If you're in the market for an oversized lap dog, an English bulldog would like to make your acquaintance. He may look ferocious to the uninitiated, but that's just a front. He wants nothing more than to be your best friend -- along with good meals, of course.
Nothing much bothers the typical English bulldog. He's as laid-back as a canine comes. A good-natured dog who adores his people, he's content to hang out, to live and let live. That includes strangers -- don't depend on him as a guardian or watchdog. Although his centuries-ago ancestors were bred for bull-baiting, fanciers since the mid-19th century have deliberately bred aggression out of the English bulldog. If you're looking for a calm, affectionate house dog, the bulldog can fill the bill. However, this dog needs much care and thrives on attention. He's not a good choice if you will leave him alone a lot. Lonely bulldogs can become destructive.
The term "coach potato" could have been coined for the English bulldog. Left to his own devices, he would get as little exercise as possible, but that's not healthy. The English bulldog is no athlete, but a daily walk is good for him and for you. When the weather is hot and humid, keep the walks short. Because of his shortened muzzle, a bulldog can't effectively cool himself by panting, and hot weather quickly becomes dangerous for him. Besides, he wants to chill in an air-conditioned room. He can't jump or swim, but he has made an art out of resting comfortably.
Kids and Pets
If kids or pets share or visit your household, your bulldog probably thinks that's just great. Most bulldogs are good with children, although supervision of small kids is always necessary around any dog. Bulldogs often are good with other dogs and cats. If you don't have kids now but are thinking about becoming a parent, don't worry that your bulldog will be jealous of a new baby. As far as he's concerned, it's just another person to love. Plus, that kid will probably drop lots of food on the floor for you-know-who to grab. Remember, though, that each dog has his own personality and quirks. Despite what's considered typical of the breed, a few bulldogs don't get along with all kids and other animals. It's important to choose your puppy carefully for soundness and temperament.
A bit on the stubborn side, your bulldog isn't the easiest dog to train. A bulldog is like Peter Pan -- he won't grow up. He's also possessive -- you are his person, not the other way around. While anything's possible, English bulldogs generally do not shine in obedience class. Basic obedience training nonetheless is a good idea. It may take a little longer for training to sink in with a bulldog than with other breeds, but he eventually will catch on. Just be patient, and give him the attention and affection he craves when he does the right thing -- right after the delicious food treat, of course.
If you own a bulldog, expect higher than ordinary veterinary costs. Find a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about the breed's issues. Bulldogs are prone to a variety of genetic health problems, including respiratory ailments, skin problems, eye disorders, cardiac disease and joint anomalies. While all purebred dogs are subject to some hereditary diseases, the bulldog hits the jackpot in this regard.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.