Do English Bulldogs Lock Their Jaws? LockJaw Explained

There is a lot of debate over whether or not English Bulldogs lock their jaws. Some people say they do, while others claim it is a myth.

So, do English Bulldogs lock their jaws? English Bulldogs do not lock their jaws. Locking jaws in dogs is actually a myth because no dog can actually lock their jaws, anatomy-wise, not just English Bulldogs. The term Lockjaw is a medical condition that’s extremely painful for dogs.

There is more to that answer, so keep reading to learn more about that medical condition, the symptoms that your Bulldog may show, and how to deal with it.

Do English Bulldogs Lock Their Jaws?

a photo a bulldog biting on a toy to show how English bulldogs lock their jaws

There are a lot of myths about dogs locking their jaws, but the truth is that no dog can actually lock its jaw.

The term “Lockjaw” refers to a condition known as trismus or tetanus. It’s an involuntary spasm of the muscles in the dog’s face which causes extreme pain.

The condition is caused by a kind of bacteria called Clostridium tetani (C. Tetani), which lives in soil, dust, or manure with very little oxygen.

Once this bacteria enters the body through a cut on the skin, it begins to produce toxins that attack the nervous system causing spasms and Lockjaw.

If it’s left untreated, these spasms can lead to death due to respiratory failure.

What Are the Symptoms Of LockJaw in English Bulldogs?

Here are some signs of Lockjaw in Bulldogs to help you figure out if your pup has or not.

  • Excessive drooling
  • Curled lips
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Clenched jaw
  • Muscle tremors
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty with swallowing properly
  • Difficulty with bending their legs
  • Fever
  • Pain during urination
  • Difficulty opening their mouth
  • Paralysis
  • Stiff tail
  • Grinning appearance
  • Continuously stiff ears

What Are the Causes Of LockJaw in English Bulldogs?

Bacterial infections most commonly cause Lockjaw in English Bulldogs.

If your Bulldog has any open wounds left untreated, the bacteria will enter through those wounds and cause an infection in the body which leads to Lockjaw later on.

Other causes of LockJaw in English Bulldogs are:

  • Bone fracture: If your dog fractures a bone, there is a high risk of developing tetanus as the bacteria can quickly enter the wound.
  • Eating contaminated food: If your dog chews on bones or eats raw meat that has been infected with the bacteria, it’s likely to develop tetanus because the bacteria will enter its body.

How to Diagnose Lockjaw in English Bulldogs?

Here’s how Lockjaw is diagnosed in English Bulldogs:

You need to provide the vet with a complete history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms as well as any previous injuries or traumas that might have caused the infection.

The vet will do a comprehensive physical examination of the dog after reviewing its medical history. There will also be some other tests, including a blood test and urinalysis.

An abnormally low or high number of white blood cells (WBCs) typically indicate that there’s an infection. 

Meanwhile, high levels of the Creatine phosphokinase enzyme in the blood will indicate muscle stiffness. That is because this enzyme helps the body break down muscle. It’s usually found in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscles.

High levels of Myoglobin protein in the urine also indicate some muscle damage.

How To Treat Lockjaw In English Bulldogs?

The treatment of Lockjaw in English Bulldog will be determined by how severe the infection is.

If it was detected in the early stages, the dog would simply need some injections. However, if you didn’t notice the infection in the early stages, your Bulldog must go to the hospital for a more effective treatment.

If you think that your Bulldog may have tetanus, it is essential to get them to the vet as soon as possible either way.

Early Stages

Your vet will likely give your dog a series of injections called antitetanus serum, which will help fight the bacteria and stop the progression of lockjaw symptoms.

The vet may also prescribe antibiotics if there is an infection or a wound that needs treating before it can heal properly from the antitetanus serum injections.

If you are unsure whether your dog has been vaccinated against tetanus, then take them to see their veterinarian immediately and get this vaccine right away!

Late Stages

Your dog will need to be hospitalized in the advanced phases of this illness. It will require frequent support and nursing for approximately 3-4 weeks.

If your dog can’t eat on its own, it will be fed a feeding tube directly into its stomach to keep it full and maintain its energy and metabolic demands.

Because the infection impacts the muscles and nervous system, your dog is likely to be extremely sensitive, which will cause it to struggle throughout the treatment process. 

Dehydration is a high risk during treatment at this stage, so it’s important to prevent it by giving the dog intravenous fluids. However, this might also cause some problems for the dog.

Your pet will be sedated to avoid worsening the condition. Muscle spasms and convulsions can be reduced with medications. When used together, these medications will encourage your dog to stay in a reclining posture for extended periods.

Because of this, there is a concern about the adverse effects of remaining in one place for too long. You should provide your dog with soft bedding and set aside specific periods throughout the day to rotate it to its other side, keeping in mind that bedsores/ulcers can develop if you do not do so.

Keeping the dog in a quiet environment with a little light is one of the essential elements of nursing care. These animals are highly sensitive to touch, sound, and light; as a result, they require low illumination and noise.

You’ll need to talk about the entire treatment process with your veterinarian and go through the necessary precautions to avoid any complications.

How to Prevent Lockjaws in English Bulldogs?

If your Bulldog is not vaccinated, make sure they get the vaccine as soon as possible.

The tetanus vaccination is given every three years after that initial dose to keep them protected against Lockjaw and other related diseases. So, make sure to keep up with routine vaccinations for your dog to ensure it’s protected.

You can also help keep your pet safe by keeping their environment clean and free of dirt, dust, and manure where the bacteria that causes tetanus thrives.

Regular vet check-ups will help identify potential health problems before they become a bigger issue.

If you see any symptoms of Lockjaw in your dog, take them to the vet immediately for treatment. The earlier the condition is caught and treated, the better the prognosis will be for your pup.

What Is the Jaw Strength Of The English Bulldog?

The English Bulldogs’ jaws are so strong that they can easily break bones and cause serious damage to their victims. This makes the Bulldog an excellent guard dog as they will fiercely protect their family and property from any threat. 

However, if your English Bulldog is biting without a reason, then it will be very dangerous for your dog to be around the family. Learn more about how to get your Bulldog to stop biting here.

Their strong jaws are also one of the reasons that Bulldogs make excellent weight pullers and participate in other strength competitions.

The jaw strength of dogs is measured in pounds per square inch. The Bulldogs have a jaw strength of 305 psi, which is quite impressive.

While their jaw strength is a major benefit, it can also lead to health problems such as Lockjaw if they aren’t careful.

If you liked this article and found it helpful, please share it with your friends and family to help them out if they have dogs too, and to spread the awareness of how important the vaccinations are to your puppy and what can the vaccinations prevent.

If you have any questions about your pup, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any given time.

Related Questions

How Long Can Dogs Live With Lockjaw?

The average lifespan of a dog with untreated Lockjaw is just two to four weeks. If the Lockjaw is caught and treated early, then the prognosis for your pup is usually good. However, if it goes untreated or undiagnosed for a long period of time, then the dog is likely to die from the disease.

Will Lockjaw Go Away On Its Own?

Lockjaw needs to be treated, not only because it’s an infection and needs serious injections, but also because it’s incredibly painful for dogs. Waiting for it to go away is going to make the pup suffer from the pain, and the infection might eventually kill them.

Helpful Resources

Locked jaw syndrome in dogs and cats: 37 cases (1998-2005)

Lock Jaw – Mandibulozygomatic impingement

Tetanus in Dogs

Lockjaw in Dogs

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