12 October 2022 - 4 min read
Bulldog laying on his belly with tongue hanging out

Vital stats

  • Breed type: Companion
  • Size: 30 - 40 cm
  • Weight: 18 - 24 kg
  • Lifespan: 8 - 12 years


  • Size

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  • Intelligence

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  • Trainability

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  • Exercise needs

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  • Good with kids

    80% of the way between
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  • Levels of shedding

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  • Good for new owners

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  • Overall health of breed

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Everyone recognises an English Bulldog. They’re distinctly different to the French Bulldog and American Bulldog – and every other breed of dog for that matter.

Although the modern Bulldog is typically friendly, gregarious and clownish, they come from ferocious stock. The original Bulldogs were bred for the bloodsport of bullbaiting.

After bull baiting was banned in the early 19th Century these muscular dogs were instead used in farming to look after livestock. Their distinctive look was popular and different traits were bred to create new breeds. It’s not just French and American Bulldogs that were bred from the English Bulldog – Boxers and Pit Bulls also share their ancestry.

English Bulldog, British Bulldog or Olde English Bulldog?

They’re all different names for the same breed.

The UK Kennel Club refers to this breed simply as ‘Bulldog’. The ‘English’ or ‘British’ is sometimes added to the breed name just to distinguish them from other types, like the French Bulldog.

Olde English Bulldog is a term that’s more frequently used in America to describe the ‘classic’ English Bulldog, as opposed to an American Bulldog.

Temperament and characteristics

Bulldogs are renowned for neither intelligence nor athletic ability. Their charm lies more in their loyal and loving nature towards their humans.

They’re usually very gentle dogs despite their solid build and strength and can be good family dogs.

They do have a reputation for being stubborn and – dare we say it – a bit lazy. But some of that’s down to a number of congenital health conditions that the breed’s plagued with and you need to be aware of these before you decide a Bulldog’s the breed for you.

Happy English Bulldog

English Bulldog health problems

Sadly, Bulldogs are probably more renowned for health problems than any other breed of dog.

The most common reason for pet insurance claims for Bulldogs in 2021 was for a condition called ‘nicitating membrane disorder’, or cherry eye. This is where the dog’s third eyelid appears as red and bulging and it’s typically corrected with surgery. We paid 173 cherry eye claims for Bulldogs in 2021 and the average cost was £643.72.

The second most common claim we saw for Bulldogs was skin disorders and allergies. It’s because of all those folds and rolls – they mean Bulldogs are prone to itchiness, allergies and fungal or bacterial infections of their skin.

Skin conditions often need to be managed for your dog’s entire life. So even though the average claim for skin disorders in Bulldogs is £219.23, repeat claims could easily add up to thousands of pounds.

Lifetime pet insurance is useful for chronic conditions like this as there’s an annual limit that refreshes each year when you renew, so you don’t run out of cover while you still need it.

The congenital condition that Bulldogs were most famous for though is brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS). It was the fourth most common claim we saw for the breed in 2021 and simply means that they have too much tissue obstructing their airways thanks to their flat faces and skin folds and can’t breath well.

Some dogs are worse affected than others with BOAS, but as a flat-faced breed, all Bulldogs will suffer with it to some extent. If surgery’s recommended for treatment it can be very expensive. The average BOAS claim for Bulldogs in 2021 was £1,662.91 and many vets quote several thousand pounds for the surgery, depending on the extent of the treatment needed.

Bulldogs are also prone to joint problems, dental issues and obesity, so overall they’re not a particularly healthy breed, unfortunately. In fact, Norway became the first country in 2022 to actually ban the breeding of English Bulldogs on animal welfare grounds, along with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Our Pre-existing policy can cover recent conditions.

How to keep your Bulldog healthy

A 2022 study found that English Bulldogs have the second shortest lifespan of any breed at 7.39 years, behind only the French Bulldog. take steps to give your Bulldog the very best care to improve their chances of a longer life.

One of the biggest things you can do to take care of your Bulldog is to keep a close eye on their diet and weight. Obesity can trigger and exacerbate so many of the health problems they’re renowned for, from skin infections to joint problems.

It’s really important your Bulldog gets the right amount of exercise to help with this too. As they’re brachycephalic they’re prone to overheating, so make sure you don’t let them work too hard and keep walks little and often.

With so many health concerns with this breed, it’s a good idea to think about pet insurance early on in your Bulldog’s life. If you take out cover before any health conditions occur, a lifetime policy should mean you’re covered for any problems your Bulldog develops and you’ll stay covered year after year.

Pet insurance for Bulldogs

Because there’s a high probability of Bulldogs having some health issues, they’re not cheap to insure. English Bulldogs cost £999.94 a year on average to insure with us.

But when you consider the cost of repeated vet costs and maybe even surgery it all adds up. Pet insurance could give you real peace of mind that you’ll be able to pay for veterinary care for your Bulldog right through their life.

English Bulldog

Frequently asked questions about Bulldogs

Can Bulldogs give birth?

Most English Bulldogs need to have their puppies through a Cesarean section. It’s because their build is very broad and their heads are large, meaning there’s a great risk of puppies getting stuck and risking the life of both mother and pups.

In fact, Bulldogs even have great difficulty conceiving naturally so most litters are conceived with artificial or surgical insemination.

How much are Bulldogs?

Thanks to the interventions needed to conceive and birth English Bulldog puppies, they’re one of the most expensive breeds to buy. Our English Bulldog-owning customers paid £2,657 for them on average in 2021.