Guide to Bulldog Health Problems and Issues


"Due to purebred breeding practices, many bulldog health problems are now common. So much so, that this should be a major consideration for anyone considering the breed. The breed is the 6th most popular, even though many American and English bulldog health disorders exist. The flat or short faced head and other desirable traits lead to health issues that range from respiratory problems to anatomical and genetic issues that result in a relatively short lifespan.

While it is possible to have a healthy bulldog, the odds are low. This breed ranks number 2 for likelihood of death from an inherited disorder, and ranks number one for death due to respiratory disease. Future owners should absolutely buy pet health insurance since costly medical issues are common in this breed. Action is being taken by the UK Bulldog Kennel Club, which is now accepting a wider range of characteristics to give breeders greater flexibility. This is not the case in the U.S. where a more restrictive set of standards is used. Be prepared to spend between $5000 and $8000 over the lifetime of the dog, which can be offset with bulldog health insurance.

Note that many reputable breeders disagree with the assertion that the breed has medical issues, particularly if a breeder with an excellent reputation is used. Check with your breeder that the parents have been tested for several genetic health conditions as recommended by the Bulldog Club of America. These include tests for patellar luxation (kneecap problem), congenital heart disease and tracheal hypoplasia."

Video on English Bulldog Health Problems


The purebred bulldog is known to have a range of genetic medical issues. Think twice before owning this breed or at minimum, check on the health of the parents and siblings before adopting any pup. Bulldogs used for breeding should be tested according to the recommendations of the Bulldog Club of America (BCA). This includes testing for:

Other recommended tests include checking for tracheal hypoplasia, a breathing issue that is causes by a narrow trachea.

According to the Journal of Small Animal Practice, the average bulldog has a life expectancy of 6 years.

english bulldog
Healthy English Bulldog
Source: Washington State University

These are the types of bulldog health concerns that every owner of this breed should have:

Food Recommendation

english bulldog jaw
When choosing bulldog food, the physical characteristics of the kibble must be adapted to the Bulldog’s size and jaw shape

Bulldogs have difficulty eating due their unique head shape. For this reason, we recommend the that was made specifically for this breed. The food has a unique shape that makes it easier for this breed to chew and contains ingredients which are more easily digested.

Prevention of Bulldog Health Problems

Bulldogs and Dog Health Insurance

Dog insurance claims are higher for this breed based on the many bulldog health problems described above. For this reason, you may encounter higher fees when insuring this breed. To keep costs low we suggest getting quotes from several insurance companies.

When applying for bulldog health insurance, we suggest contacting the following reputable companies for a quote:

Alternatives to the American and English Bulldog

Breeds that are similar to bulldogs, but that do not have the health problems are the Old English bulldogge and Leavitt bulldog.  Note that these breeds are not recognized by the Bulldog Club of America.

Ask Our Vet A Question, We'll Answer It For Free

Have a Bulldog Health Question for our Editors and Readers?

Do you have a comment, suggestion or question about Bulldog health? Share it! Our editors select several questions a week to answer for free. Just provide your dog's breed, age, sex and medical history.

We will do our best to get back to you quickly (depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now.

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)


Brochures for Additional Information

(PDF Download)

(PDF Download)

For More Information:

The New York Times Magazine

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
E. Monnet
College of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Researched by:

Ask a Vet for Free 24/7