Common Bulldog Health Issues

Bulldogs—they sure are cute! They are also very lovable and affectionate pets. From the English Bulldog to the Frenchie, bulldogs come in many sizes. Originally bred for “bull-baiting,” today’s Bulldogs are loving family members and wonderful pets. Unfortunately, they are prone to develop certain medical conditions and diseases. In the following article, I will discuss common disorders that every Bulldog owner or someone thinking of adopting a Bulldog should be aware of.

Brachycephalic Breeds

Common Brachycephalic dogs include Bulldogs, Frenchies, Pugs, Boston Terrier & Pekinese. As all bullie owners know, they have shorter faces with broad, short-length heads. This is what causes the characteristic snorty sound we all have come to recognize with these breeds. It also predisposes them to a condition called Brachycephalic Airway Disease.

The disease has four main components:

  1. Stenotic Nares (Narrowed Nostrils)
  2. Hypoplastic Trachea (Shortened wind-pipe)
  3. Everted Laryngeal Saccules
  4. Elongated Soft Palate
Respiratory Problems

Brachycephalic dogs are more likely to develop respiratory problems and are prone to heatstroke—their inefficient breathing results in extra work and resulting inflammation to the airway. A brachycephalic dog may have difficulty breathing in severe cases and require a permanent tracheostomy (hole in the throat for breathing).

Eye Problems

Due to the breed’s facial structure, certain eye problems are more common. These include irritation from abnormal hairs that contact the eye, causing irritation, eyelids that roll inward, or a nasal fold of the skin that irritates the eye. Additionally, a genetic condition called KCS (Dry Eye) may result in yellow, pus-like eye discharge and, over time, scarring of the corneas.

Skin Fold Dermatitis

Ever notice the skin folds of the face on Bulldogs and related breeds? Humidity and moisture can easily get trapped between the folds, and bacteria and yeast infections are prone to occur. Dogs with skin-fold dermatitis may have a mal-odor from the folds of their skin with moist, yellow discharge, redness, and inflammation.

Ear Infections and Allergies

Bulldogs are just one of many breeds predisposed to allergies and ear infections. When pets get ear infections, their ears may be painful, red, and have a discharge. You may notice your pet shaking their head, scratching at their ears, or rubbing their heads on the carpet. 83% of dogs who frequently lick their front feet have some form of underlying allergy.

From ear infections to trouble breathing, eye problems, and skin problems, I know this paints a scary picture of adopting a Bulldog. While almost all Bulldogs will have some form of diseases discussed, many cases are milder in appearance. Bulldog owners should watch their pet’s weight to help prevent fat from pushing on their trachea, making it harder for them to breathe. Care should also be taken on hot days to prevent heat stroke. Ear infections and allergies can often be managed with proper diagnosis and treatment. Skin-fold dermatitis is usually manageable with medicated wipes and shampoos. Bulldogs are not a “set it and forget it” type of dog, and they do require maintenance and some trips to  the Veterinarian. However, they are extremely loving dogs and are beloved by their owners.

Philadelphia Veterinary Hospital For Bulldogs

If you own a Bulldog or have recently adopted one, I recommend scheduling an appointment at one of our Veterinary Hospitals to evaluate your pet for common Bulldog conditions and a more in-depth discussion of Bulldog health management. With a lot of love and a little help from your veterinarian, we’ll help keep your pet happy, healthy, and a beloved member of your family for many years to come.


Jeffrey Stupine V.M.D.

Medical Director

World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals