The Bulldog Rescue's Bulldog Guide. A series of articles covering common bulldog problems and guides on how to live with certain conditions that might affect Bulldogs That have been rehomed. If you have any suggestions please tell us in the Suggestion Box below.
Opinions Expressed in each article are those of the Author and may not necessary be the same as those of the reader
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SO YOU WANT A BULLDOG PUPPY?
And why not, they are one of the most loving breeds of dog ever invented – but they are not for everyone. The Bulldog is a “marmite” kind of dog – you either think they are absolutely amazing, or you think they are the most disgusting thing on the planet. But whatever your opinion of the breed – where you buy your puppy from will make a huge difference to their life and even their life span.
It’s a sad fact that many bulldogs require a c-section to give birth to their pups and although massive strives have been made to address this, with many many serious breeders understanding the concept of giving birth and going down the free whelping route, there is a quicker way to get rich off the back of breeding bulldogs without having to pay out for either the upfront cost of a Stud Fee or the worry of the bitch not being able to give birth or developing eclampsia. And that is to CROSS IT!
A male bulldog put to another Bull Breed or Mastiff type female will produce pups that resemble bulldogs and therefore can be sold as such for huge amounts of money. Give them a fancy name such as Victorian, Sussex, Old English, Olde Tyme etc etc – market them has the “healthy alternative” to a purebred bulldog alongside a made-up registration system and you have a way of making lots of money with very little outlay.
There are two major problems with this
To understand this, you need to firstly understand the history. The word “Bulldog” “Bulldogge” or “Bandog” as it wasn’t used to describe a breed, but instead it was a description of a Mastiff type dog vicious enough to fight or bull bait (which was of course their original purpose). It took over 100 years to breed that out when Baiting was abolished which was achieved by very selective breeding.
So, support the breeders that are working to improve our breed, working towards natural births and natural matings. Who care about the temperament of their pups, who have health tested the parents and show what they produce to prove they are doing it properly? All you need to produce a healthy bulldog – is two healthy bulldogs!
The recent boom of fad colours has brought with it its own problems. Many on the same lines as the crosses, but the scariest of which is the shear lack of health testing or lack of thought that goes into producing a litter over and above “what colour will the pups be”
Many of the more recently acquired bulldogs are Lilac, Black or Chocolate and because these colours are considered “undesirable” – they are being deliberately bred and then sold as “rare”.
It started with breeders looking to make a quick buck and realising that 2 standard red bulldogs could occasionally throw a Black Coated dog. They were rare back then, some lines produced them naturally and these dogs went into pet homes and were kept out of breeding programs. Sadly, they are not so rare these days and it wasn’t long before they realised that doubling up on the Black coat produced other colours also not in the Breed Standard – Blue and Lilac dogs began to arrive as well as Chocolate Tri coats. Colours that never naturally occurred and because these were considered even rarer, they demanded even more money (upto £20k in the beginning). But you must put this into perspective. The Black Coat was written out of the very first breed standard written in the late 1800s – Blue and Black was described as “Very Bad Colours” and “Previously considered Good Colours”. The reason for this was because these were the dogs that made the best fighters. The dogs with the worst temperament.
When Bullbaiting was abolished, these breeders really did know what they were doing. They didn’t need “Fertility Clinics” or fancy Instagram Accounts – all they needed was the knowledge to realise that the if the bulldog as a breed was going to survive beyond the abolition of baiting, they had to stop using those coat colours in their breeding programmes.
Like I said Red coats can occasionally produce a Black coat – it’s all to do with the dominant “B” gene against the diluted “b” gene. Whereas “B” is black - a dog with a coat considered “BB” will be black coated; a dog with a coat considered “bb” will have a lilac or liver (Dudley) coat and that’s where the Lilac and Chocolate Tri stems from.
But of course, dilution means skin problems, deafness and something that has increased massively from these lines – Spina Bifida!
So, when you hear a bulldog breeder complaining about colour breeders, it’s not them being purist, or racist – it simply a case of trying to continue the fight to make this breed healthier and happier than ever before. Stick to standard breeders – the standard is the blueprint for a healthy bulldog and although some breeders misinterpret certain aspects of it, a good breeder will understand exactly what is required of a winning dog and winning dogs produce healthy offspring (in most cases)
Having said all that – Standard bulldogs are not immune from bad breeders. So, find a Breeder that shows, they care about what other breeders think of the dogs they take in the ring so have put the most thought into a mating. If your breeder doesn’t show, has bred 2 pet bulldogs together or did it as a “one off” because they thought she’d like some babies – avoid because there is very little chance that any health testing has been done.
The Bulldog Breed Council run a very good Health Scheme and the levels are BRONZE, SILVER and GOLD. Having a Bronze level certificate isn’t a guarantee though, nonstandard dogs and dogs with one thing wrong can still achieve Bronze Standard so you are looking for a breeder whose dogs are at a minimum of Silver.
Of course, the other thing you need to consider is if the breeder actually exists. Don’t fall for the online or newspaper ad that claims to have “cute” puppies who’ve had “their shots” and are looking to be “adopted” – adverts that carry those words are almost definitely Scam ads. Neither the dogs or the breeder exists and it’s always worth running an image search because many of the photos that accompany these adverts are stolen from genuine adverts. In many cases once you have made contact you will be told they are “out the Country” or “Overseas on a family emergency”. They will ask for a deposit to fly or ship the dog to your door. You must never aim to purchase a dog as if it was a car on Cazoo – you must always always always go to the breeder and see the pups with their mum and always always always follow your gut feeling.
Never purchase a pup because you feel sorry for it, all that does is encourage the breeder to breed again.
So, with all that in mind we suggest you now start your search with your local Breed Club. Meet the breeders at the next Dog Show, look at the dogs in the ring and see the massive advancement we have made to improve the health of the bulldog and be prepared to wait for the next litter.
Avoid anyone promoting their dogs as “Healthy Alternatives”, “Rare” or off the back of a flashy website or social media page. Really do your homework and remember once you’ve got your first bulldog you will never go back to any other breed.
For details on how to contact your breed club please go to either
Looking after a dog with Spina Bifida, an adopter’s story. By G Burns
I’ll start from the beginning, my husband and I were looking for a bulldog to join our family, we had searched for months with no luck until one day, I saw an advert on the Bulldog Rescue and Rehoming Facebook page for a 9-month-old boy who could live with another dog (that was a tick for us) and he loved children (double tick). I clicked to look at his profile as the advert mentioned that he had special needs, we discovered that he had Spina Bifida, I must be honest, I had never heard of dogs having it before that moment so didn’t know what to expect but we both wanted to know more about the handsome face that was looking back at us.
We decided we wanted to know how the SB affected him, was he mobile, etc, would it reduce his quality of life? I think that was a key question for us. We got in touch with the admin on the Facebook group and asked the question. We were told that his mobility was great, so we expressed an interest immediately. We Kept our fingers and toes crossed to see if we were successful, I wasn’t holding out much hope as he was a handsome boy who would have ticked a few boxes for many other potential adopters.
Fast forward past the agonising wait, to the day we got a call from Lana, it was quite honestly one of the best phone calls I have ever received! We were a match!!!!!!! Lana and I spoke about his needs and how we could meet them. We knew he was incontinent, that wasn’t an issue for us if I’m honest, it was something we felt we could manage. I was told to give Carrie a call, as she looked after him daily in the kennels, so Lana said it would be best for us to chat to her so we could find out more about the reality of looking after a dog who is doubly incontinent. What a fab conversation that was, to hear more about him and what he was like and how “normal” he was. We were falling in love already and we hadn’t even met him! We spoke as a family about his needs with Spina Bifida and incontinence, we felt, we could offer him a great home and life. The incontinence wasn’t really a big concern for us, it’s only a nappy! We then did some research about SB in dogs so we could educate ourselves and make sure we knew all we could.
At the beginning of September 2020, we went to the BDR kennels to meet a 9-month-old pup with Spina Bifida. We met this wonderful boy who was so super excited (we got lots of kisses and got covered in wee and poo), we also met the wonderful Tania and Carrie too!
It was love at first sight for both me and hubby, I think pup felt the same! I could have stayed there forever! It was a big YES from us, Tania then arranged for Wendy to come round and do our home check. We spent the journey home thinking about a new name for him and we thought because he drops bombs, that Bomber would be the perfect name for him to come to his new family with, this is telling of how we had fallen in love as we didn’t know if we were going to pass the home check! We knew that he was the missing piece in our family.
Wow, I was nervous and super excited for Wendy’s visit, was she going to say we were good enough to care for this boy? Well, she did, we passed and were thrilled!!!!!!!
Now, when can we pick our boy up!
I took to the internet making sure we had all the supplies we could think of to welcome our newest family member. Normal list of bowl, harness, bed, toys etc. with the added extras of nappies and wipes.
On the 12th of September, a very good friend and I (my food god and now a BDR volunteer) went on a road trip to bring our Bomber home. Then our new adventure began……
Bomber travelled home really well and the intro with Billy (12yr old new fur bro) went well. We went on a nice walk with both boys before we go into the house. The first signs were great, Bomber was having a very good explore of his new home and his new friend.
The first night, all was fab, we went down to our local beer shop. Bomber chills and enjoys the comfy seating (plenty of treats and lots of attention, which as you can all imagine, he LOVED! (First night at the beer shop pic)
We tried him on Raw food when we first adopted him, it was not suitable for him as he has no feeling, therefore, cannot push a very firm poo out. We got some advice about another food, so he has been on that since and is doing great on it!
Got him registered with our vet. The first appointment, Bomber was started on a 5-week course of cartrophen vet injections. They stopped his back leg from giving way which was fab. The vet had hoped it would help with the incontinence but the damage was probably too severe, Bomber doesn’t know any different and lives very happily with his nappies!
So, let’s get to the reality of living with a dog with Spina Bifida!
Our daily routine
Nice walk and some nappy free time
Bum time – he knows when we say that it’s time for a change (although a typical bully, he doesn’t always listen). As you would with a baby, we change his nappy every few hours, more if needed.
We bath him every few weeks, sometimes it’s a bum wash as bathing them too often isn’t good for their skin but they do need a wash regularly.
Caring for Bomber is quite easy now we have a good routine (it was hard at the beginning because it was new to us but with support and understanding we got there). We give him as much nappy free time as possible, fresh air is good. Yes, having an incontinent dog is hard work but the love you get in return is so much more.
We learned very quickly that dogs with Spina Bifida are prone to urine infections, he must have had 4 lots of antibiotics in the first few months. We would push fluids wherever possible, Bomber drinks well but our vet advised us to put water in his food too. The issue is, because he doesn’t ever do a full wee, it trickles all the time, so because his bladder doesn’t empty the risk is there. We have been shown how to express his bladder, to rid his bladder of the urine (this should only be done on advice from your vet, and they have shown you how. YouTube is great but there is a danger of causing damage to the bladder if done incorrectly). We also give him kidney care supplements to reduce the risk of a UTI starting.
Also, due to the lack of sensation his penis is often out, his urethra has prolapsed a few times too, again with the vet’s advice we were shown how to deal with this at home so has never been a real issue (it was a big shock at first when we saw a purple balloon-like bubble on the end of it!).
Bomber is just like any other dog; we have to be careful not to over-exercise him due to his spine. But he gets lots of walks and runs a lot, he loves doing zoomies while I’m in the middle of a zoom meeting!
Routine is key for these pups, nappy changes, cleaning, regular washes to reduce the risk of infections and soreness from the nappies. We use baby nappies and then have a nappy cover (to keep the nappy on really!!!) He has special denim-looking ones for when we go out, he has to look his best for his fans!
But if I am honest, apart from the nappies, the care we give is the same as we give our 12yr old Staffy (he is a typical needy bully).
Bulldog specialist vet, this is a MUST!
Good food – this can be trial and error to make sure it’s the right one
Lots of baby wipes
Even more nappies
Nappy covers, they help keep the disposable one up and they are super cute! We have just started using G Nappies, they are for children but are soft and fit really well.
Time (I work from home so am around most of the time) and understanding
Most importantly LOVE
It is not as hard as it sounds, in January we took on a 9-week-old pup who also has Spina Bifida in January this year!
We are forever thankful to BDR for allowing us to be him forever home. Me and my boy have a very special bond that is unlike any before!
As I write this, my handsome Bomber is sat by my side whilst having a break from doing zoomies around the living room with his little bro Baer (8 months).
When the Romans invaded Britain over two thousand years ago, they were faced with warlike tribes who owned large broad - mouthed short - faced dogs which they used effectively as war dogs.
Roman poets wrote ‘they were fiercer than the war dogs of Greece’, and some were brought from Greece and crossed with the British breeds. After the Roman conquest, these British dogs were distributed throughout the Roman empire to be bred for use in their ampitheatres.
Spain was the country where these dogs truly proliferated and the Conquistadores used these dogs (who remained huge and were basically black or black and tan) to murderous effect when conquering South America.