English Bulldogs: Temperament and Personality
Did you know that Bulldogs were bred in the Middle Ages to assist butchers in the catching of bulls for slaughter? That may come as a surprise if you've ever spent more than a few minutes around a Bulldog, but their short faces and powerful jaws were perfect for bringing those big animals down. That's not to say that they're vicious or even aggressive... in fact, the opposite is true of this modern day gentle giant.
Let's take a closer look at the temperament and personality of the typical Bulldog to help you determine whether or not he's a good fit for your family.
He's Calm, Cool and Collected
It's true - at one point in history, the Bulldogs was known to be an aggressive breed. This is absolutely no longer the case, as careful breeding in the past several years has weeded out almost every ounce of aggression and replaced it with a temperament that is as easy going as they come.
The typical Bulldog is a bit rambunctious as a puppy, but grows out of that quickly as he becomes an adult. Most adult Bulldogs are incredibly easy going and prefer cuddling up for a nap on the couch more than going for a long walk through the park. This makes him a great pet for apartment owners, and for owners who don't want a super-active dog.
The Bulldog will almost insist that you rub his belly, and sometimes cuddles simply won't be optional. He wants to be near his owner at all times, and typically doesn't do very well being separated for long periods of time. He is incredibly patient and deal well with children, which makes him a great family dog.
He's Lazy and Laid Back
Compared to other breeds, the Bulldog is incredibly laid back and fairly lazy when it comes to exercise and activity. He really doesn't prefer to do much at all other than cuddle up and sleep, especially indoors. Outdoors, the Bulldog might be inclined to take a short walk with you and a brisk walk every day will do him good to ensure good habits and ward off obesity. Ensure that you don't walk him too far in the heat, as he is prone to heat stress because of his short snout.
Training can be a big issue when it comes to Bulldogs. Simply stated: there are few breeds more stubborn than the Bulldog. He is also not very intelligent, so for him, learning many commands is nearly impossible. In fact, in a study of the top 80 dog breeds for obedience and working intelligence, the Bulldog ranked at number 78!
Just because training a Bulldog can be difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train him. He may not learn as many commands as other breeds, but he'll still be able to learn basic commands, and you need to teach him that you are the master. Your best bet in training your Bulldog will be to use a lot of positive reinforcement (treats and food rewards are ideal), as Bulldogs are often only motivated by eating, and any other method will simply fall short.
He Needs to be Socialized
Because the Bulldog is instinctively loyal to his owners, he tends to be a bit standoffish in a protective way with people he doesn't know, specifically in and around his home. Additionally, it's instinctive for him to exhibit an aggressive nature towards other dogs, specifically male dogs.
For these reasons, socialization is considered a vital part of raising a Bulldog from a puppy. Introducing him safely to dogs of all kinds from an early age will ensure that he gets used to the presence of other animals, and will keep aggression at a minimum as he becomes an adult.
To keep him calm and relaxed around strangers, it's best to introduce him to people of all ages early on, and to train him with positive reinforcement. Training and socializing should go hand in hand early on as a puppy, and if done correctly, should be all that's required for the Bulldog to become a well-behaved adult dog.
He Loves to Eat
The Bulldog is incredibly relaxed and laid back, and extremely happy-go-lucky, but when it comes to food, he doesn't mess around.
Bulldogs love to eat more than most activities, and some of them (if not properly trained or socialized) might exhibit food aggression issues. In fact, if you ever notice your Bulldog exhibiting aggressive behaviours, you'll likely find it's because there is food involved. For this reason, it's recommended that mealtime be taken very seriously, and that Bulldogs get their own space for eating uninterrupted.
That being said, a great practice for the Bulldog puppy is to periodically take your hand and push his food around in his bowl briefly while he eats, just to let him know that the food is more yours than his (this will help him understand his place, and that it's okay for him to relax while eating).
He's Not Very Polite
Finally, Bulldogs are well known for being loud and stinky in terms of bodily habits. In fact, they are quite excessive with grunting, snorting, drooling, snoring and with their flatulence - things that would be considered rude from a human standpoint! Depending on who you are, this unique characteristic of Bulldogs can either be considered gross or it can make that lovable little tank even more endearing.