With the most distinctive mug in dogdom, the bulldog has an equally distinctive history. The bulldog's origin lies in the cruel sport of bull-baiting, which originated in England around the 13th century. The dog's purpose was to attack and madden the bull by grabbing it, usually by the nose, and not releasing its grip. Not only was this considered entertainment, but it also was believed that a bull's meat was tastier if the bull was baited before being butchered. Some bulldogs were also set against bears for bearbaiting, purely for entertainment.
AKC Ranking: 16
Family: livestock dog, mountain dog, mastiff (bulldog)
Area of Origin: England
Date of Origin: 1200s
Original Function: bull baiting
Today's Function: companion
Avg Size of male: Height: 12-15 Weight: 50
Avg Size of Female: Height: 12-15 Weight: 40
Other Name: English bulldog
With the most distinctive mug in dogdom, the bulldog has an equally distinctive history. The bulldog's origin lies in the cruel sport of bull-baiting, which originated in England around the 13th century. The dog's purpose was to attack and madden the bull by grabbing it, usually by the nose, and not releasing its grip. Not only was this considered entertainment, but it also was believed that a bull's meat was tastier if the bull was baited before being butchered. Some bulldogs were also set against bears for bearbaiting, purely for entertainment. Bulldog owners set great store by their dog's ferocity and, especially, fortitude in the face of pain — so much so that horrifying stories exist of owners proving their dog's toughness by demonstrating that it would hang onto the bull despite being tortured or mutilated by the owner. In 1835, bull-baiting was outlawed, and a new phase began for the bulldog. Some efforts were made to have the dogs fight one another, but this was clearly not the bulldog's forte. Now a dog without a cause, the breed's popularity plummeted. By all rights, the breed should have become extinct, except that it had gained so many ardent admirers that they set out to rescue the bulldog by selecting against ferocity while still maintaining — and often accentuating — its distinctive physical characteristics. So successful were they that the bulldog became an extremely amiable character, with a personality not at all like its "sourmug" might suggest. Its tough steadfast persona led it to be identified as a national symbol of England. It's amiable clownish personality belies its appearance, and the bulldog is a popular pet.
Despite its "sourmug," the bulldog is jovial, comical and amiable, among the most docile and mellow of dogs. It is willing to please, although it retains a stubborn streak. It is very good with children. Most are moderately friendly toward strangers. Although some can be aggressive with strange dogs, the breed is quite good with other pets.
The bulldog appreciates a daily outing but cannot tolerate hot humid weather. It should not be expected to jog or walk great distances, or to jump from any heights. Most bulldogs cannot swim. Most bulldogs wheeze and snore, and some drool. Coat care is minimal, but facial wrinkles (and any folds around the tail) should be cleaned daily.
• Major concerns: CHD, KCS, stenotic nares, elongated soft palate,
shoulder luxation, internalized tail
• Minor concerns: entropion, ectropion, distichiasis, CHD, elbow
dysplasia, cherry eye, patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: urethral prolapse, vaginal hyperplasia
• Suggested tests: hip, elbow, knee, (eye)
• Life span: 8 – 10 years
• Note: It is prone to skin fold dermatitis unless the wrinkles are
kept clean and dry. It cannot tolerate heat. Special precautions must
be taken when anesthetizing a bulldog. Caesarian deliveries are
commonly needed. Hip radiographs show most bulldogs to be dysplastic
but few show overt symptoms.
Form and Function
The bulldog's heavy, thick-set, low-slung body with wide shoulders gives it a low center of gravity, a vital asset when fighting a large animal. The massive head, of which the circumference should equal at least the height of the dog at the shoulder, gives ample room for muscular attachment for the strong, wide jaws. The undershot bite allows a tight grip, at the same time giving breathing room through the nose. The limbs are sturdy, the gait loose-jointed, shuffling, and rolling — this is not a breed that needs to run! The coat is fine and glossy.