So, you want to own a Bulldog? We are very glad you are considering making a Bulldog a part of your family. Because you may have some questions about the breed, please see our "About Bulldogs" page for complete details about this most wonderful breed of dog. We have put together this short quiz below to help you make an informed decision about Bulldog ownership.
Do you want a puppy you can quickly potty train?
If so, don't get a Bulldog. I am not always the easiest of breeds to potty train. Are you prepared to spend time and develop a routine so you won't get mad at me when I have an accident? It just takes practice, consistency and a LOT of patience.
Do you want a very obedient dog?
If so, don't get a Bulldog. I am a Bulldog, but I am not stupid. I am generally pretty stubborn and thus harder to train. I DON'T listen, just face it! When I am off leash many things make me curious and I should not be trusted. You really need to keep one eye on me!
Do you want a dog that can run for miles and miles?
If so, don't get a Bulldog. I am a Bulldog and I do not jog. I am not built for running, except for very short spurts. I am a Bulldog and I do not run....I waddle. But I do enjoy and should go on short, controlled walks now and then.
I do not want my Bulldog to look fat, so I will exercise him to the maximum or even better, I will keep him on a high energy diet.
If so, don't get a Bulldog. Get a Working Breed instead. Bulldogs are VERY solid dogs. Their build is very wide and not very tall. So even though they might look fat, they are just stocky. As in the case with any dog, they should not be overweight. Regular, limited exercise and a proper diet will control any weight problems in Bulldogs. You should be able to FEEL the ribs, not to SEE the ribs.
HEALTH CONCERNS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING YOUR BULLDOG
It would be unfair to single out the Bulldog breed as the only dog with health issues. Every breed of dog has its own set of health concerns whether they are many or very few. The question here is are you, as a new owner, willing to take on the responsibility for a Bulldog, or any breed for that matter, and all its little quirky idiosyncrasies whether health related or otherwise? Below, we have listed the most common health issues known to be prevalent in the Bulldog today. Hopefully, with this information you will be able to make the right decision before purchasing the most wonderful, lovable, sweetest breed of dog on earth...............THE BULLDOG!
BREED PREDISPOSITION HEALTH ISSUES
A "breed predisposition" is a tendency for a breed to be affected by a particular disease or kind of disease or anomaly. This can simply be due to the individual breed and not necessarily genetic in every case. However, there are many who seriously believe and will state that "When there is a question as to whether even one health concern might be inherited, it is always best to think that it is, in fact, inherited".
Due to the physical makeup of the Bulldog, the breed is more prone to certain health concerns than other breeds of dog. Brachycephalic (short muzzled) breeds seem to have more issues with the following:
Eyes - Entropian, Ectropian, cherry eye, cataracts, distichiasis, progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma. (Please see our page About Bulldogs for information regarding these conditions.) Cherry eye, entropian and ectropian are thought to be breed predispositions due to shape of the Bulldog's head and the placement of the eyes.
Stenotic Nares - Again, due to the size and placement of the Bulldog's nose, pinched nostrils (steonic nares) are thought to be a breed predisposition.
Skin - Hives, alopecia, dermatitis, and yeast infections are all believed to be breed dispositions due to the heavy folds of wrinkled skin of the Bulldog.
Joints - Bulldogs were bred to have "loose joints", so much so that some have described the Bulldog as the perfect case scenario of Hip Dysplasia. This does not necessarily mean that an individual Bulldog has hip dysplasia, it is only that the joints are so loose in both shoulders and hips it can present as a type of dysplasia.
Mouth - Wry mouth is also a breed predisposition due to the size and shape of the Bulldog's jaw. It can be an acquired condition, but is not attractive in any sense of the word.
Tail - Malformed tails are just another predisposition in the Bulldog. You can learn more about the different types of tails by checking our About Bulldogs page.
Reproductive Issues - Due to the Bulldog's body shape, that being narrow in the rear and broad in the front, most female Bulldogs are unable to breed naturally requiring artificial insemination. This also means that the female Bulldog is unable to free whelp and requires a C-section to deliver her pups.
Internal Issues - Again, due to the overall characteristics of the Bulldog breed, they are more prone to bloat, to have sensitivity to anesthesia, are prone to hyperthermia and hypothermia and are known to have more gas than some other breeds.
A FUN QUIZ FOR "WANT TO BE" BULLDOG OWNERS
Bulldogs are prone to the same illnesses and diseases as any other breed of dog, but there are some conditions that are more prevalent in the Bulldog than in other breeds. We have covered the major conformation points, some eye anomalies and a few health issues on our "About Bulldogs" page. Now, on to the remainder of the information we feel any prospective Bulldog owner should know.
SELF-LIMITING HEALTH CONCERNS
First, we will cover what is called "self-limiting" health issues. Self-limiting means, simply, "limited by its own peculiarities and not by outside influence. A disease or condition that runs a definite, limited course and resolves itself with little or no intervention". These are conditions in the Bulldog that will correct themselves within a very short time frame or at least by the time the Bulldog is an adult and with proper care and treatment, will not be life-threatening or detrimental to the future health of the Bulldog. You may find that most, if not all, of the self-limiting conditions listed here will not be covered in a sales contract with a breeder when you purchase your Bulldog puppy.
CANINE ACNE - Small pustules (or pimples) that appear on the muzzle near the lips and on the chin. These are self-limiting, benign and are usually seen in the puppy. Treatment is necessary if the pustules become infected. Acne is not an inherited or congenital disease and is not life-threatening.
INTESTINAL PARASITES - Several species of intestinal parasites affect all dogs at some stage in their lives. They are not considered inherited or congenital. With a proper regimen of wormers, as prescribed by your Veterinarian, these parasites can be eradicated and kept at bay by routine examination. Internal parasites most common in the dog are: Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms and Whipworms.
Giardia is a single-celled parasitic life form with potential to cause serious illness. They are usually found in unclean drinking water and contaminated soil. Diarrhea is the most common symptom and humans can also have Giardia. Unless there is a serious infestation of this parasite, Giardia is not life-threatening nor is it inherited or congenital in nature.
Coccidiosis is a protozoan parasite that usually infects the intestines of puppies under the age of one year. Symptoms are watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and eventual dehydration. Treatment by a Veterinarian is usually simple and can be easily eradicated.
EXTERNAL PARASITES - External parasites consists of Ear mites, Fleas and Ticks. These parasites are seen in every breed of dog as well as cats. If left untreated, they can cause severe damage to the dogs skin, ears and cause internal health issues. Ear mites are very bothersome to dogs. An infestation of ear mites will have a dog scratching at his ears until they are almost bloody and shaking his head violently. You have to think how uncomfortable it would be if you had ear mites One of the most severe problems with external parasites are fleas. Dogs can develop an allergy from the actual bite of the flea and flea saliva. Heavy flea infestations are thought to cause tapeworm in the dog, as well. Similar to how ticks affect humans, ticks can cause Lyme disease and tick fever in the dog. It is of utmost importance that all dogs are kept a regular, year-round regimen of flea and tick preventative. Other than the threat of Lyme disease, tick fever and a few other issues that can be controlled with proper treatment, most often, external parasites are not life-threatening nor inherited or congenital.
SKIN FOLD DERMATITIS - Bulldogs can be so irresistible with all the many folds of skin around their faces and necks. However, these skin folds are prone to infection, if not properly cleaned and cared for. This dermatitis can occur due to rubbing of the skin and trapping moisture within the folds. Fold dermatitis can be found on the tail, face and neck. It produces significant discomfort and itching. Associated pyoderma can develop if proper cure and treatment is not done.
SEASONAL FLANK ALOPECIA - This condition is most common in the young adult Bulldog, Boxer, Schnauzer and Airedale Terrier. It is an incompletely understood disorder which causes seasonal, recurrent hair loss at the flanks of the dog. It might involve photoperiod changes in melatonin and prolactin hormone production which affect the hair follicles. Melatonin can be given and is helpful to induce hair growth in some dogs and restarting melatonin yearly, for to six weeks prior to anticipated onset of hair loss, may prevent recurrence. The prognosis for hair growth is unpredictable and can be incomplete. New hairs may be different in color and texture However, this is a disorder which does not affect the dog's quality of life.
ABNORMAL DENTITION - Abnormal dentition is the misalignment or abnormal placement, number and development of the Bulldog's teeth. We covered this in more detail on the "About Bulldogs" page. This is not life-threatening but can make it difficult for the dog to chew his food properly. And, when the teeth are misaligned, it does not make for the pretty and correct expression of the Bulldog. Some of the abnormal dentitions cn be acquired from chewing hard toys or bones, biting at wire gates and crates, etc.
TEAR STAINS - Most Bulldogs have some type of tear staining at some point in their lives. Some experts believe tear stains are due to the dye in certain brands of dog food, while others say they are due to a higher level of iron found in the tears of the dog. Then, there are those who will say tear stains in the Bulldog are just one of those "necessary evils" of the breed. This condition is not life threatening. However, we believe tear stains can be most uncomfortable for your best friend, due to the continual moisture under the eyes and down the side of the face which might possibly set off some mild infection.
DRY NOSE - For some reason, some Bulldog's noses will become dry. Sometimes it is due to age and other times due to their being constant house pets. Dry nose can be controlled fairly easily by applying a small amount of petroleum jelly to the nose at least twice a day. If you find this does not work for your dog, apply the petroleum jelly as much as 6 times a day. Eventually the nose will become soft and the crust will disapper. Maintainence can be done by applying the jelly once or twice a month thereafter. Dry nose is a self-limiting condition
YEAST INFECTION OF THE EARS - Due to the shape and size of the Bulldog's ears, they seem to be more prone to ear infections, especially yeast infections. These condition are easily eradicated with proper treatment and good hygiene. This condition is not life-threantening, but can be very bothersome for both the Bulldog and the owner. A good regimen of cleaning the ears at least on a weekly basis and using proper medication as prescribed by your Vet, can keep yeast infections at bay.
INHERITED / CONGENITAL HEALTH ISSUES
Currently, the Bulldog is known to have at least 39 confirmed health concerns, some of which can be inherited and some congenital. And, there are many other conditions that are still being tested for hereditary factors. Although we cannot cover every known health concern with the Bulldog, we are trying to educate prospective Bulldog owners, or just those who love the breed, by covering as many issues as possible, especially those that are most common and/or worrisome.
DEFINITION OF HEREDITARY VS. CONGENITAL
A hereditary condition is one that is genetically predetermined. It is dependent on the genetic material (or chromosomes) that an animal inherits from one or both biological parents. One example of an inherited condition in the Bulldog would be an elongated soft palate (please see About Bulldogs)
A congenital condition is one that develops not from the family history or genetics, but rather from influences which occur while the animal is still in-utero. At various stages of fetal development, the fetus may be sensitive or at risk for abnormalities and disabilities. Whether due to environmental factors, the health or condition of the mother or for unknown reasons, a fetus may develop an illness, disease, condition or other abnormality that will be present at birth. An example of this would be a tail that is not the correct spike tail or the correct screw tail, but one that is a gay tail, an inverted tail, a tight screw tail or any combination of a screw tail held high over the rear end of the dog.
CLEFT PALATE, CLEFT LIP - A cleft palate is an incomplete fusion of the bones of the palate. The cleft may be confined to the soft palate at the back of the mouth. It may include the hard palate or roof of the mouth, or it may extend through the gum and lip, producing a gap in the teeth and a cleft lip. This condition is cosmetically difficult to repair but is not disabling. These conditions are thought to be hereditary but not under the control of a single pair of genes.
DEMODECTIC MANGE (DEMODICOSIS IN THE BULLDOG) - Canine Demodicosis is also known as demodectic mange or red mange. It is a skin disease caused by the mite, Demodex canis, a mite that lives deep within the hair follicle. This mite is a normal inhabitant of the dog's sin but is typically only present in extremely small numbers. Demodex mites are species specific and are NOT contagious to other animals or humans. Other species of mammals including humans have their own demodex mites that can be found in small numbers in normal skin. In some dogs, an increase in the number of mites can occur and this increase can cause skin disease.
There are two forms of demodicosis:
Localized - involving fewer than five lesions over the body. This form often resolves on its own or with local therapy. This is the form most often seen in puppies.
Generalized - involving five or more lesions or may involve one or two large areas of infection. Generalized demodicosis can become a severe chronic disease unless the underlying cause can be found. Secondary skin infection can present complications.
Localized demodicosis typically resolves without therapy as the dog's immune system matures. Stress is also a contributing factor for outbreaks of localized demodicosis.
Over populations of the demodectic mange mite, as seen in generalized demodicosis, are thought to be triggered by a defect in the dog's immune system. It is important that these animals never be used for breeding.
PLEASE NOTE: Many years ago, dipping a dog in old, used motor oil was thought to cure mange. NEVER use this method to try to rid your pet of mange mites!!!! Seek advice from your Veterinarian!
HIP DYSPLASIA, LUXATING PATELLAS & ELBOW DYSPLASIA - Unfortunately, all Bulldogs have hip dysplasia, to a certain degree because of their specialized breeding. And, this condition in the Bulldog is not exclusive to puppy mill bred Bulldogs nor to the "backyard breeder". These breeders definitely would not be as careful nor take all the precautions as a good reputable breeder would in assuring their Bulldogs were checked thoroughly for any health issues that might be hereditary. Championship bloodlines do not guarantee a Bulldog will not have a genetic disorder. When a young Bulldog displays symptoms of what might be hip dysplasia, only time will tell. Examination by OFA standards are not possible until a dog is at least two years old, which will certify the hips and elbows on a permanent evaluation. If done before the age of two years, OFA considers this as a preliminary evaluation and it must be repeated at two years of age for permanent certification before breeding.
Some Bulldogs grow so fast their joints cannot keep up with their bones and will manifest some hip problems. When the dog matures, the hip ligaments strengthen and the problem goes away. This can also happen with the elbows and other joints.
It is always best to stay in close contact with a breeder and tell them everything you are experiencing with your Bulldog. Breeders need to know (and very much want to know) which of their dogs are passing a defect on to their offspring. Any dog that has passed on any gene related to dysplasia should not be bred. It is quite possible that both parent dogs did not show any signs of dysplasia and it was a recessive gene that was passed along.
Before there is a chance your young Bulldog might display hip or joint problems, it would be in the best interest of your Bulldog to make sure you are not over feeding him/her. If he/she is growing too fast and putting on too much weight, the problem could only get worse. Also, never let a young Bulldog jump up or down, on or off furniture, a bed, while getting in or out of a car, etc. Give those dear bones time to mature to be able to have healthy joints.
ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENTS - There are anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. The anterior ligaments are found in the fore legs and the posterior ligaments are found in the hind legs. A torn or ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an acquired injury and is not inherited. It is usually due to the Bulldog's continual jumping on and off things such as a sofa or a bed. The torn ligament will not show up on an x-ray. However, a malformed knee joint will. This "floating kneecap" or luxating patella is a common genetic disorder of the Bulldog and often times results in a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or a torn posterior cruciate ligament.
Most tears of the ACL can be corrected with very expensive surgery. Finding a good orthopedic surgeon is an absolute must! Veterinary universities are usually great for doing this type of surgery. Do not let a regular Veterinarian attempt to repair this type of injury, unless he/she has great experience with excellent results and knows all there is to know about the Bulldog. ACL repair also requires a long recovery, so be sure to follow your Veterinarian's advice for proper care during recovery and therapy to the letter.
HEMIVERTEBRAE - Less common and usually found as an incidental finding on x-rays, Hemivertebrae are vertebrae that have a most unusual shape. They are sometimes referred to as "butterfly" vertebrae. This is a congenital anomaly usually formed in-utero and may cause neurological problems. This anomaly is believed to be caused by a lack of blood supply during development in-utero, making it impossible for vertebrae to form as they should. It also causes lateral curvature most common in the caudal and thoracic areas. Abnormal pressure on the spinal canal can cause urinary and fecal incontinence.
SPINA BIFIDA - A developmental abnormality when some vertebrae are malformed and do not fully cover the spinal cord, thereby exposing it. This makes the spinal cord susceptible to injury and damage. Spina bifida can occur anywhere along the spine, but is most common in the lower back. The clinical signs or symptoms vary with the severity of the defect. Minor cases may not show any significance at all and the owner may not know of this condition unless an x-ray of the area is taken for other reasons. The defect can range from a slight depression at one area along the spine to the most serious defect where the spinal cord protrudes from an opening in the skin. If the defect results in the spinal cord itself being affected, signs can range from weakness in the hind legs to paralysis, urinary and fecal incontinence. In most severe cases, evidence is apparent early on when the puppy starts walking.
In general, there is no treatment for such spinal malformations. It appears for dogs, with limited symptoms, reconstructive surgery may be helpful, though not commonly done. It is not uncommon for dogs with spina bifida to be humanely euthanized. Spina Bifida is most common in Bulldogs, but can be identified in most breeds. It is thought to be a combination of genetics and environmental factors. However, the mode of inheritance has not been identified.
HEART MURMUR - The dog's heart is very much like the human heart. It is just positioned differently within the dog's body than in ours. There are some mild heart murmurs that are "innocent" and will go away as a puppy matures. Severe heart murmurs can be heard at 6 weeks of age and these are the ones that are most serious in the Bulldog.
Sounds of the heart are produced when the valves of the heart close. The mitral and tricuspid valves close approximately at the same time. The pulmonic and aortic valves close about the same time. This creates 2 sounds, a "lub" and a "dub". The sound of the heart beating is a repetition of "lub-dub", "lub-dub", "lub-dub".......
A murmur is an abnormal extra sound, which can sometimes drown out the normal sounds of the heart. Murmurs most commonly occur between the "lub" and the "dub" and have a "swooshing" or "whooshing" sound. Heart murmurs are graded from 1 to 6 - Grade 1 being the least serious, usually heard in puppies that will eventually go away. Grade 6 is the most serious heart murmur. Therefore, hearing a murmur is not a reason to panic. Many dogs with murmurs live normal lives and never need any treatment for heart disease. Work with your Veterinarian to determine the cause and severity of the murmur.
VENTRICULAR SEPTAL DEFECT - A congenital defect that occurs in puppies. When ventricular septal defect occurs, the four chambers of the heart did not form during gestation, causing "holes" between the heart chambers. These so-called "holes" cause blood to flow backward through the heart, creating stress to the heart muscle and eventually leading to heart failure. The severity of the condition determines the dog's prognosis. Dogs with minor defects can go on to live fairly normal lives. However, puppies with severe affliction may suffer lack of stamina followed by death. Some cases are candidates for surgery.
PULMONIC STENOSIS - Pulmonic stenosis is a congenital narrowing in the region of the pulmonary valve that can lead to heart failure if not properly monitored and treated. When pulmonic stenosis occurs, the blood flow is restricted which causes the right side of the heart to pump harder to improve blood flow. There are 3 types of pulmonic stenosis - valvular, sub-valvular fibrosis and infundibular. The extent to which a dog will be affected depends on the degree of narrowing (stenosis) of the valve area. With severe stenosis, a dog will likely develop congestive heart failure due to the increased workload of the heart.
AORTIC STENOSIS - A narrowing of the pathway for blood leaving the heart. The narrowing is usually beneath the aortic valve of the left ventricle; the condition is then called subvalvular aortic stenosis or "SAS". SAS is a genetically predetermined disease. The mode of inheritance, or the genetic case, is not simple and healthy carriers of the disease genes are common. Bulldogs are predisposed to aortic stenosis, along with several other breeds. Mild cases of SAS have little impact on the dog other than causing a heart murmur and rendering the dog unsuitable for breeding. Moderate to severe cases are at risk for exercise intolerance, fainting, heart failure, irregular heart rhythms, infections of the heart valve and sudden death.
KEEPING YOUR BULLDOG HEALTHY
The best way to know if your Bulldog is suffering from any condition is to KNOW YOUR BULLDOG! An effective intervention is to detect an ailment or disease BEFORE it gets any worse. You should know when your dog is not eating well or is not exhibiting usual behavior. You can easily treat a minor problem at home. However, be on the lookout if a home remedy does not cure the problem in two days. Then take your Bulldog to your trusted Veterinarian immediately! It is highly recommended, however, to take your dog to your Vet at any signs of health problems as there are some medical conditions which cannot wait for two days.
Be sure to secure the services of a qualified, licensed, practicing Veterinarian and be 100% sure your Vet has many years of experience and knowledge with the Bulldog breed. There are many great Vets across our country, but very few have the expertise when it comes to the Bulldog. So, you really need to search for the best Bulldog Vet you can possibly find.
Believe it or not, there are some Vets who do not like Bulldogs and they will tell you so. They refuse to take them as clients. Then, there are those few who have a much different attitude about this breed and might say something like this, "Oh boy! A Bulldog for a new client. Now I can sit back and relax knowing with just this one Bulldog I will soon be very rich"! This is not a joke! I have a friend who, when she took her Bulldog to a new Veterinarian, he actually said this to her.
Should you ever find that you do not agree with your Veterinarian, seek a second or even a third opinion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting another opinion. Often times, we have to seek second opinions for our own health care. A friend I know lost a very expensive show quality Bulldog she had imported from Belgium. She had trusted her Vet for many years, but soon discovered she had put too much blind faith in this Vet and her lovely boy died a most untimely death due to nothing more than an uncaring, inexperienced and incompetent Veterinarian.
VACCINATIONS - Every Veterinarian has their own schedule and safe protocol for giving vaccinations. If you are a new owner of a Bulldog puppy, your puppy will have had at least 2, possibly 3, age appropriate "puppy vaccinations" and will have a health certificate and Veterinarian's records to attest to these facts. Be sure to ask your Bet to notify you when subsequent vaccinations and yearly boosters are due. There is talk that yearly boosters for all vaccinations might soon be changed from once a year to every 3 years. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what your Vet recommends.
WORMING - We have covered the basics about Intestinal Parasites above. Please scroll up this page to see photos and descriptions. Ask your Vet his thoughts regarding how often your Bulldog should be wormed and what types of wormers he uses for each.
HEART WORM DISEASE - There have been so many new developments in the prevention of heart worm disease, there is no reason why any dog should have to suffer this dreaded disease. The treatment for heart worm disease is a long and tedious battle with no promises, depending on the extent of the heart worm infestation. The treatment is just as dangerous to the dog as the heart worms themselves. So, it is best to maintain your Bulldog on a year-round heart worm preventative program. We highly recommend the product Heartgard Plus because it not only protects your dog from heart worms, but also treats and controls hookworms and roundworms. Ask your Vet what he/she recommends.
ANTIFREEZE AND OTHER POISONS - The list of household poisons, house plants, outdoor plants, foods and other things that can quickly poison your dog is enormous and entirely too long to list them all here. It would be to your advantage to do an Internet search for these and if possible, print out the list to keep on hand. Always have your Veterinarian's phone number and the number for an Emergency Vet Clinic in your area on hand, if not on speed dial! You might try searching for the large list of poisons by browsing the American Kennel Club web site at www.akc.org
"The best thing about a man is his dog! ~ French Proverb
"Bulldogs Of Integrity"
352 - 680 - 9225 or 352 -292 -2715