These three bulldog breeds are perfect for folks who just can't get enough of those wrinkly faces.

Advertisement

Enthusiasm is so high for all the wiggly, snuffly types of bulldogs, three different countries clamor to claim one. America, England, and France each have a distinctive bulldog breed people absolutely adore, and for many reasons. Bulldogs tend to be intensely dedicated to their humans and are overflowing with unique appeal and endearing personalities. No wonder some pooch parents refuse to have any other dog once they've had a bully.

How Many Types of Bulldogs Are There? A Little History

Whoops! We kind of let that doggie out the front door already, didn't we? Three countries, three different types of bulldogs. Are they all related? Sort of. We'll sniff more around their family tree in a bit.

Author, trainer, and applied behaviorist Sarah Hodgson, IAABC, APDT, and Fear Free member, owns Sarah Says Pets in Katonah, N.Y. She says if you're trying to tell the difference among the three bulldogs, here are some pointers:

Let's take a closer look at what makes these adorable dogs so beloved by pet parents today.

French Bulldog

French bulldog wearing a harness sitting in her owner's lap outside in the grass
Credit: ClarkandCompany / Getty

It used to be challenging to draw a comparison between a French bulldog vs. an English bulldog, as they're close cousins. In fact, the origin of the Frenchie began in the 1800s as a bulldog toy crossbreed. They also used to have the same folded rose ears of British bullies instead of the erect radar beacons we know and love today. Where did those come from, anyway? The French Bulldog Club of America hints that a few different terriers with perky ears are part of their ancestry.

Frenchies were faithful companions to all types of people, from lace workers of England to members of high society in France. With the wit of a jester and the heart of a lion, ready to play or to contentedly nap by you, these cuddlesome pups eventually gained fans in America, competing with the Boston terrier as a favorite among the nation's elite. (Although these two could practically be twins, here's how to tell them apart).

English Bulldog

English bulldog standing on pavement with his owner in the background
Credit: Svetography / Getty

Featuring a wide, squishy mug only a mother could love (OK, many other pet parents, too!) the English or British bulldog is a notable symbol for tenacity—we have former Prime Minister Winston Churchill to thank for this. On the other paw, they're mellow mushpuppets who positively cherish everyone in the family and appreciate a casual stroll through the neighborhood.

The laid-back bulldog is a surprisingly popular mascot, representing the toughness of hundreds of sports teams, schools, and universities around the world. For example, Yale University states, "a bulldog has represented Yale as mascot since at least 1890, and Handsome Dan is widely regarded as the first live animal collegiate mascot."

American Bulldog

American bulldog sitting with foliage in the background
Credit: GlobalP / Getty

All hail the red, white, and bully! Although often the lesser known of the three types of bulldogs in the U.S., they're certainly not underdogs. The United Kennel Club actually considers today's breed to be more aligned with the original bulldogs from the English countryside dating back to the 13th century. When butchers, farmers, and other laborers immigrated to the Southeastern states in the 17th and 18th centuries, they brought these stout working dogs with them. According to the AKC, this is why they used to be called the white English Southern bulldog.

Working breeds need a job to do, and the American bulldog isn't any different. Smart and sporty, if they're not helping on a hunt or around the ranch, they need daily mental and physical engagement to shine as the canine companions most know them to be. Out of all types of bulldogs, this one is probably going to be a great pal for an active and experienced dog owner.

Differences Between English Bulldog vs. French Bulldog vs. American Bulldog

So there you are at the dog park, and a pack of bullies race by. All you see is a blur of wrinkles and snubbed noses, so who's who? Here's a handy 'types of bulldogs' chart featuring them side-by-side that might help.

bulldog infographic comparing french bulldog, american bulldog and english bulldog physical traits
Credit: Yeji Kim / Svetography / GlobalP / ClarkandCompany / Getty

Appearance

Right away, the French bulldog stands out with his bat ears, while both the English and American bulldog have folded rose ears, although the American's are often a tad more angled when flat against the head. Here are some other telling features of each bully:

  • A Frenchie struts his stuff in many short-haired coat variations, including cream, fawn, and white, just black, black and white, and even bi-color. He can also have brindle patterns or a black mask. He has a bit of a tail nub. There's a bright gleam in his brown or black eyes and when he opens his mouth, his smushed snout forms a natural smile.
    Face-and-forehead wrinkle scale: 7/10.
  • The English bulldog is stylish in red, white, fawn, and fallow (light brown) colors, as well as any combination of these with additional brindling, ticking, or black masks. Her tail is a mere suggestion. She has the most squished mug of all, with loose jowls and sometimes a pronounced underbite (also known as to 'hang a fang'). Her low, furrowed brow and droopy black or brown eyes give the appearance that she's thinking too hard about politics.
    Face-and-forehead wrinkle scale: 11/10.
  • An American bulldog always has a smooth white coat usually marked with black, brindle, brown, or tan. He sports a thin whip tail with a little curl at the end. His muzzle, although slightly snubbed, is longer than those of other bullies, and his broad forehead really highlights wide brown or black eyes, and he'll easily break into a wide smile, too.
    Face-and-forehead wrinkle scale: 4/10.

Size

All three types of bulldogs got the stocky going on, with muscular chests appropriate for their sizes. But the height and weight really vary between them:  

  • At 16–28 pounds and 11–13 inches tall, Frenchies are compact, small dogs that love riding in darling strollers.
  • If you'd like a workout, you might be able to tote around your bulldog's 40–50 pounds in a bike trailer so she doesn't have to do anything but admire the scenery! Since she's about 15 inches high, she'll have plenty of room to look out.
  • Long and lean—averaging 20–25 inches tall and 60–100 pounds—an American bulldog will probably race up the hiking trail, then wait for you under a tree.

Health

Remember when we mentioned how wiggly and snuffly bulldogs are? Let's review that snuffly bit. All bulldogs are considered flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds. This means they have shorter skulls and muzzles than other dogs, which creates narrow, restricted airways. 

Since dogs regulate their temperatures by panting to avoid overheating, bulldogs—especially the English—don't fare well in hot weather or with vigorous exercise. Frenchies are a little more tolerant, but there's still no need for roughhousing, as they might develop heat exhaustion quickly. Make sure both breeds have plenty of fresh water, and place their doggie bed in the coolest part of the house.

American bulldogs are somewhat of an exception, since they're a lot more athletic—they can actually jump as high as 7 feet! But during the heat of summer, they won't want to do much either, so set up a wading pool in a shady spot or let them chill indoors, and schedule walks and games of fetch in the early morning or late evening.

Hodgson says bulldogs are prone to obesity. Consult your veterinarian to establish a proper diet and feeding schedule. Save treats for positive reinforcement training sessions and advancements in socialization. She adds that each bully has particular health concerns: 

  • Frenchies are vulnerable to ear infections as they have very narrow ear canals. Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a common issue due to their genetic makeup. "They're prone to diarrhea and stomach upsets, too, so it's essential to monitor their diet," she says.
  • Because of an English bully's excessive wrinkles, "they often get skin infections easily unless regularly groomed," Hodgson says. "They also have several eye conditions that cause chronic irritation and pain."
  • Hodgson notes that "genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia and cherry eye are commonly found in American bulldogs."

"As with all purebred dogs, please do your research to find a breeder you feel comfortable talking with and who has tested their dogs against common genetic ailments like those listed above," Hodgson says.

Personality

Having read this far, it's easy to see why bulldogs are so popular. Each one is an affectionate bundle of joy eager for a family to love. Hodgson notes they'll truly thrive with direction in puppy kindergarten and early, consistent socialization. "They should be taken out in different environments, socialized with dogs, and encouraged to interact with all different kinds of people," she says.

Which type of bulldog is the best for your lifestyle? Hodgson offers these tips: 

  • French bulldogs are extroverted creatures, making them the perfect companion for someone who lives in a big city or an apartment with dog parks nearby and playdate opportunities.
  • Also great for apartment dwellers, English bulldogs are calm and relaxed, and they would be the ideal company for individuals who follow more laidback lifestyles. 
  • As the most active of these three types of bulldogs, American bulldogs are great for people who take their dog on adventures and play sports.

Now that you're familiar with the three types of bulldogs, test your knowledge and see if you distinguish between these other look-alike pups.