Bulldogs as pets, please share your experience

Talk to me about Bulldogs please! (English Bulldogs only)

Have you ever owned one? What did you think of it? What other types of dogs have you had? How did they compare? I think bulldogs are adorable, and all the ones I have ever met have been very friendly. I am seriously considering getting one in the future, but I am concerned about some of the health problems I have heard they can suffer from, and that they may be short lived.

I grew up in a dog family, we always had retrievers and spaniels, but I am looking for more of an urban/apartment dog that doesn’t require a ton of exercise to keep it entertained. I want a dog that will be loyal and loving, but not yappy. Any dopers who can share their experiences, I’d love to hear them.

I don’t have a bulldog, but I did research the breed a bit a number of years ago, and eliminated them because of the reputed snoring, drooling, and farting. There is an English bulldog in my neighborhood that definitely fits your general description - seems like a complete sweetie - very lazy, very mellow - I’ve never heard him bark.

Good luck on your dawgie quest.

I wouldn’t have one as a pet. I mean, if I found one wandering the street and my dog got along with it, sure. But I wouldn’t go to abreeder & buy a pup.

From everything I’ve read, they hav a lot of health problems associated with their dwarfism & their shortened snouts.

I’ve heard that Boston terriers aren’t very yappy. They’re in the miniature/toy size range and have the bulldog-type personality: loyal, affectionate. I suspect that as pups they will have tons of energy though.

They are my mother’s favorite breed, and she’s had a couple - they were both before I was born, though, and my parents were always really nice to animals so anything they raised would end up with a great disposition.

I have two female dogs, a small bulldog ( Age 3.5, 38 lbs) and large Boston Terrier (Age 10, 25 lbs), and both are great house dogs.

The bulldog is relatively healthy ( for bulldogs). One problem she has is a hotspot on her back each summer but antibiotics take care of it. She cannot handle can food. She was very easily house trained and has the bladder strength of a mack truck. She is dumber than a bunch of rocks, the only trick I have taught her is to sit and to go to the kennel. She is very stubborn and she has a little mean streak (nips at you, but so far harmlessly) when you scold her or make her do something that she doesn’t want to do. She is the dominant female even though she is the younger dog. She doesn’t eat or drink a lot. Drooling is not a problem although she has a little gas and she snores but not as loud as the Boston Terrier. The bulldog loves all people and only barks if there is a strange noise outside. She barks at Thunder but does not appear to be frightened by it. Plastic bags really frighten her. She is an excellent car rider. She is extremely lazy. I practically have to force her out of the kennel in the morning for her morning constitution. Bulldog would not wander to far away from home is she got loose. She definitely has that unmistakeable smell of a dog. Hates the water. Good with the cat

The Boston terrier is also a great dog, wouldn’t hurt a flea. She has a big aversion to anything musical, she will howl at a moments notice when any music plays. She is a terrible car rider. She will bolt from the yard at any opportunity but will eventually return. She has got a lot of energy and loves to fetch a tennis ball. Her snoring is extermely loud and she also has gas problems. No drooling. She is very smart and she reads my body language very well. She doesn’t have much dog odor but when she gets loose she take the first opportunity to jump in a mud puddle. Loves the water, but she is so muscular she can’t stay afloat for very long. Only time I bring her to the vet is for annual checkups, absolutely no health problems, except for some breathing problems when she gets excited. Good with the cat.

Love both dogs but they will probably be my last ones.

I occasionally dogsit for an english bulldog–he is quite loud (I call it snarfy), all the time. He also drools and farts ALOT, and likes to chew on everything. He is, as referenced upthread, also not the brightest dog. This having been said he is very sweet and loyal. I like having him around in small doses, but I am always glad to give him back.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts. **notfrommensa
** how did you come to get your bully? When you say that these will be your last ones, do you mean dogs in general, or that you would not have another bulldog. Would you describe her as a people dog, I mean, does she like to be in the same room with you, follow you around the house etc. or does she just ignore you and sleep all the time. How does she handle the heat (not sure where you are, but IL summers can be a bit on the warm side)

Keturah, is the dog you take care of a pup or an older dog? Do you know if he has had any health problems?

I don’t have English Bulldogs, but I do have boxers. I had a serious talk one time with a vet who treats both, and his opinion was that the health problems of Bulldogs is overrated, and those of boxers are underrated.

Keep an eye out for hotspots (already mentioned), and keep your dog air conditioned in the summer, and you should be ok. Also, get one from a reputable breeder, not a pet store or backyard breeder.

One boxer I have now is 9, and is the oldest puppy in her line. Other than arthritis in her knees, you’d think she was a 5 yo. The other is 5, and is dying of cancer.

The other problem with bullies is the cost. Around Indiana, a pup goes for $800-1200, for PET QUALITY. Still, when I’m boxerless, I want a bull myself.

Since this has come up… I know you said only bulldogs, but for comparison’s sake:

I am the proud owner of two Boston Terrors. That is not a typo. They are very similar in personality to bulldogs, fewer health problems from what I can tell. With any brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dog, you have to watch for breathing problems. They are very snorty and farty, but not yappy at all. Excellent with children, babies and old people – they seem to sense when to be gentle and when they can be dogzillas. Very friendly, must sleep in the bed and be with humans at all times. Bostons are smart and easily trained, but you have to watch out for stubborn dogs and use firm discipline (but nowhere near abuse – no animal needs to be hit).

Mine are mostly like what notfrommensa described, only mine are wonderful in the car. They will bolt if let loose, so mine are confined to the fenced-in backyard or they have a leash on if they’re outside. As pups, they are FULL of energy and can give you some trouble (hence my screen name, in honor of my babies). Crate training is highly recommended.

I would say this about either breed: 20 pounds of dog… 50 pounds of attitude. My dogs have no idea they are little fellas… they think they are Mastiffs! (Both make good watchdogs… but too friendly to be true guard dogs.) Finally, you can find some excellent full-breed dogs who have been rescued from ugly circumstances at www.petfinder.com [/shameless plug].

Stymie (my bulldog) loves people but she does cower easily like she was abused. She wasn’t!! She is sleeping underneath my feet right which is most of the time. She does like to play tug of war but she has little endurance

I live in SE Missouri and she does not tolerate heat very well. On hot days her walks are always very short.

Reason why these will be my last dogs. I should say the last ones until I retire. Too much responsibility for a single career orientated person like me.

I got my bulldog from my sister who breeds them. One of nine puppies and only 8 teets!! Stymie was basically the runt of the litter. (the real runt died after a few weeks, blind and water on the brain). One of her sisters had to be put down, uncontrollable colon. The other 7 puppies turned out to be real good dogs. My sister sold them for $800/apiece but I got a discount on mine.

My roomates have an English bulldog. He’s very good with children and adults, both familiar and new. And he does not try to harm my cats. He’s fun to play with, as long as you don’t throw the stick more than 15 feet. For urban/apartment life, and English bulldog might work, as they are natural couch potatoes.

He does not tolerate unfamiliar dogs at all, but I suspect this is upbringing more than breed.

He’s solid muscle and can hit in the shins with enough force to bowl over a 200lb man. Thick as a brick, and dumb as a post.

He barks, usually at night, and then incessantly. And he chews. On everything. His sibs & parents do as well (my roomate got him from her parents, who breed them). Houdini (the dog) barks at night until he’s let in, then he spends the night chewing on the cabinetry in the kitchen (again, may be upbringing).

He snores. LOUD.

The following may be TMI for some of you. It concerns those health problems Rhum Runner mentioned.


Houdini started getting horny very early. He’d spend all possible time humping our other dog, a spayed female. When she wasn’t around, he’d go for legs, chairs, the couch, piles of clothes, the air… anything. Separating the dogs didn’t even work.

Eventually, he blew out the tip of his penis from this, and was bleeding profusely. The official word from the Vet was that it was weakened tissue from the constant buildup of pressure with no release. My roomates had his tip sewn back together, and had him neutered, on the Vet’s recommendation.

Three months later, his testosterone hadn’t died down sufficiently, and he did it again. This time the Vet amputated half of Houdini’s penis.

$3,500 in vet bills before he was a year old. On top of a $1,500 dog.

The Vet said this was a common defect in males of the breed, and that they need to be kept separate from females, except when breeding.
Houdini (and parents & sibs) will eat anything you leave within his reach. He’s shredded soda cans, and passed them. He ate a plastic bag once or twice. Nothing in the bag that smelled attractive, either. He got very sick over eating the shop rag. And he shredded a sleeping bag once and had plaid stools for a week.

Come to find out that over the last week, he ate a pound or so of mesquite charcoal. (“I wonder what Great Dane tastes like?”) This too shall pass.

Houdini is a cool dog. But he has been very expensive, and continues to be quite a handful.

We’ve been told that his problems are common in the breed, but we’ve had no second opinion on that.

I"ve beena fan of bulldogs since I was a kid, and I promised myself I’d get one as soon as I got my own house and could afford one. I’m still waiting to be able to afford one, as I’ve heard the many horror stories about their various health issues (skin, respiratory, etc.). I’d very much love one, but I’m still leery.

You may look into the Bulldog Rescue Society (or whatever the actual title is). They try and place dogs in homes and I’ve heard good things about the organization.

Boston terriers have remarkably obnoxious amounts of energy through their entire lives. I hate the damn things.

You’re right that they don’t make a lot of noise though.

-friedo (big dog person).

I have two Bostons.

Not all are full of energy.

My boy: yes. oh god yes. He is either on or off. no in betweens.

My Girl: not at all. She’s the sweetest quietest dog. No jumping from her.

There are some Bostons that are ‘chubbier’ and those tend to be more sedate ones. (Those are probably more bulldog -mine are the more muscly staffordshire terrier type)
If you get a dog, you may consider a rescue. This way you can know about their personalities. I am sure that there is a bulldog rescue somewhere.

Also, I know you said specifically an English Bulldog, but how about a French one?
I hear Frenchies are sweet!

An English Bulldog owner checking in here. We adopted our bully, Pia, from a local bulldog rescue group in October of 1999 (On The Rebound Bulldog Rescue ).

**Rhum Runner **, you couldn’t have picked a more wonderful breed, in my opinion. Since we adopted Pia, she’s been nothing less than a member of the family to use. Her background was a little uncertain, but we know that she suffered some neglect (in the form of attention and bonding) because she had a lot of fear aggression towards kids and other animals. She was also overweight (13 pounds too heavy… which on a bull breed might as well be 100). We worked carefully with a private dog trainer and while we still have to be 100% cautious with her, a lot of her original problems are now non-existant. Bullies, while seemingly lazy and dumb, are actually very, very intelligent and easy to train. She never ceases to amaze us with what she learns even at nearly 7 years old.

Health: We’ve been blessed with an exceptionally healthy bully, which is rare for rescues. Other than a few joint injuries which can be common in bullies and some recurring UTI’s, she’s escaped most of the more common bulldog ailments like cherry eye, skin allergies, digestive problems, breathing problems, etc. Their life expectancy can be up to 13 years or more depending on their genetics and weight management, some don’t make it past age 7 or 8. I’ve seen bumper stickers that say “Support Your Local Veterinarian… buy a Bulldog!” which can be true, but sometimes not as much. Just be prepared for the worst and hopefully you won’t have to invest too much of your salary into weekly vet visits.

While bulldogs give off the impression that they don’t need/want a lot of exercise, it’s very, very important to have a few daily walks and playtime. They don’t have very good metabolisms so a few missed walks and they gain weight like crazy. In very warm weather just give them a few short walks as they don’t breathe well in heat and humidity.

Noise: We never hear a peep from Pia. She’s as quiet as a mouse. Unless you saw the deeply-sleeping mound on the couch (and the mass of toys scattered all over) when you came in our house you’d never know we had a dog. When she does bark it’s not that yippy, sharp bark of smaller dogs – it’s more like a “RUFF” and then back to sleep.

In terms of bodily noises, she burps a lot more than she farts. One of the foster moms from the rescue group taught us a little secret – add in a few tablespoons of plain yogurt to her food every night and it cuts down on the gas. This has worked really well, and if we skip a night or two of yogurt we really ‘hear’ about it if you know what I mean.

Personality: No dog has one as entertaining. They are pure clowns and not one day goes by that Pia doesn’t have us laughing. That sweet face is like sunshine and they want nothing more than to please you and make you happy. They’re content to roll around on the floor with you or curl up next to you on the couch and snore for a while.

Now that I’ve been bitten by the bulldog bug, I can’t imagine having any other breed for the rest of my life. The rescue group has been a tremendous source of help and knowledge for us, so I recommend you find one locally or you can check out the link I included at the top and I’m sure they can help steer you in the right direction. Buying a bulldog from a breeder is expensive – a good, reputable breeder not selling their puppies in the newspaper can run $1500 per dog or more, and there are never any guarantees on their health.

Best of luck to you, I hope you get to know the joy that is owning a bulldog. Feel free to check in with any other questions.

Hey all, thanks so much for the information. It is the ability to gather info like this that makes me love this place so much. To all of you who have suggested the rescue, I am really keen on the idea, as a working person it would help to ease the housebreaking problems, and I like the idea of giving a home to dog that needs one. Winnie thanks for taking the time to share all of your experience. I am still one-two years away from being able to have a dog, so I will keep researching, and may come back and ask you some follow ups down the line.

Thanks again to all who have responded thus far.

Rhum, I called the bulldog rescue in my area a couple of times. It is hard to adopt one, please go for it if you are ready but I am just warning you that , in my case, they needed some people ready to take “difficult” cases. That’s why they were abandoned. Most of them were sick and required expensive medication and/or had behavioral problem.
I would have loved to have one but they wouldn’t let us adopt because we were working full time.
I would try again because I do not want to buy one. They are too expensive and too many dogs (of any breed) need a home.

Bulldogs are the sweetest, most loving, and vastly entertaining of all dog breeds. Yeah, they snore loudly, fart occasionally, and drool somewhat, but, I ask you, how in God’s name could you resist them? Oh, you think you can? Well, then just try to after seeing this.

When my niece was three years old she picked out a sweet bulldog puppy as her birthday gift. On puppy’s first night in the new home my niece said her prayers with the puppy and then asked the family “Why is the puppy still sad? When is she going to smile? She wanted to come home with me because she was sad!”
The poor puppy had so many health problems,she only lived eight months.

I own two english bulldogs - one male, one female. My parents also own two, friends of ours have two, and we bred ours once, had 4 puppies and keep in touch with them so all in all I know about 14 bulldogs. There are those who drool, fart, and what not, but if you feed them the right food and try to find a good breeder, you can avoid the worst parts. You really get what you pay for in bullies.

I swear by bulldogs. I know the rescue is a great idea, but if you are worried about dealing with health issues, I don’t suggest getting one from a rescue. In my experience, you pay more in health bills getting it healthy again than if you had bought a healthy puppy to begin with. Knowing your breeders and the puppy parents is the best way to get a good one. The puppies of my two are exact mixes of my dogs.

Neither of my dogs drool. They are occassionally stinky, but usually because they have been fed people food. The male Charlie does have a touchy digestive system and we floundered around a while before we found lamb and rice dog food keeps him happy and unsmelly.

My male has been healthy as any other dog. He is 8.5 years old now and shows no real signs of aging, other than a little stiffness in one of his front legs after sleeping a lot. He snorts and snuffles, snores something terrible, but he almost never barks. He kind of purrs when you pet him too. It is his own language and makes him more expressive than a regular dog.

The female has been relatively healthy, but she has allergies and eye problems. She was interbred which we were not aware of until after we got a copy of her pedigree after adopting her. She was abused by her previous owner. Bulldogs do recover very well in general from abuse. They are not generally a sensitive dog. They will readjust well as long sa they go to someone truly loving. She does not make any snuffling noises nor does she snore, but her nose is not as pushed in as they are supposed to be (again, bad breeding).

Charlie is extremely smart. Morgan is dumb in comparison, but still smarter than most other dogs I meet.

Their best points:
Loving - but to a fault - they will not eat for up to 3 days if you choose to go on a trip and leave them with someone else and will pout the entire time
Low energy - They sleep when I am not home, I can run faster than they can, they can only run about a block before they get winded and have to lie down.
Short Tail - I hate going to other people’s houses and getting whipped by their tall dog’s tails, or having their tails knock ornaments off the tree or drinks off the coffee table. Instead, bulldogs wag their whole bodies, the happy dance as we call it.
Patience - excellent dog for young children - they seem to understand the difference and treat children gently (the smarter ones) They also have a very high pain tolerance besides.
Intelligence - but this comes with stubbornness. You will really have to show your bulldog who is boss. And even then they don’t always listen.
Little to no hunting instinct - the don’t run away, except to follow the neighborhood kids home, they don’t chase squirrels, they accept any other animal such as a cat or bird happily into the home. They also aren’t oily like a lot of the hunting dogs. I find labs and beagle types very stinky. Bullies hardly ever need baths comparitively.

Get a puppy from a good breeder, and you can avoid all of the problems. If the money bothers you, a bully isn’t for you. They have so much personality and SOUL, they are so expressive and loving and loyal. If you can’t justify paying for that, go with another breed. If you are really strapped for space, why not consider a Prairie dog? They are just as loving, cheaper, and good in small spaces.