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All About English Bulldogs

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English Bulldog sits down next to a tennis ball

Short, stout, and the proud owners of some seriously floppy jowls, the English Bulldog is an easily recognizable and incredibly popular breed. Once bred for sport and work, the English Bulldog has evolved into a loyal and easygoing member of the family. Let’s take a closer look at these loveable lugs!

About the Breed

With a knack for getting along with everyone, English Bulldogs can make themselves at home with any type of family. An extremely loyal breed, these pups are known to form strong bonds with children, while being laidback enough for pet parents who enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.

And even though their large jaws and underbite can give the impression of sadness or concern, anyone familiar with this breed knows that these playful, even comical, pups are more silly than sad. With adorable wrinkles and a playful temperament, the English Bulldog is sure to turn a lot of heads wherever they go. If their unique facial features and expressions don’t attract attention, their fun-loving personalities are sure to do the trick.

grumpy looking tan and white English bulldog playing outside

Breed History

Originally bred for bull-baiting in England, Bulldogs were first referenced in works of literature dating back to the 1500s. The breed developed their stocky frame, large head, and notorious jowls due in part to the strenuous activities they participated in. The breed’s frame remained much the same until the passage of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835, which outlawed bull-baiting and other forms of cruelty to animals.

As the English Bulldog transitioned from a working dog into a show dog, the breed eventually found their way to the United States in the 1800s. Once in the States, their popularity grew. Outside of finding major success in the show ring, the English Bulldog found celebrity status, too! The original Yale mascot was an English Bulldog named Handsome Dan – the name gets passed down to each successor. During WWI, the U.S. Marines became associated with the breed and made them their mascot, as well. Each Marine bulldog takes the name Chesty. The University of Georgia Bulldogs are represented on the sideline by an English Bulldog named Uga and, you guessed it, each mascot proudly takes the name Uga. In addition to being issued a student ID, Uga watches the university’s football games from an air-conditioned doghouse on the sideline.

white English bulldog in a red rain jacket on a deck


The English Bulldog has a distinct frame with broad shoulders and low center of gravity, which originally allowed them to stay low to the ground and out of reach of a bull’s horns. This unique build gave them a wide stance and bowlegged gait.

The breed has short, smooth coats that come in a variety of colors, including brindle, white, red, fawn, yellow, and piebald. Their loose skin used to provide extra protection for their vital organs when herding cattle, but nowadays it’s one of the many endearing qualities of the English Bulldog.

And it would be impossible to talk about the English Bulldog without mentioning the largeness of the breed’s head. The circumference of their massive heads is generally equal to their height at the shoulders – this means there’s plenty of room for their strong, highly developed jaw. In fact, with such large heads to accompany their smaller hindquarters, English Bulldogs make for terrible swimmers, and it’s best to keep them away from the water.

On average, these pooches reach 12 to 15 inches in height and weight 40 to 60 pounds. There is little size difference between genders with males tending to be just a bit heavier.

white English bulldog with a yellow collar and yellow ball

Grooming & Care

With their traditionally flat coat and minimal shedding, the English Bulldog does not have many grooming requirements. An occasional bath and a few brushing sessions with a short bristle brush each week should be enough to keep their coat looking marvelous.

Unfortunately, their upkeep goes beyond getting out the brush. While some may say the breed’s wrinkles are cute, others might consider them a bit silly, but regardless of perspective, those wrinkles require some additional care. English Bulldog pet parents should wipe their pup’s facial creases clean with a damp towel a couple of times a week. If left unclean, these folds can be a haven for bacteria and other unpleasant surprises.

Dental hygiene is also especially important with this breed due to their compressed jaw. In addition to requiring an increased focus on teeth cleaning, the shape of their head can also lead to a few other less than desirable features, including snoring, wheezing, and drooling – of course, these are all normal side effects.


By their nature, English Bulldogs are people pleasers, even though they can be slightly strong willed from time to time. A common misconception is that they’re difficult to train and tend to be stubborn. While they won’t knock anyone’s socks off based on their performance in the training ring, they are capable of learning, and once they have an understanding of a basic command, they have it down pat.

They learn best when owners make training fun, especially if it involves repetition, positive reinforcement, and, of course, a few treats of encouragement. Outside of training, English Bulldogs are known to be independent dogs who can solve problems on their own without needing help from their humans.

tan and white English bulldog with a blue and black collar

Common Health Issues

There’s no gentle way to say it, so here it goes: English Bulldogs tend to have a lot of potential health issues. Aside from a few preventable concerns, like their lack of swimming ability, a tendency to quickly overheat in the sun, issues with reproduction and the need for caesarean section, and exercise-induced breathing issues, English Bulldogs face a lot of genetic issues.

Health Concerns

Here are a few of the more frequent health concerns English Bulldogs face:

  • Cherry Eye is a protruding gland in the corner of the eye
  • Dry Eye is caused by inadequate tear production
  • Entropion is caused by inward facing eyelashes that irritate eye
  • Inverted or Reversed Sneezing happens when nasal fluids drip on the soft palate and cause it to close
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome is common in short-headed dogs and can cause minor issues like noisy breathing or major ones like total airway collapse
  • Head Shakes can be involuntary and caused by stress or low blood sugar
  • Demodectic Mange is contracted from a mite and can lead to irritated skin and hair loss
  • Hip Dysplasia occurs when the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly in the hip joint
  • Patellar Luxation happens when the kneecap is not properly lined up and can lead to lameness, arthritis and degenerative joint disease

Whether you’re the pet parent to an English Bulldog or another breed, an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help with the costs of pet care. Get a free quote now!


While English Bulldogs certainly have an exceptionally long list of potentials ailments affecting their health and wellness, it’s not entirely the flaws of the breed. Instead, human intervention has lead to many issues and exacerbated many others.

Poor practices, selective breeding, and overbreeding have led some experts to believe that any breeding of these dogs is inhumane. While there is no consensus when it comes to the ethical quandaries of English Bulldogs and breeding, it is important to be aware of all of the factors at play when deciding on which breed is right for your family and lifestyle, while also noting the importance of knowing where a dog – no matter the breed – comes from. This is especially important when it comes to these wrinkled wonders – the price tag on an English Bulldog can reach quadruple digits.

Despite their many health concerns, English Bulldogs do have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years. And, if well cared for, can live happy, comfortable lives while providing unflinching companionship and boundless entertainment in the proper home.

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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