We highly recommend before you committing to adding a Bulldog to your family that you do your research both on the breed, as well as the care that is expected of a Bulldog’s owner. That way you can know for sure whether or not the commitment of a Bulldog is for you as well as to make sure that you can provide proper care for a Bulldog and be a great owner. Even if you already currently have a Bulldog or have had Bulldog(s) in the past it’s a good never a bad idea to continue your education or even refresh your memory if it’s been awhile since you’ve had a Bulldog.
We are members of the Bulldog Club of America (BCA), as well as on their breeder referral listing. The Bulldog Club of America website is a great resource for educating yourself on Bulldogs. When you go onto the BCA’s website there is a part titled “About Bulldogs” from there are two sections we recommend reading for education – “Bulldog Maintenance”
Under “About Bulldogs” you will find information on Nurturing, Feeding, Water, Socialization, House Training, Exercise, Play, Corrections, Children, Safety, Grooming and Travel.
There is also another part at the top of the screen labeled “Health” – then there is "Health Care" we really do highly recommend you read this section – from there you can read the sections Breathing, Digestion, Ears, Eyes, Feet, Musculoskeletal System, Skin, Urogenital System, Vaccinations. When you are considering adding a Bulldog (or any breed) to your family it is important to know the health concerns with the breed. Some of the health concerns mentioned on that page can of course occur in any breed, while some things are very common within a breed. For example, Bulldogs “Bulldogs are a dysplastic breed, compared to more athletic dogs. “At the time we are writing this – OFA currently ranks Bulldogs as the #2 breed for hip dysplasia.
Not only is it important to be aware of possible health concerns a dog could potentially have in his or her lifetime, but it’s also important so that if you dog does develop one you have already educated yourself on it, may be able to notice the symptoms, and have an idea of what to do about it (like contact your veterinarian) or know if a change is needed such as in diet, shampoo, etc. It is a good idea for owners to have an emergency fund for their dogs regardless of breed (as well as other pets) so that way if an illness on injury occur it is something that the owner(s) can be prepared to treat. No animal or person is perfect. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents/injuries or illnesses do happen at some point during their lifetime. We do recommend that you do your research including in regards to considering pet insurance. There are a number of insurances companies out there and what they offer or cover may differ – for example routine care, illness, injury, etc. Please keep in mind not all insurances may be used at all animals hospitals so that is something to keep in mind when selecting pet insurance and a veterinarian. Be aware some companies may not cover Bulldogs or common Bulldog health problems.
Please keep in mind a dog’s health is much more than looking for a healthy puppy from healthy parents, quality Bulldogs, and a reputable breeder. A breeder may only have a puppy for the first 8-12 weeks of the puppy’s life where you the primarily lifetime owner has him or her almost his/her entire life from a very young age. What you do and do not do, what you do and do not allow your dog to do, and what you do or do not expose your dog to makes a huge difference! There is so much to take into consideration.
For example ….
- Diet – Bulldogs in particular are a breed that’s diet is very important – and lack of proper diet tends to show by means of skin and coat problems. How are you choosing the dog food for your dog? Because it is the cheapest or its on sale this week? Your local store you shop at most often has it? You saw a really convincing commercial on tv or other advertisement that made it look good? Does it have ingredients in it that are linked to health problems? Or did you actually research dog food to find a nutritious healthy food for your dog? Are the dog treats you’re feeding actually healthy as well or are they basically junk food for your dog? Are you giving your dog table food? What’s in your food, is it healthy? Many times, people share table food, or vary the dog’s food and or treats – many doing so thinking they are being loving - and then when there is an issue due to diet, they don’t even know which food or treat is the issue in the diet.
- Bones - Are you allowing your dogs to have bones? Have you research bones for a good choice? Is the bone removed when it gets small or if it ends up in pieces (if not you’re looking at chunks of the bone potentially being ingested – if not pooped out you’re looking at the dog getting very ill as well as needing surgery to remove – which will likely be emergency surgery).
- Routine hygiene – hygiene is very important for dogs as well. Grooming a Bulldog includes brushing, nail trimming, cleaning in between wrinkles, cleaning ears, making sure around the tail is clean, as well as bathing and completely drying. It is important that the entire Bulldog is completely dry – if not you could be looking at infections (such as in between the wrinkles, if there is water in the ears that could cause infection) as well as things like abbesses in between the toes. Powder can be applied in wrinkles and in between toes. Bulldogs also tend to get a dry nose so they are certain products that can be applied to help moisturize the nose such as coconut oil, Vaseline/petroleum jelly, bag balm, etc. dry nose specific products.
- Whether you the owner grooms the dog at home or leaves it to the professional groomer there are things to keep in mind that are important. If you are grooming the dog at home, please keep in mind your shampoo or body wash is likely not a good choice to wash your dog in (chances are there is nothing on the bottle saying it is safe for use on dogs) – please use an actual dog shampoo. If you are choosing to use a professional groomer please choose one who is experienced with Bulldogs. Bulldogs as well as other Brachycephalic breeds do need to be treated differently – as they can easily overheat – whether its heat or stress related. Bulldogs should not go into cage dryers. Many times, Brachycephalic breeds are dogs that you hear of dying from being placed into cage dryers (the groomer not checking on the dog frequently enough, not have a heat setting, or a timer on the dryer can also be where issues occur with cage drying).
- Overheating – Please keep in mind Brachycephalic breeds such as Bulldogs can easily over heat. This is both caused by heat, as well as they can get over heated, over excited, stressed and over heat for that reason as well. They must be cooled down quickly or it could result in death.
- Illness – Illnesses or suspected illnesses should be taken seriously. Over the years on multiple occasions I have heard of a Bulldog with a “cold”. For example maybe the owner went to the dog park (where who knows whether or not the other dogs are up to date on all vaccinations or even vaccinated at all, if they’ve recently been near a sick dog and are carrying that illness or sick themselves spreading germs) and their Bulldog ends up sick after this. I’ve heard “Oh it was just a cold I thought he’d get over it” – No not a Bulldog (or other Brachycephalic breed). Just a “cold” can easily turn into something like pneumonia for a Brachycephalic breed.
- Vaccinations – Vaccinations are there to help prevent illnesses. Please keep in mind that there may be multiple vaccinations required to protect against certain illnesses (for example there is a set of three vaccinations for puppies and a set of two vaccinations for Canine Influenza). Please keep in mind full immunity is not until after all vaccinations have been done and there may be a certain time period for example such as a week before the immunity is developed. Vaccinations should also not all be done at once. Although a puppy or adult dog may be eligible to get certain vaccines and they may be willing to give them – its best to do each vaccination separately. Please keep in mind there can be side effects from vaccinations. If you do multiple vaccinations at once and your dog has a reaction you won’t know which vaccination there was a problem with, but if there was just one, you’ll easily quickly know which vaccination was an issue for your dog.
- Medications – whether its parasite prevention, or maybe your dog at some point has an illness or injury and a medication is prescribed you should be well informed on it. What is the proper dosage (is it toxic or lethal if you dog gets too much)? What are side effects to keep an eye out for? If the dog has those side effects is an emergency veterinarian visit needed? Medications are prescribed by your veterinarian – if you have questions please ask your veterinarian.
- Parasite prevention/treatment products – Before using a parasite prevention or a treatment if you should have parasites there is a lot to consider. Will you be someone who has their dog on parasite prevention all year long, during the warmer season when fleas and ticks are more concerning, when the dog is away from home, or just when parasites are found? What parasite prevention product will you use? We always recommend that you do contact your veterinarian regarding parasite products. Your veterinarian should be aware of which products are currently working and which are no longer working (this is why many times you hear of a new product out as the old ones are no longer effective). Your veterinarian should also be aware of side effects associated with this parasite product. Even after you get your veterinarian’s recommendation it’s still a good idea to go home and do your research.
- Where you purchase parasite prevention/treatment products is also important to keep in mind. Keep in mind that most effective parasite prevention/treatment products are prescription medications. With that being said if there is a product you can buy over the counter keep in mind there is a possibility that that product is not a good choice – whether its health wise or effective wise. Please also keep in mind you should purchase these prescription parasite preventives through a trusted seller such as your veterinarian – many times when these products are sold online (especially if a prescription is required but for the website you found it is not) – the product may be a fake/counterfeit – this may not even be a parasite product at all or could be even more harmful that actual product’s possible side effects.
- If you choose not to use a parasite prevention product (or maybe even if it is not successful) what can happen to your dog? Keep in mind parasites can spread diseases. What are tick borne illnesses and their symptoms?
- How do you check for parasites?
- Cleaning products – What cleaning products do you use in your home? Many times, these products are the same products you’ve used for years, saw an advertisement for that gave you reason to purchase it, or maybe it was on sale, etc. Is this safe to use around dogs? What happens if the dog gets exposed to it? If you do decide to use it anyway what kind of health risks does this pose for your dog?
- Weed killers and pesticides – Are there weed killers, pesticides, etc. chemicals used in your own yard, or the other areas you may walk your dog in such as your neighborhood or the local park/dog park? These chemicals can be harmful.
- Activities – what kind of activities are you allowing or encouraging your Bulldog to do? Exercise is of course great for every dog to get; however certain times may not be the best for a Bulldog. Are you allowing your Bulldog to get strenuous exercise? Are you allowing your Bulldog to do a lot of jumping around, jumping up and down from places that are really too high for them – for example jumping in and out of the car, off and on the couch or bed, or even just getting excited by something and being allowed to jump around? Is the Bulldog being allowed to play with other dogs – is the running, jumping, and playing with other dogs too rough, or too much for the dog’s body? Strenuous exercise and jumping can both lead to possible injuries, or things like arthritis – pulled or torn muscles, problems in the hips, elbows, knees, spine, joints – potentially issues that may lead a veterinarian to recommend surgery to correct, and or that could affect your dog’s quality of life.
- Breathing – Bulldogs and other Brachycephalic breeds are known not to be good breathers. It is completely up to you if this is something that you would like to alter on your dog.
- Veterinarians – please keep in mind you should establish you’re a relationship with your Bulldog and your veterinarian as soon as possible (we recommend within the first 48 hours of ownership). Whether its routine care or even emergency care in the event than an accident/injury or illnesses occurs it is important to have established a relationship with a veterinarian as this could affect whether or not a veterinarian will see you and how soon they will fit you in. It is also very important that you have a veterinarian who is experienced with the breed. Bulldogs and Brachycephalic breeds are not like other dogs. We highly recommend that you have a Bulldog experienced veterinarian for a Bulldog. Unfortunately there are times when Bulldog breeders hear of a puppy going to its new home (which was a healthy puppy with no know issues at time of sale) having gone to its new home and gone to the new veterinarian and the owner told the dog has bad hips or is a bad breather and needs a surgery to correct it (when really for a Bulldog its hips are ok for a Bulldog and that its breathing is normal for a Bulldog when examined by a Bulldog experienced veterinarian). No one should feel pressured to get unneccary procedures done on their dog, and no veteririan should suggest it if it’s not needed – however there are occurrences where veterinarians are not experienced enough with the animals they are seeing. Please also keep in mind an emergency veterinarian is important to have in mind in case your dog should ever need emergency care that way if something does happen you already have the veterinarian’s information to contact them and let them know you are on your way with an emergency in case your normal veterinarian is unavailable for the emergency.
- Spay/neuter – All puppies are to be spayed/neutered. This is not only to ensure that there is no breeding, but also for health reasons. Cancers can occur if not spayed/neutered. Cancers can spread through the body. Cancers can cause death. Pyometra can also occur in females which can lead to death as well especially if unnoticed or untreated (an emergency spay will most likely be needed in addition to antibiotics).
- Plants/trees - What kind of plants/trees do you have inside and outside your home? Do you know the names of these plants? Are they toxic to dogs – for example if you dog eats a leaf of flower from it?
- Electric cords – Whether is a playful curious puppy or adult dog who is a chewer – a puppy/dog could chew an electric cord and get electrocuted or maybe even start a fire – dangerous both for you and your family. Remember if your puppy or even adult dog is not trusted in the home a crate is a safe place for him/her to be while you are not there to watch – or maybe you could have a pen or room that is puppy/baby proofed.
- Dog toys – You may wonder why is a dog toy even on herein regards to your dog’s health. Sometimes people do get small toys for when the dog is a puppy, and they are too small for the full-grown dog. Please keep in mind once a toy is too small for your dog it needs to be removed as it can end up being hazardous if swallowed/choked on. Please look for toys that are well made – do not seem like something that can be easily torn apart or destroyed. It’s important to look for size appropriate toys (toys that are large enough they cannot end up in your dog’s throat). It is also important to look at the shape of the dog toys – some dog toys come in odd shapes, and may or may not include holes. Toys with holes can be dangerous especially when the dog is not being supervised while playing with them – as dogs can get their tongues or even jaw caught in a hole in a toy. If a toy is chewed apart the pieces (and possibly the rest of the toy) will need to be discarded as the toy pieces are now a choking hazard or could potentially become ingested – if not pooped out you’re looking at the dog getting very ill as well as needing surgery to remove – which will likely be emergency surgery). Even dog beds being chewed can result in the same concerns (check out Kuranda dog beds they are chew-proof plus orthopedic and easy to clean – perfect for a Bulldog).
There is so much that can be researched in regards to your dog. Whether or not you take the above mentioned examples into consideration, and research them is up to you. The internet is a wonderful research that can likely answer a number of questions. Books are great too. Please keep in mind don’t forget about your veterinarian – medical questions should be asked to those who are specifically educated and trained in that field. Your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers may also be able to help you with questions you may have whether it be in the products they use for their dogs or the local dog services they use (for example – veterinarian, groomer, trainer, boarding facility, pet sitter, day care, dog walker, etc.). We are happy to help answer your questions if we are able to.