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GENERAL ADVICE

GENERAL ADVICE

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The following advice is a personal opinion and should not be used instead of seeing a qualified vet

PUPPY or ADULT

Not everyone wants or can afford a puppy and taking on an adult dog does have it's advantages. For example, problems that are impossible to spot at 8 weeks will be obvious in an adult dog, most of the training will already be done and you don't have to suffer the behaviour problems that sometimes show up in adolescent dogs. Also, it's a sad fact that most bulldogs are not fussy about who they live with and the majority rehome without a moments thought, in turn this means that the fact that it wasn't you that did that initial training isn't usually important - even if the dog received little or no training as a puppy they still respond to the praise and ignore methods that you'd use on a puppy so in the right home would catch up very quickly indeed.

Certainly in rescue we find that the majority of rehomings are as a result of a divorce or a change in a family situation, applying to the rescue will of course ensure that whatever dog you are offered fits your lifestyle, requirements and experience, but be careful when replying to an advert in the paper, although many of these adverts are certainly genuine, there is always the worry that these dogs have been refused by the rescue due to an aggression issue or should things not work out as planned you won't have the same back up that the rescue system offers.

However few dogs aged under 2 years of age will come through the rescue system, and if you want a dog of this age your choices are far more limited meaning that the paper or the internet are your only real options. Still expect to pay up to half the puppy rate for an under 2 through a private sale and if the advert reads "free to good home", ask them why they haven't used the rescue. Be careful when purchasing through a private seller, make sure you have as much history and information as you can (although much of it could probably be taken with a grain of salt) and ensure you ask why they are selling such a young dog and why it hasn't been returned to the breeder. At the very least, what ever dog you are buying, make sure you go to the advertiser so you can see how the dog has been living, don't agree to meet half way or in a service station and if the seller wants to vet your home arrange for this to be done before arranging to collect the dog.

It is not unusual for breeders to rehome ex-breeding stock and retired show dogs themselves, and is probably the kindest outcome for a dog that would otherwise spend the rest of his life kennelled or being left behind when the new show team leave without him each weekend. Most breeders won't advertise these dogs and will often only mention them on enquiry so it's always worth asking!

Page 18 - BULLDOG BIBLE By Tania Holmes


BREEDING

Breeding is of course the life blood of any breed, but it must be done responsibly and properly. Sadly, many bulldog bitches are bred every year that really shouldn't be. It's also true that there is many a potential champion stretched out in front of a fire side that will never be shown but there are also many pets that are bred with that really should do nothing more than be allowed to stretch out in front of a fire side.

In the period between 2005 and 2007 the number of puppies bred rose from around 2,000 registrations to 3,500 registrations. Many of these litters were registered to breeders with no Kennel Club affix and to bitches that had never been shown. Sadly the snowball effect meant that not only was the market suddenly flooded with litters that breeders found difficult to sell, but it put the breed in the top 20 most popular breeds, something that may appear to be a good thing, but in reality has a serious knock on effect to the welfare of the breed as poor quality puppies begin to make their way into the gene pool. Not only did we start to see health issues that had almost been irradicated through careful breeding (in particular breathing) start to creep back in, but the breeders of many of these pups had no idea what lie in the blood lines behind their litters. Bad temperaments, hemi vertebrae and the return of airway problems have become more apparent simply because the “breeder” wanted their money back on the purchase price of their bitch, not realising that breeding to the dog down the road doubled up on some serious problems. Worse, when a problem arose they had no idea how to deal with it, simply because not only did they not understand the pedigree and the faults the lines could carry they simply had not considered that a puppy they bred could go on to develop health issues. This is so unfair on the unsuspecting people who had bought these puppies who not only found themselves with a breeder that didn't know what to do, but found themselves saddled with enormous vet bills which began to soar. In many cases this was their first experience of a bulldog and the fact that their particular dog was so unhealthy played right into the hands of the anti bulldog vets and put many insurance premiums through the roof for everyone else with many insurance companies either refusing to insure bulldogs over the age of 5 or 6 or putting premiums up by between 100% and 400% on those dog already insured.

If you are considering breeding your bulldog there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first:

1          Why do you want to breed?

Breeding your boy will not stop him humping; in fact it could make him worse! Showing him what it's for could give him an even bigger appetite to use it again! So if you want to use your boy at stud take your time and make sure he is worthy of the job. Simply having the "equipment" is not a qualification of being a good sire.

Breeding your bitch is not necessarily good for her, in fact having a litter from your bitch could put her life at risk so be absolutely sure you know what to do well ahead of time. The show ring is the only justification for breeding, in fact showing your bulldog will not only give you a very good idea as to how good a specimen your particular bulldog is, but will also show you what's already out there. If your bulldog consistently does well in the ring then you know that what you have is worthy of being reproduced. Consistently not placing sadly means that your particular dog is a lovely pet, but nothing more.

2          Do you know what's involved?

The act of mating two bulldogs requires human assistance by an experienced handler. Bulldogs are clumsy and very few will work it out for themselves. A handler will ensure that there is little stress and that the right bits go together in the right places, some handlers prefer not to let the dogs tie just in case something goes wrong and you need to separate them but also some bitches can become aggressive when being mated so having someone on hand that knows exactly how to deal with the dogs is essential. In most cases 3 people are required, one to hold the bitch, one to hold and support the dog and an experienced handler to guide him. You'll find yourself sat on a cold floor for a long time and if she decides she doesn't want to be mated it's your job to keep her head still to prevent her from biting anyone or from attacking the male.

3          Are you aware how much it will cost?

Many see the return, up to two thousands pounds per pup, there's no doubt that the current selling price is very high, but there is an awful lot of outlay, so a small litter will not produce any kind of profit, in fact a litter of one or two pups will see a loss. Stud fees, handling fees, supplements for the bitch, vet fees during pregnancy, stand by hand rearing equipment, equipment for raising the pups, 2 tonnes of towels and a mountain of washing powder, the c-section, disinfectant, puppy food, incubator equipment, vaccinations and vet check, microchips, advertising, toys, puppy pack, registration fees all add up, not to mention the 3-4 week break from work and possible loss of wages during that time. All this on top of the 24/7 care the puppies will require during the first month of their lives. The bulldog is not a breed that can be left to raise her own babies, her clumsiness could cause suffocation of her puppies so you need to be with her as much as possible, and when you can't be she cannot be left alone with the pups who will need to be in a separate heated box.

4          Are you strong enough to let them go?

Keeping one or two for the show ring should be your reason for breeding and if you only have a litter of one or two you'll soon work out that it would have been cheaper and easier to buy a pup, but a larger litter will need to go to their new homes at around 8 weeks and no matter how strong you think you are, letting them go after weeks of such close contact will be one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do so make absolutely sure that you can cope with letting them go before you decide to breed.

5          How good are you at spotting a good home?

This is much easier said than done. Someone can sound perfect on the phone and then when you meet them you really don't want them to have one of your pups. Could you tell them that the deal was off? Would you know what to ask them, what you need to know about their lifestyle, previous dog experience, and their family situation? You must feel comfortable with every aspect of their lives and be sure that it is the lifestyle you would want your puppy to live in. Many breeders don't let their pups go to young couples that haven't yet had their children, as discriminatory as this may sound, many many bulldogs come through rescue because of a new baby, suddenly the dog is no longer of interest or the new mum is so wrapped her in her new child that the dog is seen as something dirty and unhygienic or that they simply do not have the time to care for him any more. A bulldog will live up to 13 years so they must feel that they can commit that period of time to caring for their dog.

6          Are you knowledgeable enough to be able to answer questions should something go wrong?

Once your puppy is sold there is up to 13 years worth of questions. Some hereditary conditions don't manifest for a few months or even years. Some things that appear to be a problem (ie: puppy limping) is common in the breed and the breeder needs to be aware of this in order to prevent unnecessary surgical intervention. Would you be able to advise should something you bred go on to develop a behaviour problem or demodex mange? You'd be surprised how many people will blame the breeder for absolutely everything that goes wrong and it can be very upsetting when something that is totally out of your control is being laid at your door. On the other hand if your attitude is that you have the money, the dog is no longer your responsibility then don't breed, you should be prepared to accept a life long responsibility for your pups and even take them back or help with a rehoming in the event that your pup can't stay with the people you sold him to. Ensure a contract of sale is signed and register the microchip number with Bulldog Rescue as this will ensure you are told if one of yours comes through the rescue system.

If you are absolutely sure that you want to breed because you want to improve the breed and are prepared to still be there for the pups in 13 years time then the next stage is to find a mentor. In many cases your dogs own breeder will make the perfect mentor but there are obviously some breeders that would fail to make a good mentor and in those cases you will need to look further afield. Do plenty of research well ahead of time. Research your bitches pedigree, work out what common problems arise from her pedigree (remember many breeders will not admit to having any problems) and then choose a stud that will compliment her pedigree. Take the time to visit breed club shows, every breed club in the UK has anything between 1 to 3 shows each year. The males are always shown first, so arrive in plenty of time and watch the dogs being shown, if you see something you like talk to his owner and ask to see his pedigree. If you join a few breed clubs, including your local one you will be sent details of forthcoming shows. It's always worth signing up to the main clubs: The Bulldog Club Incorporated (which is the oldest breed club in the world), the British Bulldog Club and the Junior Bulldog Club and also your local one. See page 96 for contact details.

If you are unsure as to how good a specimen your bitch is then enter her in some of the shows, if she's good, she'll place!

If you have a male then it's more important that he is shown. Using a male at stud is not as easy as it may first appear and the only way you will get genuine stud enquiries is if he's doing consistently well in the ring. You may have people come up to you in the street, but these enquiries will not do the future of the breed any good at all and providing you are able to achieve a successful mating will do nothing more than go on to create further problems for the future. Remember we are simply the custodians of the breed, what happens to this generation of breeders will have a huge affect on those that come into it after us and we need to leave a legacy that will do nothing except improve our beloved bulldogs.

Recommended Reading:

The Book of the Bitch - J M Evans and Kay White
Bulldog Breeding for Beginners - Vicky Collins-Natrass

Page 35-37 BULLDOG BIBLE By Tania Holmes

 


ENDING A LIFE

A sad reality is that all life eventually comes to an end. Our pets are blessed in that we can prevent the suffering of a terminally ill dog that is not afforded to ourselves. We all hope that our dogs will die peacefully in their sleep and as shocking as it is to find your dog has died in the night one morning it's most certainly the nicest way for the dog to go. However, there are many situations when you have to call time and people often ask how they will know if it's the right time. Put simply you'll just know but don't allow any dog to suffer just because you can't bear to say goodbye.

Having to call time your bulldog's life is the most difficult thing you will ever have to do, but should you find yourself in a situation where it is necessary it will most likely be the kindest thing you could have ever done for him.  Don't not do it because it hurts you, they won't thank you for it in the long run.

The average lifespan of a bulldog is 8-13 years and it’s not unusual for them to suddenly grow old in a very short space of time. It's something that bulldog owners are not necessarily prepared for and it can come as a shock when your spritely bulldog suddenly stiffens up and isn't quite so active. It's a sad fact that the breed as a whole can suffer "sudden death". Again it's a nice way for the dog to go but its one hell of a shock for the owner who in some cases can take years to come to terms with what happened.

One of the hardest things that will ever happen to you is losing your bulldog; they have such a human personality and take so much looking after that it's only normal that you should feel the need to grieve your loss as you would any human member of your family. So many feel it's wrong to mourn a dog and certainly something that has been said to me; "It's just a dog" is not only insensitive but one of the most wicked things anyone can say to you. Allow yourself to mourn and take as long as you need, some want another dog straight away, others need to wait a long time before they feel ready to have another, but certainly one thing that happens to almost all of us is that no matter how much heartache your bulldog gave you, no matter how much he cost you and no matter how much his manners embarrassed you; you will almost definitely get another bulldog. One of the good things about having a dog with a human like personality is that they are all different, although they have specific bulldog traits such as the irrational fear of hoovers, bin liners and carrier bags; they also have very different personalities from each other so it's almost impossible to replace one bulldog with another.

Old age affects bulldogs the same as it affects any other mammal, arthritis, deafness, blindness, strokes, cancer and in some cases dementia can affect them all at some point and seeing your dog through his old age brings with it some real responsibility to get the timing right. Trust your instinct and listen to your dog.

HELPING YOU TO COPE

Every one copes in different ways, it's very easy to dwell on that last day and forget that there was an entire life time ahead of that last awful moment. For some talking about their dog really helps, but others finding talking too upsetting. You have to deal with it in the way that suits you. Children find it particularly difficult to come to terms with, especially if they have never encountered a death before. There is a poem – ‘Rainbow Bridge’ that may help them to make some sense of it and I've found in the past that asking the child to paint a picture of their bulldog waiting at Rainbow Bridge gives them the opportunity to put it into some kind of perspective. It also gives you a focal point to talk to your child about what happened. No matter what your religion (if any) the thought of your dog waiting for you to join them is very comforting.

One of the saddest losses is on a dog that you've maybe not had for very long. It happens from time to time with rescue dogs, especially the older ones, I actually have a theory on dogs that leave their families soon after they have joined them. Read through the poem Rainbow Bridge - if it helps, I believe that these dogs don't leave until they've found the person they want to wait for. Sometimes these dogs have had awful pasts, or owners that were not particularly kind to them. Once they find you they realise they've found the one they want to wait for. It may not feel like it now, but take it as an honour.

Other dogs

Other dogs in your family will also miss a companion and it’s not unusual for them to pine or search for the one that has died. It often helps to change the routine, as dogs learn by association it often helps to change the old order so they become used to a different routine. Something that we’ve always done is to allow the other dogs to see the body of the one that has died, and if you plan to bury your dog in the garden (ensure there are no bylaws preventing you from doing this) allow them to attend the funeral, it just helps them understand so it doesn’t appear like the dog that has died has simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Thankfully the memory rarely lasts long and only after a few days or weeks the other dogs will appear to have moved on – don’t be offended if they do – it’s instinctive to them.

Page 60-61 BULLDOG BIBLE - By Tania Holmes

Remember your bulldog here

HOUSE TRAINING

The most common problem faced by bulldog owners when it comes to house training appears to be wetting bedding; I don't think there is any other breed that is as happy to sleep in a wet bed like the bulldog does. There are a number of reasons why they do this and your job is to work out which one fits your dog. In most cases it is a simple marking instinct and this is often realised when you only have wet beds when you put a freshly washed blanket in the bed. You see to us it smells nice and fresh and clean - to your dog it smells - well, just plain wrong! Marking territory is an instinctive canine behaviour, in most cases the only real territory your dog has is his bed, when we humans wash the bedding we take away the territory mark and this is where it often becomes a battle - you want clean bedding, your dogs wants everyone to know that area is his. Quite often you can combat this by having 2 layers of bedding and then when you need to wash the bedding you can bring the bottom one to the top and put the clean one in the bottom. By the time the bottom one comes to the top there is enough scent to deter them from needing to remark it. The minute this becomes a battle between you and the dog the situation becomes stressful and you feel that all you ever do is wash bedding. This is impractical in itself because every family has enough washing to do without constantly washing dog bedding. In some cases it would be wiser to use a crate rather than a bed as the trays can be wiped or hosed down. If this by itself doesn’t work then remove all bedding so the urine puddles, making it harder for your dog to get comfortable.

Male marking behaviour is presented by your dog cocking his leg in doorways, up the kitchen bin or the front of the sofa. He's working out his boundaries and his natural instinct is to mark that boundary. Again this becomes frustrating to the dog owner and it doesn't take long before you feel the entire house smells. We joke in our house that the fragrance of  Eau De Dog Pee is everywhere so there's a lot of lavender scented air fresheners around the place which to be honest probably just make the place smell of a sickly combination of the two - but it makes me feel better. Wiping down after your dog has cocked his leg will not remove the scent mark and to your dog, where there's a scent mark there's a toilet. Use a product called "Wash and Get Off", this will clean the area, remove the scent mark and replace it with a strong citrus smell which is unpleasant for your dog and will discourage him from remarking that spot, this is usually enough to deter them from marking inside the house, but you need to be aware that your dog has no concept of the right or wrong place to pee, he has no idea that inside is wrong because in most cases as long as it's away from his sleeping area, its the right place to him.

However, because there is no concept of right and wrong to your dog, if the basics of house training are not done properly you end up with another battle, that of the dog that goes to the toilet wherever he chooses. Given the opportunity the bulldog will be as lazy as you allow him to be when it comes to house training, but before you embark on a training regime you need to be aware that if you are out of the house for 10 hours a day your dog will mess in the house, regardless of how well trained he is. Work out how many times you went to the toilet during that 10 hour period and then ask yourself how fair it is to expect your dog not to. It is very unfair to even contemplate having a dog if there is no one around during the day and coming home to a mess must be expected if you do. "He knows he's done wrong" is a common comment which is a human interpretation of your dog cowering from you when he's messed. He cowers because you're home and yesterday when you came home you screamed at him for something he did that he doesn't understand, he remembers the telling off and he remembers it happened when you came home, he does not associate it with the fact that he was absolutely bursting to go to the toilet and there was no one there to let him out.

Having said all that though, I know of many bulldogs that will wee on the kitchen floor even if the back door is wide open and it is these dogs that need a strict house training regime. It won't take long to instil this training, although it won't take long for him to revert back again, so it's a training programme that needs to be kept up for the rest of his life. It is actually a very simple regime and will not take hours of training to get the message across. Simply ignore accidents in the house and praise him when he does it on a walk or in the garden. It often helps to have an emptying command such as “do wee wee's”, “be clean”, “hurry up” or whatever you are comfortable saying in public. The only time consuming aspect is getting that first wee outside, once that is underway you can instil the association of the command with the action and praise him like he just won the lottery. Praise him every single time he performs outside and completely ignore what he does in the house (don't even let him see you clean it up), this is very important for dogs that wee indoors for attention. Again that "he knows he's done wrong" attitude is sometimes what creates a behaviour that is played out simply for the telling off, because that telling off is attention and that attention is his payload. The praise and ignore method works very well with dogs that mess for the attention because the whooping he gets for performing outside becomes a far more pleasant payload than the telling off he gets for doing it inside - and believe me, there's nothing a bulldog like more than attention and being told he's a good boy.

Many people, including us, use doggy doors; these are just bigger versions of cat flaps and are perfect for dogs that are left home for long periods of time. The only thing I will say about these doggy doors is that they must lead to a very very secure area, not only does it put your dog at a higher risk of theft, it also creates a way in for intruders, so if your doggy door is in full view of the road or can be seen from outside of the garden don't install one. And be prepared for the fun and games that often goes with teaching your bulldog how to use it.

Finally, we go full circle and return to dogs that wet their beds because they're too darn lazy to get up and go outside. If your dog has never done this before or the behaviour is sudden and out of character it may well be that he has a bladder infection. Symptoms of UTIs are urinating small amounts frequently and in severe cases the urine will be blood streaked or blood colour. This needs anti biotics although dogs that are prone to UTIs will benefit from a dribble of apple cider vinegar in their drinking water. Bitches in season almost always develop a UTI and it's worth noting that being in season is often the cause of sudden out of character urination in the house. We always put a dribble of ACV in the drinking water of bitches in season as they almost always develop a low level UTI caused through an open vulva which allows infection in when she squats low to the ground to wee. Once a bladder infection is ruled out you need to rule out mechanical causes such as a spinal problem. Sometimes the full affects of hemi vertebrae (deformed vertebrae) may not present as incontinence until the dog is fully grown so if the urination appears to be an involuntary action the most likely cause will be problems along the spine, although it's also a behaviour I've seen in bitches that have been extensively over bred - after all no one told them they had to do their pelvic floor exercises!  For these dogs it’s not unusual for vets to prescribe Propaline syrup, although this works in many cases it can very occassionally change a personality and bring on aggressive behaviour so watch very closely if you start giving this to your incontinent bulldog.

That just leaves the good old fashioned lazy dog, that pees in his bed whilst he’s in it because it makes life easier. In most cases confining the dog to a penned off area or a crate is sufficient as it is very unusual for a dog to happily sleep alongside their mess, having said that I know of many that will and messing in the crate is probably the one thing that us humans really can't understand. Many dogs will get around the problem simply by pushing the bedding to the back of the crate. The green backed vet bedding also pulls the wetness away from the surface (rather like a child’s nappy) so it's not always apparent that the bed is wet. Taking the bedding away completely for a few nights is the first thing to try, because without the bedding to soak it up, urine stays in the tray of the crate making it impossible for them to lay down (unless they are really not bothered). A few uncomfortable nights is all that is usually needed to break the lazy cycle and providing you have ensured that the dog has been to the toilet before they are shut in the crate overnight the problem is often solved.

Of course there are still a few bulldogs that just never grasp the concept of being clean and if none of the usual methods have worked it may well be that you have to learn to live with it, but with a well established routine, lots of praise for going outside (which means going outside with them; not just opening the back door and leaving them to it), ignoring accidents in the house and removing bedding from a persistent bed wetter the subject of house training has been pretty much covered.

The only thing I will add at this point, is if you’ve taken on an ex-kennel dog there has most likely never been any housetraining and these dog can see nothing wrong with wetting where ever they happen to be when they need to go because it’s been normal for them up until arriving with you. Don’t be angry with these dogs, the entire concept of being house trained is alien to them so you need to take them right back to basics, as if you’ve brought home an 8 week old puppy.

Basic House Training Rules

>      Establish a routine, take your dog outside first thing every morning, straight after eating and last thing at night

>     Choose an emptying command and give this command initially as the dog performs to form the association between the command and the act and give plenty of praise

>     Once the association is formed use the emptying command to tell the dog what you wish him to do and praise every single time

>      Do not leave your dog alone without access to the garden for long periods of time, if you do, anything you come home to is your own fault

>      Do not chastise accidents in the house - ignore them so you don't create an attention seeking behaviour

 Page 44 - 47 Bulldog Bible by Tania Holmes


 

TO NEUTER OR NOT TO NEUTER?

CASTRATION

Advice regarding castration seems to differ depending on who you ask. I guess that the “rules” also differ between breeds and subsequently breeders will advise according to the breed they know. Sadly I’ve found that the worst people to give advice on castration are vets, their knowledge on the subject is so broad spectrum that the vast majority of it doesn’t appear to apply to many pedigree dogs. I know that as far as bulldogs are concerned the advice given by non breed experienced vets on this subject is often miss-guided and sadly, incorrect. Whereas there’s no doubt that as a profession they are fantastic at understanding the medical aspects of the reproduction system, sadly, they don’t seem to have an awful lot of knowledge regarding behaviour and when it comes to castration, the hormones that are involved do appear to put the two hand in hand. To be fair, many vets do try and get their advice right and many will advise the owners of a hyperactive, boisterous dog to castrate on the basis that it will calm them down, in reality it probably won’t make a blind bit of difference (in bulldogs at least) and castration undertaken too early can, in some cases, cause worse behaviour than what you were trying to curb.

I think the first thing you need to ask yourself prior to having your dog castrated is why. There certainly isn’t a need to rush out and get your dogs dangly bits chopped off simply because he has dangly bits and this is probably why so many male dog owners find the thought of castration so stomach churning. There are only really two advantages of having your dog castrated - a) he will be unable to sire a litter and b) he will never contract testicular or problems with his prostate. In my opinion, these are the only two reasons why a dog should be castrated. It has been my experience that castration will NOT calm a boisterous dog down simply because it will not alter a personality. It will NOT stop a dog from lusting after your leg or the cat or even next doors collie cross (unless of course it’s a bitch and she is in season) as most humping behaviour is not sex driven but is simply a way of expressing stress, nervousness or dominance. It may stop him from cocking his leg in the house and may stop him from wanting to pee on every single blade of grass in the park - but there’s no guarantees there either.

In fact all of these are behaviours that need to be dealt with by good old fashioned training and if your reason for castration is any of these then you are going to be sorely disappointed as castration is certainly not a behaviour “quick fix”.

Bulldog males have a testosterone surge between the ages of 6 and 9 months old, in many cases this turns them in to “lager louts” and this is often the behaviour which causes many vets to advise castration. This is where the vet and I will always disagree because the dog needs this surge of hormone in order to mentally mature properly, put simply it allows chemical changes in the brain to take place that turn the dog from puppy to adult. I usually compare this stage of the dogs development to that of a 15 year old human boy. Take a look at the kids hanging around the town, walking the walk, talking the talk, voices in various stages of breaking, faces in various stages of sprouting hair. The hormone changes that allow this to happen to your son is pretty much the same as the hormonal changes that need to occur in your bulldog and early castration will prevent this surge of hormones and subsequently prevent the dog from mentally maturing. You can usually tell the dogs that were deprived of their testosterone surge because they usually never learn to cock their legs and end up “peeing like a girl”. Often they don’t properly develop skeletally either and tend to have under sized heads and narrow fronts. My personal opinion is that bulldogs should never be castrated under the age of 18 months; if you are having problems with oik-ish behaviour then you need to look at your training methods or accept that “it’s a phase” and not enlist the help of a vet with a scalpel and a syringe full of anaesthetic.

Once your dog is mentally mature then castration can be happily undertaken. If you have no intentions of breeding or showing then this is the most responsible course of action to take, not only will it prevent him from wandering off after local bitches in heat it will also prevent him from ever developing testicular or prostate cancer. As a bonus it MAY stop unwanted marking behaviour and it will most probably reduce the number of squabbles and fights in a multi dog household (especially amongst other males) unless a major falling out has already occurred and then it’s unlikely that anything will put it right.

SPAYING

Spaying on the other hand is a completely different kettle of fish. It is wise to allow your bitch to have her first season, as with males the hormone changes that occur around the time your bitch is in season is quite important for their mental and physical maturity. As the entire cycle (as with humans) is hormone governed it's wise to schedule a spay so it falls mid-way between the last season and what would be the next season. Although it has always been considered that bitches come into season every six months, in bulldogs it's more likely to be 8 to 9 months, in that case arrange the surgery for 4 months time.

In a multi dog household the season is the most likely trigger to a falling out between bitches. We always advise that in an effort to prevent a permanent falling out, bitches in season should be taken completely out of the group. This is also wise if you have any entire males as an accidental mating can occur and if she is no where near other dogs this is less likely to happen. She is ready to mate around 10-14 days from the first day of her season, after which the season will begin to taper off, although she can show colour (bleed) for up to 21 days.

Remember, the shape of the bulldog doesn't allow her to keep herself clean as she can't reach her back end. Some bulldog bitches don't seem to mind but it's wise to keep her clean whilst she's showing colour, otherwise it'll end up dragged across your lovely clean carpet. Some bulldog owners use doggy nappies whilst their bitch is in season in an effort to prevent it from staining carpets and furniture.

Remember that whilst in season your bitch is likely to become either slightly incontinent or begin to wee in the house. Some of this is marking as her instinct tells her to mark out her territory to not only keep other bitches away but also to tell males in the area that she is ready. She may also be prone to contracting Urine infections, bulldogs squat so low to the ground when they pass urine, doubled with the fact that her vulva is very swollen and open - infection easily gets in which in turn causes cystitis like symptoms. A dribble of Apple Cider Vinegar in her water will reduce the chances of her contracting a UTI but in the event that there is a lot of blood in her urine a course of anti biotics from the vet will be required.

You will notice that approximately 3 weeks ahead of the season her vulva will begin to swell, and any entire males in the household will notice that she's coming into season. If you have no intention of breeding your bitch then spaying is highly recommended as entire bitches stand a much higher chance of contracting a pyometra and mammary tumours later in life.

Spaying does not put on weight, BUT it can alter the dog's metabolism which in turn can mean that the amount of food she's currently eating is too much, all too often we hear the words "oh we can't spay her she'd get too fat" when often all you need to do is reduce her intake of food to adjust to the change in metabolism.

Page 52 - 53 Bulldog Bible by Tania Holmes