As English Bulldog owners, you need to know the common English bulldog health issues. This will help you prepare better for your pet’s care and also know what to expect as your dog enters its golden years.
Knowledge and understanding of the symptoms of common bulldog health issues will also help you seek prompt medical care when your bulldog needs it.
Let us study the common health problems in English Bulldogs.
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Royal Veterinary College Experts Concerned about English Bulldog Health Issues
According to the experts at the Royal Veterinary College, the bulldog breed is known for various health problems, especially skin fold dermatitis and breathing issues.
Being a flat faced dog puts the adorable English bulldog breed at risk of developing breathing problems.
All brachycephalic breeds like Boston terriers, French bulldogs, Pekingese, and our English bulldogs are at risk of developing an elongated soft palate. This can result in health problems like shortness of breath, excessive panting, intolerance to exercise, and loud snoring. Some English bulldogs are especially prone to loud wheezing, coughing, etc.
Due to these health issues, expert vets like Dr. Dan O’Neill, an associate professor in companion animal epidemiology, recommend not getting brachycephalic breeds.
He urges breeders to also avoid extreme conformation in such dogs. He also cautions pet owners that purebred bulldogs are still plagued with several health issues despite being around for so many years. He also urges potential bulldog owners to consider the breeder’s reputation and to buy their pets from breeders who prioritize the breed’s health. Good breeders should focus on moderate and healthier conformations.
Also Read: French Bulldog Health Issues
List of Health Issues in the English Bulldog and Symptoms
The Bulldog kennel club and the AKC experts have noted the following health issues in the bulldog breed:
Skin Fold Dermatitis
Skin fold dermatitis is one of the most common skin infections in bulldogs compared to dog breeds with healthy flat skin. Early signs of skin fold dermatitis include:
- Skin odor
- Skin irritation and itching
- Oozing rashes
- Secondary skin infection
The problem is even more pronounced in overweight bulldogs. To prevent skin dermatitis, please wipe your pet’s loose skin dry and use powders and sprays to clean the wrinkled skin. Take special care around the dog’s mouth, where the wrinkles are deeper.
All dogs have a third eyelid. In English bulldogs, known for their innate poor health, the ligament holding the third eyelid often stretches and breaks. This causes a red, cherry-like lump in the corner of the eye.
Your English bulldog with cherry eye might paw at its eye, which may exacerbate the condition. Affected dogs may also have a lot of discharge from the affected eye. There is no known cause behind cherry eye, but genetics could be a factor.
The only known treatment for cherry eye is surgery as there is no veterinary medicine for it.
According to the experts at VCA Hospitals and the Bulldog Kennel Club, hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that can cause pain, limping, and lameness in dogs. The affected dog might show intolerance to exercise. It may have trouble getting up and climbing stairs.
Good bulldog breeders conduct tests on the breeding stock and only breed the dogs cleared for hips and joints. This can prevent hip and elbow dysplasia.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
In the breed’s early days, bulldogs were used for bull baiting, and their facial structure with pushed in face reflects this. The short muzzles, undershot jaws or protruding lower jaw, and punched-in noses helped the dogs hold a vice-like grip on the bulls. Also, the nose was far back on the dog’s face, which helped the dog hold the bull while still being able to breathe.
Bulldog breeders would breed dogs using selective breeding to give them such flat faced dogs, and that is one of the main reasons behind the English bulldog health problems and the breed’s poor health.
These dogs have had several breathing problems to date. Bulldog owners need to be aware of these health concerns before purchasing their pets. Many modern bulldogs still suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome due to genetics.
Symptoms like noisy breathing are common in this brachycephalic breed.
According to the vets at the RAU Hospital, English bulldogs are also twice as likely to develop dental disease. It may start as tartar and plaque buildup and progress to periodontal disease and gum disease.
Not only are bulldogs that do not receive proper dental care more likely to lose their teeth, but they may also suffer from damage to their kidneys, hearts, and other organs.
Flat-faced bulldogs are also more likely to develop ear diseases like otitis. Their ear canal is abnormally narrow, which causes moisture to trap inside. This becomes a breeding ground for bacterial ear infections. Therefore, regular ear cleaning is a must.
A structural defect called chondrodysplasia is also seen in many dogs due to their short legs. Signs include a deformed back and legs, a stocky body shape, poor innate health, slow growth in affected dogs, bowed legs, and heart issues. There is no canine medicine for this disease.
What Percentage of English Bulldogs Have Health Problems?
According to the Royal Veterinary College in the UK, almost 55% of English bulldogs suffer from breathing issues. Many dogs also need surgery to fix the elongated palate. Some dogs may need a surgical fix for stenotic nares. The elongated soft palate causes snoring, wheezing, and difficulty breathing in these dogs.
The study conducted at the RVC and the kennel club also stated clearly that English bulldogs are twice as likely to develop all kinds of major health issues like breathing troubles and skin conditions compared to other dog breeds.
Many dog owners are not aware of these problems. They are not aware of brachycephalic ocular disease in the bulldog breed.
Therefore, buyers must discourage the breeding of unhealthy bulldogs by not buying from unethical breeders.
FAQs – Are English Bulldogs Prone to Health Issues
What is the life expectancy of an English bulldog?
As per the Bulldog Kennel Club, the life expectancy of English bulldogs is 8-10 years. Please check out our guide on tips to maximize your English bulldog’s lifespan.
What is the most common cause of death in English bulldogs?
The most common cause of death in English bulldogs is respiratory distress. Since these dogs have physical characteristics like soft palate which cause difficulty breathing, most dogs die from it. Cancer and obesity are other common causes of death in the breed.
Are English bulldogs safe?
The breed is known for its gentle, loving disposition. It is great with other pets and safe around children. Some English bulldogs from good breeders are healthy dogs.
How to clean skin folds of British Bulldogs?
Use special wipes or a soft rag to clean your British bulldog’s skin folds on the dog’s head and body. You can also use a tissue to dry the moisture from the bulldog’s wrinkles.
Are British bulldogs in pain?
Yes, compared to other dogs, there is evidence that the iconic breed may be in constant pain due to the physical characteristics for which they are bred.
Are English bulldogs prone to diabetes?
Yes, some English Bulldogs have low blood sugar and are prone to diabetes compared to other breeds.
How to keep English bulldog healthy?
Your dog deserves good innate health. Feed your dog a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, and clean its skin folds. Brush your dog’s teeth every day and see your vet from time to time.
Conclusion – English Bulldog Health Conditions
As can be seen, English bulldogs can be demanding dogs. They have many health conditions like severe breathing problems due to the pushed in nose. Even the experts at the Royal Veterinary College believe that they are twice as likely to develop welfare issues compared to other dogs.
From food allergies to skin conditions to obesity, diabetes, and breathing troubles, this dog breed has it all. Prospective owners must buy their pet from a responsible and ethical breeder who breeds for health and the breed’s welfare and have only those types of bulldogs with fewer health problems.