Like any other breed, bulldogs may be prone to a variety of health problems. Before you buy a puppy, ask the breeder about problems in his bloodlines. Hopefully he will be honest with you. Even if both parents are healthy, a puppy can develop anyone of the more common health problems from several generations back. This is why buying a puppy should be done with care and not on the spur of the moment.

Bulldog health problems that may be encountered include an elongated soft palate, small tracheas, allergies, dermatitis, demodex mange, ectropion and entropion (eyelid anomalies), stenotic nares, hip dysplasia problems, cherry eye, and heart problems. *

The average life span of a bulldog is about 7 to 11 years with some living past 12 years.

Not all veterinarians are knowledgeable when treating bulldogs and their idiosyncrasies. It is best that you have a veterinarian that your breeder uses or recommends or get a reference from someone in your area that has bulldogs.

In order to be eligible to show in the conformation ring, a bulldog must have had no cosmetic surgery. His tail must not be altered and his dew claws must be intact. If the dog has been injured and requires corrective surgery, AKC accepts it as legal. His toenails need frequent trimming, his ears and wrinkles frequent cleaning, and he will need an occasional bath for exhibition. For exhibition, his whiskers should be clipped.

Always provide your bulldog with clean fresh water and a correct and nutritious diet.

*For additional information on any of these conditions, you may refer to sub-categories included on this website which give more details.


Skin Wrinkle Infections (skin fold pyoderma)
This infection can be found as tail-fold pyoderma in bulldogs (screw tails). The usual signs are irritation and inflammation of the skin, causing discomfort to the dog and "scooting." The moist skin becomes infected and gives off a foul odor. Relief is obtained by bathing the skin with a surgical soap, being sure to thoroughly clean the skin under the tail. This may entail using your finger with a washcloth saturated in the surgical soap and inserting behind the screws of the tail to the skin underneath. It may be painful to the dog, so care must be taken. Once cleaned, rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue and dry as much as possible. An antibiotic steroid cream (such as Panalog Cream) may then be applied to the affected area. Another method of treatment is to use a powder (McKillips, Gold Bond, etc.) and, holding the tail out of the way as much as possible, "poor' the powder in so it reaches the skin under the tail. These treatments should be repeated on a continuing basis, as needed.

Bulldogs are prone to wrinkle infections on their faces, particularly under the nose wrinkle. As a grooming device, clean the wrinkles regularly (daily is recommended) and apply a light layer of ointment to the area to prevent infection from setting in. A commonly used ointment would be baby diaper rash ointments such as Balmex, A veeno, etc. (Find one which does not irritate your dog.) .

The wrinkle and fold under the dog's eyes may also be a source of infection and/or discoloration (rust). This is normally caused by tearing of the eyes or even eyelashes which grow inward (entropion). Left untreated, this can lead to eye ulcerations and dry eye. Keeping that area as dry as possible is essential to avoid this problem. Carefully using rash ointment in the fold after cleaning or a layer of Va so line should help alleviate this problem. If not, you should consult a veterinary ophthalmologist. Plucking the lasher or surgery may be necessary and either should be done by an experienced veterinarian. (NOTE: OCCASIONALLY CHANGING THE DOG'S DIET MAY ALSO TAKE CARE OF THIS PROBLEM.
Acute Moist Dermatitis (pyotraumatic dermatitis)
Pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots) are warm, painful, swollen patches of skin which exude pus and give off a foul odor. These circular patches appear suddenly and enlarge rapidly, often within a few hours. Hair is lost rapidly. It is a bacterial skin infection which progresses through self-mutilation. Fleas, ear and anal gland problems, skin irritants, allergies, and other factions are probably responsible for initiating the cycle. Hot spots are common and appear on the neck, ears, chest, rump and flanks. Early detection and cleaning and application of an antibiotic cream is required. If a black crust appears, additional attention may be needed as it may be a staph infection and should be referred to a veterinarian for treatment.
Demodectic (red) Mange
Demodectic mange is an inflammatory skin disease in dogs in which a larger number than normal demodectic mites inhabit visible skin lesions. The mite is present in very small numbers in most healthy dogs. At times the mites take the opportunity to colonize the hair follicles and populate the skin in large numbers. Bulldogs are particularly susceptible. A veterinarian should be consulted to obtain proper medication to treat and bathe the dog as early as possible. Treatment normally takes four to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the outbreak.

Red mange occurs most often in young dogs 3 months to 1 year old; however, the disease can start spontaneously in dogs as old as 12 years. The disease may consist of one bald patch that eventually disappears or it can spread over the entire body and become complicated by generalized infection which develops when the dog's natural immune response is depressed.

This can be a minor problem if treated early; however, if it is left without proper treatment, will only get worse and, possibly, result in the death of the dog.
Puppy Dermatitis (impetigo and acne)
This is a mild surface skin infection found in young dogs under 12 months of age. There are two typical conditions: Impetigo and Acne:

Impetigo (or milk rash) can be recognized by finding pus-filled blisters on the hairless parts of the abdomen and groin. These rupture easily, leaving thin brown crusts.

Acne is found on the chin and lower lip, or occasionally in the genital area, the perineum or the groin. It is identified by finding purplish-red bumps which come to a head and drain pus (like pimples or blackheads). The condition is more common among dogs with oily skins. The condition is sometimes found in older dogs on their chins.

Both need to have the areas cleaned with a surgical soap (Weladol, Chlorhexiderm, Phisohex, etc.), rinsed thoroughly, dried and an antibiotic cream applied (Panalog).


Hot weather is detrimental to your Bulldog!
Bulldogs and hot weather are two things that don't mix well. Because of the bulldog's throat anatomy, excessive panting is quite dangerous. When the throat becomes irritated from too much panting, it can swell shut, causing suffocation. The preventive measures you take beforehand will be well worth your time. Here are a few:

Heatstroke can result from overexposure to the sun, strenuous or too much exercise in hot weather, or from being in a car on a hot day. Being confined in a building, room or crate without adequate ventilation/cooling is dangerous.

Some symptoms of heatstroke may include difficulty breathing, panting, foaming at the mouth, thick stringy saliva, noisy breathing, tongue hanging out, collapse, or unconsciousness.

During hot weather, to avoid heatstroke, keep your bully in the coolest location you have to offer. If you have air conditioning in your home, keep him inside. If you don't, you can wet him down and keep an electric fan circulating air. Put ice cubes in his water; put a "kiddy pool" in your back yard for him filled with a few inches of water (and teach him how to use it). In extreme cases, a cool basement may be sufficient. A tree in your back yard it not going to be sufficient to keep the dog cool. You must take extra steps to accomplish this.

We all know how dangerous being confined in a car on a hot day is for people and animals. Well, this goes DOUBLE for bulldogs! On an 85 degree day, the inside of a car (even with windows partially rolled down) will heat up to 102 degrees in ten minutes. In thirty minutes, it will go up to 120 degrees. On warmer days, it will go even higher. LEAVE YOUR BULLY HOME ON SUCH DAYS, but if you must take him with you, be prepared. Use the air conditioning if you have it; wet him down with lots of water before you leave home and take along a good supply of water and ice, including a spray bottle to redampen him if necessary. A wet towel for him to lie on will also be helpful. It is a good idea to carry a squeeze bottle of lemon juice or a can of 7-UP to help clear phlegm from the bully's throat if needed to avoid respiratory distress.

If your bulldog is overcome with heat exhaustion, immediate first aid on your part could be lifesaving. You must immediately bring the body temperature down. The best way to do this is to immerse in cold water. Get the dog into your bathtub/shower and run cold water over him or take him into the yard and run the hose over him. A cold compress on his head will help reduce swelling of the brain (which can cause brain damage). Normal body temperature for a bulldog is 101.5 degrees, so take his temperature and see how close to normal it is. If he is gagging on thick saliva or phlegm, use the aforementioned lemon juice or 7-UP to cut it. Then use a paper towel to clear out the throat. If his tongue is swollen, causing a blockage of air flow, use a paper towel to grab hold of it (The towel will give you a better grip.) and pull the tongue out, allowing air flow again. These are just emergency first aid tips only. The most important thing you must do is to: GET YOUR BULLY TO THE VET'S OFFICE IMMEDIATELY.

For your bulldog's sake, and your own, take the necessary precautions during warm weather. If you tempt fate by not making sure he stays cool, you could very well end up with a dead pet!
 Authored by Jean Simmons, MLBC member.