When you look at the English bulldog, you can congratulate him on how far he’s come, from a ferocious fighting dog to a docile family companion. As the mascot for the Marine Corps, the bulldog projects an air of devotion and power, however his loving, affectionate nature makes him a good candidate for families with kids.
The Past is Behind Him
If you’re looking to add a dog to the family tree, don’t overlook the English bulldog. He may have a scary look about him, with his powerful build and large jaw, but don’t let that dissuade you. His distinctive looks were useful centuries ago when he was used to fight bulls. His nose is positioned to allow him to breathe, useful for pinning prey. His muzzle and jaw are shaped for hanging on for dear life. Those violent ways are well behind him now. The English bulldog is much more likely to nuzzle your kids with his nose and give you a lick across the cheek.
It’s been almost 200 years since the bulldog was used for bull-baiting, plenty of time to develop into a family dog whose main concern is enjoying the company of his people. Despite his stocky, powerful build -- this guy holds between 40 and 60 pounds on a frame that stands about 17 inches at the shoulder -- the English bulldog is a solid choice for just about any family. He is affectionate, easygoing and gentle, but happily will engage in some play with the kids. If grandma and grandpa spend a lot of time in the house, you won’t have to worry about this guy bowling them over, as he isn’t a jumpy, hyper pup.
The English bulldog doesn’t require a lot of maintenance; he sports a short coat that doesn’t require special grooming -- just give him a brush two or three times a week to keep his coat healthy. His wrinkles require cleaning with a baby wipe or damp cloth as few as a couple of times a week to daily; be sure to dry them thoroughly so they don't develop bacterial growth. He is a smart dog, but stubborn, so you may have to work a little harder to train him. Repetition and positive reinforcement, in the form of praise and treats, are the way to go with this fellow. When it comes to exercise, the English bulldog is a versatile dog. A walk around the block will do him fine. If you prefer a longer outing, he’s game to stroll for a couple of miles. Though he’ll happily chase the kids around the yard, he's just as content to spend time on the couch watching Saturday morning cartoons.
A Cause to Pause
If you live in a hot climate, or you want a dog who can live outside, the English bulldog isn’t for you, no matter who is in your family. His brachycephalic face presents him with breathing challenges. It’s extremely easy for this fellow to become overheated and suffer from heat stroke, making air conditioning a must in warm summer temperatures. As well, too much exercise and stress make it difficult for him to breathe, so the kids will need to understand when to give your pup a break. During hot weather, the English bulldog should take his exercise during the cool part of the day. Finally, if you're a family who likes to take to the water for fun, it’s best to consider one of the retriever dogs who has a natural affinity for water. The English bulldog’s large head, short legs and sturdy torso come together to make a dog who cannot swim and will drown.