Bulldog Information





Age and health of bitch 

Bulldog bitches can come into their first season anytime between 6 to 12 months of age. A bitch up to 12 months old is still considered as a puppy because she is in a growing phase and not fully matured yet. The recommended age for mating a Bulldog bitch for the first time is at the age of 12 to 18 month. Any bitch about to be mated should be healthy, fully vaccinated and properly dewormed. The bitch must never be too fat - it is well-known that overweight Bulldog bitches will very seldom conceive.


Signs of heat in the bitch 

A Bulldog bitch can exhibit a number of signs when she comes on heat. It is important, however, to remember that there is no fixed rule that applies to all bitches as they can show any combination of signs or no signs at all. The most common signs include swelling of the vulva, a bloody discharge from the vulva, change in appetite, aggressive behaviour, interest in males, climbing onto other dogs or bitches, lifting of the vulva and/or tail and allowing males to mount her . The two most common signs and usually also the first to be seen when a bitch comes on heat, is the swelling of the vulva and a bloody discharge from the vulva. Again, remember that some bitches do not even show this signs, although this is only true of a small percentage of all bitches.


The right time to mate 

The exact time during the heat cycle when a bitch should be mated is of the utmost importance for conception.  Depending on the specific situation of the breeder, he has the following means to decide when to mate:

1.   Breeders who do not readily have access to a veterinarian, could use the natural signs of the bitch on heat to show them when she is ready for mating. This method is not infallible but should give a reasonable success rate over a period of time. From about 5 to 6 days after the first signs of heat, a mature male is put with the bitch at least two times a day. If the bitch is not ready, she will keep the male at a distance and even growl or bite at him. When the bitch is ready to be mated, she will stand still, allow the male to sniff and lick her, lift up the vulva and sometimes the tail as well and eventually allow the male to mount her. After the first mating, extra matings should be repeated every second day until the bitch does not want to stand for the male anymore. The whelping date can be calculated by counting 63 days from the day of the first mating.

2.   Breeders with the necessary experience and equipment sometimes make use of vaginal smears in combination with the natural signs of the bitch to determine the best time for matings. A microscope with a 100x magnification is used on a daily basis during the heat cycle to examine cellular changes of the vaginal mucous membrane in order to determine the correct time for mating. Depending on the experience of the person, the success rate should be higher than the previous method, although not full proof. The whelping date can be determined accurately by counting 57 days from the first day of di-oestrus i.e. the first day after the last day of the heat cycle.

3.   Currently the most reliable and successful method to determine the correct time for mating is a combination of the natural signs of the bitch, vaginal smears and vaginoscopy. In the latter instance, a speculum is used to examine the appearance and consistency of the vaginal mucous membrane, which is a reliable indicator of the correct time for mating. Serious breeders of Bulldogs will be well advised to consult with their vets on this method. The whelping date is also calculated with the use of vaginal smears as before.

Whatever method is used, it is always very important to calculate and record the anticipated whelping date for a bitch. This whelping date will be used to determine the best time to perform a caesarian on the bitch if she should get pregnant (see ‘The best time for a Caesarian’).


IT    TAKES    3    EXPERIENCED    HUMANS    TO    MATE    2    BULLDOGS?    THAT    YOU    WILL    HAVE    TO    SPEND    THE    FIRST    3    WEEKS    OF    THE    PUPS    LIFE    SAT    BY    THE    WHELPING    BOX    24/7?    THAT    THERE'S    A    GOOD    CHANCE    YOUR    BITCH    WILL    LOSE    HER    LIFE?    THAT    SHE    WILL    PROBABLY    NEED    A    C-SECTION?    THAT    HER    CLUMSYNESS    MAY    CAUSE    THE    DEATH    OF    HER    PUPS    IF    YOU    LEAVE    HER    ALONE    WITH    THEM?    THAT    MUCH    OF    THE    PUPPY    REARING    WILL    BE    DONE    BY    YOU?

It's not necessarily good for your bitch to have puppies and it's certainly not a good reason so the children can have a litter of puppies in the house. Breeding the bulldog is hard work, very expensive and time consuming, the pups will require at least 3 weeks of 24 hour supervision and care once born. There's no money to be made from it and at the end of the day it is a possibility that both the bitch and/or the pups could lose their lives. If you want to breed, do it properly, ask yourself why you want to breed as breeding should only ever be considered for the betterment of the breed  - NOT because you want a return on the bitches purchase price. Bulldogs cost that much to buy because it costs that much to breed them!

Ensure your Bulldog actually looks like a bulldog and that he/she carries no obvious genetic faults, enter him/her in a few breed classes and see how they fair in the ring. The show ring is vital for the breeding of correctly put together bulldogs as all dogs are judged against the Kennel Club Breed Standard.

Research the pedigrees, find a suitable, compatible stud dog (this probably isn't the one closest to you). Get your vet to check your dog over for any obvious health problems, including heart and eyes. Ensure your dog is of sound temperament and be prepared for heartbreak.

Breeding your male will NOT stop him humping - humping behaviour is usually associated with nervousness or dominance and often has nothing to do with sex. Showing him what it's for or assuming you are giving him the opportunity to "get it out of his system" will not cure him - IT WILL MAKE HIM WORSE!

If you bought your bulldog as a pet please make sure your breeder agrees with the mating, some breeders place endorsements on the ANKC registration to prevent breeding, if they think they have sold you a pet it is unfair to breed with out their opinion or approval.

Please don't kid yourself that you are only breeding for the pet market - this is back yard breeding and will do nothing to improve the health of the bulldog and in fact could bring issues into the breed that will take years for everyone else to breed back out again. These are the matings that produce unhealthy and unsound dogs and give this breed it's bad name regarding health.

Make sure that every single home you sell a puppy to is suitable, keep in touch with your pups and be prepared to take them back if it doesn't all work out. Be sure you have plenty of breed knowledge and know what faults could be thrown from the lines you have used, if you are the one on the end of the phone to a worried owner you must either have the answers or be in a posistion where you can find out.

We strive for type, balance and soundness the three important characteristics when assessing the qualities of a British Bulldog as stated in the Standard "first impressions of the dog as a whole".


Selection of a stud dog

The selection of a stud dog for a specific Bulldog bitch is of great importance for the long-term improvement and preservation of the breed. Knowledge of the qualities and potential genetic defects of ancestors is crucial for successful long-term line breeding and to avoid the pitfalls of inbreeding. Inbreeding results from mating Bulldogs that are very closely related to each other, like brother to sister or parent to offspring. Line breeding is a form of inbreeding but the Bulldogs are not so closely related as in the case of inbreeding. A novice breeder will be wise to make use of a reputable and experienced breeder for advice on the stud he wants to use on his bitch, until he himself has gained enough experience in this field. When deciding on a specific stud, it is important to make sure that the stud has already sired some progeny. If not, it is good practice to have the stud’s fertility tested by a vet before he is used on a bitch. The same principle applies to a young dog that will be used as a stud for the first time. Dogs can normally be used as studs from the age of 12 months and older.

Method of mating

Bulldogs in general are not able to mate naturally by themselves and it is common practice among Bulldog breeders to provide assistance to the bitch and the stud during matings by means of various methods and innovations. Novice breeders who want to do assisted matings with their own Bulldogs are advised to first get some practical experience with the help of an established breeder before trying it on their own. When doing assisted matings with Bulldogs, never do it on the heat the day and never after the dogs have eaten. It is also important to allow contact between the dog and the bitch (at least 10 minute) before and after matings.

Artificial insemination by vets or breeders with the necessary experience is an effective alternative to assisted matings and should be considered in cases where either the dog or the bitch is aggressive or difficult to handle. The potential for genital infection is reduced substantially with artificial insemination.

Care of pregnant bitch

A pregnant bitch needs to be fed well and kept quiet and warm. A bit of daily exercise is recommendable but she must not be allowed to exhaust herself, to get excited or to jump up. Use a well-balance dog food and avoid any salt in the food. A calcium supplement is recommended but should be given strictly according to manufacturer’s instruction as excessive calcium can cause serious health problems in puppies. The bitch should be dewormed 2 weeks before the whelping date with a broad spectrum anti-helmintic.


Signs of pregnancy

During pregnancy, which can be from 58 to 63 days, bitches can show a combination of habitual signs, which can vary from very obvious to very subtle. This includes changes in temperament, increased or decreased appetite, morning sickness (vomiting) and increased dormancy. In the last few days before the actual whelping, they can also show signs of nesting, uneasiness, difficult breathing, panting and refusing of food.

Physical signs include enlargement of the milk glands which can be felt from about the 4th to the 5th  week of pregnancy and distention of the abdomen which can be seen anytime from the 4th to the 7th week, depending on the size of the bitch and the number of puppies she carries. Pregnancy in a Bulldog bitch with a small litter can sometimes be very difficult to detect by means of physical examination, even by experienced breeders and vets.

In a small percentage of cases, bitches can have a false pregnancy, showing normal signs of pregnancy which may sometimes continue for several weeks beyond the normal gestation period.

A definite pregnancy diagnosis can be made by scanning the bitch with an ultrasound monitor anytime from 21 days after conception. The size and the viability of fetuses can also be evaluated with this method, but it is not accurate in counting the number of puppies. Towards the end of pregnancy (± the last 10 days), when the skeleton of a fetus starts to calcify, X-rays can also be used to make a definite pregnancy diagnosis and to count the number of puppies.


Caesarian or not

Selective breeding in the Bulldog for big heads and narrow hindquarters (pelvises), as prescribed by the Official Bulldog Standard, effectively means that Bulldog puppies with their big heads must pass through a narrow birth canal, which is the result of the bitch’s narrow hindquarters. To add to this potential birth hazard, Bulldog bitches in general tend to have inadequate uterus contraction, which is needed to expel puppies during the birth process. The combination of these factors is the reason why purebred Bulldog bitches can very seldom give birth naturally and requires that caesarians be done as a rule rather than an exception. If the operation is performed properly, a Bulldog bitch can have several caesarians in her lifetime without any ill effect to her health or her fertility. It must be remembered however, that a caesarian, as with any other surgical procedure, involves a certain amount of risk to the bitch and to the puppies. Bulldog bitches that poses a higher than normal risk and requires special attention during caesarians, include old bitches, those with a history of heart problems and those with very big litters.


The best time for a Caesarian

It should always be the aim of both the breeder and the vet to perform a caesarian on a Bulldog bitch as close to the natural time of birth as possible. To be able to do this, an accurate whelping date is essential (see “The right time to mate a bitch”). Remember, however, that bitches with large litters tend to whelp a day or two before their anticipated whelping date and bitches with only one or two puppies can sometimes overrun their whelping date by a day or two. It is necessary to inform the vet at least a week in advance that the bitch is due for a caesarian, so that he will be ready for any unforeseen happenings.

As the whelping date gets closer, the behaviour of the bitch should be watched very carefully. Take notice of the amount of food and water she takes in, her mental status (depressed or not), if she is restless, if she starts nesting (preparing for a place to whelp) and whether her breathing is normal. If the bitch is very big, it is better for her during the last week of pregnancy, to get small amounts of food more often instead of one big meal per day.

Normally milk should be present from about 3 to 7 days before whelping. In a young bitch that is pregnant for the first time, it is sometimes necessary to stimulate her milk production by treating her from 3 to 4 days before whelping with Eglonyl tablets twice daily.

When a bitch starts to pant heavily within a day or two of her whelping date, she has probably gone into whelp and should be taken to the vet immediately. The same applies for a bitch that starts with abdominal muscle contractions a day or two before her whelping date. In this case it can also happen that the first puppy enters the birth canal and if the fetal membranes should break, a yellow-brown fluid will become visible. In this case a caesarian should be done as soon as possible to save the puppy.

The body temperature of the bitch is one of the most useful and reliable signs to determine the optimum time for a caesarian. Normal body temperature in a healthy Bulldog bitch can range from 38,0 – 38,9 ¢ªC. Approximately 10 to 12 hours before actually going into whelp, the body temperature of the bitch will drop significantly from normal to a level of  37,2 to 37,3 ¢ªC for a short time (a few hours) and then rise again to normal. The 10-hour time period after the drop in temperature is the ideal time to perform a caesarian on the bitch. The taking of the bitch’s temperature should start at least 4 days before the anticipated whelping date and it is important to take the temperature at least 3 times daily (every 8 hours) so as not to miss the drop in temperature.  Once the temperature has dropped, all food and water must be taken away from the bitch immediately, in anticipation of the operation.

The golden rule for a caesarian in a Bulldog bitch is always to operate rather too early than too late.




Bulldog litters

The number of puppies in a Bulldog litter can vary from 1 to12, but more often in the region of 4 to7. Smaller litters are usually easier to raise than larger ones and litters with puppies of equal size is preferable to litters where the puppies vary in size. All puppies with visible congenital defects (e.g. cleft palates, walruses) should be euthanazed without exception.




Reviving newborn puppies

Once a puppy has been removed from the mother’s uterus during a caesarian, somebody with the necessary experience should revive it instantly. Firstly the umbilical cord is tied close the puppy's stomach, the excessive part cut off and the stump of the cord disinfected with iodine. The nose and mouth should be cleared of fluid and mucous by cotton swabs. A gentle, controlled, downward swing of the puppy helps to clear fluid from the upper airways by centrifugal force. The puppy is then rubbed vigorously in a towel to remove any wetness and to stimulate breathing. If a puppy does not breath by itself at this stage, a respiratory stimulant (e.g. Dopram) can be administered under the tongue to induce breathing. Proper breathing is one of the most crucial factors in the survival of a Bulldog puppy and should receive great attention. 


Environmental temperature

Regulation of the body temperature of a newborn puppy is poor for the first 8 days of life and does not become fully effective until about 3 weeks of age. The puppy should therefore be protected against draughts and cold. It is preferable that the whole whelping room should be warmed instead of only the whelping box. Recommended ambient temperatures in a puppy room are as follow:

1st week:  29¢ªC ± 1¢ªC

2nd week: 27¢ªC ± 1¢ªC

3rd week: 25¢ªC ± 1¢ªC

4th week: 23¢ªC ± 1¢ªC

If the temperature is too high, the puppies will start breathing faster and with open mouths, the skin colour will become more red and they will spread out to try to cool down. If the temperature is too low, they will all bundle together in one corner to find warmth and some may whine continuously. A healthy, happy puppy will spend 90% of its time sleeping and will occasionally twitch an ear or a muscle, which is an indication of normal healthy growth of the muscles and nervous system.


Feeding & nursing

It is very important that puppies should drink their first portion of milk, called colostrum, within a few hours after birth as the puppy can only absorb the antibodies in the colostrum for a limited time after birth. The antibodies are essential for the protection of the puppy against viral and bacterial infections during their first few weeks of life.

The following is a general guideline for feeding intervals of puppies up to 3 weeks old, bearing in mind that various factors like the number of puppies in a litter, the size of the puppies and the milk production of the bitch could necessitate adjustment to this intervals: 

1st week – every 2 hours

2nd week – every 3 hours

3rd week – every 4 hours.

In the case of a large litter or low milk production of the bitch, a surrogate milk product can be used to supplement the bitch’s milk, but remember that there is no real substitute for mother’s milk and puppies should drink on the bitch for as long as possible. The normal weaning age for Bulldog puppies is 6 weeks.

The colour and consistency of a puppy’s stool (faeces) can be very helpful to determine the feeding intervals or the quantity of milk intake.  The stool of a normal, healthy puppy is dark brown with a consistency similar to that of toothpaste. When the stool becomes more watery, it is usually a sign that the puppy drinks too much. If this continues for some time, the colour of the stool changes to a more pale and eventually a grayish colour, which indicates that the enzymes of the puppy, which is needed for digestion and absorption of milk, has been depleted. This can be rectified by increasing the feeding periods and/or decreasing the actual feeding time.

Cleaning of puppies 

After each feeding, the bitch has to lick each puppy’s perineal region in order to stimulate urination and defecation. A little bit of margarine on this area will encourage a young bitch to lick the puppy and in doing so, to learn this duty. If for some reason the bitch cannot or will not lick the puppy, a wettened piece of cotton can be used to simulate the licking of the bitch. If this activity is not done regularly with each feeding, a puppy may become constipated, show colic symptoms and eventually die if not treated in time. Suspected constipation can be treated by gently squirting 3-5 ml of lukewarm water or liquid paraffin with a syringe into the anus of the puppy.

Weight of puppies 

The weight of a puppy can be used to monitor the normal growth and health of the puppy. Birth weight should be doubled within 10 to 12 days and puppies showing no weight gain or a loss of weight, indicates a problem. The following table is only a rough guide for the average weight of normal, healthy Bulldog puppies:




1 week old

 ± 650 gr

2 weeks old -

± 1,0 kg

3 weeks old -

± 1,2 kg

4 weeks old -

± 1,7 kg

5 weeks old -

± 2,3 kg

6 weeks old -

± 3,2 kg

7 weeks old -

± 3,6 kg

8 weeks old -

± 4,0 kg


Vital statistics of healthy, growing Bulldog puppies

  • Respiratory rate: 15 – 35 per minute
  • Heart rate: At birth – 140/min; up to 2 weeks – 220/min and after 2 weeks: 160 –180/min
  • Rectal temperature: Newborn to 1 week: 35 -37,2¢ªC; 2-3 weeks: 37,2 – 37,8¢ªC; older than 4 weeks: 37,8 – 39,0¢ªC
  • Temperature control: starts on 4th day, fully effective at 3 weeks of age.
  • Shivering reflex: begins at 8 days
  • Eyes open at 10 – 12 days of age
  • Ears open at 13 – 15 days of age
  • Ability to stand at 10 days of age
  • Voluntary control of urination & defecation at 16 – 21 days of age
  • Muscle contractions (twitching): first 4 weeks.


The lactating bitch 

The lactating bitch should get a well-balance dog food together with a calcium supplement which should be given strictly according to manufacturer’s instruction, as excessive calcium can cause serious health problems in puppies. Between feedings, the bitch should be taken away from the puppies to avoid injuries to the puppies. Before each feeding, the stomach area and teats of the bitch should be washed with a mild antiseptic (e.g. diluted Miltons) and properly dried before the puppies are allowed to drink. At every feeding session, the puppies should drink from all the teats of the bitch to prevent swelling and infection of the udder.


Vaccination and deworming

Bitches that are adequately vaccinated before breeding can transfer protective antibodies to the fetus during pregnancy and after birth to the puppy through the milk (colostrum). These antibodies will protect the newborn puppy against potential infections for some time after birth. The puppy’s level of antibodies gradually decreases with time until it drops below a minimum protection level and consequently the puppy becomes fully susceptible again to infections. At this stage the puppy’s immune system must be stimulated by vaccination for future protection against infections. The breeder is advised to consult with his/her vet on an effective vaccination programme for a litter. A puppy must never be allowed to leave a kennel for at least 10 days after it has been vaccinated, which is the minimum time for a puppy to acquire immunity after vaccination.

Puppies should be dewormed with an effective broad-spectrum anti-helmintic from the age of 4 weeks, repeated every month to the age of 4 months, and once every 3 months thereafter. While the puppies are still drinking on the bitch, she must be dewormed simultaneously with the puppies.


Fading puppies

The syndrome whereby puppies, apparently normal and healthy at birth, fail to thrive and eventually die, is commonly called the fading puppy syndrome. Puppies are very vulnerable to any form of stress because of their immature immune, cardiovascular (heart) and respiratory (lungs) systems at birth. Factors such as chilling, malnutrition, congenital abnormalities, trauma and infection have consistently proven to be fatal to puppies, especially in the first 2 weeks of life when nearly 80% of puppy mortalities occur.

 Enteritis and pneumonia is the two most common diseases in puppies and also responsible for most mortalities. Enteritis (infection of the intestines) is caused by various viruses and bacteria and is precipitated by poor hygiene, lack of sufficient immune protection, ingestion of too much milk, change in diet or other stress factors. The main symptom is diarrhoea, which can vary from watery to mucoid to haemorrhagic, followed by dehydration, emaciation, weakness and death. Low ambient temperature, a draught or a common cold (viral infection) can cause infection of the upper respiratory system. If it is allowed to progress, it can develop into a bacterial infection of the lungs (pneumonia).  Symptoms include nasal discharge, rapid and difficult breathing and a moist cough. Inhalation of milk by Bulldog puppies is quite common and can rapidly develop into a fatal pneumonia. Novice breeders are advised to make us of a vet with sufficient experience in the treatment of puppies and to always react swiftly to any signs of disease




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