English Bulldog dog breed characteristics, origin and care

English Bulldog breed characteristics

  • Size: Medium
  • Traits: Friendly. Docile. Devoted.
  • Maintenance: High maintenance, regular brushing, bathing, and clipping required (can be expensive and time consuming)
  • Best Suited To: Families and homebodies. Can suit apartment living.

Kind-hearted beasts, English Bulldogs, also known as British Bulldogs, are gentle family pets whose grumpy-looking face hides a friendly and loveable demeanour. The perfect dog for homebodies and children, you should consider adopting an English Bulldog if you are seeking a stay-at-home cuddly canine.

Where I'm From

English Bulldogs have a brutal past. Originally bred for bull-baiting, the dogs were sent into a bullring to take down a bull by its nose as a gambling spectator sport. Though many dogs died or were maimed in the process, those that survived would win the wager for gamblers. The breed and its fighting role are first mentioned in English literature from the 1500s.

After the controversial bull-baiting sport was banned due to its brutality in 1835, English Bulldogs were repurposed as household pets. Bulldog breeders patiently bred out their aggression with only docile dogs chosen to reproduce.

English Bulldogs became show dogs from the mid-1800s and were officially recognised as a breed by the end of that century. Their unusual form remains unchanged until today and they continue to be popular pets around the world, though less common in Australia.

What I Look Like

English Bulldogs are small, wide-framed and stocky dogs. Their short legs keep them low to the ground and cause a waddle-like walk. English Bulldogs have a squashed-in face with extra folds of skin, low jowls and often a pronounced under-bite. They have a short, soft coat that comes in combinations of white, red, fawn, brindle and pied.

How I Act

Despite looking like burly brutes, English Bulldogs are one of the gentlest dogs around. Affectionate and loyal, these dogs love being around their human family and are especially good with children. They are also very tolerant of other household pets but may be wary of unfamiliar dogs.

English Bulldogs are intelligent dogs but can be slow learners that require consistent and firm training. Socialisation and schooling should begin from a young age in order to ensure a well-rounded pet. Even so, English Bulldogs require an authoritative leader to show them who is the alpha of the family in order to avoid any behavioural or dominance issues.

English Bulldogs really are couch potatoes. They love to lie around on the sofa and play gently with their human family. Even so, a daily 15-20 minute walk or household play is required to keep them happy and healthy. Though owners need to exercise extreme caution in summer months when activity needs to be easy and take place during cooler early morning or evening conditions.

Looking After Me

Though terrific pets, English Bulldogs can be prone to a number of medical ailments that may result in costly veterinarian visits. Some Bulldogs suffer from eye issues, obstructed airways, headshakes, hip or elbow dysplasia, knee problems, skin infections and birthing difficulties, which often requires a caesarean section.

Additionally, English Bulldogs have trouble breathing due to their squished-in faces and restricted windpipes. They can suffer from severe heart and cardiovascular problems so special care must be taken during very hot or cold weather. When exercising you need to ensure your Bulldog is not overexerting and getting plenty of rest.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Bulldogs have a lifespan of 8-12 years.

They should be fed high-quality dog food twice a day as per packaging instructions. They can be prone to overeating so uneaten food portions need to be removed until their next feeding.

English Bulldogs can be high-maintenance pets that require a degree of management by their owners. They have a short coat that is prone to shedding and requires a brush every couple of days. Whist their wrinkly face needs to be cleaned weekly to avoid skin infections.

They do not do well in extreme temperatures of heat or cold and are best suited to moderate weather and temperature-controlled environments. A dog jacket can help keep them warm in winter whilst they need to be provided plenty of water and a cool place to rest in summer.

Am I the pet for you?

English Bulldogs are best for laid-back families or relaxed seniors that are looking for a layabout companion dog.


  • English Bulldogs are homebodies that love to spend time on the couch with their adoptive families. They are gentle with children and make good companions for seniors. Though like all dogs, English Bulldogs should be supervised when around children.
  • English Bulldogs are the perfect apartment dog and do not require too much exercise.
  • English Bulldogs don't bark! Even so, they can make excellent watchdogs that might latch on to an intruder until help arrives.


  • Bulldogs can suffer from a number of embarrassing bodily functions including drooling, flatulence and snoring. They will require some cleaning up after and if you are expecting a good night's sleep, your Bulldog will need a separate sleeping area far away from family bedrooms. Bulldogs also have a raft of other health issues that will require vet visits and can be expensive.
  • Bulldogs really can't take a lot of exercise and are not suitable running companions or active playmates.
  • English Bulldogs are short and stout aesthetic anomalies. Their unique sourpuss beauty lies solely in the eye of the beholder, which many Bulldog owners ascribe to yet many others do not.

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