Breed-related disease: Bulldogs

The Bulldog also known as the English bulldog is a medium-sized dog breed, descended from dogs originally used for blood sports in the 16th century, at that time, the bulldog was bred with the purpose of bull-baiting in mind, which required the animal to be both strong and tenacious with vicious fighting spirit. Today, however, the modern English bulldog is worlds apart from the fighting dog it was originally. The English bulldog we all know today has been selectively bred over a few hundred years to serve as a companion animal. Although to some the Bulldog can appear intimidating, the breed has developed a great reputation for gentle play with children and tolerance for other household pets.

The bulldog is an iconic breed for its wide-set frame, muscular physic, and compact stubby legs. The body is stocky and dense and the head is large and wide. A hallmark of the breed is the folds of skin that form around the face and forehead of the animal, together with the drooping cheeks that extend from each eye.

Their loyal and steadfast determination remains from their bull-baiting days, however, and good training from a young age, paired with firm and consistent discipline is a must when owning an English bulldog. They are predominantly housed bound pets and require a good walk at least once a day.

Unfortunately, the Bulldog’s unique body and head structure make him prone to several health problems, here are some of the most common diseases related to the bulldogs:

  1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome _ Brachycephalic is Latin for smooched face, and every English bulldog has Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS) to some degree. BAS is common in animals that have shortened facial features that give them the pushed-in nose. According to the ACVS, bulldogs “have been bred to have relatively short muzzles and noses and, because of this, the throat and breathing passages in these dogs are frequently undersized or flattened.” Their noses are narrow, and the bones on their face are shorter, which causes an array of health risks: Breathing problems and panting chronic discomfort, Exercise intolerance, Difficulty eating.


  1. Difficulty breathing _ when looking at the root cause of health risks in bulldogs, upper airway defects caused by Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome wreak a lot of havoc. No one wants their pooch to struggle to take a breath, but unfortunately, breathing can be a big problem for bulldogs. Genetic abnormalities caused by selective breeding have a significant impact on your pup’s airways.


  1. Skin Problems _ sadly, the adorable folds bulldog owners know and love have a downside. Some English bulldog health problems symptoms include skin infections and irritation.
    A. Eczema, or “canine atopic dermatitis,” is the most common skin issue found in bulldogs. It causes itchy, dried-out skin that can turn into a scaly rash. Allergies, stress, and bug bites are the most common causes.
    B. Bacterial infections like staph, pyoderma, and dermatitis also can occur. These infections can either be surface level or go deeper underneath the skin.
    c. Hot spots, or “acute moist dermatitis,” are an allergic reaction to different skin irritants like bug bites and parasites and appear as round sores on the skin. English Bulldogs also can suffer from acne caused by dirty pores.
    d. Interdigital cysts are also common in bulldogs. Cysts form between the toes, swelling into large bumps. Treat cysts with a simple cleaning, but be careful not to overdo it. Excessive cleaning can worsen the condition.


  1. Thyroid and Heart Disease

Health issues from selective breeding have also caused problems in the internal organs.

  1. Thyroid – Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid slows down, which causes decreased production of thyroxine, the hormone responsible for regulating the metabolism.
  2. Heart – Pulmonary Stenosis which is a heart deformity most often found in English Bulldogs. According to UFAW, Pulmonary Stenosis is a “congenital narrowness or constriction of the outflow from the right side of the heart.” It blocks blood flow and can lead to heart failure or even death. You can catch this disease early with regular heart assessments at checkups.
  3. Cancer _ Bulldogs are especially susceptible to cancers like lymphoma and mast cell tumors.

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