The Fine Art of Exercising Your Bulldog

The Fine Art of Exercising Your Bulldog

Bulldog owners are a unique breed. Once you fall in love with a bulldog, you are hooked for life.  We find their stubborn quirks charming, we get used to having a 50+ pound lap dog pounce on us, no matter where we try to sit.  Cleaning wrinkles, ears, and moisturizing noses becomes an automatic daily routine.  We somehow even enjoy trying to get some sleep during the constant bear-like cadence of that rasping snore.  What can we say?  We know a good thing when we see it, and we’ve fallen deeply in love with our quirky companions. And, we wouldn't change a thing.  

Bulldogs are not for everyone, or, more accurately, not everyone deserves to be a Bulldog parent. 



To us, this means an understanding of their character and total patience for their unique needs.   

Among the priorities for Bully families is proper, but safe, bulldog exercise. If you're new to the Bulldog community, here are a few things we'd like to share:

Bulldogs Do Benefit From Exercising

Many folks ask us if Bulldogs need exercise?  Yes, they certainly do, whether you have a French Bulldog of English Bulldog.

According to a recent major University study, a regular exercise routine can provide your Bulldog with better bone health, organ health, & brain health.

In addition, a healthy Bulldog will also gain strength, dexterity, overall wellness and better sleep.

A healthy Bulldog is a happy Bulldog.  Their quality of life will increase exponentially.  So will yours.  

Bulldogs Only Need Moderate Amounts of Exercise

While every Bulldog is unique, for most, about 20 minutes a day is plenty...and no more than 40 minutes a day.  Strenuous activity should be limited to 10-15 minutes a day.  Exercise can include walks, playing fetch, games of tug-o-war, light wrestling, playing with other dogs, etc.  

We recommend a couple of walks per day, about 10 minutes each, mixing in some other activities throughout the day.  Bulldogs get bored fairly easily, so find something they love and make it a regular part of their day.  

Bulldogs Need Their Exercise in Spurts

They are sprinters, not marathon runners. Bulldogs are “brachycephalic,” or “short-headed”, and this commonly makes breathing a tougher for them.  This condition is called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).  

The degree of difficulty varies from dog to dog. Consulting your Veterinarian about BOAS is a smart move, as they can diagnosis your bulldog's specific needs and conditions.  

That said, Bulldogs have playful spirits and do their best to compensate for this condition.  So, it's important that you monitor how long they have been playing and how hard they are breathing.  Please do not let them overdo it, as they will want to play for longer than they need to!

Bulldogs Are Prone To Heatstroke

Since all dogs use panting as their primary way to cool off, you can imagine that a compromised respiratory system makes it tough for Bulldogs to stay cool. They need closer monitoring than your average dog. 

Experts suggest that Bully families avoid exercising them during the hot hours of the day. Instead, take walks in the early morning hours or late evenings when the air is cooler. 

If you somehow find yourself in a situation where your pup is exposed to hot temps for too long, a cooler with some ice packs, a few cold cloths, and lots of fresh water, can help bring down a spiking temperature. Your emergency kit is a temporary fix, and you should you seek immediate veterinary care. 

Signs of Heatstroke in Bulldogs Include:

● An abnormally dark or bright red tongue

● Excessive or noisy panting 

● Extreme drooling

● Weakness or dizziness

● A glazed look to the eyes 

● Fainting

Be on the look-out and plan accordingly! Avoid these situations at all cost!  Heatstroke happens fast in most dogs, and brachycephalic breeds like ours are among the most susceptible 

The Bulldog Anatomy Doesn’t Tolerate Typical Dog Restraints

Walking your Bulldog should become the most common form of exercise for them.  It will get them off the couch, allow them to explore the neighborhood while spending quality time with their favorite human, and help to create an inseparable bond between you two.  

Keeping your Bully cool and comfortable during your walks is a huge priority. But, how do you keep them comfortable and safe?

First and foremost...never, ever, ever just use a leash and a collar!  This will put way too much pressure on your Bully's esophagus when they pull.  Also because of your Bulldog's thick neck, collars can easily slip off and leave your Bulldog free to run into traffic or other dangerous situation.  

So, you need a good chest harness...but, not just any chest harness. 

Since their bodies are quite unusual, so finding the best Bulldog harness can take some time. Proper fit and dynamic adjustability are the main keys here.  Also, it's crucial that your harness puts NO pressure on your Bulldog's throat area, especially when they pull.  Many cheaper harnesses slip forward and up on your Bulldog, making it hard for them to breath when they pull.  You will most likely hear a dreaded hack/cough when this happens,'s  time to immediately discard of that one and find one that properly fits. 

When it comes to fit, be sure that the harness is light, not overbuilt (your Bulldog already has plenty of padding!), but very sturdy.  The harness should evenly dispersed chest pressure, insuring respiration is never hindered. A bad fit, cheap materials and/or sloppy manufacturing are simply unacceptable. Your Bulldog deserves better! 

You'll also want a harness that's easily washable and one that is reflective to keep you both safe during night walks.

Bulldog Grade's Original No Pull Harness

What If Your Bulldog Is Already a Little Portly/Overweight?

Then it's important that you start an exercise program sooner than later.  Start light, walking 5 minutes at a time, a couple times a day. for the first week.  Add one more 5 minute walk each week, allowing your Bulldog to slowly build strength and stamina.  Then after 3-4 weeks, increase frequency and length of each walk.  Reward your Bulldog with with more praise than treats, and only with healthy, small all-natural training treats.  


Exercising your Bulldog not only has physical and mental benefits for them, but also for you.  Let's face it, Bulldogs can be high-maintenance, stubborn, and provide us with many behavioral challenges.  A good, consistent exercise regime will make your dog happier, more confident, and can help alleviate some of the hyperactivity, biting, chewing, and flatulence your Bulldog may exhibit...making your quality of life much better, too! 

Bottom Line: You owe it to your Bulldog to take 20-30 minutes out of each day, to keep them healthy, happy, and socially adjusted.  There's no excuses here.  Like we said earlier, not everyone deserves to be a Bulldog parent.  Make sure you prove your worthiness to your Bulldog, everyday!


Looking For A Little Human Advice About Your Bully?

If you're reading this, you know that you’ve taken on a companion that may, at times, have special needs. Fortunately, the global Bulldog community is growing, and there are some fantastic support groups out there to help you make the right choices for you and your family. 

We’ll also be posting weekly advice on how to best care for your Bulldogs, so check back with us soon and register with us, we'd love to have you as part of our Bulldog Grade community!