What is an English Bulldog?

Cathy Rogers

Contrary to its somewhat ferocious appearance, the English Bulldog is a kind, docile breed that is especially patient and does not demand a lot of physical activity. Bulldogs have existed for centuries, but were reduced in size by adding Pug blood to the breeding process. The dogs also descend from the Bull Mastiff. The resulting English Bulldog is a stocky, short-legged animal with a flattened face, protruding lower jaw and broad shoulders.

The English bulldog descends from the mastiff.
The English bulldog descends from the mastiff.

These dogs have a variety of colorations, including white, brown, red, fawn and black in various patterns, including piebald and brindle. The average life expectancy of the dog is about eight years, although some live to be 12 or older.

An English Bulldog might have a brown and white coat.
An English Bulldog might have a brown and white coat.

The breed standard for an English Bulldog is 40-50 pounds (about 18-23 kg). The legs are short and bowed, which creates a loose, shuffling, sideways type of gait, known as a Bulldog swagger or roll. The tails are short and straight or screwed; if the bulldog is born with a longer, straight tail, it may be clipped early on. According to breed standard, the ideal ear for an English Bulldog is a rose shape, which is erect and shows the inner part of the ear. The head and face are covered with heavy wrinkles.

English Bulldogs are not very heat or cold tolerant. In climates with hot, humid weather, an owner must take precautions to prevent the dog from heat exhaustion. They are rather quiet dogs, and most do not bark frequently. However, due to the shortness of the face, the dog is known for snoring. The breed can be rather stubborn in nature, but generally, the dogs are very people-friendly and calm.

The breed tends to have a fair number of health problems, mostly due to the breeding process. Their heavy facial wrinkles must be kept dry and clean. Many develop hip dysplasia, knee problems, skin problems, ear and eye problems, and elongated soft palate or other chronic ailments.

In the 13th through 19th centuries, the older variety of bulldog was used to bait bulls. These events became a barbaric sport in England, and betting was involved. A bull would be tethered to a stake and attacked by dogs. The bulldog was especially successful at this sport due to the design of his protruding jaw; he could latch onto the bull’s muzzle until the bull was immobilized. The sport continued until 1835. The resulting traits of loyalty, strength and vigor remain in the modern English Bulldog.

Proper breeding can reduce the number of health problems in English Bulldogs.
Proper breeding can reduce the number of health problems in English Bulldogs.

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I love, love my bully baby. He is the second one we have owned. My life seems so much more content with a gassy, snoring, slobbering, crinkly-wrinkly sleeping at my feet.


I saw some English bulldog puppies for sale in my home town, and was so tempted to go buy one.

We had two English bulldogs when I was growing up, and they were the best dogs for our family. They were so tolerant of a busy house with lots of kids and did not demand a lot of attention if everyone was busy.

I think they are the perfect size dog - not too small or not too big. By looking at their faces, you never know if they are enjoying themselves or not, but they do get attached to their owners.

We did try to make sure our dogs wrinkles were kept clean. Neither of them minded being fooled with. One of them did get hip dysplasia and did not live as long as the other one, but we sure loved those dogs.


I don't think English bulldogs are the cutest dogs I have seen, but I have friends who absolutely love them. Anytime I have been around them, they have been gentle dogs with good dispositions.

One of the reasons my friends went with an English bulldog breed is because they live in an apartment in a big city. Both of them work all day, and didn't want a big dog that required a lot of exercise.

This makes a lot of sense to me, because if they had a dog that needed to run a lot, it would go crazy sitting around an apartment all day long.


I was bitten by an English Bulldog when I was five years old, but I provoked him. He was usually a nice dog, and he had never growled at me before.

I had watched my neighbor take her bulldog’s pudgy face in her hands, move his head back and forth, and talk baby talk to him. So, I thought it would be okay if I did it. I was wrong.

I grasped his large head in my hands and started moving it while calling him, “Pookie wookie.” Within two seconds, he growled and lunged forward. He bit my lip, and I had to have a tetnus shot.

The dog’s owner was shocked when he bit me. She had never seen him behave that way before, but I guess any dog would react defensively to a near-stranger in their personal space.


I know from being around my friend’s English Bulldog that they are not generally vicious, but they sure do look mean! Maybe it’s because their lower teeth always protrude out over their top lip. Anytime I see a dog’s teeth, I feel like I’m being threatened.

My friend’s dog comes up to me and jumps in my lap. He loves being petted, and he’s never even hinted at biting me. He scares the neighbors just by sitting on the front lawn and staring at them. If they knew what a big baby he was, they would laugh at themselves.

Her dog is a solid reddish-brown color. He looks like he could be a mascot for beer or a sports team. His appearance is simultaneously laughable and intimidating.


I have always wanted an English Bulldog, but I could not afford one. Depending on the bloodline, they can cost anywhere from $800 to over $1,000! I didn’t know this as a child when I dreamed of owning one.

So, I started paying close attention to my local animal shelter’s website. They list pets with their photos and breed information. After about a year of checking the site, I found an English Bulldog up for adoption.

I had to fill out an application, and the shelter called my vet to make sure I took good care of my other dogs. They accepted me, and all I had to pay was the cost of shots and spaying.

I love my bulldog! She is super affectionate and loyal. I don’t let her sleep in my room, though, because she snores like a fat man! I have her bed set up several rooms away, and I close my door at night to block out the noise.


My sister’s English Bulldog is sweet, laid back, and calm when interacting with her and her husband. However, when a stranger comes over, it takes awhile for him to warm up to him.

I remember the first time I met “Brutus.” He was hanging out in their garage, so he encountered me before my sister could come out the door. He intimidated me with his growl and deep bark. He didn’t try to approach me, though, so it was probably just a defense mechanism rather than an aggressive gesture.

It took two visits to her house before he even let me touch him. Once I started petting him, he instantly became my friend. After that, I was able to dog-sit for her without any problems.

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