To dog lovers, this isn't late-breaking news, but it was on my mind this morning. The English Bulldog recently returned to the Top 10 list of dog breeds (it's a popularity contest of sorts). The AKC said that it hasn't made the list since 1935. I happen to have two of these dogs and thought I would post some things you should know before deciding to get one of these wonderful pups:
1. They snore. We're not talking cute little baby snores here. We're talking gigantic, window-rattling snores in some cases. These dogs have been studied in regard to sleep apnea, and it is hypothesized that the snoring problem (and sleep apnea) leads to their shortened life. Which leads me to ...
2. They don't live long and are sometimes referred to as "little heartbreakers." The average is 8-10 years. I have a little girl (Lily) who recently turned 7 (November 23) and a little boy (Bodhi) who is just shy of 8 months. Over the weekend I got word of two passings. Diesel, who turned 11 in December, was diagnosed with cancer. He had been given 2 weeks to 4 months to live. From what I could surmise, he came out on the 2 weeks mark. Once they get sick, they go downhill quickly. The other death was of Rosette. She was diagnosed with lymphoma and wasn't expected to have a good prognosis or treatment plan. Her mom (the breeder from whom we got our Lily) made the decision to put her down rather than to have her suffer.
3. They fart. They have room-clearing gas, I kid you not. I feed mine top quality dog food, which helps, and if you put a little brewer's yeast on the food, that can help, too. Just don't have your opera friends over and act surprised when the dog launches an air biscuit in the middle of your soiree.
4. You have to clean all kinds of spooge from them. Each day, we are checking facial folds and tail pockets for bits of smeg, eye goo, poop, or any manner of secretion. They can't reach their butts to clean them, so they depend on us. Their faces are artificially short (a man-made breed, these dogs), so they have all kinds of rolls and wrinkles that will get crusted up, infected, and smelly if you don't care for them. Sometimes they need dermatologists and plastic surgery if the condition gets particularly bad.
5. The smeg that accumulates on them can get all over your belongings. In addition to the shedding of hair, they shed goo. You have to be on the lookout for spots on the carpet, the bedcovers, and the living room couch. Be ready with a sponge, Fresh-n-Clean, and Febreze.
6. You can't go running with them. Not that I'm a runner by any means, but I also can't take them for a 2-mile hike. That artificially shortened snout means they can't regulate their body temperature very well. I heard the story of a dog in Germany who dropped dead during a walk that his parents mandated daily (with a teenager volunteer who watched the dog) during a very warm day. His heart stopped from heat stroke. They have little bursts of energy, and then they need to rest. And if you have an aversion to using the A/C, don't get one of these dogs.
7. They can get overweight quickly. Because they don't have a job like herding sheep, retrieving pheasants, or even fetching a stick, they tend to pack on the pounds. That complicates the breathing problems, causes the breakdown of joints (and causes pain), and can bring on the same types of illnesses you'd see in people who are obese (i.e., diabetes). It's cruel to overfeed them, no matter how sweetly they look up at you when you're eating pizza. Give them some green beans instead. Feed them according to your vet's instructions. Keep an eye on the weight and the waist size as seen from above the dog. Otherwise? See #2 - expect an even shorter life. I've seen YouTube videos where idiot teenagers think it's funny to make their fatter-than-fat bulldog eat all kinds of things (because they will). It makes me very angry.
8. Fixing a problem is expensive, and they get lots of problems. We've had to deal with dry skin, yeast infections in the wrinkles (despite cleaning), an intestinal blockage when my Lily swallowed a stray catnip mouse (which are now banned in my house), liver shunts, cherry eye, and surgical complications. You have to have a vet that is familiar with the breed; otherwise you and your dog are in big trouble and may be misdiagnosed. The average illness for one of our dogs has been $1500. Get pet insurance immediately, if you buy a bulldog.
9. Don't buy them thinking you'll breed them. Leave breeding to the professionals. These dogs don't mate the way nature intended. Oh, they'll hump each other, but they don't actually make a touchdown. It's more like going through the motions. It can be bad for the female's hips, at the very least. They have to be artificially inseminated, which means a couple of vet visits. If you don't want to extract the semen from the sire yourself (yes, that means ummm manual collection), the vet will do it. If you are not an experienced vet tech, don't attempt to inseminate the female. That will be another vet visit. And then there is the whole pregnancy. You have to keep the bitch quiet, or she'll absorb her puppies. You have to have ultrasounds and multiple vet visits to keep her healthy. And when it's time? C-section. You wonder why the average bulldog costs $2800? Most of that is NOT profit to the breeder. They do it out of love for the breed, not for the riches.
10. They are not for the intolerant. If you can't deal with hair, smeg, gas, vet bills, shortened walks, snoring, or frequent and intimate cleaning of your pet, then don't get this breed. You cannot simply let things slide, or the dog becomes unhealthy, unhappy, and has a shortened life.
I love this breed, but Bodhi is likely to be the final bulldog for us. We are getting to an age at which it becomes very important to save every penny. I am also not as hale and hardy as I used to be. Bodhi can easily knock me down. He still has the exuberance of a puppy when he sees me, though we are working on the "don't jump!" command and training. With me on a cane part of the time, it isn't a good thing to have a dog that can flatten me that way.
Next time, it'll probably be a small dog like a chihuahua (which I'll be researching long before I take on).
Have a lovely Monday!
Peace - D
A good resource for the list of common bulldog ailments is at this rescue site: Bulldog Health.