icon breeds outline Breeds

English Bulldog Breed Information: Personality Traits, Temperament, & More

50

Last Updated: June 10, 2024 | 13 min read | 24 Comments

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Here’s how it works.

The English Bulldog is one of the most easily recognizable breeds in the world. With their squat, sturdy frame and wrinkled, jowly face, these pups certainly don’t go unnoticed in the dog park. Bulldogs are pretty low-maintenance dogs, requiring only a moderate amount of grooming and exercise. That, together with a gentle, sweet, people-oriented disposition, makes the bulldog a wonderful family pet.

They have some health concerns, but most are easily managed, even by first-time dog owners. They can also be stubborn, and there are easier breeds to train. So, is the English Bulldog the ideal companion for you? Let’s find out more about our favorite flat-faced breed.

Breed Overview
    • weight iconWeight40-60+ pounds
    • height iconHeight14-15 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan8-10 years
    • color iconColorsWhite, Piebald, Fawn, Brindle, Red
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

English Bulldog Breed History

English Bulldog Walking on Grass
English Bulldogs were originally bred for bullbaiting.

Bulldog-type breeds can be traced back to the 5th century to a breed called Alaunt in the UK. These broad-mouthed dogs were originally bred for aggression and to help butchers control livestock.

It’s thought that earlier versions of today’s English Bulldog first appeared in 13th century England, specifically for the “sport” of bullbaiting. This sport consisted of trained dogs being latched onto tethered bull’s noses. They were not let go until the bull was either pulled to the ground by the dog or the bull had killed the dog. Bull-baiting was not only a sport but also used to help make the meat of the bull more tender before butchering.

These dogs were probably much larger and heavier than their modern relatives and most likely had a more aggressive temperament, as they were bred for fighting. In 1835, bullbaiting was banned. However, the Bulldog continued to be used in the pit-dog fighting events that took place around that time in the shady, underground world of gambling dens.

To produce the perfect fighting dog, gamblers crossed the original Bulldog with various terriers, resulting in the appearance of lighter-weight, smaller breeds such as the Bull Terrier and Pitbull Terrier.

By 1886, the Bulldog was much more like the breed we know today. These dogs were smaller, sweeter-tempered, and more mellow, rapidly becoming family favorites as pets. The Bulldog, with its Churchillian features, was adopted as the national symbol of England thanks to its striking resemblance to Winston Churchill, England’s Prime Minister during World War II.

In the U.S., the Bulldog became the mascot of many sports teams, including Yale University. During World War I, the tenacious bulldog became the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps and still holds that honor today. Today, most English Bulldogs enjoy a quiet life as family pets.

Temperament

Bulldog out in Field
English Bulldogs make fantastic family companion dogs.

English Bulldogs are excellent family companions. They are great with kids and can do just fine in a multi-pet household if they have proper socialization and training as puppies. They do have a slightly higher prey drive, so you’ll need to watch that if you have any cats in your home and correct the behavior early on.

English Bulldogs are highly independent. They can be stubborn and difficult to train. They are highly food motivated, so this can help when it comes to getting them to listen. Some pups will be more prone to separation anxiety. Because of this, you’ll need to make sure you do your best to create a relaxing home environment they don’t look to escape from.

English Bulldogs are famous as escape artists, so when they get anxious or bored, they will look for ways to start to explore. Because of their stout stature, they can easily get through fencing or barriers that aren’t properly secured.

Overall, the English Bulldog can make a fantastic dog for any family. As long as they are exercised properly, they will tend to be more couch potatoes than active dogs. They’d rather lay in your lap than go play fetch on most occasions, and they will be protective of your family, especially children.

English Bulldog Size & Appearance

Fat Bulldog Ourdoors
Adult dogs can vary widely in both size and appearance.

A male English Bulldog can grow to weigh a hefty 60+ pounds. Females weigh a little less at around 40 pounds. Both sexes grow to be about 14 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder. If you are thinking your family will need a smaller dog, consider looking at a French Bulldog, because their size is smaller when compared to an English Bulldog. Keep in mind that these dogs are stout. They are short and muscular. You’ll need to be prepared to handle an independent breed that packs plenty of strength into such a small frame.

English Bulldogs have smaller and flatter faces. They are known as a brachycephalic dog breed, which can lead to health problems if they are not properly monitored. This is also one of the reasons many owners think they are endearing or cute-looking. Some English Bulldogs suffer from an underbite, which leads their lower jaw and teeth to stick out further than the top of their jawline, exposing their lower teeth.

Coat & Colors

Brindle Dog out in Field
While coat length is relatively standard, there is a wide range of breed coat coloring.

They have a short coat that doesn’t shed much. English Bulldogs are single coated, which means that they will shed about the same amount through an entire year. They don’t blow their coat like other breeds, which means grooming costs should be relatively consistent.

When it comes to coat colors, you can find English Bulldogs in a range of colors, including white, brindle, Piebald, fawn, and red. It’s also common for all English Bulldogs to have a spotted coat, with many different colors happening all at the same time.

Exercise & Living Conditions

Piebald Dog Outside Running Around
Most English Bulldogs do not need more than 30 minutes of daily exercise.

Bulldogs don’t need a vast amount of exercise. They do enjoy a game, and there are some who are very successful in sports such as flyball and agility. However, the average Bulldog isn’t built for speed and will be quite content with a calm stroll through the park a couple of times each day and perhaps a gentle game with toys in your garden.

If you want a dog that will be happy living outside in a kennel, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The Bulldog is very intolerant of warm weather and can quickly overheat, which can be fatal. Your Bulldog must live inside your home, will need a comfy bed, and you’ll need to crank up the air-conditioning too when warm weather arrives.

If you have a swimming pool or a pond in your garden, be sure to keep your Bulldog well away from it. Bulldogs are very poor swimmers thanks to their huge heads, solid bodies, and short legs, which make it extremely difficult for the dog to keep his head above water.

Training Your English Bulldog

White English Bulldog
Known for being highly independent, expect to spend plenty of time training your puppy.

This tenacious breed is smart, but he can be a challenge to train, even with easier tricks. That’s because these pups prefer to think for themselves rather than follow commands! However, attending early socialization and obedience classes can ensure that your bulldog puppy grows up to be as respectful and mannerly as any other breed. You don’t want a stubborn little guy like the bulldog to end up with bad habits.

If you plan to train your Bulldog to walk with a harness, you should start at a very early age since these pups love to pull. Planning to crate train your pup? If so, you may be in for a challenge because English Bulldogs are stubborn. This means that training your English Bulldog to stay in their crate can be even more difficult than leash training. You’ll want a secure English Bulldog-sized dog crate that’s secure enough to keep them from fighting their way out.

Health

Dog with Underbite
As with all flat-faced breeds, we expect varying levels of health issues across your dog’s lifetime.

English Bulldogs have a shorter lifespan than other breeds due to a predisposition to multiple health problems. They live, on average, eight to ten years. Bulldogs, like other flat-faced breeds, are classified as brachycephalic dogs.

Brachycephalic dogs have a narrowed upper airway, which often causes breathing difficulties, especially during hot weather or exercise, and bulldogs tend to snore and snuffle, too. Other health problems that are common in bulldogs include:

  1. Hip dysplasia
  2. Joint injuries
  3. Arthritis
  4. Skin infections
  5. Cherry eye, inverted eyelids, dry eye, and cataracts
  6. Skin allergies
  7. Bladder stones
  8. Gastric torsion

The English Bulldog, in particular, has specific health problems. According to Fetch, the most common health issues found in this breed are atopic dermatitis, corneal ulcers, and otitis externa. These conditions can be expensive to treat. In fact, Fetch’s data shows that the average cost of treatment for atopic dermatitis is $833, $747 for corneal ulcers, and $407 for otitis externa.

“I see English Bulldogs regularly in my clinic,” says Dr. Rebecca MacMillan, BVetMed MRCVS, a companion animal veterinarian and surgeon in the U.K. “They often come to see me because of their recurrent skin problems. Many of these dogs have underlying allergies but also other issues like extreme facial folds. This wrinkled skin is moist and warm, providing the ideal place for bacteria and yeasts to multiply.”

We recommend pet insurance for your English Bulldog to help offset these costs. Because of their heavy stature and flat faces, Bulldogs are incredibly susceptible to heat stroke. For that reason, they would not be a suitable pet for you if you live in a region where the summers are typically very hot or humid. Learn more about the best pet insurance companies in our guide.

Although some English Bulldogs do compete successfully in activities such as flyball and agility, many receive only a moderate amount of exercise. That’s fine, provided that you take care not to overfeed your Bulldog. Obesity can be a problem for these pups, as being overweight only serves to exacerbate their health issues.

English Bulldog Nutrition

Dog Laying in Dog Food
Be sure your English Bulldog eats a high-quality diet.

Bulldogs will thrive on any high-quality dog food, provided that they are not overfed. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the product label to see how much you should feed your Bulldog. If you’re in any doubt, ask your vet for advice on the best diet for your burly canine chum.

English Bulldogs will eat anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 cups of dog food per day. The breed is not one that can manage its own appetite, so you’ll likely need to feed your dog at intervals throughout the day. This means that you can’t free-feed like other dog breeds. Free feeding an English Bulldog will likely lead to obesity and other health-related problems. These pups can get chunky quickly, which does not help their overall health and longevity.

You should consider adding fresh nutrition to your English Bulldog’s diet. Even if it is not their main food source, fresh dog foods offer a boost of top nutrition and flavor that benefits your pup’s health. Learn more about fresh dog food and our personal experience with several top brands.

Grooming

Piebald English Bulldog in Bathtub
Expect to bathe your English Bulldog regularly and properly dry in between skin folds.

The Bulldog is a low-maintenance breed that doesn’t need much brushing. A gentle going over with a soft bristle brush a few times each week is enough to keep your Bulldog’s coat shiny and in good condition. Shedding increases during the spring and fall, when you’ll need to brush your dog a little more often.

Bulldogs don’t generally smell too “doggy,” so you won’t need to bathe your dog too often.

The most important part of your Bulldog’s grooming regimen is the care of his wrinkled face. You’ll need to clean your Bulldog’s wrinkles with a soft, damp cloth, ideally daily but at least twice a week. After cleaning, be sure to dry the wrinkles gently. Moist areas amongst skin folds make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which could set up an infection.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Puppy walking in Grass
Expect to pay $1,500 and up for a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder.

A good starting point in your search for a well-bred Bulldog puppy is the American Kennel Club website at this link. Here, you’ll find a list of licensed, reputable breeders in most areas of the U.S.

Also, check out the Bulldog Club of America website for details of good Bulldog breeders. It’s a good tip to look for dogs bred from parents who have some sporting pedigree in agility classes and similar rather than purely in the show ring.

Ask the breeder if you can see the puppy’s parents and siblings. That will give you a good idea of what kind of temperament the puppies will have when they grow up. The breeder should also be willing to show you their breeding dogs’ health screening certificates so you can be confident your puppy will be healthy and free from congenital defects.

The cost of Bulldog puppies depends on several factors, including where you live, the puppy’s sex, and whether he comes from a prize-winning line. Currently, English Bulldog puppies range in price from $1,500 to around $5,000.

Why Are English Bulldog Puppies So Expensive?

Due to the Bulldog’s physical build, giving birth naturally is difficult and dangerous for the mother dog. For that reason, Bulldog puppies are born via caesarian section. That means big vet bills for the breeders, and some of that cost passes on to would-be owners. Also, because of the multiple congenital health problems, the breeder has to bear the expense of many health tests and screening procedures.

As a general rule of thumb, if you see a Bulldog puppy advertised for less than $1,500, walk away. Cheap puppies usually come from puppy mills.

You can read our guide on how much a dog costs after the adoption fees to get an idea of how affordable a dog is for your budget.

Rescues & Shelters

English Bulldog at Rescue Center
Like any breed, we always recommend that you adopt before you shop.

Sadly, there are many unwanted Bulldogs and Bulldog mixes in rescue centers and shelters around the U.S., and if you’re happy to take on an adult dog, these can be a great place to find your new best friend.

When you rehome a dog from a rescue center, you’ll need to make a donation to help with the charity’s running costs. Some rescue groups may want to visit your home to check its suitability before they will let you adopt a dog from them. Most city and municipal shelters do not have this same requirement and usually have lower adoption fees.

Although most shelters will assess each of their dogs to make sure they have a good temperament and no obvious medical issues, the Bulldog you choose probably won’t come with any health screening paperwork, so you’ll need to have him examined by a vet right away. Most shelters will also take in mixes, and you’ll likely find different kinds of interesting Bulldog mixes (like the Beagle Bulldog mix) that you may be able to adopt.

As Family Pets

So, is an English Bulldog the perfect family pet for you? It all depends on your lifestyle. They are easygoing and get along well with people, kids, and other pets.

Bulldogs don’t need a tremendous amount of exercise, so if you have a laid-back life, they will fit right in. But if you’re an outdoorsy family, you may enjoy a different breed An English Bulldog will do fine in an apartment or a small house with limited outside space due to their lower exercise needs. Bulldogs don’t tolerate heat, so consider another breed if you live in a hot climate.

English Bulldogs are stubborn dogs, and you will need to spend time taking your Bulldog to obedience classes. This breed has a few health issues, and they tend to wheeze and snore. They are also very drooly, which not everyone can tolerate. You’ll need to spend time cleaning their wrinkles to prevent skin infections.

What’s The Difference Between English vs American vs French Bulldogs?

There are three types of bulldogs you may hear of English, American, and French. For American bulldogs, there are also two different types: Johnson and Scott. These variations are based on physical appearance.

American Bulldog

American Bulldog standing.

John D. Johnson is accredited with creating the American Bulldog. As a teenager in the 1930s, John began breeding the remaining herding bulldogs. In the 1960s, he teamed up with Allen Scott; however, they eventually parted ways because they pictured the American Bulldog as two different dogs. John created the larger, short-muzzled bulldog, while Allen bred the smaller, athletic-looking bulldog. These are now known respectively as the Johnson Type and Scott Type.

The American Bulldog has a muscular body with a large, square head and jaws. The breed has muscular cheeks and a furrowed brow look. The nose is black, the eye rims are black, and the ears can be rose, half-pricked, or pendant. The muzzle is box-shaped, and the lips are loose. The tail is low-set and tapers to a point, and the hindquarters are muscular and broad. Males can grow between 22-28 inches tall and 70-120 pounds. Females can be 20-26 inches tall and 60-100 pounds. The coat is short and harsh-textured and can be white, brindle, red, tan, brown, or any combination of these colors.

English Bulldog

English Bulldog with spots

The English Bulldog is smaller than the Johnson Type and the Scott Type. They are medium-sized with a large head, drooping jowls, and a wrinkled face. They have broad chests and wide-set shoulders. The ears are rosed, and their noses are black.

Their skin is loose, and their coats are short and either brindle, white, fawn, red, or piebald. Males average about 54 pounds and females 50 pounds. Females’ characteristics are less exaggerated, making them appear less “bulldogish”.

French Bulldog

White and black and tan French Bulldogs sitting.

The French Bulldog is most recognized for its bat-shaped ears. They are typically less than 28 pounds, and their coats are brindle, fawn, white, and brindle and white. The coat is also short and smooth and relatively easy to keep clean. Frenchies love being the center of attention and are very loving.

You can see more about the differences in the English vs French Bulldog here. And, if you want more information on the Old English Bulldog vs. the English Bulldog, we cover that here.

So, in order from smallest to largest, it goes French Bulldog, then English Bulldog, then American Bulldog—Scott Type, then American Bulldog—Johnson Type.

Cute English Bulldogs In Action (Video)

The video below shows just how cute English Bulldogs can be. How can you not love those wrinkly faces?

Other Breeds To Consider

Bulldogs can make wonderful pets, but there are plenty of other breeds to consider if you aren’t quite sure yet. You can always consider an English Bulldog mix. If you want a more active dog to accompany you on hikes and adventures, perhaps a Jack Russell Terrier or Labrador Retriever may be a better match. If you’ve already fallen in love with a Bulldog puppy, check out our ideas for adorable English Bulldog names.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Janet Wall is a dog trainer and former educator who grew up with dogs from her youngest days. She developed an appreciation for all dogs, their care, and training. She has trained competition and therapy dogs, working at length with children, Alzheimer’s, and brain injury patients.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Subscribe
Notify of
24 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top