The English (British) Bulldog is one of the most popular purebred options in the United States. The American Kennel Club ranked it as the fifth-most popular option for owners in 2017. These dogs have a long-standing association with culture in the UK, with many seeing these pups as a national icon. Their fierce determination and persistence are what makes them such an attractive breed to have in the family.
Bulldogs have wide shoulders and heads, with thick folds of skin that come around their brow. Their eyes are typically set wider than other dogs, while the muzzle is shorter and placed higher on the face. Then more hanging skin comes under their neck, with dropping lips, pointed teeth, and drool that can feel like it goes on for days.
Most English Bulldogs weigh about 50 pounds when they are fully grown, although females can weigh about 10% less. Many of them have a pronounced underbite that gives the individual a unique visual aesthetic and personality.
If you’re thinking about bringing home a dog soon, then these are the pros and cons of owning an English Bulldog to review.
List of the Pros of Owning an English Bulldog
1. This breed attracts attention everywhere you go.
If you take a walk around your neighborhood with an English Bulldog, then you are going to attract some attention. People love to interact with these pups because of their personality. Some might say they have a face that only a mother could love, but there is more swagger with this breed than you’ll find in most others. The combination of appearance and confidence is often enough to win over hearts, which means people will stop you whenever you’re in public so that they can interact with your pup.
2. English Bulldogs are excellent guard dogs.
If you need a guard dog for your home that isn’t overly big, then an English Bulldog is the perfect choice. These pups put up a mean fight even when they weigh less than 40 pounds. You won’t find the aggressive mean streak in the breed now that they aren’t used for bull-baiting these days, but your dog is going to know its own strength. It will not hesitate to leap into action whenever it or you feel threatened.
If you have children at home, then your English Bulldog will protect its pack at all costs. You won’t see this aggression at home either, although young children poking at the pup is not a recipe you’ll want to try cooking.
3. This breed loves to be around children.
There are exceptions to every rule, but most English Bulldogs love to hang out with kids who know how to treat them right. Most are even tolerant of a little over-exuberance if you can get them out of a stimulating atmosphere after a few minutes. They’ll keep a quiet, protective eye over playtime, and then let you know if they think something is wrong. Most families enjoy having these doggos around because of this trait, so it is something to consider if your kids love the idea of bringing a pup home.
4. You are going to laugh with an English Bulldog around.
English Bulldogs are natural clowns. It might start with their appearance, but this trait goes through every element of their personality. You might get a funny facial expression, a clumsy effort to get on the couch with you, or something more dramatic. They are natural pranksters that love to pull off a good joke, but most of the time they end up doing something to themselves instead.
If you need to unwind after a long day at work, coming home to an English Bulldog is a lot of fun. Spending a few minutes with one is an almost certain way to elevate your mood.
5. Their temperament is friendly and patient.
The English Bulldog might have a reputation for being stubborn, but breeders have been working to take this trait out of the breed over several generations. The levels of aggression are greatly reduced, if not removed outright, which means you’re going to have a dog who is patient and kind under most circumstances. They form strong bonds with their pack, including other animals that you might have as pets. If you can socialize your pup at an early age, then you’ll experience the most benefits from this advantage.
List of the Cons of Owning an English Bulldog
1. English Bulldogs have a slow maturation process.
Life with an English Bulldog presents a lot of challenges. They don’t achieve a state of adulthood until they reach the age of 30 months. Only a handful of individual pups do so before their second birthday. Despite this fact, the average lifespan of this breed is relatively short, often in the 8-10 year range. You can see some of the signs of aging as soon as the age of 5, which means you have a short window to maximize your time with your pup. If you want a dog that will grow up with your children, this might not be the breed to choose.
2. This breed has mobility concerns that you’ll need to manage.
The modern English Bulldog might look like a tough character, but their body cannot keep up with the tasks that their ancestors used to perform. Most of these dogs can’t even run for any meaningful distance. Their calmer temperament makes them easier to manage at home, but you’ll need to look for slow activities to give them the exercise they need. If you like the idea of a dog that runs to play fetch or can stay beside you on a bicycle, then this isn’t the breed for you.
3. Many English Bulldogs suffer from heart problems.
The United Kingdom performed a survey on English Bulldogs and the reasons for their death in 2004. The results showed a median lifespan of only 6 years, 3 months. The leading cause was related to their heart, which was closely followed by cancer. About 1 in 10 dogs died of old age, and they were able to make it up to the age of 11. This breed also suffers from hip dysplasia quite often, with the 74% rate the highest of all dog breeds.
4. Some dogs can develop cysts that form between their toes.
Some individual English Bulldogs can develop interdigital cysts. They form between the toes even if there aren’t triggers in their environment that would cause such an action to occur. You can treat this condition with veterinarian help, but it can cause a lot of discomfort for the dog when they develop. Additional problems involve respiratory distress, a protrusion of the inner eyelid, and allergic reactions. Most owners will need to manage one ongoing health concern over the lifespan of their doggo because of the health issues their unique body shape causes.
Even if there aren’t any significant health issues with an English Bulldog, you’ll need to take care of their skin folds to prevent dermatitis from forming. The health of your pup relies on their genetic makeup, so it is almost a necessity to work with a local breeder experienced with these pups to get the best possible result.
5. Their high spirits can lead to a lot of unwanted behaviors.
English Bulldog puppies tend to be highly spirited, which means they have a tendency to get into trouble more often than other breeds. Since they stay at the puppy stage for so long, you’re going to need to manage their unwanted behaviors more often than you would with other dogs. Chewing is their primary habit, especially when they are trying to cope with boredom. You’ll discover chewed shoes, furniture, rugs, and other household items if your doggo needs entertainment.
These dogs mellow out more as they reach adulthood. If you adopt a young puppy, then you could be on a two-year ride with this potential disadvantage. The only way to get out of this issue is to have someone at home most of the time with your doggo.
6. English Bulldogs are not athletic dogs.
If you have an English Bulldog at home, then this dog is not going to leap into the air to catch a ball or a Frisbee. Older dogs don’t even guard their home that well, aside from a warning bark or growl. Once you get into the adult years, their short legs and compressed air passageways lead to overheating issues. If you go on a long walk with this breed, it is imperative that you bring some water for them to drink.
Once they reach adulthood, the English Bulldog prefers to rest more than they want to be active. If you want a snuggle dog, then this is the breed for you. Families with an active lifestyle might want to look at some other options.
7. Manners don’t make the English Bulldog.
If you prefer to have a dog at home that knows how to apply manners consistently, then you aren’t going to want an English Bulldog. These dogs tend to be the antithesis of what a pup with those behaviors should be. You’re going to find plenty of slobber waiting for you, especially if they’ve spent some time at the water dish. Hot weather will produce the sticky substance that flies all over the house.
Then there is the gas. English Bulldogs have an extraordinary amount of flatulence that will stink up whatever room they are in during the day. Be prepared for a smelly attack even when you have some snuggle time lined up for your pup.
8. You must be proactive with the dog’s hygiene issues.
The hygiene problems that you’ll face with an English Bulldog are fairly unique to the breed. Because of their facial skin folds, these dogs often struggle with yeast infections because food particles get stuck between them. This issue applies to the back end of the pup as well since they can get some feces stuck in the rear folds. Since these pups have virtually no ability to groom themselves, it is up to you to ensure that they stay clean.
If you don’t have the time to manage the frequent baths, it might be useful to have a groomer available who can come to your home a couple of times per week.
9. The price of an English Bulldog can be problematic for some families.
Most English Bulldog puppies are born by C-section because of the shape of their skull. That means you already have a higher cost to consider compared to other breeds. There might be artificial insemination charges, additional veterinarian appointments, and other care tasks that drive the price upward. You won’t find a puppy in some markets for less than $5,000. Even when you can get a discount on that price, it’s rare to see a purebred from a reputable breeder selling for less than $2,500.
That’s quite the investment for some families, especially when you add in the additional health and maintenance costs that come with this breed. English Bulldogs might play well with kids most of the time, but it can cost an entire year’s worth of groceries to bring your pup home.
If you want a dog that brings a lot of personality to your family, then an English Bulldog is the perfect addition to your home. You won’t find a better combination of swagger, appearance, and attitude anywhere in the canine world.
When you have an active lifestyle and want a companion that can keep up with you, then this breed isn’t the best choice. It adopts more of a sedentary, gamer-style attitude toward life that involves sitting next to your chair.
After evaluating the pros and cons of owning an English Bulldog, you can better decide if this breed will fit into your home. You might face some challenges along the way, but there isn’t a better breed out there if you want to have a loyal companion who will make you smile.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.