AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

During the Middle Ages, butchers in England developed the Olde English Bulldogge to help them catch bulls for slaughter. The dog’s short muzzle and strong jaws allowed it to hold onto the bull’s nose, cheek, or throat long enough to force it to its knees—or even get it to stumble into the barn or slaughterhouse. By the thirteenth century, these valuable working dogs also were used in the sport of “baiting.” Outlawed in England in 1835 because it was excessively cruel, baiting involved tying a large animal (such as a bull, horse, or bear) to a tether and then setting dogs on it to see if they could overpower it. With the 1835 British ban against baiting, the Bulldog nearly disappeared except for a few specimens. Bulldog fanciers used those remaining individuals to resurrect the breed. (Indeed, the modern sport of dog showing is likely the only thing that saved the breed from extinction.) Bulldog breeders today believe that breeding Bulldogs with Pugs created the modern Bulldog’s appearance, and that this change was motivated by a desire to erase the memory of the formerly fearsome fighting dog. The breed’s temperament also changed. Today’s Bulldog is a courageous yet gentle creature.


The Bulldog is a short, broad, compact, massive dog, with sturdy legs that appear bowed (although the bones of the legs are straight). Its head is large and features a large, sour expression that is created by a pronounced undershot jaw (with no teeth showing), hanging jowls, and a flat, wrinkled face. The body is very broad and low with a deep, capacious chest and rounded ribcage. The abdomen is tucked up. The heavy shoulders are set far apart and slant outward for great stability. The circumference of the skull (measured in front of the ears) should be at least as great as the dog’s height at the withers. The eyes are set low and wide apart. The ears are “rosed” and the large nose is wide and black (never brown). The upper lips completely cover the lower jaw. The naturally short tail is carried low, and might be straight or kinked. The skin is soft and loose, covered with a smooth, short coat. Colors are red, white, fawn, fallow, or any combination of the foregoing. Patterns and markings may include brindle, piebald, ticking, black masks, black tipping, and a minimal amount of solid black in piebalds. All other colors or markings are a disqualification. The merle pattern is a disqualification. Bulldogs tend to run 5 to 10 lbs. heavier than the average weight listed in the AKC standard. The Bulldog has a characteristic rolling gait.

Bulldogs will be disqualified from conformation shows if they display any of the following characteristics: blue or green eye(s) or parti-colored eye(s), brown or liver-colored nose, colors or markings not defined in the standard and the merle pattern.

Key Facts

  • Height: 14 to 17 in.
  • Size: Medium
  • Weight: Averages 50 lbs (male); Averages 40 lbs. (female)
  • Availability: Widely available
  • Talents: Obedience, watchdog, tricks


Prone to heat stroke and skin infections and eye and respiratory problems. Never leave this breed in a hot car or outside on a hot day for any length of time. Bulldogs drool and are messy eaters. Like many short-faced breeds, Bulldogs tend to snore. Tends to be very possessive of food. Learns best with rewards and love, and retains what he has learned. This breed needs regular walks, but not extensive hard exercise. Though the coat doesn’t need much brushing, regular bathing of the Bulldog is a must, although care must be taken not to over dry the skin. Use a quality conditioning shampoo. Wrinkles, ears, and eyes should be cleaned daily with a damp washcloth or baby wipe. Good with other family pets, but can be scrappy with strange dogs. The puppies are difficult to whelp because of their large heads and certain birth defects, often necessitating Caesarean deliveries. Bitches are often infertile. Only lives about 10 years. Novice owners should seek guidance from those with more experience.


  • Children: Excellent with children
  • Friendliness: Loves everyone
  • Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
  • Independence: Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance: Moderate
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Not a barker
  • Indoors: Very inactive indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Short coat
  • Shedding: Average shedder
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging: A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments: Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space: Does all right without a yard
  • Climate: Best in cooler climates
  • Longevity: Short (under 10 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Bulldog Breed Standard


Bulldog Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Bulldog


Bulldog Gifts