Introduction

Bulldogs tend to mature slowly. A truly fine specimen may not finish maturing until three years of age; frequently a dog will be almost two before he is ready to win in the show ring. That doesn't mean that earlier maturation never occurs, but the full majesty of the dog usually unfolds later.

A puppy is born usually weighing between 10 ounces and a pound. Its nose is pink and its eyes and ears are closed. Its eyes open around 10 days to two weeks and between two and three weeks its ears open. Before that, it can't hear at all.

At about three weeks, the puppies are beginning to walk; there may be some back sliding as the puppies gain weight and their muscles are unable to support the new load. By about six or seven weeks, all the puppies should be scurrying around on their own.

All puppies this age are adorable. If you're looking for a show puppy, you can expect changes over time. Unfortunately, the exact changes cannot be predicted perfectly. Most puppies will go through a gangly stage from 4-8 months; their parts seem to grow independently of each other. They usually mature out of this stage.

This stage is not very different from adolescence in humans. However, if you're hoping to show the dog, it can be a disheartening time. Don't worry too much. Your breeder can tell you how his or her lines develop and generally what to expect.

Pigmentation

As your puppy matures, the pigmentation around his eyes and on his nose will fill in.

This sometimes takes until the dog is a year old to complete itself, depending on its genetic make-up.

Don't worry if a dark line has not entirely surrounded the eye or if there is pink on the puppy's nose when you get him. This usually fills in with maturation and you have to give it the time nature requires. However, ask the breeder whether this is an issue in the lines.

Teething

Teething    Your puppy will start losing his puppy teeth and getting his permanent teeth at about three and one-half to four months of age and continue for about two months. Some lines are on the early side, some develop later. Ours tend to be early. The first teeth are generally the smaller teeth in front - probably the middle teeth in the lower jaw first. The adult teeth are broader and whiter than the baby teeth.
Check to see that he's lost the baby teeth as the adult teeth are coming in. You or the Vet should push out any baby teeth that remain when its adult replacement breaks through - otherwise his teeth will be crooked and he may have problems eating. It's just like with children's teeth and the dogs don't seem to mind it. They especially appreciate hard rubber toys now - and so will your furniture. The toys may help him loosen teeth on his own.
Puppies' reactions to teething vary widely. Some dogs show almost no signs that they're teething, other than an urge to chew almost anything. Other dogs are obviously in pain - their eyes may tear, ears drop, and they may lose their appetites.
If your puppy is one of the latter, ½ an Ascriptin, 3-4 times a day, may help over the worst spots. Also, a water-soaked, frozen rolled-up washcloth to chew on may reduce the swelling and pain. Offer food he especially likes and cuddle him a lot. It's only temporary, but it does hurt.
Permanent teeth don't set firmly in the jaw until up to 10 months of age - so chewing may go on for a while. The puppy's lower jaw will start to lengthen and turn up as he teethes, giving him the distinctive undershot jaw that Bulldogs are known for. His head will broaden later as he matures.

Body and Skull Shape

As your dog matures, major changes will occur in the shape of his head. As discussed, about 40 percent of the points in the Bulldog Standard are based on the head. A mature Bulldog should have a large head, with a deep skull, and a straight layback. It will be broad between the yes, with a well-developed stop, and a sweeping upturned jaw. It takes a while for all of this to come together. In some lines, you may not see the changes until the dog is more than two years old.

Similar changes take place in the structure of the dog's body. His chest will broaden and become deeper and he will put on muscle mass. By the time your puppy is about 10 months old, he will have achieved his adult weight, probably about four times the weight he was when you got him.

Sexual Characteristics

Males tend to be larger and more muscular than bitches. The Bulldog Standard notes this and specifies that we should give allowance to the bitch in comparing them with dogs since they "do not bear the characteristics of the breed to the same degree of perfection and grandeur as do the dogs."

The testicles can usually be felt between six and 10 weeks old, but they may not be easy to find. When the dog is young, they may descend and recede. If they can be felt at one time, but not another, there is no need to worry. In some dogs, they may not descend until six months of age. Consult your Vet if you think there is a problem. Dogs with one testicle cannot be shown. They can reproduce, but should not be bred since the condition is hereditary.

Your male will squat to urinate at first. He will not lift his leg until he is fully mature. This can vary from six months old to about a year old. Watching him learn can be funny - it may take a while for him to realize that he can lift either leg to go.

Your bitch will probably come into season for the first time between six months and a year. She will then come in about every 6-10 months. Once you determine her cycle, she should follow it fairly regularly.

Ears

When puppies are born, their ears stick straight up and they cannot hear. As they mature, their ears fall into a more normal position. Some have perfectly shaped ears, but they may need some help to develop the ideal shape. Your dog's ears should be set to conform to the Bulldog Standard - Rose Ears - when you get him from your breeder. Your breeder should show you how to set them in place properly in case they need regluing.

To ensure that his ears remain the proper shape, you should set them regularly. Place a small amount of adhesive in the external creases of the ear and hold the ear in place for a few minutes while it sets. Then put adhesive on the tip of the ear and place it where it will naturally fall.

When your puppy begins to teethe, he may temporarily lose control over his ears. They will drop because of his reaction to the pain. If you keep his ears glued while he's teething, when the teething ends and the pain subsides, he will have perfect ears again. Of course, some dogs never have this problem -- their ears rose on their own and stay rosed all through teething.