If you own or are planning to own an English Bulldog, you’ll know that they are a playful, happy breed. As with other dogs, Bulldogs need exercise to live a healthy, happy life. However, English Bulldogs, in particular, are more prone to specific health issues and require a more in-depth knowledge base to care for them properly.
Exercising an English Bulldog: How and How Much: This will depend on their age and general health, however, most English Bulldogs benefit from at least 20-40 minutes of scheduled low impact exercise each day. This can easily and safely be accomplished with daily walks or an extended playtime.
Making time to exercise your English Bulldog can significantly improve their health and behavior. Still, too much exercise or too strenuous exercise can cause more harm than good. Several factors can determine how much to exercise your Bulldog and which activities they can safely engage in every day.
In this article, we will give you all of the details of how to safely exercise your English Bulldog so they can stay healthy and happy.
Exercising an English Bulldog: How and How Much
Knowing how to exercise and how much exercise your English Bulldog needs is not as intuitive as it should be. All dog breeds are unique in personality, temperament, and energy. Then on top of all of that, all dogs have individual needs.
One particular aspect of an English Bulldogs build is their shorter legs and stocky, muscular build. This combination can become problematic with excessive weight gain caused by too little exercise, but it can also impact their joints if they exercise too much. Finding the right balance will take some time and change as they age.
On top of their build, they also can have a tough time breathing. They are a short-nosed breed that has compromised air passages. That means that as they exercise, they may not be able to breathe as efficiently as other breeds. If the exercise is too strenuous, the demand for oxygen will become too much for their bodies to support.
All of this information can be a lot to take in, and it is easy to think that perhaps you shouldn’t exercise them at all. In the next section, we will discuss the safest exercises for English Bulldogs.
Best Exercises for English Bulldogs
English Bulldogs can be known as a somewhat lazy breed. That being said, getting your Bulldog to exercise may take some extra effort and encouragement on your part. Once they get going, though, they will be happy that you took the time.
On average, an English Bulldog should have at least 20 minutes of scheduled exercise per day. This time may change as your Bulldog ages. Most pet professionals have said that 40 minutes of exercise is generally a safe maximum amount for your Bulldog. Depending on the activity, you may be able to exceed this time limit, but you will have to watch them more carefully.
Keep in mind that daily exercise does not need to happen all at once. You can break up their exercise into smaller time increments. This can be much safer for them as they’re prone to joint issues, so they will have time to recover.
Along with a well-balanced, nutritious diet, English Bulldogs should be exercised regularly, and if possible, every day. Sometimes developing an exercise plan or daily routine can help ensure that your Bulldog is exercised each day correctly.
Some of the best exercises for English Bulldogs include: daily walks, fetch, tug-o-war, and socialization with other dogs. We will explain these activities in more detail below.
How Far to Walk an English Bulldog
How far you walk your Bulldog with first and foremost depends on their age. We will discuss why age matters in a later section. Bulldogs, and most dogs for that matter, love going for walks. Most Bulldogs will be content with a 10-15 minute walk around the neighborhood with ample time to stop and smell things. Of course, you’ll need a good lease to walk your dog with, and this one from Amazon is an excellent choice.
These walks should be at their pace, so you will likely have to walk much slower than usual. Also, keep the weather in mind. Since Bulldogs already have a hard time regulating their breathing, it becomes more difficult with exercise in hot or humid weather. If it is a hot time of year, keep your walks limited to early morning or night time excursions.
Another key Bulldog fact is that they typically do not like walking after they have eaten a meal. Try to walk them before you’ve fed them or wait at least an hour after they’ve eaten before even going for a short walk.
If walking is the only variety of exercises that you provide your adult Bulldog, be extra vigilant to limit the walking time to 30 minutes at most. With other forms of exercise (i.e., fetch), there are ample breaks in between, and the entire time period does not involve movement. Walking is a continuous exercise that could potentially prove to be strenuous if they walk too far or too fast.
You should also try to take your Bulldog on different routes each time you walk. Dogs need mental stimulation as much as they need physical stimulation. When your Bulldog stops to sniff something or gets to see new physical surroundings, they are engaging their minds just as much as their bodies. For added stimulation, you can always drive your Bulldog to a new park every so often, so they experience both the enjoyment of a car ride and a new place to walk.
Free Play with an English Bulldog
Free play is another great way to have a supervised exercise time with your Bulldog. This is especially easy if you have a big bag yard. Free play references exercise that involves toys such as fetch or tug-o-war. This can also include interaction and socialization time with other dogs.
As with many other dog breeds, English Bulldogs love playing fetch with their owners. Since they have shorter legs and inherent breathing problems, you should keep your throwing distance much smaller. This makes playing fetch easy to do either outside or inside your home. As fetch is a very fast-paced game, it can help to take breaks and play in short intervals, so they are not overexerted.
Another classic game that Bulldogs enjoy is tug-o-war. If you have a rope or toy they love, consider playing this game with them. This is also a great game to play in a small space, making it a perfect indoor game for rainy days. Since Bulldogs have such strong jaws, they find great enjoyment in tug-o-war with their owners and other dogs. This is stimulating to both their bodies and their minds and generally is a low-impact activity. They are a laid back breed in most cases, so you won’t have to worry too much about them being overly aggressive during this game.
Playtime with other dogs is another one of a Bulldog’s favorite activities. They are not as active as most other breeds, but they love to explore and socialize. This can include having puppy play dates with friends that have friendly dogs, going to the dog park, or even just walking around the park and letting them socialize with other people and dogs.
Bulldogs will need to be supervised when they play, especially when they’re socializing with other breeds. Most other breeds are much more active than Bulldogs can be. An English Bulldog will often try to keep up with other dogs, so you must watch your pet for potential health risks as they play. We will go over health risks and warning signs in a later section.
All dogs need to be mentally stimulated just as much as they need to exercise. Mental exercise can burn just as much energy as physical activity. Many behavioral problems that arise in Bulldog’s result from lack of exercise but also overall boredom. Mental stimulation, paired with adequate exercise, is one of the best ways to curb any adverse behaviors.
Mental enrichment can be as simple as providing a puzzle toy for them to use while you’re away, such as a Kong bone with a treat hidden inside. This requires their full attention to work on removing their delicious prize.
Chewing can also be considered mental stimulation as it is a natural behavior that keeps them occupied and stimulated. It is especially effective when it is in puzzle form, but standard chew toys and bones can be effective as well. For some dogs, chewing is a natural stress reliever. So, provide a safe object for them to chew on when you’re away to prevent them from destroying other things.
No matter your dog’s age, they can learn new tricks. Most dogs enjoy learning new tasks! Take time each week to work on training exercises or new skills. This rewards them and allows them to use multiple parts of their brain. Dogs are extremely intelligent and can learn the names of many objects. An exercise that is easy to do is to teach your Bulldog the names of toys and other objects in the house that they can identify.
One of the most accessible forms of mental stimulation is in the form of food. When you are going to give your Bulldog a treat or even their daily meals, ask them to perform a command to receive it. It can be as easy as asking them to sit and stay for a while, or you can teach them various tricks to mix it up each day.
How Much to Exercise an English Bulldog
Beyond knowing which activities are best for your English Bulldog, you must understand how much to exercise them in every stage of their life. On average, Bulldog’s only really required 15-20 minutes of exercise each day. However, the intensity of the activity and age of your Bulldog may cause that amount of time to fluctuate.
How Much Is Too Much Exercise for an English Bulldog?
Too much exercise can be especially dangerous for English Bulldogs. The dangers exist primarily due to the number of potential health problems that English Bulldogs are prone to having (this will be discussed in more detail in the next section).
For adult Bulldogs, the average maximum amount of exercise they should have per day is 40 minutes. This is a total time, not just at one time. That means that in a full 24 hour period, 40 minutes of exercise is more than enough and should not be surpassed. This time can be broken down into smaller sections and be supplemented with mental stimulation.
About 50% of their daily exercise should be from non-strenuous walking. While some Bulldog’s are full of personality and love to play fetch and run, it can be dangerous if they spend a full 40 minutes engaged in that type of exercise. Try to limit high-intensity activities to increments of 10-15 minutes.
While 40 minutes may not seem like very much in an entire day, most Bulldog’s are chronically lazy and will spend all day lounging if given a chance. With that in mind, you may need to encourage your dog to get up and get going each day. Remember, 40 minutes is the max exercise time, not necessarily the goal.
The Age of Your Bulldog Matters
As with most dog breeds, English Bulldogs have distinct needs in different stages of their life. When they are puppies, they’re still growing and developing, so too much or too little activity and impact their growth into adulthood. Elderly Bulldog, on the other hand, usually are suffering from joint problems and other chronic health conditions that limit their playtime.
The time spent exercising your English Bulldog should first be determined by their age. The ranges for adulthood will differ per dog breed. English Bulldogs generally are seen as reaching adolescence/adulthood within nine months of age. See exercise time per age in the table below:
|English Bulldog Age
|Max Amount of Time Exercising Per Day
|Adulthood (10 months – 6 yeras)
|Senior Dog (6+ years)
Exercising Your Bulldog Puppy
When your Bulldog is a puppy, their bones, muscles, and joints are still developing. Being in a developmental stage of life makes the amount of time spent exercising especially important. While puppies tend to have periods of energy throughout the day, they also need an excessive amount of sleep for their bodies to recover appropriately.
They also need more diverse kinds of exercise each day since their brains and bodies are changing every day. While adult bulldogs can go on walks for an extended period, a good rule of thumb for your Bulldog puppy is to only walk them up to 2 minutes for every month of age. That means that if you have a three-month-old puppy, you should only be walking them for at most 6 minutes.
Now, on the chart above, we listed 15 minutes as the max amount of exercise per day for a three-month-old puppy. This is true. So, if you take your three-month-old Bulldog out for a 6-minute walk, then you still have 9 minutes of playtime left in the day.
Breaking down the time spent exercising is an excellent method, especially when they are puppies. If you take your Bulldog puppy for a short walk, they will likely need a nap. Then, later in the day, you can spend a few minutes playing fetch, doing training exercises, or socializing with other puppies.
Exercising Your Aging Bulldog
Just as with your Bulldog puppy, as your English Bulldog moves past adulthood into their senior years, their energy levels, health, and overall attitude will begin to change. You may become aware of specific health problems at this point in your dog’s life, and these individual needs will become a basis for how much exercise they need.
Now, just because they’re slowing down doesn’t mean that they don’t need exercise. Older dogs need it just as much as they do at any age. As bulldogs grow to be past the age of six, they are at a much higher risk of obesity. This is usually due to a lack of exercise or a poor diet. Both of these things can be controlled as an owner and should be adapted to your dog individually.
As older Bulldogs may develop hip dysplasia or arthritis, it can be hard to balance exercise with the way that they feel. It is crucial to manage their weight even more in these instances as excess weight can cause more strain on their joints and muscles. Regular, low-impact exercises help to keep their joints and muscles strong and mobile.
At an older age, just as you would with a puppy, it can be helpful to exercise in shorter increments to allow ample recovery time. That may mean taking them for a 5-10 minute walk, letting them nap and rest, and then later in the day playing fetch or going for another short stroll in a new area.
Always Supervise Your Bulldog During Exercise
Bulldogs are a unique breed in their build and personalities. All bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs. This condition is brought on due to their flat faces and noses. Since they have such a small face, to begin with, their facial bones in their muzzle and nostrils region tend to be much smaller than that of non-brachycephalic breeds. With smaller nasal cavities, breathing becomes much harder, especially during exercise.
Their breathing difficulties paired with other health risks discussed in the next section are the primary reason we highly recommend supervising your Bulldog at all times during exercise.
Bulldogs are impacted more severely by the temperatures outside as well. If the weather is too cold or too hot, they will struggle to breathe or overheat. If you live in a colder climate, you can easily purchase a vest or jacket for your dog to wear if you want to take them on short walks outdoors during cold weather. If you live in a warm climate, you will have to limit your outdoor exercise to early morning or evening when the sun is less intense, and temperatures are cooler.
Common health risks to watch for when exercising your Bulldog:
- Labored Breathing
If you notice any of these four things while exercising your Bulldog, stop immediately. For some things like limping or overheating, you may need to visit a vet as soon as possible. Other things, such as exhaustion, can be curbed with some water and rest. An important Bulldog fact is that they have an extremely high pain tolerance. So, while they may have just started limping, they could have been injured days ago and are just not showing signs.
Common English Bulldog Health Conditions
We have mentioned it numerous times throughout this article that English Bulldogs are prone to several different health problems. The health of your dog will significantly impact how much exercise they can engage in each day.
Many of the health conditions found in English Bulldogs are caused due to selective breeding practices. These breeding initiatives are what caused their smushed faces, stocky build, and large heads. While these cosmetic changes and looks were targeted, they do impact the health, lifespan, and quality of life.
Some of the most common health issues that impact an English Bulldog’s activity level include:
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome: Discussed in detail earlier in the article, but it can cause sensitivity to extreme temperatures and make breathing difficult during exercise. This syndrome also makes it impossible for them to travel on planes safely.
- Temperature Sensitivity: Extremely prone to overheating and heatstroke, partially due to their airway restrictions. They are also more susceptible to hypothermia and just catching a chill.
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These conditions will often appear as your dog enters old age. It is considered to be a genetic issue, but it can cause pain, decreased activity level, difficulty climbing stairs, inability to jump, and lameness.
- Arthritis: Another health problem that likely won’t come about until your dog reaches their senior years, arthritis is a condition many Bulldogs will face. Much like with human arthritis, it will cause pain and decrease their activity level.
- Degenerative Spine Disease: This disease tends to be genetic amongst Bulldog’s, and not every Bulldog will experience it. It is, however, common enough we thought we should mention it. Usually, this disease will appear when the dog is older as well.
- Joint and Ligament Problems: These issues arise due to the Bulldog’s build. Their small legs and stocky build make for awkward weight distribution. Overtime, Bulldog’s can start to develop joint and ligament problems if they have too much exercise or participate in high impact activities.
- Heart Disease: Usually, heart disease is preventable with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. However, since bulldogs are chronically lazy, they tend to be more prone to developing heart disease.
- Obesity: Another symptom of lack of activity and a bad diet is being overweight. This is especially dangerous since bulldogs are already prone to joint issues.
Your Bulldog may not develop all of the health problems we listed above. However, the vast majority of Bulldog’s will experience more than one of them in their lifetime. Regular vet visits will help you to stay ahead of your dog’s health problems so you can adequately care for them.
English Bulldog Healthy Weight
One of the significant health issues that bulldogs will face is maintaining a healthy weight. As a known lazy dog breed, it can be hard for them to motivate themselves to exercise. However, a Bulldog’s weight ultimately falls into the owner’s control. As a Bulldog owner, you must monitor their eating and provide time for them to get adequate activity each day.
The average healthy weight of a Bulldog is 40-55 lbs. However, your dog’s weight on a scale is not always the best indicator of health. The healthiest weight for your Bulldog will be determined according to their gender, height, and body length. If you’re unsure about the target weight of your dog, visit your vet for a consultation.
If your Bulldog is overweight, they are much more likely to develop hip or elbow dysplasia, joint issues, and heart disease. Not only that, but the extra weight can make their breathing much more labored as well.
Provide a Healthy Life for your English Bulldog
One of the best things you can do for your English Bulldog is to provide them with a regular outdoor exercise routine when they are young. Keeping them active is only one part of the equation, though. As a Bulldog owner, you should know the best types of exercise for your dog along with potential risks of overexercising. Each Bulldog is unique in their needs, and their activity levels will change as they age. Still, finding ways to keep your Bulldog fit and healthy can be easy and fun!
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.