There are countless perks to having a Bulldog as a four-legged family member. Bulldogs are incredibly laid-back, have adorable skin folds, and don’t require much exercise to remain healthy and happy. On top of that, they are great with kids and cats and have what seems like an endless amount of patience. Bulldogs also possess a variety of interesting features (hello, irresistible underbite!), quirks, and personality traits such as always being down for some nap time and sometimes walking or running sideways. Though sleepiness is in their nature, why do Bulldogs run sideways and should their pet-parents be alarmed by the behavior?
The Root of the Behavior
As it turns out, the relatively odd behavior of walking or running sideways in dogs has its own name that is crabbing or sidestepping. It is defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as “a dog moves with his body at an angle to the line of travel” and is more common than you might think. Though it might seem worrisome to some dog-owners at first, the behavior usually isn’t a cause for alarm. It is characterized by a titled movement or motion at an angle and can look like your dog’s back legs are trying to outrun the front legs. Since some dogs’ back legs step further than the front ones, especially at faster speeds, this can cause the dog to tilt his body (most often, his rear end!) sideways in order to make room for the back legs. Though crabbing can occur in all kinds of breeds, it is especially common in breeds that don’t have a balanced angulation such as Border Collies and German shepherds or have short, less flexible backs such as Bulldogs.
It is also commonly seen in younger dogs and puppies who are less coordinated and whose bodies are still going through development. The crooked walking or running should improve with age as the rest of the body develops but in case of any concerns, it is best to record the behavior and book a consultation with a veterinarian to rule out any other potential causes. Crabbing can occur for a variety of reasons, from completely normal and harmless to somewhat concerning and serious. Starting with the former, some dogs simply have their own, unique way of walking that might include a tilt. Another natural cause for the sidestepping is side-dominance, which is when at a higher speed the canine’s dominant back leg pushes harder off the ground than the rest.
Encouraging the Behavior
In most cases, crabbing is not a cause for concern. However, just with any irregular behavior, it should be checked out by a veterinarian just in case, especially if its onset is sudden or if it occurs in an older dog. Sudden crabbing should not be left unchecked as it can also be caused by medical issues. A consultation with a professional can rule those out or help diagnose and treat conditions such as nutritional deficiencies, orthopedic problems or neurological disorders that may be triggering the behavior. Even though it is relatively common for the breed; if your Bulldog runs sideways, you should take him to the veterinarian for diagnosis.
In addition to the above-mentioned causes, the sidestepping can be caused by ear problems which are connected with a dog’s balance and coordination. Another reason your furry companion might be walking sideways is that he hurt his leg. Sprains, bruises, and strains are harder to detect in dogs and dogs who limp or suddenly walk in a different way than usual may be experiencing discomfort or pain and trying to remedy it through different ways of walking. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior, such as a different style of walking, consult a veterinarian or a chiropractor for diagnosis and possible treatment.
Other Solutions and Considerations
In most cases, the sideways running is just a phase that resolves by itself. In certain breeds such as Bulldogs. It can be simply a part of the characteristic way they walk and not something to be concerned about. However, just to be on the safe side, it is always best to consult your pooch’s veterinarian to rule out anything abnormal and to make sure your four-legged companion is healthy and well, especially since there is a multitude of potentially harmful reasons behind the unbalanced walking. Though less frequent, low blood sugar levels, liver problems, brain tumors, and structural issues can also be triggering a dog to run sideways.
Just like humans, all dogs have their own sets of quirks and habits. Some will pass with time while others can be modified through training, rehabilitation or medical support. The key to raising a happy and healthy Bulldog is lots of care, love, and attention as well as visits to the veterinarian in case of any concerns - it is always better to be safe than sorry.