Who can resist the rather unconventional looks of the classic English bulldog, the breed often described as being “so ugly it’s cute”? Once you experience the good natured, lively personality of this breed, you become a convert. In fact, many English bulldog owners are rather fanatical about the breed. Unfortunately, despite this dog’s charming personality and endearing appearance, the breed can be beset by a multitude of health problems some of which are serious. Here are some common bulldog health problems you’ll want to be aware of if you’re considering this dog breed:
If you’ve spent any time around an English bulldog, you’ve probably heard how loudly they breathe. Some bulldogs have condition known as “pinched nostrils” which means the opening to their nasal passage is narrow, making each inspiration audible. They may also make a pronounced snorting sound when breathing. In some cases this condition can be so pronounced that surgery is necessary. Bulldogs also have a trachea that’s narrower than most other dogs. This makes it more likely they could aspirate their food while eating which could result in pneumonia.
This also relates to the structure of their nasal passages. Bulldogs are breeds with short nasal passages. This gives them less surface area to expel heat when they pant which makes them prone to overheating, especially when excited. For this reason, it’s important to keep a bulldog as calm as possible when it’s warm outside and make sure they have plenty of water.
Bulldogs are subject to a variety of skin problems ranging from mange to skin allergies. One common condition seen in bulldogs is yeast infestation in the folds of their face and body. Because these folds can collect moisture, they can be a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria. To prevent yeast and bacterial skin infections in bulldogs, keep the skin folds clean and dry. Apply a little corn starch to soak up any moisture to prevent the growth of yeast. Other skin conditions that bulldogs are predisposed to are eczema and allergic reactions. If a bulldog experiences redness, sores, or recurrent scratching, he should be seen by a vet to rule out demodectic mange, a serious skin condition caused by a parasite. Food allergies can also sometimes cause skin problems in bulldogs.
Bulldogs are prone to a variety of congenital heart defects which are usually picked up when the bulldog is a puppy. These conditions may or may not cause long term health problems. If a heart murmur is detected when the bulldog is a puppy, further workup may be needed.
English bulldogs are also prone to a variety of both congenital and acquired eye problems including “cherry eye” where the gland that makes tear fluid prolapses causing swelling and redness. This condition may require surgery. Bulldogs are also prone to dry eyes due to insufficient production of tears, corneal ulcers, and several congenital conditions. As if that isn’t enough, they also have a high incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia and other joint problems.
An English bulldog can be a challenge when it comes to health maintenance. Make sure you have the resources to provide them with the care and treatment they need should you choose to add this breed to your family.