The American Kennel Club includes bulldogs in its nonsporting group, a well-deserved designation as your typical bulldog is no athlete. Short walks around the block serve his purposes; long walks can become an ordeal. In that respect, he's low maintenance, but that's not true for all areas of bulldog care.
A Brachycephalic Breed
Bulldogs are brachycephalic, meaning they have short nose, flat face and the breathing issues that accompany the characteristics. No matter how hard he pants -- the canine cooling system -- it's difficult for him to stay comfortable when the temperature soars. In hot, humid weather, your bulldog should stay inside in an air-conditioned environment, except for brief potty breaks. No matter what the season, he's an indoor dog, who wants to stay close to his people.
If you have a backyard pool or spend lots of time at the beach, think twice about getting a bulldog. Because of their physical makeup -- large head, short front legs, heavy torso -- he can't swim. The bad news is that they love water. If you want to cool your bulldog off on hot days, you can provide him with a shallow kiddy pool that he can access easily. If you have a pool, keep your bulldog away from it using the same gates and other safety methods used to protect little children.
Your bulldog has a short coat, so a quick brushing once or twice a week suffices. The more intensive part of his grooming regimen involves his wrinkled skin. You must clean out the deep wrinkles and folds several times a week to prevent bacteria from growing and causing infection. The Bulldog Club of America recommends dipping a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide for wrinkle cleaning, followed by a good dusting with cornstarch or baby powder to ensure drying. Bulldogs also are prone to acne. Don't squeeze bulldog zits, but take him to the vet so she can prescribe appropriate medication.
Bulldogs aren't the healthiest of breeds. Health issues affecting them contribute to high maintenance levels, in terms of veterinary care and accompanying bills. They're prone to allergies, skin diseases, bladder stones, eye problems and respiratory issues. If you breed your dog, it's likely she'll require a cesarean section for puppy delivery. Find a vet specializing in the breed, familiar with bulldog particulars. For example, bulldog facial structure and related breathing problems means they require special care during anesthesia.
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.