Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Bullpug is also called the Miniature Bulldog, though is not to be confused with the now extinct Toy Bulldog. This diminutive cross-breed has taken on physical characteristics of both his parents – the English Bulldog and the Pug – and has a small, stocky body with a brachycephalic head and some facial folding. Their fur is short and bristly and is often white and fawn, though may also be black, brindle or red.

Gregarious and relaxed, this breed can slot into most households without fuss. They typically get on well with other pets and make great companions for children. Not huge fans of exercise, some owners describe their Bullpugs as ‘lazy’ and they certainly prefer the sedentary lifestyle.

About & History

The Bullpug is a cross between the English Bulldog and the Pug. Also known as the Miniature Bulldog or the Mini-Bulldog, this is a relatively new ‘designer dog’ that has stolen the hearts of many. As with most new hybrids, it is unknown exactly when and where the Bullpug originated. Regardless, we know plenty about its parents and have been able to develop a good understanding of the Bullpug in recent years.

The English Bulldog has been around since the 1600s and is now seen as a national icon of England. Not surprisingly given their name, they were traditionally used in bull-baiting and they also participated in dog fights. Their robust bodies and powerful jaws assisted them in these tasks, though after these roles were outlawed, the Bulldog was bred to be a companion animal and both their features and personalities have ‘softened’ over time. The English Bulldog that has been used in the creation of the Bullpug is a far less athletic version of the original breed.

An ancient breed that has been in existence for well over a thousand years, the Pug most likely originated in China and was brought to Europe in the 1500s. The Pug has become one of the most talked about breeds in the last decade, and for controversial reasons. While many adore these sweet little guys for their confidence and tolerance of children, others object to their conformation and the trend to breed pugs with obstructed airways and ‘squished faces’.


The ‘cuteness factor’ is high in this one and the Bullpug tends to look like a Bulldog that has never stopped being a puppy. Much smaller than their Bulldog parent, the Bullpug retains a wide skull, wrinkled muzzle and round, brown eyes. They have a broad chest and short, stocky limbs ending in wide paws.

The coat of the Bullpug is short and straight and may display a variety of colours, including white, fawn, black, red or brindle. Many dogs exhibit more than one colour. Measuring just 35cm to 43cm and weighing in from 11kg to 18kg, this small, stocky dog is slightly taller and heavier than the Pug.

Character & Temperament

Typically a good mix of both their parents, the Bullpug often has the reserved and dignified nature of the Bulldog but can sometimes have a few ‘mad moments of mischief’ inspired by their Pug parent. Not lacking in confidence, these sociable pets enjoy the company of other animals and family members, getting along particularly well with children. They are sweet and loving and will bond closely with their owners, forming strong bonds that last a lifetime.

Quite a good guard dog, particularly those Bullpugs that take more of their genes from the Bulldog side of the family, this breed can be alert and territorial. Socialising them thoroughly from a young age should prevent the development of overt hostile behaviour, though most dogs will be suspicious of new people in their home.

Some Bullpugs are distrustful of unknown dogs so it is wise to keep them on the lead when in a public place and to be cautious when new dogs approach. By introducing your Bullpug to a wide range of dogs when they are maturing, any fear-based aggression can be mostly prevented.


Neither the Pug nor the Bulldog are particularly easy to train as both can be quite stubborn. Though the Bullpug may pick up on training more slowly than other breeds, with patience and consistency they are more than capable of mastering the basic commands and of making good house guests. Anecdotally, the Bullpug is quite hard to housetrain and takes longer than most but can certainly learn to toilet outside within the first few months of life.


Unfortunately, both the Pug and Bulldog are known for having a high number of health issues, many of which are caused by the extreme breeding practices used to create their unusual head and body shapes. While cross-breeding can reduce the incidence of certain diseases, there are a large number of health conditions we need to monitor for in the Bullpug.


Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a significant issue that can dramatically affect the quality of life of a dog. Sadly, many affected dogs are never treated and their condition not recognised, with owners just labelling them ‘noisy breathers’ and ‘loud snorers’. The compact skeleton of their face combined with excess soft tissue and skin folds can result in difficulty breathing. For most affected dogs, surgery can vastly improve the condition.


Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), or ‘Dry Eye’, occurs when a dog’s tear glands fail to provide enough liquid to keep eyes permanently moist. Affected animals may squint more than usual, have chronic ocular discharge and be prone to recurring infections and corneal ulcers.

The condition is easily diagnosed by using the ‘Schirmer Tear Test’, a diagnostic tool that can measure the tears a dog is producing. For most, the condition is managed with lifelong eye drops.

Cardiac Disease: Pulmonic Stenosis, Subaortic Stenosis, Sick Sinus Syndrome

The Bullpug may be prone to a number of heart conditions. Dogs will be affected to varying degrees and diagnostic tests, such as echocardiograms and ECGs will often be required to determine the extent of the issues. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis though may consist of exercise modification, medication and potentially surgery.


Due to their facial folds and wrinkles, as well as their tendency to develop skin allergies, many Bullpugs will suffer from chronic dermatitis. Maintaining good skin hygiene, feeding dogs appropriately, using skin supplements and avoiding any allergens can help to control the condition, though medications are often necessary during flare-ups.

Cherry Eye

‘Cherry eye’ is a prolapse of the nictitating membrane and gets its name due to the appearance of a cherry-like structure at the side of the eye. Often both eyes are affected and corrective surgery should be curative.

Entropion & Ectropion

Eyelids that roll in (entropion) or out (ectropion) can predispose the eye to infections and irritation and often cause discomfort. In some cases, surgery will be recommended to fix the problem.


Some dogs are born with hemivertebrae (abnormal spinal vertebrae). While many affected animals do not show any symptoms, others may be affected with incontinence, an abnormal gait and/or pain. Most cases can be diagnosed on X-rays or CT scans. Many dogs are managed with lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatories and pain relief though those that are severely affected may benefit from surgery.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A laid-back and easy-going dog, the Bullpug is often recommended as a pet to older people with less active lifestyles as they have relatively low exercise demands. While young breed members can be keen to go for a run and a play in the park, older Bullpugs can be quite lazy and may only tolerate a 30 to 40 minute walk each day.

It is vitally important that owners are aware of their Bullpugs potential exercise restrictions. Over-exercising the Bullpug, particularly in hot or humid conditions, can make it difficult for them to breath. Young and excitable dogs may not understand their own limitations and can over-do it to the point of heatstroke. It is essential to keep them cool and rested in the heat.


As the fur of the Bullpug is so straight and short it is very easy to maintain, only requiring a quick brush through every week or so. The inside of their ears should be washed out at the same time, and owners should take this time to examine their teeth, eyes and all over their body, checking for any abnormalities. Getting them into this routine from an early age is sensible.

Ideally, owners would brush the teeth of their Bullpug on a daily basis using either a soft children’s tooth brush or a finger brush. Canine tooth paste may be used, though is not necessary. Doing this will dramatically reduce the incidence of dental disease in later life.

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