Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM
You may be an experienced pet parent or considering adopting an English Bulldog for the first time, and you wonder whether they will fit into your lifestyle.
In addition to your home environment, the barking behavior of the breed you adopt is an important consideration.
English bulldogs don’t bark a lot, so when they vocalize, it’s generally to alert their human parent to danger or changes in their environment. While one of the quieter breeds, their physical characteristics make them prone to BAOS, causing snorting, groaning, and snoring.
Find out what barking behavior and noise levels you can expect from your English bulldog from puppyhood to old age, what excessive barking is, and how to reduce it.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs are descended from wolves who howl more than they bark; however, your furry companion has developed the ability to bark in many different ways to communicate with you and other people and animals in the environment you share.
Dogs bark to communicate with other dogs and with you, their human parent. Barking is only one type of vocal communication used by your canine companion to express their needs and emotions.
Your dog will bark because they want to protect you or your home when they sense a threat from something or someone outside your family.
Dogs also bark when they’re afraid, startled, lonely, anxious, and bored. However, they also bark when they are excited, happy, and having fun.
Together with other non-verbal cues like posture, your English bulldog will bark to express themselves to you.
Chris Ramsay, a K9 Specialist, offers some insight into human-canine communication and how to decode the language of dogs in this video:
Barking Behavior by Age
English bulldog puppies begin to vocalize from as young as three weeks old after their eyes and ears have opened.
Around six to eight weeks of age, a bulldog puppy’s yips turn into recognizable barks.
Your puppy will generally bark while playing to demand attention and food and copy other dogs’ behavior around them.
Here is a video demonstrating little Elvis’ attempts at sounding like a big dog:
English bulldogs are considered adults at about 12 months old when they have reached their full height and bark.
Adult English bulldogs are a relatively quiet breed and tend to bark for specific reasons—if they’re startled, for example.
Unless your bulldog is particularly anxious, you likely won’t find them making too much noise – especially if they are feeling safe at home with you.
Barking Behavior by Gender
Male English bulldogs are friendly, playful, and protective of their family.
Their barking behavior will be evident during playtime or when they sense a threat or disturbances to their immediate environment.
Other triggers that apply to but are not specific to male English bulldogs include loneliness and separation anxiety.
Female English bulldogs are less playful and more independent than their male counterparts.
They are also more territorial and will bark at perceived threats or changes to their environment.
Female English bulldogs may also resort to excessive barking to demand attention when lonely or anxious.
What Can Cause Excessive Barking in English Bulldogs?
If your English bulldog barks excessively, the first step is to look at their environment.
When a bulldog produces deep monotone barks and growls in quick succession, they may be trying to indicate a threat or unexpected change in the immediate area.
Identify and remove the cause of the distress, and soothe your furry friend to calm them.
Boredom and frustration can cause excessive barking in English bulldogs because they are a very playful dog breed. When your bulldog lacks sufficient stimulation and interaction with you and other family members, they’ll try to get your attention by barking.
This problem is easily solved if you provide your English bulldog with lots of love, attention, playtime, and exercise.
Loneliness is another cause of excessive barking in English bulldogs.
They are highly sociable and need to be near their pet parents. If your dog is alone for long periods, they may experience separation anxiety and engage in excessive barking.
English bulldogs that experience separation anxiety will bark excessively, urinate or defecate where they shouldn’t, or chew and destroy furniture and toys out of frustration and aggression.
Contrary to popular opinion, English bulldogs aren’t lazy.
They are playful, and they require a moderate amount of energy.
If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise and playtime every day, they’ll become frustrated and may bark excessively.
Your English bulldog may also bark out of pure excitement, just like Khaleesi watching TV and responding to an action-packed scene:
You’ll notice that these barks are higher-pitched and with a more irregular frequency than your dog’s alerting barks.
When Did the Barking Begin?
If you’re the pet parent of an English bulldog that has begun barking excessively, it’s essential that you notice when the excessive barking begins.
It may be a response to a recent change, for example, a new puppy, a newborn human sibling, or something as simple as moving your dog’s favorite bed or blanket.
Perhaps you’ve moved house, and your bulldog is unsettled and anxious.
Provide them with plenty of affection and reassurance, and maintain their routine as much as possible.
Daily exercise and stimulating playtime will help your English bulldog get comfortable in the new environment and lessen their excessive barking.
Allow them some space and have a little bit of patience with them.
If they don’t feel comfortable or safe in a particular environment, it’s up to you to manage this and make changes where necessary.
Can Barking Indicate Health Problems?
English bulldogs are susceptible to skin infections because of excess moisture between their faces’ thick folds of skin.
If these infections are not treated, they can cause significant discomfort and pain to your bulldog, which may lead to excessive barking.
You must visit an experienced vet who can show you how to treat skin fold infections in English bulldogs and prevent them by regularly cleaning your dog.
You’ll need to clean the folds and rolls on your bulldog’s face daily, just as this Fabulous Bulldogs’ video explains:
Ideally, you’ve implemented a cleaning routine from puppyhood.
If it becomes too challenging to keep your dog’s face wrinkles clean and dry, it may lead to surgical procedures like a facial fold resection demonstrated in this video:
How To Tell if the Barking Is Aggressive
You’ll be able to tell if the barking is aggressive by the tone and frequency of your English bulldog’s bark and their body language and stance when barking.
Barking is aggressive when your dog’s bark is lower and deeper than usual and steady with slight variation in pitch.
Their body will be tense, front limbs planted firmly, eyes wide, and head low.
If this aggressive barking is part of an overall behavioral problem, you can enlist the help of an experienced canine behavior specialist and your trusted vet.
They’ll work with you and your dog to ensure a pup as happy and laid-back as Bueller:
How To Reduce Excessive Barking
The first thing to remember is that there is always a root cause for excessive barking in English bulldogs.
First, ask yourself if you’re providing enough mental and physical exercise and stimulation for your bulldog.
They need daily exercise like a 30-minute walk at the local park or around your neighborhood.
If you have the space, you can even build an obstacle course for your pup in the yard.
Use play and exercise to help your dog expend energy and release frustration.
A frustrated English bulldog with pent-up energy will engage in excessive barking because they are descended from a working dog breed.
If you’re providing enough exercise, then your dog may be alerting you to an issue in the immediate environment or their needs.
If your dog’s alerting barking is excessive or inappropriate, enlist the help of your vet and a canine behavior specialist.
In just two weeks, your bulldog could learn as well as Mia has:
When it comes to mental stimulation and playtime for English bulldogs, make sure the toys are sturdy and durable enough to cope with your dog’s strong jaws.
English bulldogs were initially bred to pin down bulls with their jaws—while their aggression has been bred out, their strength is very much typical of the breed.
Remember that your bulldog’s short muzzle and crowded teeth can make certain toys difficult to grasp.
Bulldogs’ difficulties with breathing make waterplay and vigorous exercise difficult for them.
Choose chew toys that you and your dog can play tug with and are easy to retrieve during a round of fetch.
Since English bulldogs are such strong chewers, toys made of rubber, rope, or nylon are best as long as they’re strong, natural, and chemical-free.
The Benebone Maplestick Dog Chew Toy from Amazon.com is an excellent choice for English bulldogs because you can also play fetch with it.
It’s made with real bacon and real Maplewood, and there are different sizes, so you can find the toy that’s just right.
If your English bulldog pup prefers to cuddle with softer toys, you can make an excellent tug-fetch-and-chew toy with just a tennis ball and an old cotton t-shirt.
Follow the simple instructions in this video:
Avoid These Pitfalls in Your Quest for Some Peace and Quiet
Don’t ignore your English bulldog when they’re barking excessively—there’s always a reason or a cause for it.
Your dog is communicating with you, and ignoring their behavior is counter-productive to reducing excessive barking.
Punishing Your Dog
Punishing your dog to reduce excessive barking is never acceptable.
Proper training, positive reinforcement, and a stimulating routine are more appropriate and effective alternatives to punishment.
Making Your Dog Think You’re Going To Hit Them
English bulldogs are often stubborn and will not respond positively to harsh tones and aggression.
Please don’t make your dog think you’re going to hit them, or they may perceive a threat and respond in kind.
Violence and the threat of it will damage your relationship with your dog as they’ll no longer trust you or feel safe.
This may worsen the excessive barking and escalate your dog’s behavior into aggression.
Shouting and Verbal Aggression
Shouting at your dog and subjecting them to verbal aggression will make them afraid of you.
A fearful dog will be anxious, be more sensitive to threats, and be more easily startled and bark excessively.
Always treat your English bulldog with respect, and try not to raise your voice.
A barking collar or anti-bark collar isn’t appropriate to stop or prevent your English bulldog from barking excessively as they generally work by negative reinforcement.
Instead, it may cause stress, discomfort, and pain to your dog, which will result in excessive barking, aggression, and damage to your relationship with your English bulldog.
Use Barking Training Instead of Negative Reinforcement
English bulldogs aren’t prone to barking; however, if your pup is an exception to this rule, you’ll be able to work with them and train them to limit their barking.
Your dog’s favorite treat will be a powerful tool during barking training.
Patience and observation on your part as a pet parent are also essential.
Follow these three steps when your dog is barking excessively:
- Get their attention on you as soon as possible, then calm and soothe them in a gentle and firm voice.
- Praise and reward your English bulldog with verbal affirmation and a treat each time they refrain from barking.
- Take the time your pup needs and be consistent because practice makes perfect.
English bulldogs aren’t prone to fits of excessive barking; however, they do so to alert you, their pet parent, and to make their needs, fears, and desires known to you.
Notice any changes in your dog’s barking, vocalization behavior, and posture to pinpoint any threats or health issues.
Give your English bulldog plenty of exercise, play, and praise to socialize them appropriately and prevent excessive barking or aggressive behavior.
- Wikipedia: Bulldog
- American Kennel Club: Bulldog
- The Bulldog Breed Council: Owning a Bulldog
- FETCH by WebMD: Why Dogs Bark and Curbing Excessive Barking
- PetMD: Why Do Dogs Bark?
- American Kennel Club: Learning to Speak Dog – The Meaning of Your Dog’s Barks
- ASPCA: Barking
- American Psychological Association: When dogs bark, humans understand
- National Library of Medicine: Human listeners are able to classify dog (Canis familiaris) barks recorded in different situations
- YouTube: Barking and Marking: Decoding the Language of Dogs | Chris Ramsay | TEDxClevelandStateUniversity
- Any Bulldog: English Bulldog 101: Knowing The Reasons Why Your Bulldog Barks A Lot
- American Kennel Club: Bulldog Puppy Training Timeline: What to Expect and When to Expect It
- YouTube: When Does a Bulldog Stop Growing?
- Jubilant Pups: Male Vs Female Bulldogs (What’s Best For You?)
- Cattle Dog Publishing: Barking in domestic dogs: context specificity and individual identification
- YouTube: Bulldog Has Incredible Reaction To Actress In Trouble
- YouTube: Elvis the Bulldog Puppy reads his mom the riot act
- YouTube: Facial fold resection On An English Bulldog-How to keep facial folds clean
- YouTube: How to Clean an English Bulldogs Face and Tail Pocket Correctly
- YouTube: Aggressive English Bulldog Bueller learning off leash obedience with Houston dog training
- YouTube: How To Stop Your ENGLISH BULLDOG BARKING
- YouTube: Stubborn English Bulldog Transformed In 2 Weeks
- Love Your Dog: Best Dog Toys For English Bulldogs: Ratings & Reviews
- YouTube: Fix This: Make your dog a new toy using old t-shirts!
- YouTube: How to Train Your Dog to STOP BARKING at EVERYTHING That Moves!!
- Everyday Health: Pros and Cons Of Bark Collars
Click here to read my post on whether or not Bulldogs are aggressive
Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society