One of the best reference sources to visit is www.bulldoginformation.com Put it in your FAVORITES and use it often. I've put some of my own opinions here, but that website is extremely valuable for Bully owners.
HEAT STROKE & STRESS INDUCED ASPHYXIA
I think heat stroke & stress induced asphyxia are the biggest accidental cause of death in bulldogs. Because of their flat faces they have problems regulating the heat of the air that they breathe. They have such big, heavy bodies, and such small, restricted, airways, if you aren't careful you can be in very big trouble, very quickly.
Never leave your dog anywhere hot. Not in a car. Not in your backyard. NEVER. Even 20°C can be fatal if your dog can't get a breeze. They get hot, they start to pant, they can't get enough air, they panic, their airway swells & gets even more restricted… now they'd better get help fast. You need to get immediate vet attention to bring down their temperature, to get oxygen on them, and to sedate them to keep them from dying.
Death from asphyxia is horrible, and can happen very quickly. Keep them in a cool place on a hot summer day. If you don't have air conditioning, turn on a fan for them. You may find your basement or garage to be the most comfortable place for them. Remember to have water available at all times.
The same danger can come from over excitement. This is one reason why bulldogs do not breed naturally. Males in the midst of sexual excitement can die from this very easily. Do not let your dog play until they pant heavily and must struggle to breath. It can put stress on their heart, and put them in danger of stress induced asphyxia.
THE SPAY/NEUTER ARGUMENT
I know there are the old wives tales about spaying or neutering your dog. The one that says you must have a litter of puppies before you spay your dog or she will behave like a puppy all her life. That's one is simple to debunk – read our article on “Why Bulldogs Are So Expensive” and that thought will pass quickly. Most people only do it once. It costs a bundle, it's a huge amount of work, and can result in huge heartbreak; especially if you don't know what you are doing.
The other silly myth is about the dog getting lazy if you spay or neuter it… well I guess the reasoning must be if they aren't going out in search of sex, they won't be getting any exercise? Bulldogs are naturally lazy anyway. If you don't neuter he'll still be fat & lazy, but just fat, lazy & horney. In my experience it's been men identifying too closely with their dog's testicles that has been the biggest impediment to neutering. Dogs don't feel that way about their “boys”, I can assure you. Nor will they hate you forever for taking them to the vet. If anything you will be their hero for picking them up afterward.
Honestly, spaying or neutering makes for a much happier dog. They are less dog aggressive, and do not have the problems later in life that an intact dog has. Intact females can be more subject to cancers as they age; to say nothing of the mess twice a year, and every canine Romeo in the neighborhood at your door looking for romance.
Intact adult males can be sexually aggressive. The thought of your 60+ lb bulldog taking down the neighbor's kid, the door-to-door sales/or religious peddler, or the little old lady from down the street, and humping them may seem funny at first, but the reality can be very serious. We knew someone who eventually had to put his dog down because it developed this habit that didn't go away even after he neutered the dog.
Please don't let the worry about anesthetic and bulldogs stop you from spaying or neutering. A good Bulldog Vet has no problem with bulldogs & anesthetic. Which brings us to the next topic, and I can't stress this enough…. if you want a bulldog you absolutely need a…..
QUALIFIED BULLDOG VET – ABSOLUTELY VITAL!!!
What you really need is a good vet that specializes in bulldogs. We have NEVER had a bulldog that had problems with anesthetic, but we have a vet that is completely qualified to work with bulldogs. Not all vets are that capable and we do NOT recommend a vet that is not completely bulldog qualified. If you tell us where you are we can try to research a good bulldog vet for you in your area.
There is a vet in Calgary, a Dr. VanWinkle from the 17 th Ave. Vet Hospital, that VOIDS our health guarantee if you go to her except in the most dire emergency. She killed one of our bulldogs who went in to trim his nails. After being warned that he held his breath when he got his nails done, and being asked to give him a mild sedative, she instead muzzled him and held him down until he quit struggling – by that time he had been suffocated. THAT'S what happens if you don't use a qualified BULLDOG vet. I'm sure even the best vet has had a tragic accident, and I'm sure they feel terrible about it, but it's how you handle it that makes the difference. I understand that this incident has resulted in a change of policy at the clinic, but the way the 17 th Ave Vet Hospital handled their responsibility to the owners of this dog was disgraceful. They tried in every way to shift the blame, avoid the phone calls from the owner, and ended up making what we would consider an insulting offer for restitution. Their lack of accountability and empathy is appalling.
JOINTS & DYSPLACIA
A vet that specializes in bulldogs will know that bulldogs commonly have loose joints. You see in history they were put into battle with bulls. During that battle they would be thrown and hit the ground at terrific velocity. This type of force would shatter joints that were properly fitted with a true ball & socket joint. However, loose joints, held together with muscles & ligaments instead of the skeletal system, can flex and recover with a minimum of damage. Thus bulldogs are known as a naturally dysplastic breed, and even though their x-rays horrify the uninformed vet, they seldom, if ever, suffer from symptomatic hip dysplacia. That's how they get the “rolling gait” that is called for in the breed standard. A bulldog with tight hips, with a ball & socket like other breeds, does not have the proper “bulldog” movement.
HOWEVER we feel it is tremendously important not to put these joints under undue stress. For their own sake, keep them off the furniture, and don't over feed. These are heavy dogs naturally, which puts stress on those joints, ligaments & tendons. Add to that the challenges of obesity and sedentary lifestyles with their only exercise being jumping on and off furniture, will seriously affect their quality of life as they age. We've seen healthy, happy 14 year old bulldogs, but we've also seen much younger dogs crippled with joint problems. I know it's hard, but sometimes loving them means you do what is best for the animal.
ALLERGIES & IMMUNE DEFICIENCIES
As for other breed specific concerns we do have allergies in the breed. We've found to avoid problems it's best to always avoid wheat & corn. A good lamb & rice dry dog food is adequate for most of our dogs.
Bulldog can have issues with immunity. It's been linked in some articles to vaccinations. Different vaccine protocols, and different vaccine companies have been linked to big problems, and your vets can't or won't publicly admit there is a problem. I don't know enough about this to make a comment on the cause of immune deficiencies. Just that bulldogs are one breed that are known to be affected by it.
We've commonly seen Juvenile Demodex in bulldogs. In most cases it's rather like acne in teenagers. I do have a good article on it if you are interested. We've found that it happens most often right before they reach sexual maturity, and once they get their hormone issues settled it goes away. As we are usually looking at maturing breeding dogs their treatment would be different than dogs that would be spayed or neutered as pets. Some uninformed vets scare the bejeebers out of new owners when their puppy exhibits juvenile demodex. Exaggerating and stressing their horror of “mange”, when the demodex mite is common in dogs, and even in humans. Not much different than a dust mite in your home, it's the allergy to it that cause the problem. In some cases their “cure” is worse than the problem. Experienced Bulldog vets are not surprised nor overly concerned. Providing it does not progress to “generalized” demodex, it is not overly remarkable and definitely treatable.
TO CRATE OR NOT TO CRATE
We give away a crate/kennel with every puppy that we sell because we believe in crate training. Dogs are den animals and having their own “room” to go to is just natural for them. It helps in house training them as they will not readily soil their own den, so if you put them into it when you can't be specifically watching them, it can be a great tool.
I know I've heard that whole “I'd never crate my dog, it's cruel” line. Well meaning people who think that loving their dog means sleeping with it in their bed. Aside from the fact that Bulldogs have some of the worst flatulence in the world, it's simply not safe for your puppy. When you are asleep or away, it's like turning a 2 year child old loose in your house.
We sold a beautiful brindle puppy a few years ago to a family who thought it should be “one of the family” and slept in bed with them. We got a hysterical call very early one morning. The puppy had jumped off the bed in the middle of the night. The children found it on the landing of the stairs. It had chewed through a lamp cord and electrocuted itself. Thankfully it had not burned down the house as well. Of course it was dead, and the entire family was traumatized.
By the way….their new puppy now sleeps in its own crate.
Another good thing about crates is they travel well. Most hotels take dogs in crates and the dog has the bed that it is used to. Much less stress for everyone involved.
It helps with visitors as well. If we have visitors with children over, and the dogs get tired of being mauled, they choose to “go to their rooms”. Also, not all visitors are as nuts about our dogs as we are. Hard to believe, but it happens. Now I know some people will take a stand – love me, love my dog – but we aren't that inflexible, in fact it's sometimes good for everyone to have some time without the constant vigilance and adoration of a dog. It's nice to be able to eat without them watching every bite.. willing the smallest morsel to slip off the fork causing a feeding frenzy with every dog in the house diving under the table. Lucky if someone doesn't loose a shoe… or worse. We ask our dogs to “go to their rooms”, and they happily do it. Sometimes we give them a bit of a treat for them to enjoy while we enjoy our time without them as well. It is NOT a punishment at all. Visitors are frequently amused at how we can take a chaotic household with active dogs everywhere, and suddenly have peace & quiet with those simple words as they obediently & happily bounce off to “their rooms”. I wish kids were that easy.
When we come home we don't walk into any unpleasant surprises. If there has been an upset tummy situation, there's a crate to clean up and a bath to give. It's not all over the house. There hasn't been a fight.. no blood & guts, or injuries. For those who worry about the security issue, a barking dog in a crate can still be heard. Most people won't come into a house with a barking dog, and those that would are not the kind of person you'd want your bulldog to have to face anyway. If you have serious personal safety concerns, then you need a serious security guard dog, not a loving clown threatening to lick someone to death.
RAWHIDE & GREENIES
DO NOT give your bulldog rawhide treats or “Greenies”. Bulldogs have a trachea about the size of your little finger. Rawhide can swell when it gets wet and becomes a severe choking hazard. Greenies are advertised as a benefit for your dog's dental health. Despite their claims to be totally digestible, there have been far too many incidents of death, or near death from incomplete digestion, obstructions & perforated bowels to ignore. If you check in the internet you will find that there have been a number of dogs that have become very ill or have died because of obstructions caused by Greenies. The Greenie reps say it's because the dogs didn't chew them properly… like the dog is responsible …. Anyway, because Bulldogs have such a small trachea, and love to wolf things down, we STRONGLY recommend you never give your dog anything like this.
Cherry eye is a very common condition in growing, flat faced breeds. It is basically an inflammation of a tear duct, and can be caused by any number of things; playing with other puppies and getting a scratch in the eye, exposure to dust, or grass, or anything that may irritate or inflame the eye. It may come once, go away and never be seen again, or it may come and go frequently. Your vet can prescribe drops – we've found Maxidex 0.1% Dexamethasone – to be particularly helpful.
If the cherry eye does not go away with drops, then your vet may decide to pop it back in and place a tiny stitch inside to hold it. Or in some cases it can be simply and easily removed. Some vets say this increases the chances of the dog developing Dry Eye in the future, however our vet has NEVER seen a case of this happening, and neither have we.
In short it looks awful, but it is painless to the dog. It must be treated only because it may scratch the surface of the eye.