Bulldog (English Bulldog)

Lifestyle Needs



The Bulldog is seen by some as the national dog.  The modern Bulldog bears little resemblance to the bull-bating dog of previous centuries.  Encouraged by the show ring breed standard, he has become shorter legged, wider chested and extremely short faced.  His temperament varies.   His exercise needs also vary depending on his ability to breathe and  regulate his body temperature. It is advisable to choose a Bulldog puppy from parents of a less extreme type. Average lifespan 6 years.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 10.0% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

  • The conformation of many Bulldogs has extreme and causes many welfare problems
  • There can be problems in mating naturally
  • Dystocia (difficulty giving birth)  due to a mismatch in size between the mother’s pelvis (too small) and the puppy’s head (too big). Many Bulldog puppies are born by caesarean section.
  • Excessive wrinkling of the facial skin can lead to infection if not cleaned regularly.
  • His jaw structure gives the Bulldog abnormal placement, number, and development of teeth.
  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: his extremely short nose and narrow nostrils lead to breathing problems, panting, chronic discomfort, exercise intolerance and difficulty eating.
  • He is sensitive to heat because of his pinched nasal passages and abnormally narrow trachea.
  • Brachycephalic ocular syndrome (several eye conditions leading to chronic irritation and pain) linked to shortenend nose and head shape and consequences on the shape and position of eyes)
  • Hemivertebrae (deformity of spinal bones, causing pressure on spinal cord, pain, loss of hind limb function and incontinence)  Associated with selection for curly tail.
  • The curly tail makes it difficult to signal to other dogs

Note that efforts are now being made by the Bulldog breed council to breed away from these extremes.

BVA/KC Health Schemes: www.bva.co.uk/chs

  • Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and lameness):  breed mean score 27.9 (severe) parents should be much lower.
  • Elbow dysplasia (malformation of the elbow joint causing pain and lameness):  ideally O:O
  • The Bulldog is one of the 15 high profile breeds designated by the Kennel Club as requiring particular monitoring by reason of visible conditions which may cause health and welfare problems.

Identified by the UK Kennel Club as part of their Breed Health and Conservation Plan

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Hyperuricosuria  (HUU) (stone formation in urine).
  • Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy (CMR)
  • Degenerative Myelopathy

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

Breed Council certificate for breeding.

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles, causes intense itching and skin damage)
  • Corneal ulcerative disease
  • Heart disease: Aortic stenosis (narrowing of artery); Pulmonic stenosis (narrowing of pulmonic valve which can lead to heart failure); Ventricular septal defect
  • Generalised demodicosis (mange)
  • Hypothyroidism (underactivity of thyroid gland)
  • Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap)
  • Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes turned against the eyeball)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) (autoimmune disease)
  • Deafness
  • Intervertebral disc disease (rupture of a disc with compression of the spinal cord causing pain and weakness and sometimes paralysis)
  • Prolapse of the nictating gland (Cherry eye) (part of the eye normally not visible becomes visible and can be damaged)
  • Panosteitis (painful bone inflammation)
  • Cancer: brain tumours; lymphoma; mast cell tumours

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):  www.puppycontract.org.uk

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds