© 2017 by Colourbulls. 

Basic Bulldog Care

Breed: British Bulldog

Average Lifespan: 8-10 years

Average Measurements:

Height: 31-40cm, 

Weight: Female - 18-23kg, Male - 23-25kg

Hair length: Short

 

Care Needs and Considerations

One of the reasons bulldogs are so popular, apart from their beautiful squishy faces, is their wonderful temperaments and just like kids they all have their own unique personalities, likes, dislikes and funny traits.  They are funny, sassy, loving, playful and often fearless.  Most of all these beautiful creatures are very sensitive to your moods and reacting accordingly.  There is nothing better than snuggling with a bulldog after a hard day, they radiate love and care, asking only for the same in return.  But is a bulldog the right dog for you?

 

The information below is general advice aimed at giving prospective bulldog parents an idea of the level of care, maintenance and time that will need to be dedicated to your new fur child.  It is recommended that you read this information to help you decide if a bulldog would be the right fit for your lifestyle and household.  I will of course always be on hand to answer any specific questions you might have about the care of your baby.  If you want to see first hand what being owned by a bulldog is like you can follow my girls on their Facebook page 'The British Bulldog Bulletin'.

Photos of previous litters can be found on my breeder's Facebook page 'Colourbulls'

Costs:

While bulldogs are much cheaper to raise than children you should be prepared for the ongoing costs associated with their continued care.  Think about how much you can afford to spend on the following:

  • Food

  • Grooming needs

  • Vet expenses, including, desexing, regular vaccinations, flea and worm treatments 

  • Training

  • Bedding

  • Toys

  • Clothing - even if you're not into dressing up your dog they should at least have a warm jumper and a raincoat for winter

  • Council registration

  • Pet insurance is highly recommended.  As a MDBA member all my puppies comes with 2 months free pet insurance from Bow Wow Meow Insurance.

Grooming:

Regular grooming not only helps to keep your bulldog looking happy and healthy it helps to form a bond between you and your new bulldog.  Start your routine as soon as you get your puppy to get them used to being handled and groomed.

  • Bulldogs are short haired dogs so they do not require having their fur cut or shaved.  However please be aware that they do shed all year round.  

  • Face folds and under tail need to be kept clean and dry to prevent yeast build up and potential infections.  Some bulldogs may require daily cleaning in these areas, others will be fine with being wiped/checked every couple of days.

  • Don't forget lady bulldogs have folds around their lady bits that also need regular checking and wiping to prevent yeast infections.

  • Ears should be checked on a weekly basis and wax and dirt removed to prevent ear infections.

  • Regularly checked their paws for inter-digital cysts (a small swelling between the toes), these can be common in bulldogs, but are easily treated by soaking the paw in warm water with epsom salts.

  • Nails need to be kept trimmed to avoid snagging and tearing, this can be done by your vet or groomer or even by yourself.

  • Brushing the coat is not required everyday (short hair doesn’t mat), however semi regular brushing will help to control shedding and keeps the coat shiny.

  • Dental hygiene is vital for the long term health of your dog.  If you can get your puppy used to having its teeth brushed a couple of times a week (with dog products only) this will make a huge difference.  If your dog hates this then regular raw bones, dental chew toys and dental treats as well as doggy mouthwash in their drinking water can help keep their teeth white and their breath fresh.

  • Noses and paws should be regularly checked to make sure they are not too dry or cracking, there are lots of good dog products out there which can be applied to keep them soft and supple.  A good home remedy is coconut oil which can be applied topically and added to their food.

  • Baths can be given (using dog shampoo) ever couple of months or more frequently if they’ve been playing in mud!

  • When grooming or hugging your bulldog it's always good to run your hands over them checking for any new lumps, bumps, cuts, or bites that may need attention.  Doing this on a regular basis will mean that you will pick up things early and be able to treat them appropriately.

 

Exercise:
If you are hoping to go for regular 10 km jogs with your dog, then a bulldog isn't the one for you.  Bulldogs don’t necessarily need daily walks as long as the amount of food being given matches the amount of exercise they get.  However, be aware that not all bulldogs are couch potatoes, many have seemingly endless energy for racing around and getting into mischief.  Semi regular walks, training and daily interactive play will help to keep your bulldog healthy and active, as well as reducing potentially destructive behaviour caused by boredom.  
 

When taking your bulldog for walks or playing outside be mindful of the temperature and monitor your bulldog for signs of overheating, distress or heatstroke.  A small plastic clam swimming pool is a great way for your bulldog to play and cool down, but just like children they should never be left unattended around water.  In summer it is recommended that you take them out in the morning or evening, avoiding the heat of the day.  Always make sure you have fresh water and allow them to rest regularly.  If walking on the pavement place your hand on the concrete to make sure it isn’t too hot or it can burn their paws, you should be able to comfortably leave your hand there for a count of 5 seconds.

Food:

There are lots of different options and opinions about the best food for your dog, in the end you need to find one that suits your budget, your bulldog's tummy and the amount of time you have to spend preparing their food.  To start with use the brand that your bulldog comes with, this is what they have been raised on and any food changes need to be made slowly to avoid upset tummies.  I personally prefer a raw food diet once they have been weened off their puppy food but not everyone has time to dedicate to this.  Things to consider when choosing a diet for your bulldog include:

  • Check the ingredients, make sure that meat is one of the first listed (high meat content), and avoid food with high levels of 'fillers' such as grains, starches, salt or sugar.

  • Puppies need to be fed twice a day so split their daily allowance and feed morning and night until they are at least 6 months.

  • Bulldogs can get an upset tummy if they have gone too long without food and may throw up yellowish foam (bile), if they are being fed once a day when they are older give them a small snack at the time of day they aren't getting their main meal to avoid this.

  • Do not overfed your bulldog, they can stack on weight easily especially after they have been desexed and if they don't have a very active lifestyle.

  • Remember to keep track of the amount of treats they get during the day (including when training) and take this into account when allocating their meal portion sizes.

  • Learn the list of foods that are toxic to dogs, make sure anyone who interacts with your dog (including children) are aware of these foods.

  • Watch your dog for signs of food allergies and change their diet if needed.

  • Monitor your dog's bowel movements for signs of stomach upsets that may need a change in diet.

  • If you feed dry kibble be aware of the dangers of bloat if your dog drinks too much water and/or runs around too much directly after eating.

  • Bulldogs have a reputation for being able to clear a room with a single fart, finding a diet which agrees with their tummies can help reduce the occurrence of flatulence.

  • Monitoring your dog's breath, skin and fur condition is another good way of working out if their diet is agreeing with them.

Training:

There is nothing truer than the saying 'stubborn as a bulldog', these guys can really dig their heels in when they want to.  But with plenty of patience and treats bulldogs respond well to consistent and repetitive training.  Things to consider when training bulldogs:

  • They can take longer to train than other breeds, not because they don't understand but because they want to make sure the payoff is worth the effort.

  • Start training as soon as you get your puppy.  They can learn basic commands at a very young age.

  • High value treats such as roast meat, work a lot better than low value treats like dry biscuits.  In time treats can be substituted with praise, play or toys to keep the dog motivated.

  • Consistency is vital in training, make sure everyone in the house follows the same rules, if you don't want them on the furniture then never let them on the furniture, inconsistency causes confusion.

  • Attending structured training courses is highly recommended, find one in your area that uses 'Positive Reinforcement' techniques.

  • NEVER use 'Alpha Dog' techniques such as shouting, hitting, forcing your bulldog into submission or attempting to 'dominate' your bulldog.  These techniques are out dated, ill-informed and can lead to long term behavioural issues in your dog resulting in fear and aggression.

  • The use of Alpha Dog techniques, shock collars, prong collars or spray collars will be viewed as a form of abuse and I will take steps to have the dog surrendered back to me.

  • When walking your bulldog I recommend using a harness instead of a collar.  Bulldogs are very strong and have a high pain threshold, until trained to walk properly they will want to pull and if the lead is attached to a collar this can cause serious permanent damage to their throat.

  • Training should be fun for you and your dog, it's another great way to bond and the mental stimulation will tire them out faster than normal exercise so you know they'll sleep well at night!

  • Socialisation is very important to get dogs used to being around different people, children, other dogs and adjusting to different environments.  However remember that they shouldn't be taken out in public until a couple of weeks after their 16 week vaccination, diseases such as parvo virus can stay active in the ground for up to two years, so be aware of the danger of taking them out too soon.

  • Early socialisation can be done at puppy preschools (held at your local vet) or by inviting people to your house.

Bedding and Housing:

Bulldogs do not cope well with extreme temperatures, this, plus the fact at they are very valuable, means they are strictly indoor dogs when it comes to where they need to spend the majority of their time.  Bulldogs should never be left outside unattended, over night, or for long periods of time.  Kenneling your bulldog outside will be viewed as a form of abuse and I will take steps to have the dog surrendered back to me.  Before adopting a bulldog please consider the following:

  • You will need at least one room where your bulldog can be safely kept while unattended during the day.  This room will need sufficient heating and cooling to keep your bulldog comfortable through all seasons.

  • Your house will need to be puppy proofed (just like if you had a toddler), removing from their reach anything dangerous that could be chewed or eaten, (i.e. chemicals, electric cords, small objects that could be swallowed).

  • A fully fenced yard is a must to prevent wandering or the dog being stolen when outside (again they should always be supervised when outside).

  • If you have a swimming pol, dam or pond etc. ensure it is properly fenced, some bulldogs love to swim but it's recommended that they wear a proper dog life jacket and are fully supervised as they have a tendency to sink easily.

  • Bulldogs love to sleep so a nice comfy dog bed that can be regularly washed to remove dirt and help prevent fleas is needed.

  • Bulldogs will happily join you in your bed at night but be aware that they snore very loudly and once you let them in they will expect to be allowed in every night!

  • Crates can be useful for creating a safe space the dog can call its own, however they should not be crated for long periods of time and crating should never be used as a form of punishment as this destroys the feeling of safety associated with the crate.  Bulldogs should always have access to fresh clean water, even when crated, to prevent over heating and dehydration.  The crate should be large enough for them to comfortably stand up and turn around in so they aren't cramped.

  • Bulldogs can take longer than most other breeds to house train so think about what type of flooring you have and how easily it can be cleaned.

  • Bulldogs are very social creatures so think realistically about how often and how long they will be left at home by themselves.  Strategies such as having another pet, treat toys, hiring a dog walker or taking them to doggy daycare can assist with keeping them entertained when you are at work.

  • If you are renting you must obtain permission from your landlord before considering adopting a dog, also consider what you would do when moving to a new rental property and whether or not you could find another suitable rental that allows dogs.

  • Always discuss your desire to adopt a dog with all the adults you share the house with to be sure that they are on board with the idea and are also aware of the care and maintenance required.

  • Bulldogs aren't particularly interested in digging, so it's unlikely that you'll have to deal with the major earthworks that some other breeds like to produce.  However they love trampling through the garden so if you have any prized plants you don't want flattened you'll need to fence them off.

  • Never use slug pellets, fertiliser pellets or weed spray in areas that your bulldog can access, they will try to eat anything and they love to munch on grass.

  • Bulldogs also love crawling under bushes to doze in the shade, so be aware of dangers like snakes that could be lurking there.

  • Think about what you will do if you go on holiday, who do you trust to provide the same level of love and care for your bulldog?  I would never recommend putting a bulldog in a commercial kennel due to the level of maintenance they need, the danger of heatstroke if not properly monitored and the possibility of them being miserable from lack of proper socialisation.  Some good solutions can be close family and friends with suitable housing that you trust completely, hiring a dog sitter to stay in your home, or paying a dog sitter to care for them in the sitter's house.

 

Bulldogs and children:
Growing up with a dog can be a wonderful, loving experience for a child, however there is nothing more heartbreaking for a breeder than seeing a dog surrendered because the owners are having a child and feel they can no longer keep the dog.  If you have, or are planning on adding, children to your family, please consider whether you have the time and energy to deal with the following:

  • Puppies require a lot of attention and training for several months until they have acquired good habits and have been fully house trained.  

  • Puppies bark, bite, chew and scratch until they have learned proper social behaviour and puppy teeth are razor sharp.

  • Dogs of any age should never be left unsupervised with small children.  Children can unintentionally startle or hurt the dog, causing dogs to bark or bite in retaliation or out of fear.

  • Never allow children to step or sit on a dog’s back as this can cause permanent damage to the dog’s spine.

  • Never allow children to stick anything into a dog’s ears, this can permanently damage the dog’s hearing.

  • Time will need to be invested in training both small children and puppies/dogs to interact calmly and safely together.

  • Monitor your dog for signs of stress that can alert you to when children need to give the dog space.  Some signs can include, showing the whites of the eyes, ears laid back, yawning, licking lips, tail between legs, snarling, lip curling, growling.

  • Have a ‘safe space’ (i.e. a bed, crate, playpen) for the dog where the children are not allowed/not able to interact when them.  This will allow the dog to remove themselves from any situation that they find too stressful.

  • Dogs can get jealous about attention given to new family members, whether it is another pet or a child.  Training strategies and additional attention will need to be given to the dog to ensure they view any new additions to the family as a positive thing.

  • Be aware that some dogs can be ‘resource protective’, meaning they will feel threatened if anyone tries to touch their toys, food, bed etc.  Dogs can be trained out of this but will need to be monitored when children are near.

  • Fully grown bulldogs are strong and solid, when excited, jumping or running around, they can easily knock over small children.

Bulldogs and other dogs:

Having more than one dog can be a great way to ensure your furbabies always have someone to play with and keep them company while you are not at home.  However please think about how any current or future dogs may interact with your bulldog and be prepared to put some time into making sure they are comfortable playing and living together.  Some things to consider include:

  • Bulldogs play rough, it's just their style, they can often sound like they are fighting which can be intimidating to other dogs who aren't used to this play style.

  • If possible, it is good to choose a neutral space to introduce dogs when meeting for the first time.  Also try to introduce them slowly with a gate or barrier between the dogs so they can see and sniff each other first without feeling threatened by physical contact.

  • Bulldog puppies are often fearless, don't expect them to calmly roll over when meeting a new dog.

  • Puppies have a lot of energy for playing and can upset older dogs if they don't like being confronted with an over excited puppy trying to jump all over them and play.

  • Do not leave the new puppy with other dogs until you are sure that they are comfortable with each other.  This may mean that you need to keep them in separate rooms when they aren't being supervised until they are used to each other.

  • Be aware of whether or not your dogs are resource protective and think about how you will prevent fights over food, bones, toys etc.

  • Good play behaviour includes things such as pausing between scuffles, sneezing, shaking their coat and looking away from the other dog.  These are all signals to the other dog that the play is not serious.  Monitor their play and reward good behaviour to encourage fun play.

  • Separate the dogs if one is showing signs of stress (see above) before the situation escalates.

  • Make sure you can give each dog equal attention, toys, bedding, etc. so they don't feel they are missing out because of the new arrival.

  • Never let dogs dominate each other by humping or pinning the other dog down for too long.  Play should be equal, Alpha Dog theory is not correct, you do not want a situation where one dog is the 'Top Dog' in the family bossing the others around.