In this article, we will be looking at all aspects of the English Bulldog lifespan. We all want to know how long our current or future pets might live. And want to know any health problems they are prone to that might cut their life short.
We also love our dogs, and we want them to be around for as long as possible. As a result, it’s natural for us to find as many answers as we can in relation to their life expectancy.
So how long do English Bulldogs live? This is a very important question worth asking.
First of all, if you’re looking for more information on English Bulldogs or discover that this article conjures up other questions about this interesting breed, you can view our complete breed guide here.
English Bulldogs Are Popular Dogs
The English Bulldog is a very popular breed and was ranked 5th out of 192 kinds of dogs, by the American Kennel Club (AKC) just this past Spring (March 20, 2019).
The English Bulldog is loyal, affectionate, and courageous. Plus, it is their docile nature that makes them so popular and also makes them great family pets.
Yet another characteristic that makes the English Bulldog such a sought after dog is their adaptability. For this reason, English Bulldogs can thrive in both small and large homes.
How Long Do English Bulldogs Live?
Much like any other breed, the English Bulldog lifespan is variable. Several studies look at their longevity. Sadly, the average English Bulldog lifespan is not very long.
One study by the UK Kennel Club and British Small Animal Veterinary Association found that the average lifespan for the English Bulldog was only 8.25 years. And only 8.9% were reported to have died of “old age.”
Similarly, this study done in 2013 reported that the average lifespan of English Bulldogs is 8.4 years.
In contrast, one particular study from 2010 gives a slightly different average for the English Bulldog lifespan. This study found that the average English Bulldog lifespan is only 6.29 years and suggests a bit of variance in the average.
They were once considered very healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 10 years. But now the average English Bulldog lifespan is now only about 6 to 8 years.
So why is the English Bulldog lifespan so short? And how can we help to increase their life expectancy?
English Bulldog Lifespan Compared With Other Breeds
All of these studies reported that the average English Bulldog lifespan is far below that of the average dog. Based on the studies mentioned above, the English Bulldog lifespan is about 30% shorter than the average amongst most other breeds.
Why is there such a difference in lifespan compared to other breeds? We’ll take a closer look.
Factors Affecting English Bulldog Lifespan
There are many factors that can affect the lifespan of all breeds. This includes: their environment, their daily diets, and their exercise routines.
Interestingly, the size of a dog often contributes to its lifespan. Small dogs generally living longer than larger dogs. The English Bulldog falls in the range of medium-sized dogs and so has a middle-of-the-pack lifespan.
The majority of problems that affect the English Bulldog lifespan has to do with breeding and health. We’ll explore these reasons why next.
English Bulldog Lifespan And Breeding
So how long do English Bulldogs live? Luckily, the answer to this is not set in stone.
By introducing other dog breeds into the gene pool, it is possible to fix many of the current health problems. And genetic diversity can be improved.
In fact, such attempts have already been made, and have produced healthier canines.
However, there is push-back from some English Bulldog breeders about changing the general shape and genes of an English Bulldog. They are worried it would essentially make the breed no longer English Bulldogs.
Would they still be an English Bulldog if their faces were no longer squished and their bodies no longer so short and stout?
Some breeders are attempting a different route. They’re trying to improve the breed’s health by carefully breeding only the healthiest bulldogs together.
Still, this reverse breeding is questioned by some. They believe that current Bulldogs are so unhealthy that attempting to improve within the breed will take longer than it is worth.
On the other hand, the widespread popularity of the English Bulldog has also proven to be costly for these sweet, patient, and good-natured dogs. More English Bulldogs are being unethically bred as demand increases. This has led to a slew of health problems and driven down the English Bulldog’s life expectancy.
Many of these health problems have developed due to inbreeding. As reported in the Canine Genetics and Epidemiology Journal that “breeding of the English bulldog for extremes of brachycephaly, chondrodysplasia, skin folding, and childlike appearance and personality has required a level of human-directed positive selection.”
In other words, years of breeding English bulldogs in favor of “squished faces,” skin folds, small stature, and other child-like features has led to the English bulldog becoming one of the most unhealthy dog breeds in the world.
English Bulldog Lifespan And Health Problems
The answer to “How long do English Bulldogs live?” is affected heavily by the number of health problems that plague this breed of dog.
Many health conditions contribute to the relatively short English Bulldog lifespan. Including heart problems and respiratory issues.
Let’s take a look at the health concerns of the English Bulldog in greater detail and get a more complete understanding of why these dogs seem to leave us so soon.
English Bulldog Lifespan: Heart, Bladder And Kidney Problems
Heart Disease can develop in both younger and older English Bulldogs. But, if caught early, it can often be managed with medication. Early detection will help ensure your dog lives many more years.
Both regular dental care and weight management both go a long way toward preventing heart disease which we’ll talk about a bit later.
Some signs of heart disease include a loss of appetite, a lack of interest in exercise, breathing difficulties, and coughing. Consult your vet if you notice signs of heart disease in your pet. Diagnostic heart testing is also available.
Bladder And Kidney Stones
English Bulldogs have a higher risk of developing bladder or kidney stones. This condition is more common in female dogs.
It can be painful and may turn into a serious, life-threatening condition if a stone causes a complete obstruction. In this case, the bladder can rupture.
You can treat stones with a diet, non-surgical, or surgical intervention. A preventative diet is recommended if they have had stones in the past.
If your dog has blood in their urine, difficulty urinating, or an inability to urinate seek medical intervention immediately. Regular urine testing is recommended as a proactive measure.
English Bulldog Lifespan and Breathing Disorders
The vast majority of English bulldogs suffer from brachycephaly.
With their short muzzles and flat faces, English Bulldogs have extra tissue in their airway passages. They have the same amount of tissue as other dogs but due to their short, squished faces, there is nowhere for the excess tissue to go.
This causes breathing difficulties and other respiratory and digestive related issues. English Bulldogs tend to be gassy from the extra air intake, are prone to heat stroke, and can develop pneumonia from food inhaled into their lungs.
Signs of respiratory difficulties are: loud breathing, coughing, blue tinted gums, fainting, and exercise intolerance. Contact your vet if your dog demonstrated signs of breathing difficulties. A severe case may require surgery.
In older English Bulldogs, paralysis of the vocal cords can occur. The paralyzed chords hang down into the airway and interfere with breathing.
Listen for loud, noisy breathing. This condition can become severe and dogs can fall down and struggle to breathe effectively.
You can manage mild cases at home with medication. It is important to note that the prevalence of this condition can increase with hot, humid weather.
English Bulldog Lifespan And Joint Problems
Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
Dysplasia refers to an abnormal joint structure that leads to partial or complete dislocation. English Bulldogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia which can also lead to arthritis. This condition becomes more likely as a dog ages.
A good indicator of dysplasia is if your dog has trouble standing up from a lying down position, or demonstrates lameness in the legs.
Early diagnosis can help with pain management and help increase the quality and length of the English Bulldog lifespan.
Hemivertebrae is a condition characterized by wedge-shaped spinal vertebrae that can cause curvatures in the spine. It is a condition that the English Bulldog is born with and that can cause damage to the spinal cord and disability.
A puppy that appears to have no tail at all might be more likely to suffer as a result of this issue. X-rays can detect puppy spinal abnormalities. Early diagnosis can help to prevent further damage, exacerbated by exercise or weight gain.
How Long Do English Bulldogs Live?: With Other General Factors
Some general factors that contribute to a dog’s life expectancy include things like the English Bulldogs age and size. Others factors more within a dog owner’s control are dental care, vaccinations, preventative treatment for parasites, and weight management.
Be proactive about potential and known issues that your English Bulldog can develop. It will give them the best chance at a long and happy life.
The following are those issues to be aware of and tips on what you can do to help keep your furry friend healthy.
English Bulldog Lifespan And Dental Issues
Just like humans, dogs get plaque and tartar build up on their teeth. Also similar to humans, without appropriate dental care, this build up can lead to infections in the teeth and gums.
Dental neglect can become serious, potentially causing major health issues, like liver and kidney damage. It even reduces the life expectancy of your pet by 1 to 3 years.
English Bulldogs are brachycephalic, meaning they have short, wide heads. As a result, they are more at risk of dental problems.
Their small mouths mean their teeth are squished in too tightly. As a result, overcrowding can cause pain and gum problems.
Simply, brushing your dog’s teeth 3 times a week can help keep them healthy and decrease the likelihood of these dental-related health concerns.
English Bulldog Lifespan And Obesity
Weight management is important to the quality of life and life expectancy of your dog. English Bulldogs are particularly susceptible to weight gain. So, as pleading as those sad little eyes may be, you must resist the urge to indulge in table scraps or extra treats.
Overweight dogs are at risk of developing heart disease, metabolic disorders, digestive disorders, and back pain. English Bulldogs are already susceptible to joint problems and additional weight will only exacerbate this issue.
Stick to a meal plan appropriate for your dog’s age and breed and use high-quality dog food.
English Bulldog Lifespan And Preventable Illnesses
You can easily prevent a number of non-inherited diseases with routine vaccinations and maintenance medication. Routine vaccinations can include parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, and rabies. Talk to your vet about options for managing ticks, fleas, and worms.
Increasing Your English Bulldog’s Lifespan
As a pet owner, there are many things you can do to help maximize the life expectancy of your English Bulldog. A few of them include being diligent and attentive to your dog’s grooming and dental care. And ensuring your dog maintains a healthy weight through proper food and exercise.
In addition, it is important to be aware of your dog’s unique limitations:
Brachycephalic dogs can’t swim. Their head and chest are much larger and heavier than their hindquarters, causing them to sink. Drowning is a real risk for English Bulldogs so to keep your dog safe always put an English Bulldog life jacket on them, and supervise them around water.
English Bulldogs are also very sensitive to the temperature and can overheat very quickly. They can develop heat stroke even in a short time on a hot day. Be mindful of taking your English Bulldog out to exercise in hot weather or leaving them in such an environment for any amount of time.
And of course, we recommend regular health checks with a veterinarian as well.
Choosing A Healthy English Bulldog Puppy’
When searching for an English Bulldog puppy, finding a reputable breeder is especially important. With the poor breeding practices and inbreeding that plagues this specific breed of dog, this gives you the best chance for a healthier dog. A healthier dog is also likely to be more expensive than one from an unethical breeder.
Almost half of all English Bulldogs are diagnosed with a serious health condition before they turn two. So both a reputable breeder and testing are important for any health issues.
Some DNA testing is available for certain hereditary conditions. Recommended health testing for breeders by the UK Kennel Club includes a DNA test—HUU (Hyperuricosuria) that tests for a predisposition to kidney and bladder stones, and the Bulldog Breed Council Health Scheme (Bronze Level).
Ask your breeder questions about parentage and testing. A good breeder should be happy to answer all your questions and provide proof of testing. If possible, ask to see the parents of your puppy and ensure they appear healthy.
On the other hand, adopting a rescue dog can be another great option if you are looking at an English Bulldog. The bond built with a rescue can be very special and fulfilling.
Other, healthier breeds, that you may want to consider are:
Oldest Living English Bulldog
The Facebook group page “The Oldest Bulldogs Around the World” shares information on English Bulldogs. It has for 8 years and over. There have been a few reports by Bulldog owners of dogs who have turned 16 this past Spring (2019).
One owner from Cleveland, Ohio, USA, self-reported that her dog, Oliver, lived to an incredible 20 years of age and passed away in January 2018.
How Long Do English Bulldog Live?
The English Bulldog’s gentleness, good-natured temperament, and adaptability make them a great family pet. This breed is sought after. Unfortunately, that has come at a cost to their health and overall life expectancy.
To sum up, the English Bulldog has a much shorter lifespan than the average dog at just 6 to 8 years. However, there are of course exceptions for older and younger English Bulldogs, depending on all of the factors we have discussed.
Their popularity has led to poor breeding practices. Consequently, they have a number of common health issues. Hopefully, we see a statistical change in the English Bulldog lifespan in the future as vets and breeders attempt to correct the unethical breeding practices performed on this dog breed.
If you choose to have an English Bulldog, finding a trustworthy breeder and providing conscientious care to your dog are both essential for promoting optimal health and life expectancy.
Do you have an English Bulldog?
Let us know how old they are in the comments below!
- Adams et al. “Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK.” Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2010.
- The Kennel Club. “Purebred Breed Health Survey.” 2004.
- Packer et al. 2015. “Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health.” PlosOne
- Pedersen et al. “A genetic assessment of the English bulldog.” Canine Genetics and Epidemiology. 2016.
- O’Neill et al. “Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England.” The Veterinary Journal. 2013.
- Rooney, N. et al. “Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: a major welfare concern?” 2019.
- Ward, E. “Struvite Bladder Stones in Dogs.” VCA Hospital
- Bulldog Club of America—Health Care
- Gough, A. et al. “Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats, 3rd Edition.” 2018.
This article was extensively revised and updated for 2019.