Bulldogs are a gentle and beloved dog breed that make excellent family pets. However, if you have a bulldog, you may have noticed that they tend to slobber and drool all over the place. Should you be concerned about the near-perpetual slobber fountain streaming from your dog’s mouth? Is there anything you can do to reduce bulldog slobber?
Why do bulldogs slobber, and how can you prevent it? Bulldogs can’t help drooling. Their shortened skulls make it so that their jaws don’t align. This, combined with their deep jowls, make it impossible for them to hold spit in their mouths. Because slobbering is built into their biology, there’s nothing you can do to outright prevent it, but there are some ways to reduce slobber or prevent a mess.
The best way to manage your dog’s drool is to understand what causes them to drool more severely. Once you have a firm grasp of what ratchets bulldog salivary glands to eleven, you’ll be able to take preventative measures.
Why Do Bulldogs Drool?
According to the AKC breed standard, a bulldog’s face “should be extremely short” and their lips should be “thick, broad, pendant and deep, completely overhanging the lower jaw at each side” This combination of features makes it almost impossible for the dog to hold slobber in its mouth. In other words, if your dog didn’t drool, it wouldn’t be a bulldog.
One thing you may notice about bulldog drool is that it can get all over your dog, and doesn’t smell that great. We have an excellent guide to getting rid of your bulldog’s smell, which you can check out here.
It turns out that it’s typical for larger dog breeds, including boxers and mastiffs, to drool excessively. Bulldogs just have the added challenge of not being able to keep it in. The slobber they generate simply slides out the edges of their mouths and down the flaps on the sides of their heads.
If you pay attention, you’ll realize that your bulldog slobbers more aggressively in some situations than in others. What can set them off, and how can you avoid these situations? Let’s take a look at the triggers that can get your dog’s chin sopping wet.
Eating and Drinking
Bulldogs are known for being messy eaters. Their flat faces force them to jam their entire faces into the bowl. Once they’re in there, the loose skin around their face and jowls gets in the way, causing them to get food everywhere. Same story all over again in the water bowl. It’s not uncommon to see a trickle of water dribbling off their faces once they’ve finished drinking.
Then after the excess food and water has dripped off, a now hydrated bulldog’s salivary glands spring into overdrive. With water to spare, your dog will likely begin spilling saliva through the overbite and out the loose skin over the lips.
When you’re hungry and you smell dinner cooking, you probably feel your salivary glands kick into action. Bulldogs are just the same way. When you bring out dinner, and they see the food or hear the packaging, they’ll get excited and start salivating.
This can be so strong that if you feed your dog at around the same time every day, your dog may start salivating as it approaches that time. If you see your bulldog walking around with a dribble coming off his chin, it may be almost dinner time.
Dogs can absolutely get anxious in response to changes in their environment, routine, or mood. If things are changing around the house in a way that affects your dog, you may notice increased slobber. The more uneasy or anxious the dog feels, the more saliva and drool she might produce.
This isn’t absolute. Different dogs react to stress in different ways. But if you notice increased drooling that can’t be explained by any other causes, you may want to figure out how to shield your dog from those stressors.
Dogs pant for the same reason that humans sweat, to cool off. Dogs don’t have sweat glands, so they stick out their tongues and let saliva evaporate, cooling them off. This will cause your dog to salivate and then to drool everywhere. Be sure to keep your bulldog well hydrated when it’s hot out.
Heat exhaustion is a serious issue that you should be on the lookout for, but increased drooling isn’t necessarily an indicator that anything’s wrong. Not for a bulldog at any rate. No matter what you do, when the temperature rises, the drool will start dripping.
Similar to the way that bulldogs start slobbering when anticipating food, a bulldog can drool more when they’re excited. This might be from you coming home from work, or a new chew toy, or a walk to the park. Anything that gets your dog’s heart racing can get his salivary glands pumping as well.
It’s hard to talk about salivating dogs without bringing up the famous Pavlov experiments in classical conditioning. In the 1890’s a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov discovered that he could get dogs to salivate in response to a bell if he associated the sound of the bell with giving them food. This is the exact phenomenon that leads to your bulldog getting all slobbery when they hear you pull out the kibble.
When your bulldog sees you walking towards the food bowl or hears you pulling out the food bag, the natural reaction is to create saliva in anticipation of the coming meal. These triggers are just as powerful as the purposely conditioned response of ringing a bell. Pavlov’s done the leg work for you. If your dog thinks food is coming, then expect a slobber fest.
Many people worry when they see a waterfall of slobber flowing from their bulldogs’ mouth that the dog is ill or unwell. Not to worry. Drooling is totally natural for these dogs. Because of several genetic factors. Eventually, it’ll stop concerning you, and you’ll just find it another element of the bulldog’s charm.
While drooling is generally nothing to worry about, it can sometimes be a sign of serious health issues. These issues include:
- Decaying or fractured teeth – You’re not the only one who needs to worry about cavities. In a rare condition, dog’s can lose the calcium from their teeth. The result is painful, infected cavities. These can cause extra slobber with a rank, rotting smell.
- Toxic shock – Chocolate, grapes, or household cleaners can all be toxic to a dog. Consumption of these and other items will lead to increased drool as a way for the dog’s body to attempt to purge out the toxin. If you notice that your dog has eaten anything poisonous, call an emergency veterinarian immediately.
- Lodged foreign object in dog’s mouth or teeth – As bulldogs play with their toys, they tend to be pretty destructive. It’s not unheard of for a shred of bone or rubber to become lodged between a dog’s teeth. The dog’s body will treat this like a piece of food and attempt to dissolve it by hitting it with more saliva. If you dog is over salivating, take a quick peek at their chompers.
- Rabies – Rabies is an uncommon but serious disease passed from infected animals through bites. If your dog has recently had any encounters with strange animals and you notice extra slobber, you may want to carefully check for any bite marks.
- Liver problems – Liver disease and other health risks can lead to a dry mouth and loss of appetite, both of which can fuel a bulldog’s salivary glands. If anything else seems amiss, you may want to bring your pet to the vet.
If bulldogs drool all the time, how can you possibly tell if the drool is health-related or not? Here are some things to watch out for.
- The drool is excessive compared to normal and sustained – There’s always going to be a lot of drool. But you’ll get used to what an average amount is. If the amount of drool seems above and beyond what normally occurs, or if it just won’t stop, you may need to get the dog looked at.
- The drool has a noticeable, rancid smell – Thankfully, bulldog slobber is generally more or less odorless. If you can pick up a scent from your dog’s drool, that’s a sign that something is wrong.
- The drool is discolored – You’ll get used to seeing clear or perhaps, milky white dog drool. If the drool coming out of your dog’s mouth is more yellow, green, or pink than what you’re used to seeing, odds are that there’s more at play there.
- The drool is thick, slimy, or viscous – Bulldog drool is sticky, but it’s also should be pretty runny. If you’re finding that your dog’s drool has a thicker texture to it, it’s time to visit the vet.
- The drool is foamy – Foaming at the mouth is the classic symptom of rabies. If you spot this in your dog, you should visit a veterinarian immediately. Be careful to not allow him or her to bite you or anyone else, as this could pass the disease along.
How to Limit Your Bulldog’s Slobbering
Slobber is just a part of life with a bulldog. However, now that you know the triggers, you can try to prevent excessive slobber and keep those triggers to a minimum. The strategy for minimizing drool is really just limiting exposure to the things that cause extra drooling.
Manage Her Mood
Both excitement and anxiety can get your dog’s jaws all wet and sloppy. The key is to learn to keep your bulldog level. A calm bulldog is a dry bulldog. Prevent overstimulation by introducing new treats, people, or animals slowly. Certainly, you can allow the dog to get excited and happy but avoid really working them up.
One way to do this is by teaching discipline. By training your dog to act when restraint and avoiding rough or overly energetic play, you can avoid the kind of frantic excitement that can lead to an overabundance of dripping slobber.
On the other side, preventing anxiety is a key way to limit drool. Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors. Separation, loud noises, and new social situations can all cause a dog to tense up and get nervous. Avoid leaving your dog at home alone for unnecessarily long periods of time. Do what you can to shield them from fireworks and thunderclaps. You can even help them to meet new people or dogs by allowing the dog the freedom to dictate these interactions on their own terms.
When you’ve helped your dog to overcome their anxiety or removed the stressor, the drooling will generally rein in almost immediately. Helping your dog feel comfortable and even-tempered can go a long way towards limiting uncontrolled slobber.
Keep Him Cool
Overheating is one of the most common causes of excessive slobber and also one of the most worrisome. Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and serious health risks. In rare cases, overheating and dehydration can lead to loss of consciousness or death.
The best way to allow your dog to stay cool is to allow him or her access to your nice cool house. If your dog is howling at the door after playing in the yard, open up. It’s probably an effort to cool off. Provide plenty of cold water, especially when it’s warm out.
It can be tempting to limit water intake because hydration is another cause of drool buildup. However, while both too much water and not enough water can result in an overly salivated canine, one is potentially dangerous and the other isn’t (or is less likely at any rate. Overhydration is possible, but less common). You’d , need to pull out the mop than the shovel.
Your dog is going to drool before, during, and after mealtimes. One of the primary functions of saliva is to help chewed food slide easily down the gullet, so this makes perfect sense. You need to feed your dog at least twice a day, so there isn’t much you can do to avoid this. However, feeding at the same time every day will limit the window in which mealtime drool occurs.
We’ve already discussed how dogs become conditioned to salivate in response to triggers they associate with meals. One of these triggers can be the time of day the meal usually occurs. So, for example, if you always give breakfast at 9:00 am, then at perhaps 8:30 am your dog will begin to salivate in anticipation of the meal.
If you feed your dog every day sometime between 7:00 am, and 11:00 am, then your dog could begin salivating at 6:30 am and continue salivating, with increasing ferocity until he or she is actually fed at 11:00 am. This irregular mealtime approach will wind up with a period of hours in which your pet is anticipating food, rather than minutes. By keeping mealtimes consistent, you can limit the period in which the anticipatory salivating occurs.
You may be thinking, “How can I possibly stop the slobbering?” Bulldogs drool when they’re well hydrated and also when they’re dehydrated. Bulldogs drool when they’re anxious and also when they’re excited. Bulldogs drool before they eat, while they eat, and after they eat. If everything causes my bulldog to drool, then how can I ever stop it?
You’re right to think this way, and if you’re still hoping to stop your bulldog from slobbering, we’ll say this again: bulldog slobber cannot be stopped. On some level, this is just a part of owning this breed of dog. They’re lovable and friendly, but they drool. Get used to it.
There are some things you can do to limit the behavior, but most of your effort should be spent on management. Figure out how to handle your slobbering best friend and clean up after her efficiently.
Use a Bib
Placing something around your dog’s neck to catch the falling saliva might seem like a strange solution, but it can actually work quite well. It also doesn’t have to look as tacky as you might think. A bandana, a sweater, or even a carefully wrapped scarf can all be adorable doggy accessories that doubly serve to soak up runaway slobber.
Be sure to regularly clean and replace any sort of bib that you use. These will get gross pretty fast, and you don’t want something dried and crusty stuck to your dog’s neck.
Have Paper Towels at the Ready
Look, the stuff is going to get everywhere. On your floors, your walls, your furniture, your clothes. Ultimately, there just isn’t any avoiding it. A roll of paper towels ready to go can be your first line of defense. Keep paper towels close by, you may even want to strategically place rolls in different rooms of the house.
Paper towels are ideal because they are highly absorbent and can be thrown away. You’ll be able to sop up a great deal of dog drool and then just toss it in the garbage can. When you see a mess, you can quickly wipe it up. Or a mess in the making can be avoided by occasionally wiping off your bulldog’s chin of any wetness. Get comfortable with paper towels; they’re going to become your new best friends.
Get Some Absorbent Chew Toys
Chew toys are a fun way for your dog to play and exercise. The right type of chew toy can also work as an excellent spit sop. Bones work well for this, but you may be able to find even more absorbent toys that will pull all that extra moisture right out of your dog’s mouth. With the spit going into the chew toy, it prevents it from getting everywhere else.
Strategically Place Food and Water Bowls
Mealtime is messy for bulldogs. There isn’t any way around this, but you can plan accordingly. Place your dog’s food and water bowls in a place that’s easy to clean and out of the way.
You want wipeable floors. Think hardwood, linoleum, or tile. The kitchen might seem obvious. However, unless you want to be mopping and wiping constantly, you may want to pick a more remote location. A laundry room works great. It’s out of the way, so a little grime and slime can build up before you absolutely need to deal with it. Then when you do, it’s an easy wipe down.
Planning ahead and placing your dog’s dinner station in a manageable location can make all the difference. If clean up is easy and hassle-free, it’s a lot less likely to drive you crazy.
Keep a Rag on You
In addition to placing paper towels in rooms around the house, you may want to get used to draping a small rag or cloth over your shoulder or looped through a belt loop. This way, if you spot a mess, you don’t need to get up in order to handle it. You can simply wipe it up.
Learning to Love It
Bulldogs are slobber monsters. There’s no way around it. However, as you grow closer with your animal companion and find the slobber management strategies that work for you, you’ll find that this disgusting habit becomes a part of the bulldog’s enigmatic charm. They are goofy looking. They are an absolute mess. And You just can’t help but love them for it.
Applying the tips in this article will help you to reach the place where the slobber is something you can not only live with but love.
Other Bulldog Quirks
Once you’ve learned to love your bulldogs drooling, there are plenty more bulldog quirks that may take some getting used to. These are unique and special animals that can seem quite gross to outsiders but are absolutely beloved by their owners. It’s worth knowing what you’re getting yourself into, but just know that these traits don’t take away at all from a bulldog’s lovability.
Bulldogs have difficulty digesting many foods and, as a result, are often quite gassy. This buildup of gas can lead to your bulldog ripping some pretty nasty farts. Larger dog breeds generally have a harder time with gas and bulldogs are especially notorious.
The best way to manage bulldog farts is to ensure a healthy diet and lots of exercise. Eating the right kinds of foods will reduce the buildup of gas, and regular exercise will ensure that the dog’s body is in peak shape to more easily breakdown foods.
Just like with drool, bulldog farts can become quite endearing. Combined with their wrinkly faces and drooling mouths, some well-timed farts candog’s add to their old man personas. If you can learn to love a drooling dog, you can learn to love a stinky one.
Because of bulldogs’ bizarre head shape, they can wind up making some strange noises. Bulldogs are considered a quieter breed overall. They don’t often bark or howl. However, because of their flat faces and shortened skulls, they often snort, wheeze, grunt, snuffle and snore.
These noises can be quite endearing, and many happy pet owners find that it adds to the experience of owning a bulldog. Some people find these noises troubling. There’s no reason to be concerned by strange noises as they are perfectly natural for a bulldog.
Bulldogs are short-haired, meaning that they shed less than many other dog breeds. They are still medium shedders and will scatter dog hair around wherever they live. Because the hair is short and often light-colored, it may not show up as much as other dog breeds’ hair would.
Shedding can be decreased and controlled with regular dog grooming. Your dog will love a daily brushing, and it will help capture a great deal of that loose hair that would otherwise coat your carpets and clothes.
Bulldogs have a reputation for being quite stubborn. Once a bulldog has set its mind to something, it’s quite difficult to sway their course. This can take many forms, and some are more amusing than others. It can be quite entertaining when a bulldog becomes possessive of a toy or bone. It’s less fun when a dog gets territorial over their food bowl and becomes aggressive toward their owner, guests, children, or other dogs.
The secret to controlling stubbornness is good training and discipline. Ensure that early on, your dog knows that aggression is not tolerated. Well-trained bulldogs are quite calm, friendly, and loyal. By installing the proper values in your buddy, you can make sure that he or she is an ideal partner.
The reason why people continue to adopt bulldogs in spite of their many oddities is that they are absolutely adorable. Bulldogs have a unique appearance and persona that no other dog can quite match. Bulldogs are as easygoing as it gets.
If you’ve ever fallen asleep on the couch snoring, with a trickle of drool running down your mouth, then a bulldog may be more than your ideal pet; it might be your spirit animal.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.