Are Bulldogs Aggressive? Well, It’s Complicated!

If your bulldog is acting unfriendly and hostile, it is completely natural for pet parents to question the entire breed – ‘Are bulldogs aggressive?’. Well, the good news is that bulldogs are very lovable and human-friendly dogs. They can be your best friend as well as your emotional support whenever you need your cuddly friend.

can dogs sense when something is wr...
can dogs sense when something is wrong with their owner

Yes, given their unfortunate history of bull baiting, thus the name ‘Bulldogs, this brood of pooches is considered wildly tenacious and aggressive fighters. Sadly, the false notion stemming from the regrettable history that the entire breed of bulldogs is aggressive is not uncommon even until today. However, let us assure you that these fur babies are one of the most laid-back breeds, and their name has nothing to do with how they act.

That being said, there are exceptions to everything, and if your bulldog is being aggressive, there is probably an underlying reason that has escaped your attention. However, understanding your dog’s emotions, demands, and complaints can be a challenging task for you to figure out alone. To your rescue, let’s discuss what would make a bulldog aggressive, followed by tips to keep this behavior in check in this post!

What Would Make a Bulldog Aggressive?

Natural Instinct:

The history behind the name ‘bulldog’ is horrifying. Bull baiting, a blood sport in which dogs were pitted against bulls, was popular until it was outlawed in 1835 as a cruel and inhumane act against animals. Bulldogs with more strength, tenacity, and aggression were selectively bred for the sake of this sport, and although dogs were at a higher risk of losing their lives, these carefully bred bulldogs would surprise the crowd by bringing down the chained bull at times.

Fortunately, this inhumane act stopped centuries ago, and today, bulldogs aren’t trained or bred for aggression anymore. However, many still attribute bulldog’s aggression to natural instincts. Having said that, this reason behind bulldog’s aggression is simply speculation, and this breed of pooches is loved and adored by many families as a perfect pet.

Emotionally-triggered aggression:

Like any other dog, emotions such as fear or frustration might also trigger your bulldog to be aggressive. Not only dogs, almost all the animals, including humans, become aggressive in response to such negative emotions. And while some dogs definitely have more tolerance than others, there’s no truth in the notion that bulldogs generally react more aggressively.  

When your medium-sized adorable pooch reacts violently, understand that they might be feeling threatened and stuck or unable to escape from whatever or whoever is bothering them. Such aggression might also stem from traumatic events they’ve suffered in the past.

Lack of training or improper socialization:

If your bulldog, especially if it had a traumatic past, hasn’t been trained properly on how to socialize, it can be difficult for them to keep their aggression under control. They must understand that barking at or attacking their human family is wrong.  

Therefore, if your bulldog seems aggressive without any reason to back their behavior up, it might be an indication that the dog hasn’t been trained properly as a pup. Moreover, if the aggression worsens around guests, it indicates improper socialization.

Protective aggression:

If your bulldog is aggressive towards guests and strangers or whenever any threat to its family arises, the underlying reason can also be protective aggression. Bulldogs are fiercely protective of their family and can often be unwelcoming to others. So, whenever your bulldog is aggressive towards your partner or somebody you’re close with, understand that your animal bestie is probably jealous.

Bulldogs can also be possessive of their food and toys. You might have noticed the low passive-aggressive growl when disturbing them or pulling their bowl away while they’re busy gorging on their food, haven’t you?  

Territorial aggression:

Dogs, in general, are extremely territorial, and bulldogs are no exception to it. If somebody invades their home and territory, bulldogs can go crazy aggressive trying to protect it. What’s theirs is theirs!

Dogs love claiming their items and asserting dominance. If you’ve noticed your pooch urinating on inexplicable places or people, that’s their way of saying, ‘It is mine.’

Illness or injury:

As a bulldog parent, it is crucial to be aware that while you might be busy condemning your dog for their aggression, the real reason might be an illness or an injury. Your dog might be suffering from an undiagnosed disease that is causing them pain and irritation. Such illnesses can frustrate your dog, thus, causing them to act up.

Learned behavior:

Bulldog pups can build a habit of biting or nibbling on whatever or whoever they find to calm down the itchiness and irritation during their teething. Unfortunately, your bulldog might take this aggressive habit to adulthood if left unchecked.

Moreover, have you ever mistakenly rewarded your bulldog by petting and treating them or talking to them in a high-pitched tone after their aggressive tantrum? If your answer is yes, they’ve probably learned that being aggressive is good and reward-worthy behavior.

Are Bulldogs Aggressive with Other Dogs?

While bulldogs can be the best of best friends to humans regardless of our age, gender, and ethnicity, maintaining the same level of friendship among the individuals of their own species is a bit difficult for them. That being said, the personality and history of your bulldog also play a major role in determining its dynamics with other dogs. However, the primary reason for the rivalry is that your bulldog will probably try to assert dominance over other dogs as it fears losing its territory and resources to them. 

If your sourmug went through a traumatic past where they were rescued from a dog fight, their response to another dog in the vicinity would no doubt be bitter. They can also act as a rival to other animals if they fear competition. They can be possessive about their food, shelter, and even their owner’s affection, which will encourage them to act with violence.

Moreover, if your dog hasn’t been trained for obedience, or you haven’t yet established your dominance around them, there are chances that your dog will try to be bossy and aggressive around other dogs. Consequently, your bulldog will follow their instinct of acting as alpha as they feel the need to protect you from external threats.

Why Is My Bulldog Suddenly Aggressive?

Your fur baby can suddenly act aggressively for multiple reasons, the primary reason being any injury or illness. Moreover, somebody they don’t know, don’t like, or particularly are jealous of might have entered their territory. Likewise, encountering something or someone they’re fearful of might also elicit a hostile response. 

Whenever your bulldog starts acting up, be vigilant for recent changes in the surroundings. Your bulldog might be feeling threatened, cornered, or possessive because of the presence of another pet. If the surrounding is crowded and your dog hasn’t yet been acquainted with the strangers jamming in their territory yet, they might feel uncomfortable and act aggressively.    

Finally, if no such drastic environmental changes are evident, there’s a chance that your doggo is seriously hurt. Some possible internal illnesses that might have slipped your attention are tumors, internal bleeding, fractures, brain diseases, arthritis, and neurological conditions. Please note that if you doubt any such complications, taking your bulldog to a vet is the best approach to dealing with this situation instead of self-diagnosing and medicating your precious sourmug.

How Do I Stop My English Bulldog from Being so Aggressive?

Find out the underlying cause:

Unless your dog is extremely ill-mannered and aggressive by personality, there is always a root cause behind a dog’s aggressive behavior. While it is understandable that your first instinct might be to yell ‘Bad dog,’ please note that dog experts often discourage such behaviors. Be patient with your fur baby and try to understand what internal or external factor is bothering them; trust us, it’s worth it.

Proper socialization:

Bulldogs are laidback and friendly if properly socialized at a young age. But, please be cautious not to force your dog to be okay with changes happening around you quickly. Instead, take it slow and try to introduce new sounds, new people, or new pets one at a time to your bulldog. With time, they will get desensitized to the triggers and learn to mind their own business even in the presence of triggers.  

Act as an alpha:

Your dog needs to know that you’re in charge and that everything is under control. Otherwise, they feel it’s their responsibility to protect you and take charge of the resources and surroundings. Consequently, it will evoke aggression and bossiness in your English bulldog.

Make sure that you’re the one who’s making playtime and food decisions for your dog. It should start and stop as per the timetable you’ve set.

The power of ‘No’:

While it breaks our heart to recommend you be strict with your doggo, sometimes it might be crucial in keeping your bulldog’s behavior in check. If your dog is being a bully and violent, you should firmly say ‘No’ or whatever word helps convey the message to your dog that they are being bad. Remember to talk to your bulldog in a firm tone and not to scream or yell at your bulldog with too harsh a tone, as it can lead to fear-induced reactive behavior.

Moreover, if your English bulldog is being aggressive during playtime, stop playing to make them realize that behavior was not condoned. That being said, whenever your bulldog stops acting aggressively, it is also essential to pet them or reward them. Good behavior should always be rewarded and encouraged so that your dog can not only learn what’s wrong but also learn what’s right.

Exercise:

Exercise can also be a great way of keeping your bulldog’s energy in check. If you take your dog a nice brief walk at least twice daily, their stress level and, hopefully, the aggression subsides. With a low energy level after a good exercise, your bulldog will not want to act on their emotion, even if they’re feeling aggressive.  

Check for any underlying illnesses:

If your pet bulldog has had a recent accident and has been acting anxious, annoyed, and aggressive since then, it might be suffering from pain, lacerations, or irritation. While external and minor injuries can be alleviated with first aid kits at home, a quick run to a vet office is due as soon as possible if you suspect some internal injury.

Moreover, even if no apparent accidents have occurred, some underlying illness might be making your dog more violent. Especially if your otherwise calm dog has been showing more signs of aggressiveness lately, it might indicate disease.

Consult your vet for medications:

Suppose none of the above solutions has worked, or your bulldog’s personality has been the same for a long time. In that case, you might want to consult a vet for medications that alleviate anxiety and aggressiveness in your dog. However, this route is only recommended if your bulldog is excessively aggressive, and the vet has suggested that some medications might help calm them down.

Conclusion

Finally, to answer your question, ‘Are bulldogs aggressive?’, the answer is ‘It depends.’. Sometimes, even a minor inconvenience can elicit aggression; sometimes, it’s a major health issue/trigger; and often, these pooches are as nonchalant as a saint. We hope we’ve provided you with enough information on the possible reasons behind your bulldog’s aggression as well as on how to respond to such behavior. Our recommendation, as always, is that too harsh parenting never works, so instead of yelling at your doggo for their bully behavior, targeting the root cause is the way to go.