LEARN – History of the Bulldog Breed

Getting to know the Bulldog Bulldogs are a medium-sized dog breed that has a distinctive pushed-in nose and wrinkled face. The Bulldogs are also known as the British or the English Bulldog. The United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club and The Kennel Club (UK) oversee the breeding records of the Bulldog. The sweet nature […]
bulldog Puppy
Bulldog Puppy

Getting to know the Bulldog

Bulldogs are a medium-sized dog breed that has a distinctive pushed-in nose and wrinkled face. The Bulldogs are also known as the British or the English Bulldog. The United Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club and The Kennel Club (UK) oversee the breeding records of the Bulldog. The sweet nature of bulldogs has made it one of the most popular pets across the world. According to the American Kennel Club, these dogs were the fifth most popular purebred in 2017.

Even though these dogs are now widespread across the world, they have an intricate relationship with English culture. During WWII the defiance that Prime Minister Winston Churchill showed against Nazi Germany is often compared to the defiance of a Bulldog. When the English started moving to the United States, they brought Bulldogs with them. In England, the bulldog fans created the Bulldog Club in 1878. The bulldog club in America was formed in 1890.

Appearance

Bulldogs have a hefty body frame, which contributes to their unique look: the broad shoulders and the head and a significant mandibular prognathism. The thick folds of skins create the wrinkle on the face of the bulldogs. Along with the folded skin on their brow and the sagging skin under the neck, drooping lips also contribute the wrinkled look.
The wide-set eyes of the Bulldog are round, and they have an underbite with an upturned jaw. The characteristic fold of skin over the short, and pushed in the muzzle is known as the nose roll or the rope. The teeth of the bulldogs are sharp; the coat is short, flat and sleek. The bulldogs come in red, white, fawn, brindle and piebald colours.

The breed standards in the United States are 55 lb (25 kg) for the male and the 50 lb (23 kg) for a female. While in the United States, a mature male bulldog can weigh about 50 lb (23 kgs), the adult females weigh about 40 lb (18 kg). According to the Bulldog Club of America, the average weight of the Bulldog should be between 40-50 lb.
The tail of the bulldogs is generally short. They come in either screwed or straight shape. The thickness of the tail varies from one dog to the next. As the tail of the Bulldog is naturally short, they are not docked like the tails of dogs of other breeds. According to the standards of BCA, the straight tail is desired if it is facing downwards.

Temperament

According to the American Kennel Club, the disposition of the bulldogs are kind and equitable. These dogs should be courageous and resolute and not at all overly aggressive or vicious. The demeanour of the dogs should be dignified and pacifist. The expression, as well as the behaviour of the dog, should exhibit all the above attributes.

Over the years, the breeders have worked hard to reduce the aggressiveness of these dogs. The modern breed of the bulldogs are patient, friendly, but slightly stubborn. However, these dogs can create strong bonds with the kids, which make the bulldogs one of the most popular household pets.

History

1631-32

The first reference of bulldogs can be found as early as 1631-32. During that time, a man named Preswick Eaton wrote in a letter about the bulldogs.

1666

In 1666, the English Scientist Christopher Merret created an entry in his Pinax Naturalium Britannicarum as, ‘Canis Pugnux, a Butchers Bull or Bear Dog’. The bull portion of the name of the Bulldog came from the fact that these dogs were used in the sports of bull baiting. In that game, these dogs were set off onto a tethered bull. People used to place bets on the dogs as it was common for the bulls to maim or kill the dogs. The dog that grabbed the bull by its nose and pin it on the ground was considered as the winner.

Over centuries, the body type of these bull-baiting dogs changed. The dogs became stockier with more oversized heads and protruding jaws. The nature of the dogs changed as well. They became more ferocious and developed a savage temperament.

1835

The Cruelty to Animal act 1835 brought some profound changes that put a stop to the games like bull-baiting and bear-baiting. This act protected some animals, like dogs, snakes, owls, donkeys, from mistreatment and cruelty. The same law also prohibited cockfighting.

In this way, the old bulldogs have outlived their purpose in the sporting market, and their workdays became numbered. However, the emigrants found some usefulness in these ferocious dogs.

1878-86

The Bulldog Club of England is the oldest single breed speciality club formed in 1878. The members of this club wrote the first standard of perfection for the breed of the Bulldog. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Bulldog in 1886.

19th century

In the mid 19th century, the Governor of Newyork Richard Nicolls used the bulldogs as a part of the city-wide round-up efforts of the wild bulls. As cornering the wild bulls and leading them up was a dangerous job, the Bulldogs were trained to seize the bulls by its nose just long enough to secure the rope around its neck.

While the work scope of the bulldogs was shrinking, the pet dealers of the Victorian era were continuously promoting these dogs as family pets.

Even though the maturation age of these dogs is slow, they show an early sign of old age. The bulldogs of five to six years of age can start to show signs of ageing.

Modern Day

While the modern Bulldog has retained the same stocky physical shape, they cannot withstand the rigours of running any more. Even though their physical features have not seen a lot of change, the temperament of the bulldogs has seen a massive change in the past few years. The decreased level of aggression of the bulldogs has made them a better family pet.

Health

A survey conducted in the UK in 2004 found that the median death age of the bulldogs is six years and three months. The leading cause of death of the bulldogs is cardiac arrest. About 20% of all bulldog deaths happen due to cardiac arrest. The other causes of death of the bulldogs are cancer and old age. Those dogs that die of old age can live up to 10 to 11 years.

The Orthopaedic Foundation for animals conducted a longitudinal study on the bulldogs for 30 years. According to the survey, about 73.9% of bulldogs were suffering from hip dysplasia, the highest among all other breeds. Also, Patellar Luxation affects about 6.2% of bulldogs.

Some bulldogs suffer from cysts formed between the toes. Even though these cysts are uncomfortable for the dogs, they are easily treatable. You can take the dog to a vet, or if you are experienced, you can treat it yourself.

The dogs can also suffer from respiratory problems. Other common issues are cherry eye, hip issues and allergies.

As the large heads of the puppies can get stuck into the mother’s birth canal, about 80% bulldog litters are delivered through caesarean section.

If you are an owner, you should clean the skin folds on the face of the Bulldog regularly. This step will help you avoid problems of infection. Sometimes the curling tails of the bulldogs also need the attention of the owner. Due to the high number of folds on the bull dogs body, they are quite vulnerable for skin-fold dermatitis.

Like all other breeds of dogs, the bulldogs also require regular exercise. If the dogs do not get proper exercise, they can become overweight, which can easily lead to lung and heart diseases.

The bulldog breeds often suffer from the brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome. This condition manifests in different ways. More often than not, it makes the dogs intolerant of the physical exertion and heat. The small nasal passages of the bulldogs make it difficult for them to keep their bodies cool.
That means you have to practice extra caution during the summer months. Make sure your bulldogs stay out of the standing heat. Offer it lots of water and keep it under the shade even when you are venturing outside. Adequate ventilation and air conditioning are required to keep them healthy and safe. As these dogs do most of their sweating through their pads on their feet, they enjoy the coolness of the floor. Staying aware of the issues that your dog can face will help you to keep your pet from unsafe conditions.

British Bulldog walking in grass
British Bulldog

As a Mascot

The Bulldog is often used as a famous representative mascot of England or the UK. The defiance of Winston Churchill during World War II is often compared with the nature of bulldogs as well. The Bulldog is also the official mascot of the United States Marine Corps. Thirty-nine different universities across the United States also use Bulldog as their mascots.

All in all, owning a bulldog may not be the most straightforward task you take up. But try to be optimistic, and these affectionate mush balls can change your life. Stay away from all the negative thoughts and presumptions that most people have about the bulldogs. Bulldogs are the keepers, and they are the most excellent family additions. So, follow your heart, and give a cuddly bulldog a home.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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