A symbol of Great Britain, the English bulldog makes a great companion. Because of various genetic health issues, however, he's not the most long-lived breed. Expect your bulldog pup to be around for the next 8 to 10 years. Good care and being proactive with health issues aid his longevity.
Yes, your beloved coach potato's ancestors were used for bull baiting, a popular sport back in Merry Olde England. His progenitors were bred for ferocity and pain insensitivity, according to the American Kennel Club. After banning the "sport," breeders decided to eliminate the fierce temperament out of their stock, eventually resulting in the kind of dog who shares your life and craves constant affection.
One reason for the relatively short lifespan is the number of health problems plaguing the breed. The bulldog's anatomy doesn't help matters -- his short face and muzzle predispose him to breathing problems. Pinched nostrils don't allow him to breathe in sufficient air, although surgery can correct this defect. His trachea may be too narrow, causing him to wheeze. Because panting, the dog's way of cooling himself, is difficult for the bulldog, make sure he's not outside in hot weather. According to a 2012 New York Times Magazine article, bulldogs are the most likely breed to succumb to respiratory illness.
Other Health Problems
Common hereditary non-respiratory issues include hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint leading to lameness and arthritis. His wrinkled skin predisposes the bulldog to various dermatological problems, including hair loss and lesions. Loose folds of skin around the eyes may affect his vision, although surgery can correct this. He's also prone to cardiac problems, so don't let your bulldog become overweight. Purchasing pet health insurance for your bulldog is probably a wise investment.
Don't be discouraged by the bulldog's relatively short canine lifespan. Do your homework when purchasing a puppy, buy from a reputable breeder and make sure the parents don't suffer from genetic diseases. Find a vet who is knowledgeable about the breed. While the average lifespan for a bulldog isn't that long by medium-sized dog standards, some bulldogs do live 12 years or more, and yours could be one of them. Even if his life isn't that long, ensure it is filled with love.
- Bulldog image by Benjamin Huseman from Fotolia.com