds working up on both sides of his face. Give him lots of calm praise as you proceed.
If the dog does react slow down and work outside the folds, gently stroking the cheeks but not going into the folds. Slowly work into the folds as you he lets you and stays unreactive.
Once he is used to being touched, bring out what you will be using to actually clean his face. Cotton balls or a soft cloth are good choices. Show him the item and when he leans in to sniff it, give him a treat, then put it away. Repeat that a few times until he doesn’t react when he sees the cotton or cloth.
Once he is ok seeing what you will be using, start by using it to pet him and stroke his face. Don’t immediately start probing unless he is completely fine with you doing it. Get him used to the feel of the item. Use the treats to help him build that positive association. Give him lots of calm praise as he stays unreactive.
Next you would start cleaning. Dampen the cotton or cloth, give him a treat when he sniffs the cloth and gently start to clean the folds. After cleaning, take another dry cotton ball or cloth and thoroughly dry the insides of the folds. Go slow, give yourself and your dog plenty of time.
By starting before there are problems, and building the positive association with having their face cleaned, the likelihood of infection is greatly reduced. Dogs love getting attention and affection and very often face cleaning can turn into a great bonding time. Once established this should be done daily and if your Bulldog is susceptible to getting dirty than it might need to be done more than once a day. Have fun and if you need help contact your local Bark Busters Trainer.
Everyday Illnesses and Injuries
Your Bulldog’s health concerns will change over the course of their life. A puppy might be more prone to eat something they shouldn’t, a 2 year old Bulldog may be more likely to rupture a knee ligament, and a senior Bulldog is far more likely to develop cancer as they age.
At any stage of life, here are some of the most common injuries and illnesses you should be aware of when bringing home a Bulldog:
Bulldogs also have personality and physical traits that may make them more prone to certain conditions—the short snout of a Bulldog makes it more sensitive to warm weather and prone to heat stress. The wrinkles and folds of a Bulldog also make it prone to skin conditions.
If you are ever concerned about your dog’s health, your local veterinarian is a great resource — no matter how small the question.
Genetic Health Concerns
Like many popular breeds, the Bulldog has its fair share of hereditary based issues, like hip and elbow dysplasia and heart conditions. Most reputable breeders now have their breeding stock checked and scored for these hereditary ailments by a veterinarian. You can request proof that the puppy you are purchasing comes from parents that have been checked for these issues.
Because many other health issues are also hereditary, you should do some research on the ancestry of your puppy and any health issues of that particular breed.
Many rescue organisations also check for common ailments before making them available for adoption.
As a pet owner, you should expect to pay for basic veterinary care like vaccines, spay/neuter, and annual checkups. Many pet owners don't consider the unexpected illnesses and injuries that can occur throughout a pet's life, and they don't prepare for them. Medical insurance can help a pet owner prepare.
Hide The Treat
Bulldogs love their food so this following game will soon become their favourite. Hide a treat in the home or your garden without your dog seeing where you hid it. Then encourage your dog to follow your scent to locate the treat. Give him lots of praise when he does.
Now add some degree of difficulty.
Always be mindful of your dog’s wellbeing and safety, making sure that everything you do is not likely to pose a threat to your dog’s safety.
You would not hide the treat in a cupboard where your dog might encounter a dangerous hazard. Check out the surroundings before starting any game or exercise.
Find My Scent
You will need several new or recently washed dog toys for this game. Separate one out for you to place your scent on. Carry this with you for a while, so your scent is embedded on this toy.
Now place only that toy on the ground and say – “get mine”.
Use lots of encouragement when your dog picks it up and move backwards, praising his actions. Once he brings this to you, praise him lavishly. You can give him a treat if you choose.
Repeat this several times until you are sure he understands what you want.
Now using kitchen tongs, add one of the sterile toys and make sure the dog can see both, but that they are about 30cms apart.
Now give your command of “get mine” once again. If your dog gets the wrong one, remain silent and if he brings it to you, stay silent. Do not scold or admonish him. Just remain silent and take it from him with no acknowledgment or fanfare.
Now encourage him to go back for the one with your scent and when he brings that one, praise him lavishly. Be sure to encourage him verbally with a high-pitched voice when he gets it right.
Now keep practicing until he always gets the right one.
You can add more toys to the mix as your dog perfects the exercise. Always do the same thing when he gets it wrong and remain silent and praise when he gets it right.
Remember to keep all exercises short and fun so your dog doesn’t think of it as a task. Never discipline your dog while playing or he won’t want to do this exercise at all.
Separating From Your Dog
Most Bulldogs just want to be where you are, but that can lead to situations where separation might rear its head. So, practice exercises where you separate from your dog for a while, to ensure that they learn to cope being left alone.
Many people nowadays sleep with their dogs and we don’t have any issues with that, providing that your dog’s behaviour is not related to this practice. Even so, it is still wise to make sure that your dog can cope alone some nights, so your dog is used to being separated and learns how to, every now and then, be without you without feeling anxious.
Remember that a dog’s food can affect his health, coat, and temperament. Consult with your veterinarian about the best diet for your Bulldog, and your dog’s changing food needs as he goes from puppy to adult to senior. Remember that a puppy is like having a teenage boy around. From birth up to six months of age, he’ll need to eat two to four times as much as an adult dog to support all that growth. One good rule: never feed your dog from the table – it will only encourage begging. Note: many Bulldogs are fed large breed formulas because although a Bulldog is short, its weight is in the range of many large dog breeds.
Remember that Bulldogs cannot tolerate warm weather. Therefore, it is important they be kept in temperate conditions. When purchasing a bed for a Bulldog know that many sleep stretched out to their full length most of the time. Therefore, it is important to buy a slightly larger bed to accommodate them (that is if you can get your Bulldog off the sofa). Crates are also a great idea, particularly for Bulldog puppies, as it provides a safe area for them while you are busy. Additionally, it is a comfortable, peaceful ‘den’ of their own, and can help give them a sense of security.
Remember that as the Pack Leader, your dog will look to you to keep him safe. As we stated earlier, if you don’t establish your control and leadership early on, your Bulldog will take charge. English Bulldogs make fine apartment pets and do not require a large yard to run and get their exercise.
Bulldogs need exercise, albeit not a lot. Moderate walks are great for them. They do not know how to swim, so swimming is never recommended. Like all dogs they love to chew. Look for strong, sturdy and treat dispensing puzzle toys such as The GameChanger®, to help stimulate the dog’s mental development. Keep the treats as low fat and healthy as possible, as Bulldogs can be prone to being overweight.
Why do some dogs become aggressive? It can be a result of a lack of socialisation as puppies. If your Bulldog is not properly socialised, he may become timid or start misbehaving.
The critical learning period for your English Bulldog is when they are puppies. It is up to every dog owner to develop a socialisation plan. The first most important bond is between you and your dog. Once you have earned your Bully's trust and admiration, you will have better results socialising him with other people.
It is not necessary to rush out to find dogs and people for your Bulldog to socialise with; instead, try and locate a friend or neighbour who has a low energy dog and make sure you do all introductions on lead.
Bulldogs do have an over exuberant way of interacting with other dogs and they can cause dogs to become concerned or worried about them.
It is not wise the take your puppy walking through the streets as that can lead to dog aggression issues in the future. The walk down the street which appears harmless to you, can sometimes be, to a dog, a walk into enemy territory.
Be mindful that some dogs bark and rush at fences as you walk by. To an inexperienced young, novice dog, this can be terrifying and could lead to dog aggression as your puppy matures.
Start by introducing your puppy to family and friends that you know. When you try and introduce other dogs, start by introducing your puppy to a size of dog that is similar (after both dogs are vaccinated).
Match play mates the same way you would match friends for your child, with a view to their gentleness, their energy level or their size. Don’t choose a highly aggressive or hyper dog or your dog will learn bad habits or worse – get hurt.
Just like you choose your friends, choose your dog’s friends wisely.
Introduce your puppy to a variety of life experiences.
Rather than go on a walk with busy cars zipping by and neighbourhood dogs barking at you, select a quiet spot in your front yard, on a bench or low fence near your home, so your dog gets used to seeing things go by. Be still and remain calm, and address any barking or over exuberance.
Take him with you on a car ride. Give him a bath so he learns how to relax in the warmth of the water and learns that it won’t harm him. These types of experiences are what moulds, shape and teaches a Bulldog puppy about life in general. Make sure these experiences are positive for the puppy. Introduce him/her gradually to the vacuum cleaner so he won’t spend his life barking at it or chasing it!
Children and Bulldogs
Although Bulldogs are known to be patient and loving with children, never assume this. Never introduce ANY dog to a child when unsupervised. Remember that the Bulldog was originally one of the bully breeds that received a bad rap but was later classified as a “nanny dog”. Why? Because they are generally so good with children.
All dogs, regardless of what breed they are should receive some basic education about how to behave around children. Likewise, children also need some guidelines on what is permitted when it comes to interacting with the dog or games to play.
Introduce your child to your Bulldog with a watchful eye on both. Both puppies and children can be unpredictable in how they react to certain situations and do not understand the consequences of their actions. Both can make innocent mistakes that are costly and dangerous. Children often think they can poke or prod a dog and then act surprised when the dog rebels. Children should be taught to never pull, hit or rough house with a puppy. A Bulldog puppy that is abused can develop phobias and psychological scars that can be carried into adulthood.
With the proper training, your Bulldog will more than likely be a great companion and loyal watch dog with your children.
To be on the safe side, never leave dogs and children alone together. They always need supervision.
Common Behavioural Problems
Bulldogs are in general well-behaved, but when we are called in, it is usually for one of the following reasons:
Remember what the Bulldog was bred to do. It was originally bred for bull baiting and had to be tough, determined and tenacious to confront something as formidable as a bull.
You must be sure you know all there is to know about the Bulldog before you decide if this is the right breed for you. Once you are sure, then selecting the right temperament puppy is important if you want a dog that fits into your lifestyle.
Puppies and dogs are adorable but do come with a lot of responsibility. You will be getting a creature that will rely on your care, commitment and investment.
Selecting the right personality and ensuring that you know all of the breed traits and possible genetic faults is important.
Your local Bark Busters trainer can offer more advice on selecting the right puppy and good puppy management if required.
The main things to focus on when selecting a puppy is:
Just because a Bulldog is not up for running marathons doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to play. In fact, many Bulldogs are extremely playful!
Every dog likes to play differently, depending on their breed and their individual personality. But once you figure out which games make your dog happy, you can use them to give him exercise, mental stimulation, and more.
Most Bulldog pups enjoy being active, playing games, and participating in activities like fly ball, agility, tracking, and obedience. Playing in shallow water can be fun for your Bulldog, too! Although not a retriever, many Bulldogs even love to play Fetch.
Playing games will keep your Bulldog more confident, more independent, and less scared when you are not around. It keeps them feeling more secure in general which leads to a happier pup!
They are more active on cooler days, so keep them cool during the hot weather.
Also, be sure that your puppy is fully immunised before venturing out. Speak to your vet who can advise you as to what immunisations are required.
One toy we have noticed that Bulldogs love is The GameChanger®. It is sturdy, yet chewable, provides much needed exercise and Bulldogs generally love this toy.
Does Your Bulldog Destroy Toys? Probably Not The GameChanger®!
As do many dog owners, I have bought my dog thousands of toys over the years. Some have the stuffing out before I can cut the price tag off. Not so with The GameChanger®.
The GameChanger® by Bark Busters is a great toy for Bulldogs and one of the few toys that is a match for their strong powerful jaws.
This interactive toy gives dogs hours of entertainment, providing they are at all food or toy motivated. The GameChanger® is a sturdy educational toy that delivers a treat when the dog spins it in the right way. You simply fill the toy with treats and then allow your dog to do the rest. He will soon get to work and get the treats flowing. The flexibility of the toy gives persistent chewers the ability to bite down on the toy, giving them a workout. The GameChanger® is highly recommended to prevent destructive behaviour and will also assist in keeping dogs entertained and less bored.
These toys can help your dog to direct his chewing efforts in a positive direction as opposed to chewing your shoes.
Imagine you come home and your dog is gone. Only then do you notice a hold in the fence. You call out anxiously and there is no reply. Your heart sinks and you start panicking.
Every dog, not just Bulldogs, should have an identification tag. That’s why Bark Busters developed the WaggTagg™ which is free to all Bark Busters clients. It’s very different than many of the pet identification tags on the market.
The problem with many tags is they do not have all the information that is needed. What if the person who found your dog calls you and you’re at work? Although many dogs have microchips, these can present a problem as well. What if you take the dog to the vet to get scanned and he doesn’t have the right scanner? Or what if your dog is found outside of the vet’s normal business hours?
That’s why Bark Busters developed the ideal pet tag. All the dog owner needs to do is go to the WaggTagg™ website to input some data about the dog. Whoever finds the dog needs to simply scan the tag which sends a text message directly to the dog owner and several other people that the owner has nominated (like your vet, a neighbour, a family member, etc). The tag does not reveal any sensitive information to the finder because it protects the dog owner’s privacy.
Even better? There are no renewal fees or annual fees. It is FREE to all Bark Buster’s clients. And it’s dependent on a simple QR code versus a chip reader which can be easily scanned in with a cell phone.
Bark Busters has received hundreds of stories about dogs that have been found with this tag and many tags have been donated to shelters and rescue groups. To date, the WaggTagg™ has located more than 60 lost pets.
Do you walk your dog or does he walk you? Does your dog lunge at other dogs along the way? Does he pull on his lead to the point where your arm almost gets pulled out of its socket?
Dogs are natural pullers and if you tighten your lead, your dog will naturally pull -- it’s in their DNA.
That is why dogs will pull sleds -- they feel resistance and they automatically pull.
That’s why Bark Busters founders, Danny and Sylvia Wilson knew that an essential part of a dog’s training had to involve a lead or harness. Thus, the WaggWalker™ was born.
This harness works on sound when the metallic links are clicked. It lets the dog know it’s out of position, without pain or stress, which makes for happy walking.
Our Bark Busters trainers find this an invaluable product to help their clients to teach their dogs how to walk correctly at their side. No more pulling or being dragged about!
The harness comes in 6 sizes and is suitable from dogs 6 months and older. This harness is available from your local Bark Busters trainer.