You want a Bulldog puppy? No you don’t.
Not according to Dr. Sandra Sawchuk, the chief of primary-care services at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Sandra Sawchuk, DVM
(Photo: University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine)
Dr. Sawchuk, a Bulldog owner herself — was interviewed by the New York Times, telling anyone who wants a Bulldog to reconsider. She came to this conclusion after treating dozens of English Bulldogs for health conditions caused by improper breeding.
Why does Dr. Sawchuk say “No” to Bulldog puppies?
Because experience has shown her what can go wrong with them. It’s not uncommon for a Bulldog owner to leave her clinic with an $8,000 vet bill or for a young puppy to come in with severe health complications usually only seen in older dogs.
Veterinarians like Dr. Sawchuk unanimously agree: English Bulldog puppies have health problems. The only question is how severe will your puppy’s health issues be?
Still Want a Bulldog Puppy?
At least you know what you’re getting into and you can follow these 7 tips to avoid thousands in vet bills and years of anguish, sadness and frustration.
Tip #1 | Beware of Cheap Prices
That super-cheap English bulldog on Craigslist may seem tempting, as may the free bulldog pup offered from the friend of a friend’s cousin’s neighbor. Unless you can be sure of your new dog’s breeding stock and the reputation of the breeder, you’re better off steering clear of dogs from unknown sources. English Bulldog mothers must be artificially inseminated and the pups are delivered surgically by c-section because of their oversized heads.
This process requires months of special care, many Veterinarian visits and surgery costs. This is why quality English Bulldogs usually range from $3000-$30,000, depending on pedigree, physical features and breeder reputation.
Tip #2 | Find a Reputable English Bulldog Breeder
First, don’t forget to always…
Check the Breeder’s AKC Certification
(Photo: American Kennel Club)
Check Their Bulldog Club of America Membership
(Photo: The Bulldog Club of America)
What makes a breeder reputable? Several characteristics include:
- Proper lineage records: Your new dog should come with a copy of the American Kennel Club Certified Pedigree. Breeders who can’t supply such a pedigree may not be selling purebred English bulldogs.
- Impeccable veterinary records: A thorough medical history should be at your fingertips, proving the breeder is regularly health-testing his bulldogs. Without records, a “health guarantee” doesn’t actually guarantee health.
- Knowledgeable and honest vibe: The breeder must be able to speak intelligently and honestly about potential risks associated with the English bulldog breed. If they won’t, don’t or can’t, you’re better off looking for one that will.
- Outstanding Reputation among other breeders. Check your breeder’s membership status with the Bulldog Club of America, the oldest and most trusted English Bulldog Club. You can search their Breeder directory by State or by contacting their Breeder referral department at 540-775-3015.
Tip #3 | Don’t Grab The First Puppy You See
(Photo: We Heart Dogs)
Yeah, we know it’s tempting when one of the little critters seems to scream out to us. But unless you want to be screaming with bigger health problems and potentially higher vet bills than the norm, don’t pick a bulldog based on a first glance.
Tip #4 | Perform a Confirmation Evaluation
A dog’s conformation refers to his overall visible appearance and structure. Dog shows judge entries based on confirmation, which indicates the dog’s ability to produce quality, purebred offspring. You want to use the same standards for picking your puppy to ensure you’re getting top-notch characteristics while avoiding potential health issues down the line.
Take your time. Give all pups a close inspection. And look for the following characteristics:
- Head and snout: A well-portioned head and snout is a must, avoiding dogs bred with noses that are too short, awkwardly positioned or have nostrils that collapse when breathing. Noses that are too short are referred to as “extremely brachycephalic,” and they greatly increase the dog’s risk of severe health problems.
- Eyes: Look for clean, healthy eyes, ensuring you don’t spot the redness associated with the common condition of cherry eye. Also keep in mind bulldogs with the heaviest facial wrinkles tend to end up with eyelid issues that require extra care.
- Mouth: Open the pup’s mouth and check for healthy pink gums. Pale gums can indicate anemia or a poor circulatory system.
- Skin and coat: The skin and coat are great indicators of overall bulldog health. There should be no signs of bare spots or red, irritated areas on the skin. The coat should be clean and shiny.
Tip #5 | Wait Till The Puppy is 8-10 Weeks Old
The ideal time to purchase your pup is when he’s 8 to 10 weeks of age, when he is already weaned, eating solid food and has had his first series of immunizations. This is also a good age to ensure the puppy is well-socialized and sports an ideal personality.
Tip #6 | Evaluate The Puppy’s Personality
(Photo: NY Daily News)
You want an emotionally well-balanced dog, and you’re most likely to find one by looking for:
- A happy demeanor and the ability to play well with others
- Playfulness that doesn’t get too rough
- Friendliness, without being overly aggressive or shy
The ideal way to fully evaluate a new pup is to make repeated visits, if possible, to see how he continues to interact with other dogs as well as yourself. If you find a solid connection and consistently desirable behaviors, you may have just found the perfect pup for you.
Tip #7 | Learn About Bulldog Health Problems (there are many!)
English Bulldog puppies are bred to be cute, not to be healthy. The internet is full of complaints and tragic stories involving dead or dying Bulldog puppies. And the new owner’s common response is “I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”
Here are just some common Bulldog health problems you may run into:
(Photo: Rover Dog Boarding)
Overheating in Warm Weather
(Photo: Baggy Bulldogs)
Skin Diseases & Rashes
(Photo: Georgia English Bulldog Rescue)
Cherry Eye (Requires Surgery)
Abnormal Bone Growth (Hurts to Move)
Seizures & Idiopathic Head Tremors
Allergies (And Expensive, Complicated Tests)
(Photo: Rip Off Report)
And unfortunately there are many more English Bulldog health problems, that a new owner may encounter. If you’re still unwavering in your commitment to own a Bully, consider English Bulldog insurance, which may cover up to 90% of all medical bills.
Tip #7 | Plan a Daily Maintenance Routine
English Bulldogs are a lot of work! They require daily maintenance and the sooner you learn about your dog’s needs the better. Here are 5 common Bulldog Maintenance activities you should become familiar with:
Activity #1 | Moisturizing the Snout
(Photo: Natural Dog Company)
English Bulldogs suffer from dry, cracked snouts (noses) and require daily moisturizer application to keep this sensitive area moist. Common products used by Bulldog owners and recommended by Bulldog vets include Coconut Oil and Snout Soother.
Activity #2 | Cleaning Wrinkles, Folds and Ropes
What do wrinkles, folds and ropes have in common? They all harbor bacteria that can cause infections and skin irritation. For this reason, these areas must be wiped gently 1-3 times per day with baby wipes or a wet, sanitary cotton swab. Some Bulldog owners use additional cleaning products like Iodine, Hydrogen Peroxide & Antibacterial Shampoo or Rinse for added protection against bacteria and other harmful microbes lingering on the skin’s surface.
Activity #3 | Cleaning & Moisturizing the Eyes
(Photo: Georgia English Bulldog Rescue)
English Bulldogs suffer from various conditions of the eye.
The most common one is Cherry Eye (pictured above) where the eye glands slip or fall down and have to be surgically corrected.
Tear stains are another common problem caused where the eye tears excessively, staining the fur around it. Tear stains have many causes and must be addressed immediately to rule out more serious issues.
Check your English Bulldog’s eyes daily for:
- Dry, crusted eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Inflammation or redness in the eye area
- Excessive tear stains
Activity #4 | Ear Cleaning
(Photo: Bulldogs of Baltimore)
Your dog’s ear cleaning schedule depends on how often it’s needed. Some dogs are fine with weekly ear cleaning and others prone to ear infections require daily or even twice daily cleanings.
When cleaning your dogs ear, use a cotton swap or Q-tip (only for going around the ear DO NOT stick it inside) and some antibacterial ear cleaner to gently remove any buildup.
During cleaning, check your English Bulldog’s ears for any of the thing below as they could lead to more severe health problems if left untreated.
- Wax buildup
- Foul smells
- Redness and irritation
- Mites, ticks and fleas
Activity #5 | Brushing Teeth and Gums
(Photo: YouTube User: Lululabette)
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of premature Bulldog deaths. Plaque buildup in the mouth breaks free and travels to the heart, contributing to heart attack, heart disease and early death.
Fortunately, most oral plaque can be kept under control with daily cleaning. These tips will make brushing your Bulldog’s teeth easier so it can be done daily:
- Use a toothpaste for dogs with a flavor that your dog enjoys
- Purchase a toothbrush for dogs that’s easy for you to use and not too uncomfortable for your dog
- Bulldogs have lots of tissue around their mouths. Lift your dog’s mouth flap open so you can see his teeth and gums while brushing.
- Clean around every tooth and brush the gums, going over every area at least twice.
- Reward your dog after every successful cleaning with his favorite treat so he associates rewards to this activity.
- Take your dog for a dental checkup once a year with your veterinarian or to a Veterinary Dentist your vet recommends.
English Bulldogs are one of a kind. They’re funny, have unique personalities and are incredibly loyal to their owners. However, these dogs require special care. They can’t walk long, they don’t breathe very well, they must be kept in a cool, indoors environment and they come with a variety of health issues that will take a toll on your time, money and emotions.
The maintenance and ongoing care that English Bulldogs require make owning them impractical for most people. However, for those willing to sacrifice time, money and energy owning a Bulldog can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
If you think you’re ready to own an English Bulldog, read our complete guide to Bulldogs and take the 12 question quiz at the end to see if you really got what it takes.
And share your experience with English Bulldog puppies. Our Bulldog community would love to hear what you have to say.