5 Types of Bulldogs for Families

Black, white and brown Australian bulldog sitting in white chair

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

When you think of a bulldog, you probably picture the original bulldog: the short, stocky, flat-faced breed that many people call the English bulldog. Although the bulldog is the most popular bulldog type breed, several other breeds fall into the bulldog family. Most bulldog breeds are wonderful for families, including families with kids. However, it’s important to teach children how to safely and respectfully interacted with any dog. That means no pulling on ears or tails, no attempts to ride the dog, and giving the dog personal space when it needs it. Additionally, an adult should always supervise all interactions between kids and dogs of any breed.

Let’s meet six popular types of bulldogs that are good for families.

Breed Characteristics

Bulldog-type breeds vary in size, from the smallest (the French bulldog) to the largest (the Dogue de Bordeaux) with several bulldog breeds falling somewhere in between. Bulldog breeds also differ somewhat in personality, though most bulldogs tend to be a little bullheaded (i.e., stubborn and difficult to train). Some bulldog breeds are moderately energetic and others are couch potatoes. Bulldogs are brachycephalic, which means they have flattened faces with short muzzles. Brachycephalic breeds more easily become overheated, especially in very warm weather, so they must be kept cool and not exercised in hot temperatures. Many bulldog breeds also have droopy jowls, and underbites, which can lead to drooling.

  • 01 of 05

    Bulldog (English Bulldog)

    Adult English Bulldog

    Alvarez / Getty Images

    The bulldog, often called the English bulldog, is like no other dog. It’s beloved for its low-swung, heavy-set body, massive head and trademark scowl. For hundreds of years the bulldog was used in England for bullbaiting, a gruesome sport that was outlawed in early 1800s. Back then the bulldog larger and more ferocious than the mellow couch potato we know and love today. The transformation came about when breeders sought to remake the bulldog into a sweet family pet rather than a fierce fighter. Today’s bulldog is dignified and peaceful. The breed is a popular school mascot and family dog. They are famous for their friendships with children, making the bulldog an excellent companion for families. 

    Breed Fast Facts

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 14 to 15 inches

    Weight: 40 to 50 pounds

    Personality/Temperament: Kind, courageous, peaceful and dignified

    Energy Level: Low

    Coat and Color: Short, fine-textured, smooth, and glossy coat colored red, white, fawn, or fallow (pale brown) with or without patterns and markings, such as brindle, piebald, ticking, black masks, or black tipping

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years

  • 02 of 05

    French Bulldog

    A French Bulldog sitting on a chair

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    The French bulldog is descended from the English bulldog. In the mid-1800s, some toy-sized bulldogs were being bred in England, and they were brought to France with their emigrating owners. In France, these small bulldogs were bred with other breeds, possibly pugs and small terriers, and transformed to the French bulldog we know today, a small bulldog with large bat ears and a huge personality. This new Bouledogue Français, was a huge hit in Paris, and eventually spread to Europe and the United States, where they remain immensely popular. French bulldogs, or Frenchies as they are affectionately known, are exceptional companions, particularly with children. They are adaptable, active and playful with very steady temperaments. 

    Breed Fast Facts

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 11 to 13 inches

    Weight: Less than 28 pounds

    Personality/Temperament: Adaptable, affectionate, alert and playful 

    Energy Level: Low

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in white, cream or fawn, with or without brindle, piebald, black masks, black shadings and white markings

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 03 of 05

    American Bulldog

    American Bulldog

    Aleksandr Zotov / Getty Images

    When British immigrants came to America in the 1800s, they brought their dogs, including bulldogs, with them. Back then bulldogs were much larger and taller than the short, stocky bulldogs we know today. In the New World, farmers and ranchers put these bulldogs to use as working dogs, where they were especially good at guarding the homestead, herding, catching livestock and hunting feral pigs. The breed evolved and was eventually renamed White English Southern Bulldog, and later, American Bulldog. American Bulldogs are loyal, affectionate and known for being great with kids.

    Breed Fast Facts

    Group: Guardian (UKC), Foundation Stock Service (AKC)

    Height: 20 to 25 inches

    Weight: 60 to 100 pounds

    Personality/Temperament: Fearless, protective, gentle and loving companion 

    Energy Level: Medium

    Coat and Color: Sturdy, stocky, and muscular build; large, box-like head with powerful jaws; ears that may be cropped, slightly pricked, or droopy

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

  • 04 of 05

    Olde English Bulldogge

    Olde English Bulldogge

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    The olde English bulldogge is the result of an attempt to recreate the original athletic English bulldog that was used for bull baiting, before it evolved into the smaller, stocky, roach-backed breed we know today. The olde English bulldogge should mirror the looks of the bull baiting bulldogs of the early 1800s. The Olde English bulldogge possesses the drive, temperament and agility to perform for sport or working purposes, but is confident, friendly and alert—never vicious. They are excellent companions for both adults and children.

    Breed Fast Facts

    Group: Guardian (UKC), not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 16 to 20 inches

    Weight: 50 to 80 pounds

    Personality/Temperament: Confident, friendly and alert

    Energy Level: Medium

    Coat and Color: Short, close, shiny coat in the brindle pattern or solid white, fawn, red or black with or without white markings

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 14 years

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Dogue de Bordeaux

    Dogue de Bordeaux

    GETTY IMAGES/ Tara Gregg / EyeEm

    The dogue de Bordeaux is an ancient French breed that was once called the “Bordeaux mastiff” or the “Bordeaux Bulldog.” Like the bulldog, the Dogue de Bordeaux was originally used as fighting dogs, as well as war dogs, but overtime transitioned to guard dog duties, patrolling large estates in France. After the French Revolution, the dogue de Bordeaux saw yet another career change—this time being used to drive livestock. Today’s dogue de Bordeaux a protective and loyal companion. Though they may be standoffish with strangers, the dogue de Bordeaux is very affectionate with its beloved family. The dogue de Bordeaux can be wonderful with children, though due to their size and strength, kids shouldn’t walk the dog alone. 

    Breed Fast Facts

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: Females: 99 pounds and up; males: 110 pounds and up

    Personality/Temperament: Calm, balanced, self-assured and affectionate

    Energy Level: Medium

    Coat and Color: Fine, short and soft in all shades of fawn, from a dark red fawn to a light fawn

    Life Expectancy: 5 to 8 years

Breeds to Avoid

Families with children should focus on breeds known to do well with kids. Most bulldog breeds are considered good with children, but this is provided the dog is well bred and well socialized and trained as a puppy and beyond. Some large, assertive breeds that resemble bulldogs are not the best choices for families with kids, including the cane Corso and dogo Argentino. The bullmastiff, which was created by breeding mastiffs with bulldogs, can be good with kids if well socialized to them, but their massive size can be intimidating for small children.  

More Breeds for Families

If you’re looking for a breed that could be a good fit for a family with children, check out these breeds known for being kid-friendly:

·       15 Best Dog Breeds for Kids and Families

·       10 Best Large Dog Breeds for Families

·       10 Best Small Dogs for Kids

  • How many litters can a French bulldog have?

    Most female French bulldogs cannot have more than four litters in their lifetime. Otherwise, it can put their health in danger.

  • How do you clean bulldog wrinkles?

    Plain, unscented baby wipes are a good option, as well as pricier veterinary wipes that include chlorhexidine. Wrinkles can be dried well with cotton balls.

  • What is a Victorian bulldog?

    Victorian bulldogs are a mashup of bull terriers, bull Mastiffs, Staffordshire bull terriers, and English bulldogs.

Article Sources
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  1. Workout Safety for Flat-Faced Dogs. American Kennel Club.