Growth development problems often plague Bulldogs. For starters, we recommend a low protein adult food for all of our Bulldogs over 8 weeks of age. Bulldogs have a tendency to grow very rapidly therefore causing many unwanted problems with their hips and joints. It is very important in the first year to keep their weight and play properly managed. Early joint damage could lead to osteoarthritis. Irregular bone growth is often a common problem in Bully during these growth phases and they usually grow out of them around 1 year of age. Hip and Elbow dysplasia are often genetically specific to the Bulldog breed but can be enhanced by slippery floors, over exercising, jumping and being overweight.
If your puppy begins to limp or show lameness, do not allow any surgery to be done until he has completely stopped growing. This usually is around 18 months of age. Many times I have seen pups limp as favor one leg or the other during this growth phase. In the past I had a customer call me and told me the vet wanted to do surgery and place a pin in one leg to lengthen it. I told them to do nothing and wait. The leg became perfect within 3 months and the vet lost a customer. My vet Dr. Butchko always says to wait and see after he stopped growing. So don’t panic. I have never yet had any bulldog have a hip or elbow problem long term.
OCD and Hip Dysplacia is incredibly rare in bulldogs and is very often mis-diagnosed in the breed. Due to the naturally very shallow joints the bulldog is sadly very prone to arthritic changes which can occur at a very young age, especially if as a puppy the dog underwent very rapid growth or was over weight or over exercise during this period. Sadly we hear of lots of puppies supposedly diagnosed with OCD or Hip dysplacia and in most cases this is not the case at all.
The breed has naturally shallow elbow and hip joints and young bulldog hips are very loose as the adult dog relies heavily on muscle to hold the joint in place. In many cases the growth rate is so fast the long bones grow at different rates in the fore legs, and elbows in particular will show up as dysplacic on x-rays taken under 18 months old, in most cases the bones will level out as the growth phase comes to an end.
Dysplacia diagnoses should not be taken as red until the dog is at least 18 months old and surgical intervention should never be considered until the growth phase is over, even then it’s more likely that the dog simply needs drug management to deal with the arthritic changes in the joint which in most cases are the result of the rapid growth as a puppy.