Bulldog with tongue out laying in grass.

Prospective dog owners are drawn to specific breeds because of looks, skills, or personalities. Choosing the right breed makes all the difference to a successful adoption, and one of the considerations for purebred dogs has to be the potential for certain health issues. While they are selectively bred for specific appearances, many dog breeds can face specific health issues. Common bulldog problems aren’t necessarily deal-breakers to adopting one, but it’s vital to know the potential risks so you can offer the best wellness care to your pet:

The History of the Face

The name “bulldog” dates back to England in the 1630s when they would pit a bull against a dog in a wagered match. In a horrifying fashion, the victor would pin the bull to the ground by grabbing him by the nose. Unfortunately, many dogs were maimed or killed in these events. 

A bulldog’s stocky body, large head, massive jaws, and flat face gave them advantages in bull-baiting matches, and they were known to be aggressive, ferocious animals. 

Because of its reputation for cruelty, bull-baiting was outlawed in England in 1835. The bulldog was no longer perceived as a “working” dog, but subsequently attained purebred status.

So Dignified

Bulldogs are prominent symbols of British culture, and are immensely popular pets around the globe. After 150 years, they are no longer able to perform the rigors of their previous jobs. They are known to be sweet, calm, and even-tempered, and are adored for their short muzzles and wrinkled faces. 

Known Breed Challenges

Common bulldog problems are directly connected to how cute we’ve made them appear over decades of selective breeding. Wide-set eyes that look almost human, accompanied with thick rolls of skin, drooping lips, and sometimes a charming underbite, all contribute to their special aesthetic—and their inevitable health concerns.

The most common bulldog problems include (but may not be limited to):

  • Labored respiration
  • Airway obstruction syndrome
  • Ear infections
  • Conjunctivitis or eye inflammation
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Joint problems
  • Dermatitis (think about all those skin folds in which bacteria thrive!)
  • Nasal hyperkeratosis (dry, crusty-looking nose)
  • Cardiac disease
  • Cherry eye
  • Sensitive digestion
  • Flatulence 
  • Birthing challenges (more than 80% of bulldog births are cesarean)

Brachycephalic Breeds

Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, just like mastiffs, lhasa apsos, pugs, Shih Tzus, Boston terriers, boxers, and many more. Characterized by a flat face, large tongue, small nasal openings, and a small windpipe, brachycephalic breeds are highly susceptible to heatstroke. Keeping them hydrated is paramount to their safety, as well as limited exertion and exposure to high temperatures. 

Bulldog Problems…And Solutions

Just because bulldogs can have health problems doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. A lot can be said for ongoing owner education, high-level awareness, and intensive preventive measures to keep this breed going strong. Without a doubt, they are incredible dogs, sweeter than most, and just as cute as can be. 
If you have any questions or concerns about these common bulldog problems, and what you can to stay in front of them, give us a call at (512) 892‑3486. We’re always here for you at Brodie Animal Hospital.