Bulldogs 101

English Bulldogs are a medium sized, compact dog with short legs. They are considered “high maintenance” due to the medical issues that come along with them.

Their smashed faces (brachiocephalic) lead to breathing issues and they are higher at risk for anesthesia.

They do not tolerate heat at all. Bulldogs must be kept in air conditioned housing and not left free to run outside. They will over heat quickly and even a short car ride in the summer can be dangerous for them.

Other medical issues that are common with bulldogs are problems with their eyes and skin. Cherry eye and Entropion are not uncommon with this breed, and most of the time require a surgical fix that can be costly. 

Many of them can be sensitive to certain foods and have allergies to different environmental elements which can lead to hair loss and skin problems.

Many bulldogs require a special diet, supplements and medicated shampoos. Daily wrinkle cleaning, wiping under their tails and feet become a part of your daily cleaning routine.

Orthopedic issues can arise from their short body structure. Stairs can be a challenge for some of the bulldogs as knees and hip issues are very common. Orthopedic surgery is very expensive for this high risk breed.

Even though Bulldogs are indoor dogs, heartworm and flea prevention are still needed for them.

Bulldogs are generally not able to swim. Their body structure makes them sink faster than they can figure out how to make it out of the water.

Bulldogs are great family pets who love attention but can be very stubborn and demanding. They should be taught their limits right from the start and professional training classes are recommended. They can be chewers, snorers and tend to be very prone to flatulence.

Condos and apartments make great homes for bulldogs as they do ok without large yards. Typically they are not barkers, so close-by neighbors should not be annoyed.

We have heard many phrases associated with the bulldog, such as “allergic to air” or “walking checkbook” and we tend to agree! But the personality, loyalty and love of a bulldog makes it all worth it.

Shopping list: Original Listerine (gold) Gold Bond Powder Aveeno Diaper Cream Lemon Juice, in the plastic lemon works best Stridex acne pads (or generic equivalent) Hemorrhoid cream Baby wipes Plastic squeeze bottle (like the ones for hair dye or Ketchup/Mustard)

Face Folds: Clean daily.  Apply Listerine, on a cotton ball, to each skin fold.  Dry with another cotton ball then apply Aveeno Diaper Crème to each fold.  Don’t forget the folds under the eyes, but be sure not to get the cream in the eye.  If moisture is a problem, use Aveeno one day and Gold Bond Powder the next.  It’s easier to get Gold Bond in folds with an old make up brush.

Tail pocket: Clean daily or as needed (particularly after BM) with a baby wipe, then dry with facial tissue.  Squirt in gold Bond Powder. (I put all Gold Bond powder in a squirt bottle mentioned above, tip is great length to reach deep pockets.  Also, you don’t have powder flying all through the air.)

Interdigital Cyst: These look like pea-sized lumps that appear on the top surface of the paw.  They are red and can be painful.  Clean the area of IDC with a Stridex pad, be sure to wipe the top of paw and under the paw pad then apply hemorrhoid cream to top and bottom of affected area on paw. (I do this at bedtime and by the morning most cysts are gone) Even though you see the cyst on the top of the paw, it’s origin is under the pad.  Also during baths, can add Epson Salts to the water and allow the feet to soak.

Mucous: After exertion bulldogs will sometimes begin to choke on phlegm.  If this happens a squirt of lemon juice will break up the thick mucous.

Skin irritation: Most can be treated with twice a day application of Listerine, after dry apply Gold Bond Powder.  If irritation persists or additional spots turn up it’s time for a vet trip.

Ears: I clean ears with a baby wipe every other day.  2 times a week I instill a small amount of solution into the canal and do a more thorough cleaning.  Never stick a Q-tip deep into the canal. Elaine’s Ear Wash Recipe for yeasty or nasty ears 1/3 c water 1/3 c apple cider vinegar 1/3 c peroxide Mix together and store in one of the bottles mentioned above, the tip of this bottle is the perfect length to get into the out portion of the ear canal.  When wet ears is a concern after bathing, substitute peroxide with alcohol.  I keep both solutions on hand and use the alcohol recipe after baths or playing in water.

Fleas: mix Original Dawn with water (50/50).  I use an old Dawn bottle.  Wet fur slightly, then bath with this mixture.  Fleas have an oil bubble surrounding them.  When wet, the flea begins adding to it’s protective oil bubble.  The Dawn breaks down the oil bubble leaving the flea vulnerable.  Rinse, then bathe with flea shampoo for heavy infestation.  If light, you can get away with using regular dog shampoo.

For dry skin: Selsun Blue or T-gel shampoo.

Itchy skin: 1-cup apple cider vinegar in 1-gallon water.  Pour over dog after bath…DO NOT RINSE OFF.

Itchiness from allergy or insect bite: 1 mg of Benadryl per pound.  i.e.  50 pound bully gets 50 mg of Benadryl twice a day.


Kennel cough: Since Bullies have a difficult time breathing on a good day, Kennel Cough can be a very serious matter.  Most should be placed on Antibiotics prophylactically to prevent pneumonia.  BUT…. Kennel cough is just a “doggy cold” and can be symptomatically treated with cough medicine, until you get to the vet.  I dose with whatever the dose is for a child 12 and over.

Limping: If the dog injures himself, is favoring a leg and has no obvious signs of fracture…. 24 hours of crate rest!

Dog doesn’t like to get a bath: Try spreading peanut butter on the bathtub wall or ledge.  This will keep them busy.

Rescue Dogs pulled from the shelter absolutely must be kept in quarantine for 14 days to prevent spread of Kennel Cough to other dogs in the home.  DO NOT BREAK THIS RULE!!!!  The worst week of my life was having to care for 5 dogs with Kennel Cough because I didn’t follow my own rule.

For outdoor temperatures greater than 72 degrees: Bulldogs can only stay outside for a few minutes.  They are very heat intolerant and have been known to collapse and die from heat stroke on a mild day.  No heavy exertion, uncontrolled running or prolonged time outside on warm days.  When the tongue begins to turn purple…you’ve been out too long!!! Bulldogs usually can’t walk great distances before pooping out.  On walks start out with short distances.  It won’t be fun carrying a 50-pound bully back home after he’s collapsed half way through your walk.

Accidents on carpet: 1 cup peroxide, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 squirt hand soap.  Mix in an open plastic container with a plastic spoon.  Pour over stain, no need to scrub.  Cover area with towel and allow it to dry overnight.  Next morning, vacuum.  Removes urine stain and the odor…COMPLETELY!  I’ve been using this for 3 years and have never had it discolor my carpet or my upholstery (yes, I’ve used it on my sofa).

The Bullies at Georgia English Bulldog Rescue are fed exclusively Pacific Stream dog food from Taste of the Wild.

If this has not scared you away and you are financially in the position to provide and care for a bulldog, then they may be the breed for you.

Whichever you choose, please keep in mind, that adding any pet to your family is a commitment that requires time, patience and work. Do your research!