Problems Particular to English Bulldogs (Part I)

Most of this breeds health problems are due to their shortened muzzles and their inability to give birth naturally. Although their life span is only about ten to fifteen years, those years are relatively healthy and happy. Still, Bulldogs do occasionally suffer from conditions to which the breed seems to be predisposed. Of course, not all English Bulldogs have these problems. But some do.


When the English Bulldog becomes a teenager (between 6 and 8 months of age), she may develop acne. Just as with human teenagers, this is due to hormonal changes in the body. Keep the dog’s face and wrinkles clean. If the problem gets bad, talk to your veterinarian about prescribing medication. Do not use human acne medications without your veterinarian’s recommendation.

Brachycephalic Difficulties

Like other breeds with shortened muzzles (such as Pugs and Pekingese), English Bulldogs can have breathing difficulties, especially in hot, humid weather. If your dog ever has trouble breathing or her lips or mucus membranes turn blue, call your veterinarian immediately. This may be a temporary problem, but it may also be life threatening.

When to Call the Veterinarian
Go to the vet right away or take your dog to an emergency veterinary clinic if:
– Your dog is choking
– Your dog is having trouble breathing
– Your dog has been injured and you cannot stop the bleeding within a few minutes
– Your dog has been stung or bitten by an insect and the site is swelling
– Your dog has been bitten by a snake
– Your dog has been bitten by another animal (including a dog) and shows any swelling or bleeding
– Your dog has touched, licked, or in any way been exposed to poison
– Your dog has been burned by either heat or caustic chemicals
– Your dog has been hit by a car
– Your dog has any obvious broken bones or cannot put any weight on one of her limbs
– Your dog has a seizure
Make an appointment to see the vet as soon as possible if:
– Your dog has been bitten by a cat, another dog, or a wild animal
– Your dog has been injured and is still limping an hour later
– Your dog has unexplained swelling or redness
– Your dog’s appetite changes
– Your dog vomits repeatedly and can’t seem to keep food down, or drools excessively while eating
– You see any changes in your dog’s urination or defecation (pain during elimination, change in regular habits, blood in urine or stool, diarrhea, foul-smelling stool)
– Your dog scoots her rear end on the floor
– Your dog’s energy level, attitude, or behavior changes for no apparent reason
– Your dog has crusty or cloudy eyes, or excessive tearing or discharge
– Your dog’s nose is dry or chapped, hot, crusty, or runny
– Your dog’s ears smell foul, have a dark discharge, or seem excessively waxy
– Your dog’s gums are inflamed or bleeding, her teeth look brown, or her breath is foul
– Your dog’s skin is red, flaky, itchy, or inflamed, or she keeps chewing at certain spots
– Your dog’s coat is dull, dry, brittle, or bare in spots
– Your dog’s paws are red, swollen, tender, cracked, or the nails are split or too long
– Your dog is panting excessively, wheezing, unable to catch her breath, breathing heavily, or sounds strange when she breathes.

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate is the flap of skin at the back of the throat. Loud, noisy, or difficult breathing may indicate an elongated soft palate – a common breathing disorder in all brachycephalic (short-muzzled) breeds.
In dogs with this condition, the skin and tissue on the roof of the mouth will either hang in front of the airway or will fall into the larynx when the dog inhales, causing the skin to vibrate or partially block the airways. It can impede breathing. The English Bulldog can also choke on or spit up pieces of kibble and even pass out from a lack of air.
Signs are excessive panting, being unable to calm down when excited, and possibly vomiting. Loud, raspy breathing when the dog is overheated is another sign.
This condition can be taken care of with minor surgery. This is a genetic defect, and dogs with this problem should not be bred.

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