Known today as a happy, silly, pudgy dog, the English Bulldog was originally bred for fighting and baiting bulls. This breed was prized in the arena for his strong bite, aggression, tenacity, and ability to withstand attack and escape mostly unscathed due to his loose, wrinkly skin. Thankfully, dog fighting has been deemed illegal for a number of years, and the English Bulldog is now a more docile pet, which has helped give them an enduring appeal. This breed is consistently among the top 5 most popular dogs in the American Kennel annual rankings, only ranked behind Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Over the years, English Bulldogs have gone from being gladiators to the couch potatoes people know and love today. And despite this breed’s grumpy face, the English Bulldog is actually a very friendly, curious, and happy dog. They are also very brave, loving, and extremely loyal to their owners, but in addition to these amicable traits, Bulldogs also has a tendency to be stubborn and strong-willed.
In this post, let’s take a look at the English Bulldog’s temperament and personality to give you a better idea of what breed characteristics may play into your dog’s behavior. It should be noted right away that each individual dog will be different due to a number of factors we’ll get into later, but in general, these are traits that this breed has a history of exhibiting.
English Bulldog Personality
The English Bulldog is famously stubborn and isn’t necessarily known for their intelligence or trainability. This means your English Bulldog will most likely have a difficult time learning and executing commands, because unlike other breeds of dogs who were bred to work and need jobs to be happy, English Bulldogs have no such desire, and won’t really care to act on command just to please their owner.
However, having difficulty with training doesn’t make them bad pets — not in the slightest, they are still overall a very loving animal with a great personality that will be a fun addition to your family. But if you’re looking for an incredibly smart, easy-to-train dog that will do all kinds of tricks, this isn’t the breed for you.
English Bulldogs are inherently stubborn and have been known to be downright willful. Sometimes if your pup doesn’t want to do something, he just won’t budge.
Unfortunately, many owners will only enable this behavior, because it can be pretty darn cute, but this should be avoided as much as you can help it. You don’t want to unintentionally encourage your dog to be stubborn, no matter how funny your Bulldog can be.
Yet despite these behavioral traits, you should still attempt to train your dog as much as it will allow. They especially need to know that you are in charge, but you must do this through positive reinforcement methods. Bribery in the form of food may be the only way to motivate your Bulldog, so make sure to always have treats handy.
A Bulldog is an effective guard dog just based on his appearance alone, but he can also deter unwanted visitors through his temperament. A Bulldog is actually rather intimidating when he senses a threat and can cover short distances surprisingly quickly. He can be fiercely protective of his family, and will spring into action if there is an intruder.
Part of the reason he makes such good guard dogs is because he is incredibly strong. In fact, the English Bulldog is pound-for-pound one of the strongest dog breeds in the world. He is a very muscular dog underneath those wrinkles, and you will be unlikely to ever defeat them in a game of tug of war.
This strength plays into his stubbornness, because it is difficult to physically get him moving if he doesn’t want to. For this reason, English Bulldog owners often use a harness instead of a collar, allowing for more control. Also, because of his build, a Bulldog’s neck is often thicker than his head, so the collar will just slip off!
Protective & Loyal
The English Bulldog is a very bold dog that is not afraid to stand his ground, and he can be very protective of his owners and possibly, territorial over his property. While this can manifest as aggression with poor training or handling, in the well-raised English bulldog, these traits can become positive ones, making the dog very loyal and loving with his family, and forming lifelong bonds with the people that he loves and trusts.
Aggression Toward Other Dogs & Animals
While an English Bulldog is definitely a people pleaser with those he knows, and strangers he gets acquainted with, he does sometimes exhibit some aggression toward other dogs. This is especially true of male Bulldogs, and even more so if he hasn’t been properly socialized.
The best way to temper this behavior is to socialize your English Bulldog puppy with other dogs early on, and take him to puppy kindergarten as well so he can learn to interact with other dogs in a controlled setting.
Exposing him to other dogs early on should make him more accepting of other animals as he grows up, so make sure you socialize your dog with a cat, another dog, or other animal as much as you can.
Protective Of His Food
One area where an English Bulldog can still show some aggressive tendencies is around his food. He will fiercely guard his meals and snacks and will not be willing to share with other pets. You’ll need to keep your children away from your Bulldog during his feeding time, and should probably feed your other animals away from your bulldog as well. Since he loves food so much, he will also be a beggar or scavenger, so you should never leave him alone around your food nor allow your children to give him scraps from the table.
Bulldogs are naturally stocky and muscular, and are very food motivated. Because the breed is very susceptible to weight and obesity problems, it is very important to make sure you’re keeping him on a healthy diet and give him the moderate exercise he requires. Excess weight can cause some strain on his limbs and back which can lead to other health problems, so make sure you measure his food and pay close attention to your English Bulldog’s weight.
The English Bulldog Temperament Overall
The English Bulldog actually has a background as a fighting dog, which gives the breed strong shoulders and scowling faces. But years of careful breeding has tempered down their aggressive tendencies, and in spite of being strong willed, they are very eager to please, and will be devoted companions.
This breed’s temperament is influenced by a number of factors and will vary from dog to dog. Each dog’s family line will play a big role into your pups disposition, so try to meet your puppy’s parents if you’re getting your dog from a breeder. If his parents do not seem to have a good temperament; it’s more likely the puppy will as well. However, it’s not a guarantee.
Training and socialization will also play a part in your old English Bulldog’s temperament. Those that have been trained early on, despite their resistance, and have also been introduced to other animals at an early age, will be more likely to have a nice dog they can bring anywhere.
An English Bulldog does make a great family pet despite their aggressive past, and is known just as much for their patience and affectionate nature around children as their bravery. Your Bulldog will be happy to play and wrestle around with you and your children (unless it’s nap time) and will prove to be very gentle and patient with children who don’t yet understand the dog’s boundaries.
This doesn’t mean a little nip is out of the question if the child pushes the dog too far, but it typically takes a while for things to reach that point. Make sure to always supervise your children around your English Bulldog just to be sure. Your child needs to learn to be gentle with your dog just as much as the other way around.
English Bulldogs can be a bit protective of their family when strangers are around, and some can be slightly hostile toward unfamiliar dogs. However, most can be compatible with other pets, especially if they are raised together with other animals. Just remember to keep your pups food bowl away!
Fact Or Fiction: English Bulldogs Are Couch Potatoes
It’s pretty true, actually. While this breed does require some activity to help them avoid becoming obese, English Bulldogs make great apartment dogs because they are also happy to lounge around. So if you’re looking for a cuddle buddy, the English Bulldog is a great pick for you.
With a rather lazy disposition, English Bulldogs love a good snuggle and will be happy to nuzzle you on the couch all day. Many love to roll on their backs and have their bellies rubbed, and they will generally take as much affection as you are willing to give.
As the section above might suggest, English Bulldogs don’t require much activity, and in fact, anything vigorous can be dangerous. This breed should not be exercised hard or in hot weather. He is prone to overheating and their short noses make it difficult for them to breathe.
That being said, you should regularly walk your Bulldog to keep him in shape, as he does have a tendency to become obese, which can lead to many other canine health issues. A Bulldog is well-suited for apartment living because they just need a nice spot to sleep while you are away during the day, and are generally highly inactive.
This breed does enjoy playing with humans and other dogs, but are terrible jogging partners, as they are among the slowest of dog breeds and have next to no stamina. Make sure to tailor your walks to your dog’s preference. As you might guess, when your Bulldog is done walking, he will just stop and let you know.
The English Bulldog Personality
The famous English Bulldog laziness makes them one of the most laid-back breeds around. Puppies will have a bit more energy and can get a little rambunctious, but adults are extremely mellow, and love naps, food, and belly rubs more than anything.
English Bulldogs are a dependable, gentle, dog that makes great family pets, and are much more into people than other dogs or animals.
This breed is a sociable and sweet dog, and though they have a long history of bravery, today’s English Bulldogs are much more lovers than fighters. Though they do tend to be stubborn, this breed isn’t mean in the slightest. English Bulldogs tends to be a slow learner, but once he learns something, it will stick.
And the English Bulldog breed does come with some unique personality traits as well. They are notorious for snoring, grunting, drooling, and flatulence. The English Bulldog is sure to keep you laughing if you choose this fun, amicable breed.