Bulldog illustration
Utility

Bulldog

The iconic British breed symbolising the spirit of the country

Breed characteristics

Size
Medium
Exercise
Up to 1 hour per day
Size of home
Small house
Grooming
Once a week
Coat length
Short
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Under 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
Small/ medium garden

About this breed

Bull baiting was introduced to Britain by the Normans in the 12th Century when they used mastiff-type dogs to torment bulls. By the 16th Century bull baiting was a popular ‘entertainment’ for all classes. The leggier mastiff types were replaced by smaller, thick-set dogs with strong heads and powerful jaws, these being the ancestors of the modern Bulldog.

In 1835 bull baiting was made illegal and the future of the breed, now without a function, was threatened. Those kept as companions provided the nucleus for the regeneration of the breed when dog showing became fashionable. The Kennel Club recognised the bulldog in 1873 and he remains the iconic British breed, thought to symbolise the spirit of the country.

Since the start of the 21st Century dedicated breeders have worked hard to improve the health of the breed by reducing exaggeration in the physical features. Changes to the Kennel Club Standard have militated against exaggeration with a strong focus on health and welfare. The Bulldog remains hugely popular as a family companion for his great character and loyalty.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Utility breed group

This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle. The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.

 

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Brindle
  • Brindle & White
  • Fawn
  • Fawn & White
  • Fawn Brindle
  • Fawn Brindle & White
  • Red
  • Red & White
  • Red Brindle
  • Red Brindle & White
  • Red Fawn
  • White
  • White & Brindle
  • White & Fawn
  • White & Red

Non-breed-standard colours

  • Black (NBS)
  • Black & White (NBS)
  • Black & White with Tan markings (NBS)
  • Black & Tan (NBS)
  • Black & Tan with White Markings (NBS)
  • Blue (NBS)
  • Blue & Tan (NBS)
  • Blue with White or Tan Markings or Patches (NBS)
  • Blue Fawn (NBS)
  • Blue Fawn with White Markings or Patches (NBS)
  • Blue with White, Sable, Tan Markings (NBS)
  • Brown (NBS)
  • Brown with Tan Markings (NBS)
  • Sable (NBS)
  • Sable with Tan or White Markings (NBS)
  • Cream (NBS)

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour, it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog. Health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed-standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registration process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Health issues in flat-faced dogs

Dogs with a flat, wide shaped head, are said to be brachycephalic (brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head). This particular skull shape will often give these dogs a characteristic flattened face and a short muzzle. Although the shape of these dogs’ heads can make them look very cute, dogs with a very flat face and short muzzle have a higher risk of developing certain health issues associated with their features, such as:

Breathing difficulties

The soft tissue in the nose and throat of some brachycephalic dogs may be excessive for the airways, making it difficult for them to breathe normally (causing heavy panting or noisy breathing). Some dogs may also have narrow nostrils making it even more difficult to breathe.

More information can be found on:

Skin problems

Some brachycephalic dogs may have an excess of skin, which creates folds, especially around the front of the face. These folds can make a warm, moist environment which is perfect for bacteria and yeast to grow, possibly leading to infection and severe itching.

More information can be found in our article on skin problems in flat-faced dogs.

Teeth problems

Dogs with a shortened skull will often have a shortened jaw, but the number and size of teeth will stay the same. This can mean that the teeth become overcrowded and can cause dental and gum problems.

More information can be found on our advice page on how to take care of your dogs teeth.

Eye conditions

Some brachycephalic dogs may have shallow eye sockets, causing their eyes to become more prominent and at a higher risk of trauma, ulcers and increasing the chance of them becoming dry and painful (due to not being able to blink properly).

More information can be found in our article on eye problems in flat-faced dogs.

Want to buy a puppy responsibly?

Not all flat-faced dogs will have the health issues described, but it is important that if you are thinking of buying a puppy, that you take extra precautions

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Bulldog.

Breed watch

Category 3

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

The Kennel Club does not accept the registration, including any imported dogs, of any merle Bulldogs.

Merle patterning - patches of lighter colour appearing in the coat - is the result of the M gene in the dog. There are two alleles of this gene: M (merle) and m (non-merle), with merle (M) being dominant to non-merle (m). In some breeds, the effect of the merle allele (M) is termed ‘dapple’. Unfortunately, the effects of the merle allele (M) are not confined to coat patterning and it is known that there can be an increased risk of impaired hearing and sight associated with it, particularly in dogs that are homozygous for M (dogs that carry two copies of the M allele).

As the merle colour is not a naturally occurring colour in this breed, and in view of the health concerns relating to the merle gene, The Kennel Club will not accept the registration of any merle Bulldog puppies.

More information

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