Breeders have put a great deal of effort into breeding aggression out of this breed, so the Bulldog is generally patient and friendly. Like the Pug and Boxer, the bulldog is a brachycephalic, or short-faced, dog. As such, breathing can at times be labored, especially when the dog is hot or excited. The large, broad head of the breed prompts most veterinarians to deliver Bulldog pups by caesarian section. The bulldog is particularly prone to hip dysplasia, with up to 73% of dogs suffering from this condition. The lifespan of the Bulldog is 8 to 12 years.
Primary Health Conditions of the Bulldog
According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Bulldog suffers the highest levels of hip dysplasia among all breeds. The condition results when the hip and leg bones are mismatched. Symptoms may present when the Bulldog is still a puppy, as early as 6 months of age. Symptoms in puppies and adult dogs are the same: laboring or funny gait, especially after exercise, or when trying to stand up or lay down.
Bulldogs are also subject to patellar luxation, or slippage of the knee. Careful breeding practices offer the best hope to bring these numbers down. The Bulldog’s short face and wide chest make the Bulldog prone to breathing difficulties and as such should be kept from over-exertion, especially in the heat or cold. Overheating can result in cardiac arrest, and their genetic propensity toward heart problems can contribute to cardiac arrest during hot weather.
Secondary Health Conditions of the Bulldog
Some Bulldogs develop cysts between their toes, which can lead to discomfort for the dog. These cysts can be removed by the veterinarian. Allergic reactions are fairly common, which can lead to obsessive scratching and sometimes self mutilation. Treatment is usually by means of antihistamines. Cherry eye, or protrusion of the tear duct, can occur among this breed, which can lead to infections or failure of the duct. Surgery can correct the problem. The many folds on the Bulldog’s face should be kept clean and dry to prevent infection.
Bulldog Exercise and Walking Needs
As with any dog, the Bulldog requires daily exercise to maintain good health and proper weight. These dogs are prone to obesity in older age and regular walks will help to keep this condition at bay. However, walks should be kept short and exercise should not be vigorous, especially when it is hot outside. Because Bulldogs largely regulate heat through the pads of their feet, providing them with a cool floor to stand on following exercise is a good practice .
Bulldog Nutritional Needs
Bulldogs can be sensitive to certain foods and some foods may cause allergic reactions. The Bulldog should be fed a high-quality food, with slow, gradual changes made to the diet should sensitivity to the food occur. Because the Bulldog can develop itchy skin and may engage in obsessive scratching, some advocate adding fish oil supplements to the Bulldog’s diet. Weight maintenance of the Bulldog will require feeding adjustments as the dog ages.
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