What to Look for When Buying an English Bulldog Puppy + Questions to Ask

Adopting a new dog is always a big decision. If you’re looking to adopt your very first English Bulldog, there are a lot of things that you should be aware of and take into consideration first… whether it’s a puppy or an adult dog.

A lot of people make the mistake of buying an English Bulldog without doing much research, only to later discover that these dogs have a lot of special needs.

In this guide, I will lead you through all you need to know before buying an English Bulldog, and also what to look for, particularly with the breeder. I’ve also listed what questions you should ask the breeder before choosing a puppy.

What should I know before buying an English Bulldog?

Although English Bulldogs are known to be sweet, loyal, and very people-centered, they are also prone to a host of health problems. This is the most important aspect of all… you need to be prepared for the potential for high vet bills.

These specific needs can make them time-consuming and expensive dogs to keep.

Unfortunately, far too many English Bulldogs end up abandoned once they develop costly health problems. As a result of decades of breeding to ensure a flat nose and stout figure and those famous wrinkles, English Bulldogs are unfortunately prone to a few genetic disorders.

These include hip dysplasia, brachycephalic syndrome, and ventricular septal defect, where a hole develops in the heart.

However, many of the other conditions that plague this breed are avoidable with a little foresight and care. As they are a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, they find it harder to breathe than other dogs.

Since it’s harder for them to breathe, you need to be careful that they don’t overexert themselves. This is especially true in summer when they are prone to heat exhaustion.

Additionally, they are also predisposed to a multitude of skin conditions. If the folds around their face are not kept clean, it can cause bacteria growth that can result in irritation and even infection if left for too long.

In light of this, it’s essential that potential owners do a lot of research before making a decision. You need to be honest with yourself and ask if you’re willing to take on the extra costs and the unique needs associated with this lovely breed.

With that said, these are charming and loyal dogs. Full of personality and affection, they make perfect family pets and ideal companions for the right owners.

Buying an English Bulldog for the first time

Once you’re confident that this is the right dog for your lifestyle, the next stage is finding a reputable breeder or a rescue to adopt from.

This next step will depend on whether you want to adopt an adult English Bulldog or a puppy. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, so it depends on which one will suit your lifestyle better.

Buying English Bulldog puppies

Aside from the cuteness overload, arguably the best advantage when it comes to buying an English Bulldog puppy is that you can train them early on to fit in with your lifestyle.

They are very time-consuming, and there will be moments when you’ll want to pull your hair out. However, if you have the time, experience, and patience to get through those initial months of training, you will have the opportunity to build an excellent bond with your new pup.

English Bulldog puppy
Buying a puppy can present a lot of challenges, but providing you know what to look for, it will be a rewarding experience!

Doing this means you’ll also have the chance to socialize your dog early on. By ensuring that they are getting adequate training from day one, you can help them to avoid bad behaviors.

In a similar vein, by making sure they are getting the right healthcare early on, you can ensure that they avoid any unnecessary health complications.

Buying an English Bulldog puppy from a reputable breeder also means that you can be sure about their heritage. There should be no hidden surprises in terms of breeding, and you’ll have the chance to see their parents.

However, in spite of all this, it’s important to remember that English Bulldog puppies are a lot of work. While you’re still training them, you can expect them to have plenty of accidents around the house.

They’ll also happily destroy anything they can lay their adorable little paws on.

It’s also important to note that puppies can be more expensive. English Bulldogs are not cheap from the get-go, but as puppies, they will require plenty of trips to the vet for all their initial check-ups and vaccinations.

Buying an adult English Bulldog

Buying an English Bulldog who is fully grown means that there will be fewer surprises.

Their temperament and personality will be fully developed, so it’s easier to know what type of dog you’re inviting into your home.

But don’t let that make you think it will still be plain sailing! On the downside, any bad habits they have developed will be firmly ingrained.

adult english bulldog
Buying an adult English Bulldog who has already been trained can be a lot easier.

However, if you don’t have the time to train a puppy, or you work long hours, it might be better to adopt an older dog.

The only challenge here is that it may take some time to find the right dog to fit your needs. That said, there are plenty of older dogs looking for a permanent home who have been well trained, but whose owners can’t care for them anymore.

On the flip side, there are also plenty of adult English Bulldogs looking for a home who have behavioral issues. Although some of these issues are minor and may only need remedial training to correct, there is also the risk of encountering more severe behavioral problems.

A dog who displays fearful or aggressive behavior may take years of training to correct and is not a task for an inexperienced owner. In this regard, it’s essential to know your limits before you start searching.

With that said, if you want to adopt an adult English Bulldog, you may have some luck with an animal welfare charity, such as the RSPCA in the UK or ASCPA in the United States. The only danger here is that you may not be adopting a purebred dog.

If this is important to you, then you’ll need to be careful and ask plenty of questions to avoid any potential disappointments.

Aside from this, there are also dedicated rescues just for English Bulldogs. If you’d be interested in exploring this avenue, a quick internet search will bring up a few options.

How to buy an English Bulldog

Arguably the most crucial step you can take when choosing to adopt an English Bulldog puppy is to ensure that you are going through a reputable breeder.

An honest and dedicated breeder will always put in the time and effort to ensure that any puppies they are raising are as healthy as they can be.

The puppies should be socialized from a young age, and the breeder should have no issue with you coming to visit the kennels. They should be open to questions, and you should never feel like they are trying to hide something, especially in regard to the dog’s health or heritage.

This is where you do not want to hunt for a bargain. English Bulldogs are expensive to breed, owing to the unique complications and special needs involved with this practice. As a result, you can expect to pay £1,000 to £4,000 (similarly $1,500 to $4,000 in the US) for a puppy.

Although you could go for a cheaper puppy, you risk adopting a dog with severe health issues. As this type of dog is already prone to a plethora of health issues, it’s a good idea to see the parents before adopting.

By doing this, you should have a better idea of what you’re getting into.

As a general rule of thumb, a cheaper dog can end up costing you far more in the long run. Also, many good breeders should be able to provide you with a bill of clean health before you adopt, and they should offer you a guarantee.

Once you adopt, they should give you at least two days so that you can get your new puppy checked out by your own veterinarian. If you find any unexpected health issues within this period, the breeder should be willing to offer you a refund or to replace your puppy.

Whoever you go through, you need to ask all these questions from day one so that you can be confident that you’re both on the same page.

What to look for when buying an English Bulldog puppy

Once you have settled on a reputable breeder, now comes the best bit: picking out your new puppy including what to look for when buying an English Bulldog.

Although it’s impossible to avoid all health complications, there are several signs to look out for to ensure you are buying the healthiest puppy you can.

For one, you need to ensure you pick the happiest and friendliest puppy in the pack. If the puppy is curious and shows confidence when approaching you, that is an excellent sign.

When picking out your puppy, it’s best not to approach them first. Instead, enter the enclosure where the puppies are kept, and sit down to observe them.

As hard as it can be, resist the urge to reach out for any of them, and instead allow them to come to you. Doing this also allows you to observe their behavior.

The puppy that you pick should be friendly, easy-going, and well natured. Ideally, it’s best to choose one that you make an instant connection with.

Other signs to keep an eye out for include:

  • Clean eyes and ears: The puppy should not be squinting. Red eyes in particular can be a sign of a serious problem.
  • Look inside the mouth of puppy’s mouth: to see if the puppy is suffering from abnormal excess of skin inside.
  • Make sure that the puppy isn’t struggling to breathe: They shouldn’t be wheezing or gasping, as this can be an indicator or more serious respiratory problems.
  • Look for a straight tail that shows no restriction while moving: Additionally, the tail should not be pointing down. These can all be an indication of screw-tail – a malformation of the vertebra in the tail. This condition can result in severe discomfort for the dog, and expensive treatment later on down the line. Here’s what English Bulldog tails should look like.
  • Ensure that the puppy walks well and doesn’t seem dizzy or weak when it walks: English Bulldogs are prone to hip dysplasia and other joint issues, and this can be an early indicator. (See how often you should walk your English Bulldog).
  • Make sure that the nose isn’t too upturned, and that the nostrils are wide: Narrows, deformed nostrils can be an early indicator of brachycephalic syndrome, which can lead to severe respiratory problems later down the line.
  • Where you can, avoid puppies with abnormal coloring: This type of coloration includes chocolate, black, blue, and lilac. All of these colours are clear indicators that the puppy may develop severe health issues as it grows older.
  • Decide on a male or female puppy: In general terms, males tend to be more energetic, whereas females can be more relaxed.
  • Be cautious if the price is too cheap. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. An unusually low price could be the sign of an unhealthy English Bulldog puppy.

In the end, it’s unrealistic to expect your puppy to be perfectly healthy as it grows older.

English Bulldogs are prone to a lot of genetic disorders and illnesses, and even the most prudent buyer can’t expect to avoid all of them. That said, by keeping an eye out for some of these signs, you are more likely to be adopting the healthiest puppy that you can.

And lastly, don’t forget to ask to see the puppy with the mother. English Bulldogs only have 3 to 4 puppies in a litter and only should be bred a handful of times over their lifetime. Make sure she looks healthy and hasn’t been over-bred.

Questions to ask an English Bulldog breeder

Before you settle on buying an English Bulldog and have ticked off all the things you should look for, please, please, please question the breeder extensively. Here’s a checklist of things to ask so you can be more certain you’re getting a puppy who is healthy and well-adjusted.

  1. Ask how many litters the mother has had: an English Bulldog should only really have 1 litter a year, preferably only one every couple of years. More than that is a warning sign that she has been bred more than she should have been.
  2. Make sure your breeder is knowledgeable: on looking after his breed. Also Google the breeder first to see what other people have said about them.
  3. Ask if the puppy has been assessed by a vet: You also want to be sure the puppy has had the right vaccinations. If they haven’t then don’t buy it. Injections should be sorted out by the breeder before the puppies are available to buy.
  4. Ask to see the puppy’s parents:I appreciate you might not be able to meet the father, but the mother is absolutely critical. By doing so you can see what the puppy might grow up to be like and whether the mother is healthy. If the breeder says no, then don’t buy the puppy.
  5. Ask if the parents have had health checks: This will also help you decide whether the puppy will grow up healthy with no genetic traits. Things to look out for on the health check include hip problems, cataracts, cherry eye, deafness, and soft palate problems.
  6. Ask to see the parent’s history: If the person selling the English Bulldog puppy is genuine, they will give you as much information as they can. The best breeders will be transparent and honest.
  7. Ask how old the parents are: A mother younger than 3 years old ca present a problem as health problems might not yet have appeared yet. Try to buy an English Bulldog puppy whose mother is older than this age.
  8. Ask where the puppies have been living:You want to buy an English Bulldog puppy who has been socialized a little. If it’s been hidden away in a garage it could present training problems down the line.
  9. Ask how often the puppies have been handled: Puppies that are handled from a young age will also be easier to train.
  10. Ask to speak to a previous client: Legitimate English Bulldog breeders won’t have any problems in letting you speak to previous buyers. If they don’t, it could be that they have something to hide.


Regardless of these issues and health concerns, English Bulldogs are beautiful and sweet companions. They are full of personality and will be sure to make you laugh with their confidence and quirkiness.

With the right care and with plenty of love, you’ll find in them a loving and loyal companion for years to come.

However, they do require a lot of care and attention… and any potential problems can be reduced providing you know what questions to ask and what to look out for when buying an English Bulldog puppy or adult dog.

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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