SENSITIVE, SNOOZY, PROTECTIVE
History & Origin
The forerunners of today’s bulldog were strong, large dogs that were used to guard estates, as watchdogs, as haulers where they had to drag goods long distances, and also as war dogs. As war dogs, they would go into battle with their owners, garbed in battle gear and sporting various types of protective armament.
Because of their loyalty and intelligence, they were also used as hunting dogs and to drive cattle to market.
As time went on, certain characteristics were specifically incorporated into the breed, such as the undershot jaw which has such power it can hold onto its prey without getting thrown off, or the nose that is dented in so that it can breathe while the dog is latched onto an animal’s hide. Even the folds around the head and neck and the dog’s particular build were inbred for a function, and later, the function was bull and bear baiting!
After blood sport was banned in 1835, the bulldog, as a breed, became endangered, and it is due to a number of breeders that, in an effort to preserve them and started tailoring their look and temperament, that the modern English Bulldog of today was born.
The first bulldog was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886.
From its origins as a war dog, cattle dog, hunter, and hauler, the bulldog has come a long way, and is, these days, a lovable family pet that loves nothing more than being adored by its willing owners.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
The bulldog of today can be summed of in two simple words: excellent companion. With this respect, his owner and family are his life, as he adores people and being adored by them. Your bulldog puppy interacts equally well with the elderly and children, and will happily romp around with the younger members of the family and play the role of the clown while it is equally at home sitting quietly next to an elderly person while being petted and offering affection in a non-threatening way.
They are exceptionally stubborn as a breed, however, and might prefer to laze on the couch instead of coming when called. This tendency should not be seen as laziness, but rather its intelligence at work as it thinks about and weighs up its options: “Is my human calling me to eat, because he wants me to bath, or because he wants to pet me? If either of these options, are they more important than my snooze? Let me ponder on this before deciding what to do.” They tend to prioritize and act accordingly.
Although your bulldog may not be the best guard dog around, as it will welcome strangers with open ‘paws’, they are, however, extremely protective of their ‘humans’, especially children, and will not hesitate to lay down their lives to ensure their safety. It is not uncommon for a bulldog owner to tell of how their dog growled at them when it thought a parent was being harsh with their child.
Bulldogs are also extremely sensitive creatures, and will pick up on their owners’ moods. If you are happy, expect to see your dog in a more rambunctious mood, and if you are sad or depressed, expect to see him mirror that too.
Contrary to popular belief, bulldogs are not lazy, although their habit of flopping down may bring one under the impression that they are. Even with their eyes closed, they are very much aware of everything that is happening around it. So do not let that snoring fool you unnecessarily. Even though he may not respond to you, he is very much aware of your presence.
If you want a dog that is excellent with people, children in particular, and a wonderful companion to have around, then the bulldog is the dog for you! If, however, on the other hand, you want a full-time guard dog, you would do better getting another breed, as today’s bulldogs have the tendency to welcome anyone into their home.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
Your bulldog puppy needs a little special care that some may see as particular to the breed. Also, a new puppy that is brought home may be a little confused at first and miss its mother and litter mates, so it may need a little babying until its routine is set.
This breed tends to like their own den, so if it has its own special place set aside it will give him a place it can retreat to whenever it wants while making sure it has enough chewy toys and a warm blanket to snuggle into.
Their flat faces also pose its own set of problems with regards to eating, and flattish dishes are preferred so that it does not need to shove its face into its food while doing so.
As with all puppies, your bulldog, at first, may not each much at a time, although it needs to be fed frequently. Up until about four months, your new baby should be fed four times a day, tapering down, after that to three times daily up to the time it is approximately six months of age. After this, and for the rest of its life, twice daily is recommended.
Bulldogs, generally speaking, do quite well on commercial dog food, although a good brand is recommended that sees to its dietary requirements. To this end, however, dried food tends to make a dog thirsty, so a constant supply of fresh water is always a must.
Keep in mind that this dog breed is prone to flatulence, and what it eats comes into play here. Thus, to avoid a smelly home, good quality dog food once more comes into play because the more popular, cheaper brands tend to have fillers which are aimed at filling your puppy’s belly without attending to its nutritional needs and yes, indeed, causes this smelly problem.
In order to see to its coat and bone-growth, it is recommended that one adds a teaspoon of oil to its food twice daily, as well as some cottage cheese or yogurt. Apparently, bulldog puppies adore cottage cheese!
As with all dogs, adding a variety of vegetables and even fruit, if your dog will eat it, will take care of its dietary needs. These could be, for example, carrots, rice, sweet potatoes, etc. Just never give your bulldog or any other dog, for that matter, raw onion or garlic as it can make your dog ill while chocolate is poisonous to dogs.
Your new puppy has a flat face and, therefore, needs to be fed from a flat dish so that its face does not get covered in food and its breathing is not hampered.
COAT AND GROOMING
With regards to size, a fully-grown male stands at about 12inches – 15 inches and weighs in at 50 pounds, while a female stands at about 12 inches – 15 inches and weighs in at about 40 pounds.
The large head has an undershot bite which allows it to hang onto anything that it has its teeth in while the dog has a low center of gravity due to its wide shoulders and short, thick, heavy build.
Your new puppy’s coat is short, shiny, and soft while its face, neck, and shoulders are a study in wrinkles! They were specifically bred that way as the wrinkles see to it that any animal that bites your dog in this area cannot do too much damage. Besides the practical implication, however, who cannot love that wrinkly, slobbering, adorable face?
They are what could be termed average shedders, so this is not a breed that is going to fill your home with dog hair all over the show! With regards to this, it can be seen as a huge plus point in favor of the breed, and brushing your new puppy once a week with a stiff bristle brush will take care of any shedding while at the same time keeping its coat in good condition.
Bulldogs do tend to become smelly, and a regular bath using a conditioning, anti-allergic dog shampoo (perhaps with aloe vera) is to be recommended. Due to its wrinkles, most bulldog owners clean and dry these areas daily, and some recommend using baby wipes for this purpose.
Although they have small ears, it is a good idea to clean them with a damp cotton wool ball when grooming. If there is any smelly discharge, which could typically be a sign of ear infection, a trip to the veterinarian is in order.
Tear stains can be prevented by a daily wipe with a damp washcloth.
As your puppy grows into the consummate couch potato, their nails need to be trimmed regularly. The earlier it gets used to this, the easier it will be when your big baby is a fully grown adult.
As bulldogs tend to gain weight, regular exercise is a must to keep them fit, healthy, and to control their weight gain. This is a breed that would rather lie around and look ‘pretty’ than engage in any hard, physical exercise.
Over-exercising, however, can cause hip and joint problems as it is a heavy dog with short legs. This is critical while your dog is still a puppy, as an injury while small could have devastating effects in adulthood.
Socialization should be done right from the outset, i.e., first minute you bring your new puppy home. There is always the risk of aggression towards other dogs, and socialization will put paid to this right from the start. Generally, though, they tend to be very protective towards smaller animals and especially children.
Proper housetraining is also necessary, and crate training is a great way to do so. By keeping in mind that a puppy usually needs to ‘go’ about 15 minutes after a meal, you can soon teach it where it is acceptable to do its doggy business.
As for rest or sleep, this breed loves sleeping and does a lot of it. In fact, rather than chasing the neighbor’s cat or playing fetch, your bulldog would much rather curl up on its favorite sofa and snore the day away.
This breed has few health issues. The most common one is probably dermatitis, a skin condition whereby the areas in the dogs’ folds get inflammation. This problem could largely be countered by taking proper care of your dog’s grooming needs, and daily cleaning of the dog’s folds.
They are also prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. This is usually not apparent while they are small, but tends to develop later. As such, you need to ensure your dog is not too active while it is still small, although the condition can usually be medically treated. To this end, one also needs to make sure you purchase your new puppy from a reputable breeder and know its parents’ medical history.
Due to the shape of their skull, and their muzzles that are all squished up, they are prone to breathing problems which have a tendency to get worse if the dog is overweight. It is therefore extremely important to watch your bulldog’s weight and feeding carefully. Their soft, brown eyes may beg you for another morsel of food off your plate, but you are not doing your dog a kindness by feeding it more when it asks for it. The shape of their faces also means that this is a breed that is prone to snore, and, as it loves to sleep, there will be a lot of that around.
If you want a companion dog that does not require you taking it out on long walks or playing fetch in order to give it exercise or stimulation, the bulldog is the ideal pet for you. It would much rather cuddle on the couch with you, bathing in your lavish adoration and attention than go outside and run around in the yard. This makes them the ideal pet for someone living in an apartment.
A daily, slow, 15-minute stroll is all the exercise it needs while it’s loving, docile temperament makes it an excellent addition to a family with children. If you are looking for a ferocious guard dog, you would be better suited looking for another breed.
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