Bulldogs are special. Bulldogs are different. Those of us who have had Bulldogs for several years still remember our first Bulldog and how much we didn’t know about them.
That’s why the Board of Governors or the Bulldog Club of America Division 5 fell a booklet on basic care of the Bulldog would be helpful to Bulldog owners, particularly those who have just gotten their very first Bulldog Puppy.
In addition to the members of the BCA Division 5 Education Committee, information for this booklet has been provided by Aanneglenn Bulldogs (Carol & Hank Williams), Kaysinger Bulldogs (Genevieve & Oman Kaysinger), and Windy Ridge Bulldogs (Neva Gulliford). All together the contributors have 163 years experience as owners of Bulldogs, have raised 177 litters, and currently own 46 Bulldogs.
The main things we’ve learned about Bulldogs are: You never learn it all; Bulldogs give and need lots of love and attention; Bulldoggers are always ready and willing to help you; a good veterinarian who knows and likes Bulldogs is an absolute necessity.
Bulldogs are wonderful companions – you’ll have a great time with your very own, very special Bulldog.
Bringing Your Bulldog Puppy Home
When you get your puppy, you should also receive from (the breeder: either the puppy’s Registration Certificate or its Application for Registration (blue slip); a copy of its pedigree; a record of its immunizations (exactly what shots and when given) and wormings; assurance that the puppy has been examined by a veterinarian and the name and telephone number of the veterinarian. If you do not receive one of these items you should get a written, dated, and signed statement from the breeder stating when you will receive that item or why you will not. You may also receive a sales contract (if the puppy is sold on a Limited Registration you should receive a sales contract which includes the terms if any, under which the breeder will lift that restriction); a health certificate from the puppy’s veterinarian; written care instructions; a supply of the food the puppy eats. You may even be given the puppy’s favorite toy.
When you arrive home with your puppy, remember – your puppy is a baby Bulldog. Like all babies, he needs lots of love and cuddling, lots of rest and sleep, lots of love and cuddling, lots of good, nourishing food, and more love and cuddling.
Moving to a new home, leaving his dam and littermates and the only humans he has ever really known is a very traumatic experience for the puppy, so try to make the move as easy as possible for him. For the first couple of weeks, try to change his life as little as possible. Follow the breeders feeding routine. The same times, the same amount, the same brand of food, the same supplements. Feed him in the same place at each meal. Be sure he has a special area all his own for his bed. Give him lots and lots of cuddling and petting. Do not let him play so long and hard that he becomes exhausted.
Sometime during the first week, you should take him to your veterinarian for a check-up and get to know your visit. Take along the record of his immunizations and wormings and a stool sample.
Once the puppy is settled securely into his new home, you can begin 10 introduce him to your way of doing things.
If you want to change the brand of puppy kibble he is eating, the change should be slow and gradual. Substitute a small amount of the old food with the new brand and slowly increase the ratio of new to old until the old brand is completely replaced with the new.
A rocking chair or a really comfortable big chair you can sit in and cuddle your new Bulldog puppy.
A food dish with straight sides and a flat bottom. The best material is stainless steel – avoid plastic. A water dish, stainless steel is best.
A collar and a lead. A lightweight, small link “choke” collar is best. It should be long enough to slip over the pup’s head with room to spare but should not have more than a six-inch “tail” when around his neck. His first lead should be a lightweight one, you’ll need a strong leather lead as he grows.
Nail clippers or grinder.
There are several things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for you and your Bulldog.
First in importance is a wire crate. This comes very close to being a necessity. It is much easier to house train a puppy if he sleeps in a crate. If you travel at all with your dog, he is safer and happier riding in a crate and if you are staying overnight he has a place of his own to sleep in. It is just as important for your dog to be in a crate in the car as it is for you to wear your seat belt. If you do not have a crate, or one won’t fit in your car, get him a dog safety car harness. Bulldogs do better in wire crates than the Veri-Kennel type because the air circulation through the wire crates is so much better. Dogs like to have a special “my place” so If you don’t have a crate, try one, you and your Bulldog will like it.
A grooming table makes brushing, toenail cutting, whisker clipping, medication, etc., etc. much easier. Start the pup out young and he’ll soon learn to stand still with his neck in the noose and your life will be much easier.
A puppy pen. Even though you have a fenced yard, you may want to confine the puppy to or out of a particular area. Puppy pens are easily portable and very handy for keeping a puppy confined to a small area. They are especially useful for a winter puppy. You can put his bed in his crate, put the crate in a puppy pen, and put his papers in a corner of the pen.
If you plan to exhibit your Bulldog you will need a pair of whisker scissors. These are small, sharp, blunt-end scissors that you can purchase from a pet store, a dog show vendor, or a dog supply catalog.
A good brush. You can use almost any brush on a Bulldog but the best ones have flexible rubber bristles. You want one small enough to fit your hand comfortably.
If you travel with your Bulldog you’ll need a large insulated water jug so that you’ll have “home” water available for him. A small water pan that hooks to the side of his crate is handy.
Bulldog Chest Medicine
Vaseline. Use this on his nose, on his eye wrinkles, any place you need to soothe and waterproof but don’t need to medicate. Use it also on the thermometer when you take his temperature.
Plastic RealLemon. If he gets phlegm in his throat and chokes on it, a couple of squirts of juice from the plastic lemon will help clear it out.
A good rectal thermometer.
Clear Eyes, Duolube, etc. for irritated eyes
Aspirin. For minor aches and pains. Most Bulldogs can tolerate aspirin but do not give any other human pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil. Buffered aspirin such as Bufferin is better than plain aspirin and Ascriptin is better than Bufferin. Remember that the dosage for aspirin, like most pain relief medication, is based primarily on body weight. A Bulldog should never be given more than one tablet at a time or more frequently than every twelve hours. Some Bulldogs are allergic to aspirin, so use it with care.
Benadryl. Either capsule or liquid. Use this if the dog is stung by a bee or other insect, and for minor allergies.
Panalog Ointment. A good all-purpose ointment for minor skin afflictions. Also good for cleaning wrinkles, tail pockets, and ears. Do not put in his eyes.
Bag Balm. Also useful for minor skin afflictions.
Pepto Bismol. For minor stomach upset.
Kaopectate. For minor diarrhea.
Q-tips. Use for applying medication and cleaning ears.
Cotton balls. Use for applying the medication, for cleaning, and to keep ears dry while bathing.
Never ever give your Bulldog a rawhide toy. Even Bulldog puppies can tear a piece off the rawhide and choke on it. Puppies like knotted socks to shake and play tug of war with. They also like Nylabone and Gummabone toys. Many like to play with balls, but be sure the ball is too big to lodge in the throat. They like cotton tug toys like Booda Bones. Some Bulldoggers give their puppies and dogs Choo-Hooves and the dogs really like them, but be cautious with these. They are an “only when I can watch you” toy. The only real difference between the toys for a puppy and the toys for an adult Bulldog is size. The puppy gets a fairly small Gummabone, (the adult gets a big one. Just be sure the toy is too big to swallow. Throw a Nyla or Gummabone etc. away before it gets so small the dog can get the entire piece in its mouth.
Feeding A Bulldog
A Bulldog should eat out of a pan that has a flat bottom and straight sides. Most Bulldoggers use stainless steel because it lasts longer. Do not use plastic either for his food or his water.
Most breeders feed a two to four-month-old puppy four times a day. At this age, the kibble is usually softened with warm water. Some add cottage cheese and/or yogurt. There are several good brands of puppy kibble. If you are not satisfied with the kibble he is eating, try another. You want a kibble the puppy likes and which produces a nice coat, keeps the puppy round but not obese, and produces solid stools. Most breeders in this area use Nutro’s, Iam’s, Eukanuba, Purina Puppy Chow, or Science Diet. Check the list of ingredients on the sack.
Do not feed your Bulldog a kibble that contains soybeans.
You may feed the puppy on a set schedule, or have food available to him at all times. The pup will flourish under either regimen. The choice depends on which is more convenient for you.
How much you feed him depends on the puppy. In most cases, a growing puppy that gets sufficient exercise should eat as much as it wants. If the puppy does become obese, you may need to regulate the amount he eats, but do not put a growing puppy on a severely restricted diet unless it is supervised by a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about Bulldog puppies.
From four to six months a puppy’s feeding regimen should remain the same but the number of feedings may be reduced to three. At about six months this number can be reduced to two. In most cases continue feeding the puppy as much as he wants.
How often you feed a dog a year or more old depends on your preference and the dogs. Most dogs do well on one meal a day. Some do better on two meals a day. You may prefer to feed in the morning or the evening. This is up to you. If you like it and the dog likes it, it’s the right way. A Bulldog usually eats puppy kibble until it is at least a year old. If he is thriving on puppy kibble, leave him on it until he is at least two years old. You can feed him puppy kibble all his life, if it agrees with him. Most Bulldogs are changed from puppy to adult kibble at around twelve to eighteen months. The best change is to the adult version of the puppy kibble you have been feeding him. Ii does not hurt your Bulldog to change from one brand of dog food to another and then to another and so on as long as each change is done by gradually, substituting more and more of the new brand for the old.
If your Bulldog is spayed or neutered or as it ages and becomes less active, you may need to start feeding reduced-calorie dog food to keep it from becoming too fat. Most good brands of dog food have such a kibble. Again, it’s best if you stay with the same brand you’ve been feeding and change to the “lo-fat” version.
Whatever its age, your Bulldog should have fresh water available at all times.
It is not really necessary to add to a good kibble. But you may find your dog prefers “goodies” on his food, or does a little better with some. The most common supplements are cottage cheese, yogurt, and oil. Cottage cheese is especially good for growing puppies since the Bulldog must grow a lot of heavy bone in a short time. About a tablespoon per feeding. Yogurt helps to keep the digestive system working well, about a teaspoon per feeding. Oil helps to keep the coat and skin in good condition, about a teaspoon twice a day. Corn or canola oil is best – do not give your Bulldog any oil which contains soybean oil.
You may also give your Bulldog a vitamin supplement. Any good vitamin tablet such as Vita-Tabs, Theralin, etc. Do not overdose. If the directions say “one a day”, two is not better. You may also give a vitamin C tablet 100 – 500 units per day. Supplements to be very careful about are Vitamins E, D, and A. Overdoses of these can cause trouble. Also, be very cautious about adding more calcium than what about a quarter cup of cottage cheese per day adds to what is in the kibble. If you plan to breed a bitch, vitamin B complex, including folic acid, is recommended, but again be careful not to overdose. Iron supplements should be given with care and caution.
Treats should usually be dog biscuits. It won’t hurt your Bulldog to give him an occasional bite of meat, vegetables, fruit, soda crackers, ice cream, etc., etc. But do not give him chocolate or onions.
Your Bulldog should be thoroughly brushed at least three times a week. Most Bulldogs love to be brushed. Use a soft-bristle or rubber brush. Start at the rear and brush against the hair. After you’ve brushed the entire dog against the grain, brush it with the grain. Follow this with a good rub down. This will keep his hair shiny and his skin healthy. During shedding time, spring and fall, you may need to brush more often, give more frequent rubdowns. The idea is to remove the dead hair and distribute the natural oils.
Bathing Your Bulldog
A Bulldog that receives frequent brushings and rubdowns does not need frequent bathing. Most Bulldoggers bathe their dogs when the dog is dirty – when it obviously needs a bath. Of course, if you are exhibiting your Bulldog he needs a bath before he goes 10 the show. A show dog in the ring should be a squeaky clean dog in the ring.
Where do you bathe a Bulldog?
Any place you want to and can! Some Bulldoggers have a big deep sink, some use the bathtub, some use the kitchen sink (if you have two kitchen sinks fill one with soapy water and use the other for rising), in the summer some wash the dog on the lawn. You need a place where you can control the dog, where you can easily control the water supply, and where you can rinse the dog thoroughly. It’s a good idea, especially with a puppy, to take the dog outside to “do his thing” just before you bathe him.
Gather up all the things you will need before you start. You will need shampoo, any rinses you plan to use, cotton balls, Q-lips, eye ointment or mineral oil, Vaseline, washcloth, towels. You will want a mild, no tears shampoo. Most Bulldoggers use dog shampoos such as Lambert Kay or Groom-Rite. Some use a baby shampoo such as Johnson & Johnson No Tears or Avon Tearless. Most use a special whitening shampoo for white dogs (Lambert Kay Snowy-Coat, Bio-Groom Super White, etc.). Many use a special shampoo for red dogs (Ring S Burnished Bronze, etc.). You may on occasion need to use a flea shampoo but since these are quite harsh, don’t use one unless you really need to.
Put a couple of drops of mineral oil or a bit of eye ointment in the eyes and place a cotton ball securely in each ear before you wet the dog. Wet the dog thoroughly from just behind the ears to the tips of the toes on his hind feel. Be sure his underside is wet, too, not just the top and sides. Apply the shampoo starting at his neck and working back. Work the shampoo in to be sure you get all the way through his hair to the skin. Pay special attention to his paws (wash between the toes), his tail (clean all around the base), and the genital area. On a bitch, be especially careful to clean the vulva. Wet the washcloth and use it to dampen the dog’s face and ears. Put some shampoo on the washcloth and wash the dog’s face. Wash the wrinkles over the nose, on the forehead, around the nose, and under the eyes. Wash his nose. Wash his ears, inside and out. Now rinse. Rinse until you are sure every bit of the dog, especially in the wrinkles and tight places, is thoroughly rinsed and there is no shampoo any place. If you are applying a rinse, do it now, following the instructions. You can use a dog conditioner rinse like Oster Creme Rinse, Oster Coat Conditioner, or Francodex Oatmeal Creme Rinse, or you can use a “people” conditioner like L’Oreal Creme. For a white dog, you can use a rinse of 4 Tbs. Mrs. Wright’s Bluing, I qt. water, 1/4 cup baking soda. Mix enough bluing into the water to get a darkish blue (not black). Pour the bluing mixture over him and work in with your fingertips.
Do not rinse. Do not towel dry. Let the dog drip dry. For red dogs, try VOS Henna Conditioner.
Dry the dog with towels. Take the cotton balls out of the dog’s ears and clean any wax carefully using a dry Q-Tip or one with a dab of Panalog. Rub a dab of Vaseline onto his nose to help keep ii soft. You can then let him air dry or use a hairdryer to finish the drying. It’s best to keep the dog inside until it is completely dry – about two hours.
Most Bulldogs need their toenails cut on a regular basis – about every two weeks. The nails should be kept as short as possible. You may use dog nail clippers or an electric grinder. Most Bulldoggers use the clippers, either guillotine or scissors-type. Which type you use is up to you, but they should be sharp. When the blade begins to dull, replace it or buy new clippers – dull blades can be painful to the dog.
Each Bulldogger seems to have a different way to clip nails. Find the way that works best for you. The important thing is to be able to control the dog so that you do not hurt it. A grooming table is probably the best way. You can put the dog on the floor and scratch its tummy, or hold it between your legs – whatever works. Be especially careful not to cut into the quick. On white nails, you can see where the quick begins. On black nails cut just to the curve of the nail. The clippers usually leave a rough edge. Use a good dog nail file to smooth them off. If you use an electric grinder, be very, very careful. It is easy to grind into the quick.
The main thing is to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the dog so be really careful when cutting nails and don’t cut into the quick. If your dog takes frequent walks on pavement or such, it will usually wear the nails down, so again, be careful as there may not be very many nails to cut. This is especially true of black nails which seem to wear more than the white ones.
Bulldogs tend to have messy face wrinkles. The older they get, the messier the wrinkles. How often you clean these wrinkles depends on the dog. Some do very well if you clean the wrinkles a couple of times a week. Some need it on a daily basis. When you clean the wrinkles, wash his nose and apply a good rub of Vaseline to keep it soft. It’s better to clean more often than you think you need to than not often enough. You can clean the wrinkles with a soft, damp cloth and then dry them. Or you can wash them using the shampoo you use to bathe the dog. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry thoroughly. One of the best ways is to wipe the wrinkles clean with Baby Wipes with lanolin and aloe. Whatever method you use, be sure to get the deep nose wrinkle clean. You may need to put a soothing ointment in the deep nose wrinkle. If it is irritated Panalog will help to heal. Diaparene Ointment will soothe and dry the wrinkle. This contains zinc oxide, so before you apply it, rub Vaseline into the dog’s nose. You will almost ce A sizable number of Bulldogs have “tear stains” of varying degrees of color. If the stain is bad, in addition to cleaning you may want to try to remove the stain. There are many treatments, you may have to try several before you find one that works for you. Some of the commercial products used are Showes “Pretty Eyes” Stain remover, Bio-Groom cream (to prevent re-staining), and Diamond Eye. You can make a paste of I Tbs. Hydrogen Peroxide and enough corn starch to make a thin paste (some Bulldoggers add I Tbs. Milk of Magnesia to the hydrogen peroxide and mix the cornstarch into that mixture). Apply to the stain, let dry, brush off excess. Apply on a daily basis until the stain is gone, then weekly to keep the stain from returning. Another method is to rub the stain with a cotton ball soaked in Boric Acid. Daily until the stain is gone, then weekly. Or use NM Boric Acid ointment (10%) which can be purchased at Payless or most any drug store. Another remedy is rubbing a dab of Desitin into the stain to help dry it.
The best way to treat fleas is to prevent them. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva and can develop really serious skin problems so try to keep the flea population to a minimum. If you do get a bad flea infestation you may need to “bomb” your house or kennel, spray the yard and/or dog runs. Frequent brushing is the first defense. Frequently changed bedding is very important. Flea collars are not very effective and many Bulldogs cannot wear them. If you do use one, do not put one on a wet or damp dog, and do not allow the dog to wear a wet collar (this includes letting the dog out in the rain with its flea collar on).
You may need to give the dog a bath with a good flea shampoo or use an anti-flea rinse when you bathe. The chemicals used in these shampoos are harsh so use them only when necessary and follow instructions carefully. Mycodex is probably the most used flea control shampoo. There are various types of dips, such as Adams i4 Day Flea Dip, and sprays, such as Escort Flea & Tick Spray and Mycodex Aqua-Spray. Since these really are medications, it’s a good idea to at least begin with ones from your veterinarian or that have been specifically recommended by an experienced Bulldogger in your area. Avon Skin so Soft mixed in the rinse water is an effective, non-irritating flea deterrent used by several Bulldoggers. You can also use the Skin so Soft mixed with an equal part of the water in a spray bottle, or, if you feel that’s a bit too strong, try two capfuls in a pint spray bottle. This is also reported to repel mosquitoes and ticks. Above all else, a clean environment, especially his bed, is the best flea prevention.
Bedding material used for Bulldogs ranges from straw or wood shavings (for kennel dogs) to special dog beds of all types and prices. The most common is cotton rugs or blankets which can be washed with ease. Don’t pamper your Bulldog with a wicker dog bed. He will thoroughly enjoy reducing it to twigs and it really isn’t a good thing for him to eat. The fake sheepskin rugs available from most pet stores and dog catalogs make good beds as they are soft and wash and dry with ease. The important thing about bedding is that it be easily washable and provide a soft nesting area for the dog. As long as it meets that requirement, any bedding will do.