Ask Tom, aka The Dogcharmer: For the love of a bulldog

Should Barbara get the bulldog? Photo courtesy of Barbara Stelle

Dear Dogfather,

I have fallen in love with a 60-pound male English bulldog. He is a beautiful big boy with the face of a mastiff. He spent most of his three years in California in a kennel as a stud dog. He for the last year or so has been in a kennel for a breeder in New Bedford. The breeder realized that Sampson carried the gene for eyelid problems … and Sampson himself had corrective surgery, and then was passed along as “perfect.”

I am really taken by this dog; I think about him all the time. I am nearly retired, and have the time and interest to take him to obedience classes. I am concerned about his delayed training and little socialization with three years of life in a kennel.

The current owner would get him neutered and then sell him to me for the price of $1,800 (which seems quite high to me). What usually happens to stud dog with eyelid issues?

When he is let out of the kennel, he runs around like crazy for a few minutes, then comes to be patted and lies down at my feet. He really pulled on a short leash walk. He did not jump or bark.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so very much.


Dear Barbara,

Here’s the skinny about adopting a dog under this type of circumstance. It will probably take at least a couple of weeks before you really know who he is. Not always. Sometimes you can walk into the house with your brand-new dog, give him a chew toy, and then find out he’ll bite you if you try to pick up the toy. Serious “resource guarding” issue there!

However, in my experience, most dogs are somewhat reserved from the trauma of a whole new family and environment. Then, when they’re more comfortable and trusting in their new setting, they start presenting any idiosyncratic habits they had so far suppressed. Neutering after three years of being a stud may have little effect on his outward behavior, and his love life should have ended the moment his eyelid diagnosis was made. Because $1,800 is a lot of money, I’d suggest you take him with the understanding that you can return him within two or three months for a full refund, for whatever reason.

As for his pulling, I’d recommend an Easy Walk Harness to start with. With an Easy Walk, the leash attaches at the chest which usually cuts down on a lot of the pulling. I’d also recommend veterinary insurance, and perhaps take him on a few walks to see how he reacts to other dogs and to children and crowds. A group class and working with a trainer is the way to go.

Best of luck,

The Dogfather