Why Does My Bulldog Have Long Ears?


Hi Rodney,

Merry Christmas to your family and Gracie

Interesting question.  The ears are longer because of the original breeding of various dogs to produce the Bulldog, including the Mastiff which was in the “working” group of dogs that have long ears to help them “stir up the scent” when they track.  The Bulldog was also bred from terriers which have short ears as they were bred for “ratting” and controlling vermin.

The modern Bulldog is between these two extremes and the Bulldog standard requires that “the ears should be set high in the head, the front inner edge of each ear joining the outline of the skull at the top back corner of skull, so as to place them as wide apart, and as high, and as far from the eyes as possible. In size they should be small and thin. The shape termed “rose ear” is the most desirable. The rose ear folds inward at its back lower edge, the upper front edge curving over, outward and backward, showing part of the inside of the burr. (The ears should not be carried erect or prick-eared or buttoned and should never be cropped.)

Your Bulldog Gracie may appear to have longer ears because they do not have the “rose ear” shape that stands half way up (my Archie has one floppy ear).  Some dogs come out this way, more like the Mastiff.

for more info on the Bulldog Standard, go to http://www.akc.org/breeds/bulldog/


Bulldog Puppy Socialization

I get a lot of questions that relate to Bulldog puppy behavior. Some people are very protective of their puppies and I can understand why, given the high costs and numerous health risks. But it is very important to expose your bulldog puppy to other dogs and positive outside experiences so he or she will not be a fearful (think aggressive) adult. This is from the Whole Dog Journal newsletter, a great source of dog information.

Puppy Socialization

The best socialization programs begin while pups are still with their dams. A good breeder begins handling her pups gently and early, just as their eyes begin to open, giving them a positive association with human touch.

As they get a little older (5-6 weeks) they should start meeting more humans – all shapes, colors, ages, and sizes – who feed them treats and pet them gently. The breeder will need to supervise these interactions closely, as rough handling at this stage can have the opposite effect, teaching the pups that humans aren’t safe to be around.

The mother dog’s attitude is important at this stage, too. If she is aggressive toward humans, or even just stressed about her pups being handled, the pups can register her attitude and learn this inappropriate behavior. If Mom is calm and relaxed around humans, pups are more likely to be, too.

By the time a pup is weaned at 7 to 8 weeks, he should already have a positive worldview programmed into his little puppy brain. When you select your pup from a litter, whether you’re at a breeder’s home or a shelter – or picking one from a box of free puppies on a street corner – choose wisely.

Resist the temptation to rescue the pup who hides in the corner. Select, instead, the pup who is outgoing without being overbearing – the one who seems to have a cheerful, “Life is good!” attitude. Otherwise you risk finding yourself in the Peterson’s shoes, with an 11-month-old dog who is biting children in the face.

Okay, you’ve adopted a friendly pup with a sound temperament. Good for you! That doesn’t mean your job is done, however.

You must continue your pup’s socialization lessons assiduously until he is 16 weeks old, and then maintain his positive association to the world throughout his life. If you take an 8-week-old well-socialized pup and stick him in your backyard with no outside exposure, the odds are good that you will end up with a problem.

The health dilemma

Puppy owners are often counseled by their veterinarians to keep their baby dogs cloistered safely at home until they are fully immunized at age 4 to 6 months.

Looking at the situation purely from a physical health perspective, this makes good sense. You certainly don’t want to risk exposing your pup to nasty distemper or parvo bugs.

From a mental health perspective, however, it’s horrible advice. You only have two to three more months to give your pup an unshakable faith in the goodness of the world. You cannot afford to wait until those shots are done.

During this period, you want to give your pup at least 100 new positive exposures and experiences, to “vaccinate” him against the possibility that he will feel compelled to bite someone, someday. It’s not a guarantee against biting, but it’s by far your best chance of ending up with an adult dog who is friendly and safe.

Fear periods

At one time in the last several decades, much ado was made about a pup’s “critical fear periods.” Behaviorists attempted to pinpoint those periods of time in puppyhood during which a “bad experience” would scar a pup’s psyche for life.

More recently, we have come to realize that, although pups do seem to go through periods during which they are more fearful than others, that time can vary from one pup to the next. Rather than wrapping your pup in cotton wool for a designated period, it makes more sense to watch him closely and ensure that he has mostly good experiences, especially if he seems to be going through a cautious stage.

Even if something does frighten him, it’s not the end of the world – you can set up a counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D) program to restore a positive association with that particular stimulus, and your pup should recover nicely.

Lifetime socialization

Now your pup is 16 weeks old. You’ve reached the end of that magic socialization window, your “100 exposures” list is all checked off, and your pup loves the world. Are you done? Hardly.

Like your training efforts, which continue on into adulthood and throughout your dog’s entire life, you are never done with socialization. You’ve laid a very solid foundation; that’s something to be proud of.

Much of that will be lost, however, if you toss your four-month-old pup into the backyard and cease all exposure to humans and their complex society.

He still needs to meet and greet people, go places with you, and continue to share your world and your experiences, if you want him to continue to be the happy, friendly puppy he is today. And, of course, that’s what you want!