Written by Ella White
Before you bring a new Bulldog into your home, there are a few things you should know about the breed; from the kind of care they will need to their known characteristics. You’ve probably also wondered about the life expectancy of Bulldog breeds, and whether it will suit your long term plans. After all – a dog is for life no matter how long their average lifespan is.
In this blog, we’ll look at the average life expectancy of a Bulldog, any hereditary conditions they are susceptible to, and how you can help your Bulldog to live the healthiest life possible.
Bulldogs were originally bred as fighting dogs and cattle drivers before becoming one of the most popular pets in the USA. Their roots date back to the 5th Century in Britain, which is why they’re often known as the British Bulldog, when butchers owned the breed to help control their livestock.
By the 15th Century, Bulldogs were being bred for fighting and aggression, which continued until barbaric bull-baiting was finally banned in 1835.
Though this shocking history along with their flat face and stocky build led to their reputation as an aggressive breed, the truth is that these dolce pups are actually laid-back, gentle, and make brilliant companions for children.
Fiercely loyal, the Bulldog can be stubborn and protective but they’re also sociable, friendly, and love to relax. Not known for their intelligence, Bulldogs ’like what they know,’ and respond best to incentivised training. But once you’ve got them fully trained your Bulldog will easily fit into your family.
The average life expectancy for a Bulldog is 6 to 10 years. For a medium sized breed, this is a fairly short life expectancy which is affected by the Bulldog’s unfortunate long list of potential genetic disorders. Bulldogs are brachycephalic, meaning they have a short or ‘squashed’ snout that makes it harder to breathe and can lead to a number of health conditions.
Unethical breeding has also led to an overall shorter life expectancy for Bulldogs so it’s important to always buy from a reputable breeder.
As a Bulldog owner, being aware of the illnesses and conditions common among their breed, and as a result of their brachycephalic status, can help you spot and treat any issues quickly. The more you’re aware of what to look for, the happier and healthier your dog will be. After all, an average life expectancy is just an average and there’s no reason a well bred and cared for dog shouldn’t live longer.
All dog breeds are susceptible to different illnesses and conditions that can impact their lives in different ways. Some are common and easy to treat, while others are more problematic. All Bulldog owners should be aware of these potential threats to their pet’s health.
Because Bulldogs have been bred to have a flat face, they are more likely to suffer from respiratory conditions that affect their breathing. One such condition is Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), which blocks their airway making it harder for them to breathe. They can also suffer from paralysed or collapsed vocal cords from the extra effort it takes them to breathe.
Bulldogs often breathe noisily when they’re walking, sleeping, and resting so it can be hard to notice any changes that are caused by more serious side effects of their flat snouts. They are also more prone to infections in their lungs, throat, windpipe, and nose.
Because they need to take in more air to make up for their ‘squashed’ breathing apparatus, Bulldogs are also known to be gassier than other breeds – though this shouldn’t generally lead to health conditions that require medical attention.
Because Bulldogs have flat ears that sit close to their heads, they are more prone to infections and other disorders in this area. Haematoma affects the flap of the ear which swells due to filling up with fluid or blood.
Middle and inner ear conditions and ear canal illnesses can also affect Bulldogs, so if you notice they are in pain around their ears and head, redness, excessive earwax, or they seem like they’re not hearing as well as usual, take them to the vet. Most ear conditions in Bulldogs can be treated easily and often prevented by regular grooming in the area.
The loose skin and creases on a Bulldog’s face can cause issues in and around the eyes. They are prone to dry eye which can easily be treated with drops, ‘cherry eye’ where the red tissue in their tear gland is visible, and entropion where the eyelid rolls inward and irritates the cornea – this can be corrected with surgery. Eye conditions in dogs can often lead to ulcers and further issues if left untreated. So if you notice your Bulldog’s eyes are dry, wet, or in any way different to usual, seek medical attention.
Bulldogs are one of many dog breeds that are prone to issues in their joints, like hip and elbow dysplasia. In stocky dog breeds that carry a lot of weight in their shoulder, hip, and knee joints it's possible for the sockets to grow abnormally so the joint doesn’t fit correctly which leads to pain, discomfort, and sometimes lameness.
Bulldogs are also prone to arthritis which can be exacerbated by other joint conditions. So if you notice any change in the way your Bulldog is walking or moving – or if they refuse to move due to pain in their joints – they may need corrective surgery to stabilize their joints.
One of the most endearing features of the Bulldog is their adorable wrinkly faces. But without regular daily cleaning, these folds can hold in moisture and oils that lead to infections. Bulldogs are also prone to skin allergies like atopic dermatitis, which you’ll notice if they are excessively biting or scratching at themselves. This often results in a sore red patch that can become an open wound if not treated appropriately.
Bulldogs used to have a longer life expectancy – close to the 10 year mark than 6. So working with a trusted breeder and taking the best possible care of your dog could help them live a longer life.
The genetic issues that affect our pets can rarely be prevented or reversed, but their lifestyle and environment is fully within our control. So owners of Bulldogs might want to consider these simple tips to increase their lifespan.
Every dog needs exercise, and Bulldogs need at least 30 minutes every day. Their brachycephalic features means they can overheat easily and will struggle to breathe if overexcited. So keeping exercise light to moderate and avoiding peak heat in hot summer months is advised.
Bulldogs would happily snooze all day, but it’s important to get them out twice a day for a relaxed stroll to prevent weight gain. Unlike other breeds, they’re not good swimmers and should avoid water, and should only be allowed outside in warm weather if there is shade that they can lie in.
Keeping your dog’s brain healthy is almost as important as keeping their body healthy. Thorough training is important for keeping your Bulldog safe – so don’t give in when they’re getting stubborn. An obedient dog is a safer and healthier dog.
And though chasing balls might not be the favorite sport of the flat-faced Bulldog, their strength makes them brilliant competitors in a game of tug-of-war. Just be sure to use a dog-safe toy rather than other rope that can be harmful on their soft mouths.
Due to their genetic disorders, it’s advised that owners of Bulldogs never miss their annual check up at the vet – and even visit more often if needed. At your checkup, your vet will check for any of the conditions they’re most susceptible to so if there’s anything you've not spotted you’ll be able to get them treated at the earliest time possible.
All dogs need a healthy, nutrient-packed diet if they’re going to live a long and healthy life. But Bulldogs especially need a little more consideration when it comes to what they eat. Their lazy nature and thick-set stature means they’re prone to weight gain and obesity. So even if you can’t stop them napping all day, you can help control their health by picking the best possible dog food for them.
High quality dog food that is rich in animal protein, fruits, veggies, and other natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber are essential for helping your Bulldog feel full after their dinner. Naturally greedy, many Bulldogs could eat and eat if they were allowed to. So proper portion control is especially important! And though they’re mostly incentivised by treats and snacks, be careful not to feed them more than their recommended calorie intake – especially during training.
Front of the Pack’s air-dried dog food is vet-approved and made with only pure, natural ingredients (no added nasties to see here) designed to help your dog live the healthiest life possible. We air dry our food low and slow, which locks in all the goodness of the meat, fruit, and veggies. This cooking process gives our dog food a jerky-like consistency that’s easy to store and fuss-free to serve – so your Bulldog can have their dinner ready in seconds.