Everyone loves a bulldog's face. This sweet tempered, loving breed loves people and is easy to train. They make great additions to families with small children and a Bulldog's exercise needs are lower than many other breeds and so they make perfect urban companions.
Once upon a time they were fighters - of bulls, thus their name, but theses days most bulldogs would not harm a fly.
However, while bulldogs have almost perfect personalities they do have some physical quirks that pet parents need to be aware of. They do not do well in the heat and too much exercise - or stress can make it hard for them to catch their breath. These are not dogs who need to go for a cross country run (or indeed much more than a few slow strolls a day).
Something else that pet parents should pay careful attention to is what their bulldog eats on a daily basis. But what is the best dog food for English bulldogs, how do you make a choice when there are so many options on the market, both at the local pet store and online?
To help you begin to answer that question we are going to take a look at some of the most popular and well reviewed dog foods for bulldogs available today.
First however we should take a look at what makes certain dog foods better suited to bulldogs in the first place. Much of it is linked to what their ancestors ate. It's believed that the bulldog - often also referred to as the English Bulldog - was 'created' by cross breeding pugs and mastiffs.
Their original 'job' was to fight, or bait, bulls and they were fearsome little creatures whose diets consisted mainly of meats that would have been easy for their 'master' to hunt, including , rabbit, deer and hare as well as salmon and apples and berries as those would have been plentiful in the countryside where these early bulldogs primarily lived.
Although the bulldog has changed a great deal over the centuries - they would not make good fighters now, they are too short and prone to breathlessness - a growing number of experts feel that keeping a bulldog as close to their 'ancestral' diet as possible is great for their health. So foods that make use of the lean red meats and fruits we mentioned are great choices. As bulldogs can sometimes also struggle with their weight a food that is high in protein but low in 'bad' fats is a must as well. And it should, of course, also provide them with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
With all of this in mind here's a look at those "best foods for Bulldogs" choices we mentioned.
Remember we mentioned that the early bulldogs ate a lot of rabbit? That is exactly what is a large part of the formula used to create this and it makes use of both muscle and organ meat. That means that the extra vitamins and minerals - and especially iron and zinc - that are only found in organ meat are present in plentiful amounts.
In fact, the first few ingredients of this formula read just like a list of the bulldogs ancestral diet; rabbit, salmon meal, salmon oil, apples and cranberries. But that is the 'mission' of the Nature's Valley Instinct brand in the first place; to provide dogs with the nutrition that nature designed for them.
This formula is grain-free and it also contains a number of vitamin supplements, including Vitamins A, C, D and E, folic acid (which is great for brain health) and biotin, a B Vitamin that especially good for a bulldog's coat.
Pet parents who praise Nature's Variety Instinct Grain-Free with Real Rabbit Formula do so mainly because they feel that not only do their pups really enjoy it but it seems to give them extra energy (but not too much, these are bulldogs after all) and some mention a marked improvement in their pup's skin and coat after being fed this food for a while. Others who were struggling with a slightly overweight pup say that the lack of 'bad fats' has helped their furkid drop some weight too, and manage to keep it off.
Almost as popular and well-reviewed as the Nature's Variety Instinct Grain-Free with Real Rabbit Formula is this very tough sounding vet-developed holistic dog food formula that is also grain-free and has low-glycemic carbs. Bulldogs may not be toughies these days but they used to be and this formula reflects that fact.
It's not quite as close to the 'original' bulldog diet, as it features lamb and pork as its primary meat ingredients and it's unlikely the early bulldogs got too much of that but these are still lean red meats that have similar nutritional profiles.
The meats used include both lamb and pork meal, so the protein content is high, along with deboned lamb and herring meal that adds important nutrients like Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids that aid a bulldog's development and health in a number of different ways, including heart health and brain health. There is also an impressive selection of natural fruit and vegetables in the formula including apples, cranberries, carrots and flaxseed, all of which provide additional Vitamins A, B, C, E and omega 3 fatty acids.
Those who choose to feed their dog this recipe are impressed by how much their pup enjoys it and some feel the smaller kibble size is easier to digest. There are also a number of pet parents who note that their pup's bowel and bladder habits seem much improved since switching to Only Natural Pet Red Meat Feast as well.
It's usually recommended that any dog's diet consist of a mixture of wet and dry dog food. This is especially true of the bulldog as their instinct is to eat raw meat - there was no kibble in the 16th English forests they used to roam!
Nature’s Variety Instinct LID is designed to complement their dry kibble that tops our list of the best wet food for bulldogs. There are a few choices of primary meat but again, they all match that ancestral list fairly closely; rabbit, duck, lamb and turkey. This formula has only one meat-protein and one vegetable, the theory being that is just how the early bulldogs would have consumed their food. There are no additional fillers but the formula is supplemented with a number of essential minerals and vitamins as well as folic acid.
Fans of this wet food like the idea that is very simple and report that their bulldogs really seem to like the taste a lot. It's also great for pups with allergies - chicken allergies are quite common in bulldogs - as its single ingredient nature allows pet parents to better control just what their pup is consuming.
As they lived mainly in the countryside the early bulldogs would indeed have consumed plenty of freshwater fish. The reason that fish is often recommended for bulldog puppies over the lean red meats they will probably eat later in life is down to those all important omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Omega fatty acids offer a lot of health benefits, but two of the biggest are brain and eye development. The freshwater fish chosen for use in this kibble - including rainbow trout, catfish and yellow perch, all included in freeze dried form - are particularly high in this healthy fats and the vegetables included - butternut squash, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, carrots, apples, pears, rose hips, and juniper berries - are all the kinds of 'forest' produce that those bulldog puppies of old would have had easy access to and offer plenty of natural sources of essential vitamins and minerals.
Pet parents who prefer Acana Heritage Freshwater Fish for their bulldog puppy often do so because not only is the kibble small and easy to digest but it also seems to have a great effect on the skin and coat. The fact that it seems to have a taste that even finicky eaters love is a bonus as well.
As wonderful as they are, every bulldog pet parent knows that the health of their pup can be fragile, and that they are prone to certain health conditions. These include all of the following.
Although they are so low to the ground it's often easy to forget that bulldogs have knees, but they do and they are especially prone to injury. These can range from simple sprains and strains to patellar luxation, the term used to refer to the kneecap popping out of position.
In addition to remembering never to over exercise your pooch what they are given to eat can help safeguard their sensitive knees as well. First and foremost it is crucial that they don't eat too much and gain weight. Secondly look for a dog food that is rich in Vitamin D and Vitamin K (to strengthen the bones) as well as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which do much the same thing.
As they do have so much of it, it is not surprising that bulldogs are very susceptible to skin infections and allergies. These commonly include eczema, or canine atopic dermatitis, seborrhea (in which the skin is either too dry or too oily due to poor sebum regulation) and moist dermatitis. Moist dermatitis presents itself as round, itchy sores on the skin and may be caused by parasites, allergies or even by a poor reaction to certain food.
Taking care of a bulldog's coat and skin can be a chore, but the right food can help. A diet that is free of fillers and animal byproducts reduces the risk of allergic reactions and one that contains lots of Omega fatty acids and Vitamin E can help keep the skin healthier and more resistant in general.
Those cute droopy eyes that bulldogs are so famous for need extra TLC as well. Bulldogs, like many other dog breeds, are susceptible to developing cataracts as they age but also to something called cherry eye. As the name suggests this is a reddening of the eye that is caused when the third eyelid begins to detach and causes a red, swollen mass at the bottom of the eye.
The condition can be treated, depending upon the severity, with either medication or surgery, but the right nutrition can help prevent both cherry eye and cataracts in bulldogs.
Bulldogs are an allergy-prone breed and as such common allergens such as pollen, dust or mold can irritate their eyes leading to the common eye infection - conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining of the eye.
Look for foods rich in Vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, beta carotene and Vitamin A, both of which are found in large amounts in carrots (Bugs Bunny did have the right idea after all) .
Hip dysplasia is a painful, often debilitating condition that like many other small dogs a bulldog may develop even as an older puppy. The ball and socket joints that make up the hip joint become inflamed or deformed, making it hard for the pup to walk properly.
Effective treatments vary, but most vets do agree that the right food can help. Foods that contain vitamins and minerals including glucosamine and chondroitin that strengthen the bones and cartilage are a must and keeping an eye on protein intake helps as well, as too much can cause calcium malabsorption, leading to weaker bones.
Your Vet must be experienced in handling Bulldogs - the more experience he has, the better. This list provided by the Bulldog Club or America is an excellent resource to help you vind a VET in your area to provide the best care possible for your Bulldog.
The modern bulldog is an adorable, but rather fragile breed. They do often require more frequent visits to the vet and they certainly need the right food. By feeding your bulldog pup one or two of the best dog foods for bulldogs we have mentioned you will be helping to ensure they remain as healthy and happy as possible and remain members of your family for many years to come.