The likes of Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers have been stereotyped to be aggressive breeds. Fueled by breed-specific legislation and misconceptions, such stereotypes lead other people to shy away from owning these canines. But the question is this, are Bulldogs considered an aggressive breed? In this post, we will discuss the reasons behind this reputation and what you can do about it.
Are Bulldogs considered an aggressive breed?
Like any dog breed, Bulldogs can have aggressive tendencies. However, they tend to be categorized into aggressive breeds due to their history, nature, and haphazard breeding.
The following are the common reasons why Bulldogs are often regarded as aggressive:
🐶Bulldogs are bred for bull-baiting
Much of the aggressive stereotype among Bulldogs is rooted in their past as bull-baiting canines. Unfortunately, Bulldogs were initially bred for this barbaric sport, which involves tethering the canine into the bull’s nose. The goal is for the dog to pull the bull down or for the bull to kill the dog.
This sport lasted for hundreds of years and resulted in Bulldogs having a reputation of being aggressive and dangerous.
The bull-baiting sport is also the reason why Bulldogs have thick necks, stocky bodies, and low stature. These traits also make Bulldogs prone to a slew of health problems, including respiratory issues, orthopedic defects, digestive concerns, and more.
The good news is that there are now hundreds – if not thousands – of responsible breeders who are focused on producing well-structured and healthy Bulldogs. Most of all, they are producing Bulldogs with laidback temperaments and are great family pets.
Also, bull-baiting has long been banned and the Bulldog breed is slowly bouncing back from their aggressive stereotype.
🐶Bulldogs exhibit passive aggression
Bulldogs are known to be stubborn and they can also be passive-aggressive. While they won’t attack and bite, these dogs will ignore you to death. They will also try to get their own way or whine when they don’t.
If you give in to your Bulldog’s advances, it will start to become dominant. Over time, aggression will occur, which can be difficult to address.
🐶Bulldogs are notoriously challenging to train
Bulldog breeds are not the easiest to train due to their stubborn nature. Since they weren’t bred as working canines, they often require more patience and consistency to stay disciplined.
If a Bulldog owner neglects or fails to train the dog, it will succumb to aggression just like other untrained canines.
🐶Breeding has a lot to do with it
It’s important to note that breeding has a lot to do with the dog’s aggressive tendencies. Bulldogs produced in puppy mills are likely to grow aggressive compared to those who are bred by legitimate breeders.
If you’re planning to get a Bulldog, make sure that you’re dealing with a legitimate and responsible breeder. You should also know how to spot puppy mill dogs, so you won’t fall prey to this illegal animal trade.
🐶Aggression is connected to the dog’s experience
Dogs that are abused, neglected, and abandoned often exhibit aggression. This is due to the stressful events that occurred in the dog’s life. Whether it’s a Bulldog or other breed, it’s not surprising for an abused canine to have this reaction.
Given that your dog is bred responsibly, raised in a nurturing household, and has received proper training, it will grow to be a disciplined canine.
🐶Some Bulldog breeds have a strong prey drive
While English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are known to be laidback and friendly, the likes of American Bulldogs have a higher prey drive. This makes them prone to aggression if not raised well.
Nevertheless, this aggression can be managed through training and socialization. Still, it’s important to know that each canine has limitations, Bulldog or not.
Let’s talk about BSL
BSL or Breed-Specific Legislation is a blanket term for all laws regulating or banning the ownership of breeds deemed ‘aggressive’. These laws aim to provide a quick-fix over rising dog attacks.
However, BSL is also discriminatory. Certain states, cities, and localities have breed-specific legislation that prohibits ownership of specific breeds, whether it’s fully trained or not.
Some of the breeds often included in breed-specific legislation are American Bulldog, Rottweiler, Pit Bull, Doberman Pinscher, Chow Chow, and even German Shepherds.
According to the 2020 data from ASPCA, there are 21 U.S. states with state-wide breed-specific legislation. Meanwhile, the other 29 states only have localities that have similar regulations.
The ugly part of BSL is that both the dog and the owner suffer. Many pet owners of the BSL breeds have to give up or rehome their dogs because they have to move to a BSL state or locality. This leads to perfectly healthy and trained dogs ending up in shelters. From there, the canine may develop aggressive tendencies, much so if not rehomed right away.
How to deal with Bulldog aggression
Bulldogs can be aggressive for a variety of reasons. But whatever it is, it’s important to address the problem properly. Trying to fix aggression with violence will just resort to more behavioral problems. Instead, you should consider taking the following steps:
🐶Identify the root of the problem
Remember that canine aggression always has a trigger. It could be another pet, a stranger, a certain smell, loud sounds, and just about anything. So if your Bulldog is acting aggressively, you first have to find out what’s triggering it in the first place.
From there, you can think of the necessary action to end your dog’s aggressive episode. Your goal should be to remove the trigger to help calm your Bulldog.
🐶Work with a veterinarian
Take note that even health problems can trigger a Bulldog’s aggression. It’s important to rule this out, especially if there are no apparent stimuli that could be sending your Bulldog hostile.
Sick canines are often in pain, confused, and suffering from cognitive dysfunction. Even well-trained dogs with medical conditions can react this way.
The only way to solve this kind of aggression is to treat the underlying health problem. During the course of treatment, you should also know that certain medications can trigger aggressive tendencies. This is usually normal as long as confirmed by your Bulldog’s veterinarian.
🐶Check the dog’s bite history
Bulldogs who have bitten someone before are likely to have the same aggressive reaction in the future. This is why notorious biters are considered a big risk and are impossible to insure.
By knowing the dog’s bite history, you’ll have a realistic view of the Bulldog’s aggression level. This will help you decide whether the dog can be tamed with DIY training or you need to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer.
🐶Hire a professional dog trainer
While there are a ton of DIY training resources online, you can only do so much as a pet owner. If your Bulldog is exhibiting worrisome aggression, you should consider hiring a professional dog trainer. While the person’s costs a fee, a professional trainer can assess your dog’s situation and provide the necessary solution.
Aside from that, professional dog trainers can advise you about the right choice for your Bulldog. In rare cases, dog trainers may entertain the possibility of putting the dog down if it has exceptionally intense aggression.
Nevertheless, dog trainers will exhaust all means to train an aggressive dog. It could be a long process, but most aggressive Bulldogs respond to training fairly well.
How to socialize your Bulldog to prevent aggression
Take note that aggression in Bulldogs is highly preventable and can always be managed. To ensure that your pooch will grow to be a disciplined and well-rounded pet, you should observe the following:
🐶Start with early socialization
We can’t say this enough, regardless of your dog’s breed. Early socialization is the key to dampening a canine’s aggressive tendencies.
Exposing your Bulldog to various stimuli at an early age will allow desensitization. This way, your dog won’t be extremely sensitive and it won’t act aggressively in the slightest provocation.
Technically, you should start socialization the moment you bring your Bulldog puppy home. Start by exposing your pup to various odors, sounds, and textures. From there, you can proceed to introduce your Bulldog puppy to other people.
Just remember that socialization is a long process that must be done slowly. Also, it never stops in puppyhood. Socialization is an ongoing task for pet owners to ensure that their canines won’t develop aggressive tendencies.
🐶Always brush up with training
Like socialization, training should never stop for your Bulldog. Canines can relapse in their command recall, so it’s important to keep it in check from time to time.
The good thing is that you can integrate training with your dog’s playtime. For example, a game of tug of war teaches your Bulldog to practice restraint. Meanwhile, a game of fetch will help sharpen your pet’s command recall while giving it a dose of exercise on the side.
🐶Deal with separation anxiety
Bulldogs are prone to separation anxiety, which can develop into aggression if not trained well.
Separation anxiety occurs when the dog is left alone without company. Without proper training, an anxious Bulldog will become noisy, destructive, and aggressive.
This is where crate training and obedience training comes in. While these drills won’t cure separation anxiety, they will help manage the condition, so your Bulldog won’t have aggressive tendencies.
🐶Keep the environment calm
Dogs that live in a hostile environment tend to develop aggressive defense mechanisms. This is unhealthy and will cause a slew of behavioral problems in the long run.
So if you’re planning to get a Bulldog, make sure that your home is suitable for raising a canine. As much as possible, you should wait for babies to grow old enough to understand the limits of pet interaction.
🐶Watch your dog’s body language
A dog’s body language will tell you how it feels. If your pooch has bared teeth, raised tail, wrinkled nose, and raised hackles, you’re seeing a classic look of aggression. It’s important to prevent the situation from escalating by distracting your dog, removing the trigger, or offering an alternative behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are American Bulldogs naturally aggressive?
A: American Bulldogs are known to have a higher prey drive than their English counterparts. If not trained or stimulated enough, these dogs will become destructive. Training is also necessary to dampen this canine’s aggressive tendencies.
Q: Are Bulldogs aggressive like Pit Bulls?
A: Bulldogs, especially the American type, look as tough as Pit Bulls. However, to determine they are both aggressive isn’t a black and white concept. Each Pit Bull and Bulldog have varying temperaments, prey drive, training level, and socialization. All of these factors will dictate how aggressive a canine will be. In fact, if trained well, these breeds are playful and can be amazing family pets.
Q: Can Bulldogs be vicious?
A: While they have a dark past in bull-baiting, Bulldogs are already far from their vicious history. These canines are now more responsive to training and their aggressive tendencies have been dampened through responsible breeding, ample training, and continuous socialization.
Q: Are Bulldogs aggressive over other dogs?
A: Bulldogs are known to assert dominance over other canines. Still, they are far from vicious or aggressive. With proper introduction and training, a Bulldog can live with another canine at home. They also make great companions with cats.
Q: Are female Bulldogs more aggressive?
A: A female Bulldog that has recently given birth will be more aggressive due to its protective instincts. But in general, it’s seen that male Bulldogs are more dominant than female counterparts. Nevertheless, male Bulldogs are more affectionate toward their owners. Overall, a dog’s aggressive tendencies are beyond its gender.
Are Bulldogs considered an aggressive breed? Modern Bulldogs are known for their highly-trainable personalities and reputation as family pets. While they used to be part of a vicious sport, this breed has gone a long way in erasing its aggressive stereotype.
Remember that a dog’s aggression is affected by various factors including age, upbringing, genetics, and more. Overall, this behavioral problem goes beyond the issue of the breed.