The Rabbitohs trailed 18-nil after ten minutes, but fought back to lead 32-28 with less than 15 minutes left on the clock.
But it wasn't to be for the Rabbitohs, with a length-of-the-field intercept ruining any hopes of a brave comeback victory.
The Bulldogs started the match on fire, scoring three tries in the opening ten minutes.
Pio Seci, Patrick Templeman and Moses Mbye all crossed for four-pointers, with three successful conversions by Templeman establishing the 18-nil early lead.
The Rabbitohs finally secured some ball and camped themselves in Bulldogs' territory for the next ten minutes.
The 'Dogs' line finally broke, with centre Nick Hedley crossing for his side's first try to the right side of the posts, taking the scoreline to 18-4.
The Rabbitohs struck again six minutes later through five-eighth Christian Hazard, taking advantage of co-captain Cameron McInnes drawing the fullback and putting him away under the black dot. Will Paterson converted, taking the scoreline to 18-10.
Two minutes later the Rabbitohs attacked up the right side of the field, with replacement hooker Jackson Garlick scoring with nine minutes left in the second half. Paterson converted to bring the Rabbitohs within two points of the home side.
The 'Dogs extended their lead in the 37th and 39th minites through tries to wingers Costner Lamafa and a second try to Seci, taking the scores to 28-16 at the half time break.
The Rabbitohs were the first to score in the second half, with replacement Siosaia Tanginoa scoring in the 54th minute. Paterson converted to reduce the deficit to six points.
Centre Aaron Gray scored four minutes later, bringing the Rabbitohs within two points of the home side.
The Rabbitohs made it a hat trick for the second half when co-captain Brad Croad scored in the 66th minute of play, with Paterson's conversion giving South Sydney a four-point lead for the first time in the game.
That lead would only last four minutes before the Bulldogs would return serve, with Dylan Rintoul scoring to level the scores at 32-all with less than ten minutes to play.
The Rabbitohs had a chance to snatch the win with five minutes left in the game, attacking deep in the Bulldogs' end. The Rabbitohs had two-on-one with only the fullback to beat, but that very fullback took the chance at an intercept, one which paid dividends, with Templeman racing 90 metres to score the winning try.
The full time scoreline read 36-32 in favour of the Bulldogs.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 36 (Pio Seci 2, Patrick Templeman 2, Moses Mbye, Costner Lamafa, Dylan Rintoul tries; Patrick Templeman 4 goals)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 32 (Nick Hedley, Christian Hazard, Jackson Garlick, Siosaia Tanginoa, Aaron Gray, Brad Croad tries; Will Paterson 4 goals)