English Bulldog Health Problems

english bulldog health problems

This article on English Bulldogs summarizes everything you could ever want to know about this enigmatic breed.

Why Are They Called Bulldogs?

English Bulldogs were originally bread for the cruel, inhumane sport of Bull Baiting. In this 19th century English pastime, the 50 pound Bulldog would try and bite the face of a furious 2,000 pound Bull who just had pepper sprayed up his nose.

English Bulldogs | Bull Baiting

Today’s Bulldog is a far cry from his athletic ancestors but he displays the same courage, determination and bravery.

Why do English Bulldogs Have Health Problems?

Today’s English Bulldog bears almost no resemblance to his original ancestor. This is due entirely to human interference. Selective breeding for smashed faces, compact bodies and oversized heads has come at a high cost.

English Bulldog (1800s)      English Bulldog (2000s)


                      1950s                              1970s                           1990s                           2000s

Georgetown Bulldog Evolution

What Kind of Health Problems Do English Bulldogs Have?

English Bulldogs suffer from dozens of health related issues. Some of the most common health issues for English Bulldogs are:

Major respiratory problems

English Bulldog Breathing Problems


English Bulldog Overheating

Severe Skin Allergies

English Bulldog Skin Problems

 Eczema, Dry Skin , Acne

Bulldog Skin Problems



Degenerative Spine Disease

English Bulldogs Arthritis

Cherry Eye

English Bulldog Cherry Eye

Hip Dysplasia


Joint & Ligament Injuries


Idiopathic Head Tremors


Vomiting & Regurgitation


Fold Dermatitis


Heart disease

English Bulldog Heart Disease

Highest Cancer Rate of Any Breed

English Bulldog Cancer Surgery

Bulldogs are very special dogs who require lots of attention and care. You should be aware of some of the most common conditions in this breed in order to provide your beloved friend the best life he/she may have.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

“Brachy” means “shortened” and “cephalic” means “head”. The skull bones of brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs, are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a “pushed in” appearance. Due to the shorter bones of the face and nose, the anatomy and relationship with the other soft tissue structures are altered; some of these changes can cause physical problems for the affected dog. Given their short nose and narrow nostrils, Bulldogs are prone to breathing problems, panting, chronic discomfort, exercise intolerance and difficulty eating. Since obesity worsens the symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome, keeping your dog in a healthy weight is essential to prevent breathing difficulties. For dogs with only mild symptoms, the condition may be managed by controlling exercise levels, avoiding hot or humid conditions, keeping the dog in an air conditioned place during the summer, and avoiding stress.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a disorder of the nictitating membrane, also called the third eyelid, present in the eyes of dogs. Cherry eye is most often seen in young dogs under the age of two. If left untreated, this condition can lead to keratoconjunctivitis sicca and other complications so if you see that your dog “cherry eyes”, you should seek veterinary care as soon possible.


Bulldogs are prone to skin fold dermatitis (skin inflammation) due to the rubbing of skin and trapping of moisture in the tail, lip and facial folds. You should clean and dry your Bulldog’s wrinkles frequently to prevent bacterial growth, which may lead to pyoderma (bacterial skin infection). Skin fold dermatitis is easily identified as hairless (alopecic), reddened, and bad smell areas of folded skin or wrinkles.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia mean malformation of the hip and elbow joints respectively. These conditions may cause pain, lameness, decreased activity, difficulty rising, and reluctance to run, jump, or climb stairs. It is important to keep your Bulldog in a healthy weight to prevent joint disease. Although Bulldogs are not active dogs, you should take him/her on regular walks when the weather is not too hot. In addition, you should feed your dog the appropriate amount of calories in order to prevent obesity.

Heat Sensitivity

 Bulldogs are indoor dogs and cannot be left alone outside for long. Their heat intolerance is related to their breathing issues. Although they do not tolerate rigorous exercise, they can tolerate short daily walks.

What is The English Bulldog’s Lifespan?

The average lifespan of an English Bulldog is just 8 years. The average lifespan for dogs is 13 years. Why do English Bulldogs die 40% earlier than their peers? Unfortunately, humans breeding practices are the main reason English Bulldogs live such a short life compared to other dog breeds.

What Kind of Disposition Do Bulldogs Have?

English Bulldogs are extremely friendly, funny and expressive. They are also known for their courage, loyalty and love for their owners. English Bulldogs are notorious for being stubborn and will work tirelessly to get what they want. They are very strong-willed and independent but like human babies, English Bulldogs require constant attention and human warmth from their owners.

Are English Bulldogs Good Around Children?

Yes, English Bulldogs are wonderful dogs for children. They are protective yet mellow and extremely gentle. Bulldogs are not aggressive and most children find them very entertaining. Bulldogs are also natural guard dogs and are known to alert their owners when danger is present or if a child is in trouble.

How Big do English Bulldogs Get?

  • Full-grown English Bulldog | Average Height: 1.5 Feet (18 Inches)
  • Full-grown English Bulldog | Average Weight: 50 Lbs. (22.7 Kilos)

English Bulldog Exercise Requirements

English Bulldogs don’t require much exercise. Twice daily walks are usually sufficient but most English Bulldogs appreciate going outside and exploring. Just like humans, Bulldogs are social creatures and their mood and wellbeing improve with regular and frequent walks. English Bulldogs cannot withstand prolonged exercise because of their compromised anatomy. They can overheat and die or develop pneumonia just from playing too much. English Bulldog owners must constantly monitor their dogs’ activities for signs of exhaustion or fatigue.

Are English Bulldogs Indoor or Outdoor Dogs?

English Bulldogs must be kept indoors only. Because Heat Exhaustion can happen in minutes, English Bulldogs cannot be left outside in warm weather unattended. English Bulldogs also require a cool climate and most owners have their thermostat on an automatic setting to keep their Bulldog cool throughout the day when they’re not at home.

What is An English Bulldog’s Diet Like?

English Bulldogs have lots of food allergies and the wrong diet can cause:

  • Obesity
  • Skin rashes
  • Tear Stains
  • Stomach Aches
  • Ulcers
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)

While there isn’t one clear cut winner for an English Bulldog’s diet, only buy food that meets these minimum standards:

  • American-made
  • Organic
  • All-natural
  • Additive-free

Also, many English Bulldog owners have switched to raw food diets recently and report:

  • Weight loss
  • Less tear staining
  • Less gas
  • Healthier stools
  • Healthier skin
  • Shinier fur
  • Increased energy

Why aren’t English Bulldogs Allowed On Airlines?

After a string of English Bulldog deaths caused from flying, Bulldogs are banned from flying on every commercial airline. The reason they struggle flying is because of breathing troubles and they overheat easily in the cargo area of an airplane.

Why Are English Bulldogs Delivered by Caesarean section?

English Bulldog mothers are artificially inseminated and give birth by Caesarean section. Male English Bulldogs can’t impregnate Females because their cartoonish body development prevents the proper mechanics from taking place. Also, English Bulldog puppies have heads so large that their mother can’t push them out of her birth canal without breaking her pelvic bones.

Why Do English Bulldogs Not Get Along With Other Dogs?

Their loud, grumbling breathing sounds like growling and often puts off other dog breeds. Because of this, English Bulldogs can quickly recognize other bulldogs and typically stick together.

Are English Bulldogs Needy?

Yes! Because bulldogs are emotional and affectionate, they require constant closeness and attention. For some, this is an ideal pet relationship but it can be burdensome for those who are looking for less needy companions.

Are English Bulldogs Good Swimmers?

No, English Bulldogs are prone to drowning and should be closely supervised with a life vest on when swimming. They also tire easily so swimming or any exercise must be done in short, 15-30 second bursts followed by a few minutes to recover.

How Do English Bulldogs Play?

When bulldogs play, they engage in a lighthearted jowl biting and ear tugging session that usually ends (rather quickly) in heavy panting and collapsing to the ground so they can keep playing while laying down.

How Much Do English Bulldogs Cost?

Bulldogs range in price from $1500-$30,000, depending on the breeder and the dogs features and bloodline. Unfortunately, many Bulldogs are abandoned at shelters each year because the ongoing costs to care for them are so high.

Are English Bulldogs Good Around Other Dogs

Yes, English Bulldogs have very mellow temperaments and are very gentle, despite their rough outer appearance. However, English Bulldogs can be territorial, dominant and tend to be more independent than other breeds. Generally, the earlier an English Bulldog is introduced to its sibling the better.

Are English Bulldogs Emotionally Expressive?

It’s not uncommon to hear a bulldog owner talk about how “human-like” their bulldog is. In fact, many say that bulldogs are more human-like than dog-like! They are highly emotional, have very specific preferences (that they don’t hesitate to voice), and use facial expressions that seem to communicate what they’re thinking. While all of this seems hysterical to the person watching it, bulldogs take themselves very seriously and will hold a grudge if they are not respected (at least until dinnertime).

How Bad Do English Bulldogs Snore?

Bad. It’s not uncommon for ear plugs to be on the new puppy shopping list of English Bulldog owners. Their snoring is caused by their shortened breathing passages and jutted jaws.

Can I Adopt An English Bulldog?

Yes! Because of the effort involved in caring for an English Bulldog, many of them get abandoned at shelters. So many wonderful English Bulldogs are living in shelters, waiting to be adopted. You can check for available Bulldogs in your area by visiting the Bulldog Rescue Network. 

What About Miniature English Bulldogs?

If you see breeders advertising miniature bulldogs, whether they call them mini bulldogs, teacup bulldogs or any other combination of made up terms, they’re lying. Although some breeders claim to have miniature English Bulldog puppies for sale, according to the AKC and the Bulldog Club of America there is no such thing. Additionally, miniature bulldogs have lots of health problems that you must consider before buying one.

How Do I know if an English Bulldog is Right For Me?

If you answer yes to these 12 questions, you might be ready for an English Bulldog:

  1. Are you willing to possibly spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per year on medical care?
  2. Are you ok with a dog that cannot exercise for long without overheating and potentially dying?
  3. Are you willing to clean your English Bulldog’s folds twice daily to prevent yeast infections and bacteria overgrowth?
  4. Are you alright with an indoor only dog that cannot live outside?
  5. Are you ready to spend extra time, money and energy on fine-tuning your English Bulldog’s diet?
  6. Are you willing to wash your English Bulldog once a week?
  7. Are you ok with your dog dying 40% sooner than the average dog?
  8. Can you endure watching a dog suffer solely because humans bred him for his appearance and disregarded his wellbeing?
  9. Are you willing to cover any hardwood, marble or slippery floors with carpets so that your English Bulldog’s weak joints don’t endure extra stress?
  10. Are you willing to pay for multiple surgeries to fix your English Bulldog’s inevitable health issues?
  11. Are you ok with a dog that can’t go on long walks with you due to exhaustion and overheating?
  12. Are you ok with wiping your English Bulldog’s butt and genitals with baby wipes after every bathroom trip to avoid infection?

English Bulldog 101 Video


Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.


  1. We have a 8 year old English Bulldog and he has issues with his ear. Is there a good brand of ear cleaner to use on him?

  2. Hi Jami,

    From our experience with ear issues, we’ve found that different problems require different solutions. For example, recently our male had what looked to be ear infections. Upon further testing of the cultures by our local vet, no infection was detected. But he did have an excessive wax buildup so that medicine that was prescribed was designed to bubble and gently loosen up the wax so we could wipe it out. What type of issues is your bully having with his ears?

  3. With that said, two options we’ve used that have really helped are: MaxiGuard Zn 4.5 Otic and Zymox. Good luck!

  4. […] Bulldogs are genetically predisposed to a long list of health conditions that are costly and take a lot of time to treat. They are brachycephalic (a technical way to say they have smashed faces), commonly referred to as brachy, which makes them susceptible to brachycephalic respiratory syndrome. […]


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