Bulldogs - All You Need To Know | DogLife360
English Bulldog

Bulldogs - All You Need To Know

Bulldogs might not spring to mind as the prettiest pooch on the block, but one quick browse at the hashtag ‘bulldogs are beautiful’ reveals that billions of people consider them to be gorgeous, glamorous and beautiful. So where did the love affair with Bulldogs begin? 


A couple of hundred years ago, a completely fictional character called John Bull appeared in a series of political satires by a  Scotsman.   He depicted John Bull as a personification of England and from then on, the figure showed up in cartoons and caricatures throughout history as an embodiment of  Britain’s fighting spirit. Typically,  John Bull wears a Union Jack waistcoat and a top hat, and he seems to go everywhere with his faithful bulldog who became a symbol of British tenacity.


Unfortunately, there are overwhelming concerns with this really popular and much-loved breed, especially the English and French varieties.  That signature overbite is an indicator of a brachycephalic dog which can mean inherent health issues. 


bulldogs face off



What does it mean to be a brachycephalic dog? 

  1. The scientific term for flat-faced dogs is brachycephalic - derived from two Greek words meaning Flat and Head.  
  2. In the UK, vet refers to French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers, Pugs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus and Boxers as brachycephalic.  
  3. It’s a popular characteristic on account of people responding to the cute factor, appealing because we perceive them to look similar to human babies with their big ‘puppy dog’ eyes.   
  4. There are problems that have surfaced from breeding towards this flat face; the dogs suffer more than those of their species with snouts. 


What is BOAS?

  1. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – also known as brachycephalic syndrome – is common in flat-faced dogs. 
  2. The ability to breathe normally is a struggle for dogs with this syndrome.  Unfortunately, flat-faced dogs are becoming increasingly popular. 
  3. The Blue Cross realised that 58% of short-nosed dog owners did not recognise the signs that their brachycephalic dog was struggling to breathe.  
  4. Too many dogs are suffering from this syndrome which impacts the dogs quality of life and can result in a collapsed larynx.  


How to tell if a Dogs has BOAS:

  1. Shows signs of excessive panting, struggling to breathe, including laboured or heavy breathing - the stomach and chest may heave when breathing
  2. They breathe loudly, even at rest, which may sound like snorting, snoring or wheezing
  3. May not be able to do regular exercise and may have to rest on walks, uphill may be impossible.  
  4. A grey or blue tinge to their gums (indicating low blood oxygen)


The Kennel Club is helping to improve the lives of flat-faced dogs everywhere and you can donate to help fund health research and help rescue shelters. 

It is planned that in the future screening schemes will be put in place to help breeders shape the future of these flat-faced breeds and reduce the risk of producing affected dogs.


There are three types of purebred bulldogs in the world. 




The English Bulldog puppy
English Bulldog


The English Bulldog got its name from its use for bull-baiting, a rather bloody sport introduced into England in Mediaeval times. Originally, mastiffs were used for this so-called entertainment, but by the 16th century the Bulldog took over the grisly task.  With their thickset bodies, strong heads and powerful jaws, they were deemed ideal for the purpose. 


Bull-baiting as a “sport” was made illegal in Britain in 1935 – but this then left the breed without a specific purpose. Fortunately, the English Bulldog has earned his keep since then as a loyal family pet, known for his great character.


We know our English Bulldog for their broad, powerful, compact body; the folds of skin on the face that aren’t too droopy; those short legs that seem to be gliding along on tippy-toes; their short hair; and let’s not forget that overbite!




french bulldogs
French Bulldogs


The French edition is smaller and half the weight of its English cousin.   Affectionately known as  Frenchies they are often mistaken for a Boston Terrier.  One way to know if you are looking at a Frenchie is by the ears. If they stand up straight, like bat ears, your pooch is undoubtedly French! 


French Bulldogs are susceptible to extreme weather, needing to stay indoors when the temperatures soar or plummet.  And they can have delicate paws that need special attention.   


They are even-tempered dogs, who love being the centre of attention - make that demands ALL the attention - so they’ll be happy to be the only dog in a single-person family. They are bred to be indoor companion animals and are vivacious, deeply affectionate, and intelligent. 





the american bulldog
American Bulldog


Introduced to America through working-class immigrants from the British Isles, their ancestry is directly linked to the English Bulldog.   Being bred to be working farm dogs over generations they’ve become a distinctly different breed.  


Like their cousins across the pond, the American Bulldog is stocky and agile but with their snouts and longer legs they are more athletic by nature, some consider the English Bulldog to be lazy by comparison.  It’s not unknown for an American fellow to jump a good six feet in the air!  Combine this with the intelligence and affectionate nature of the bulldog and you’re in love.  


No longer bred to be fighters, bulldogs are still known for their strong determination and bravery. This means that their owners need to be firm and never timid.  




To keep your dog happy and healthy, watch Paul Manktelow share his top five health dog care tips. 


DR_Paul_5 Tips
DR_Paul_5 Tips