With roots deeply planted in British soil, the English bulldog is a stubborn yet relatively docile breed that has been quite popular since the late 1800s. Initially bred for ferocity and courage, the bulldog is now a devoted and sweet member of the non-sporting group of dogs. Commonly referred to as the “English” Bulldog, the proper name is simply, “bulldog.”
History & Origin
The bulldog is the symbol of tenacity and stubborn determination. Centuries ago, the breed was called the “bandogge” since the dog spent much of its time bonded to or tied up with other dogs. The earliest reference to “bulldog” was found in literature in 1609.
The bulldog was originally kept as a butcher’s dog to control unruly oxen. It was also used as a guard dog, hunting dog and most commonly for the sport of baiting. This blood sport is now considered cruel and inhumane but in the early 13th century, it was quite popular. The sport involves tethering the “bait,” a bull, bear, horse, ape or lion, and the dogs were sent in to attack the animal and try to overpower it. One of the more common baits was the bull. The bulldog was commonly used to fight the bull, thus resulting in their name. The bulldog would grasp the fleshy nose of the bull and pin it to the ground. Bull baiting continued for centuries until outlawed in 1835.
The bulldog was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1886.
The bulldog was bred for bull baiting and their facial shape reflects this. The short muzzle and undershot jaw were necessary to enable a vice-like grip. The nose is placed far back on the face to allow the dog to breathe while holding a bull by the fleshy nose. Even though they are no longer bred for bull baiting, their facial features still reflect their past profession.
The bulldog is a medium-sized dog with a stocky built and broad chest. The legs are short and the tail is often curled although the standard states the preferred tail should be straight and of uniform taper. Their face and head usually is very wrinkled with many facial folds. The hair coat is short and can be liver, tan, black, white or a combination.
The bulldog stands 12 to 16 inches at the shoulder and weighs approximately 50 pounds. For more detailed information on the true English bulldog see the official standard: http://thebca.org/ilstd.html
The bulldog is a stubborn dog but is devoted and quite docile. They can do well in apartments with the occasional stroll in the park. Bulldogs are not fond of excessive exercise and do not have boundless energy. They prefer to spend their days lounging around the house.
Home & Family Relations
The bulldog loves to be in company of family and is generally good with children. The breed will alert their family to the presence of strangers by barking and growling but tend not to attack. Their imposing figure is generally enough to ward off evildoers.
The bulldog doesn’t do very well in obedience training. They are quite stubborn and tend not to follow instructions quickly. Some feel this trait indicates that the bulldog is dimwitted but most bulldog owners feel this simply reflects the bulldogs need to think about things before they act. Our view is they want to know “what’s in it for them.”
Due to a surge in popularity, some disreputable breeders have begun breeding bulldogs without thought to temperament. This has resulted in an increase in aggression within the breed. Make sure you acquire your bulldog from a reputable breeder and socialize your puppy at an early age.
The average lifespan for the English bulldog is 8 to 10 years