History of the Bulldog Breed
It is said that the bulldog is a descendant of the ancient Asiatic mastiff, although the development of the breed took place in England. The bulldog has been mentioned in many historical works, including Shakespeare's King Henry, VI. Some believe that the bulldog was used by butchers to control cattle and bring them to the slaughter. It was in 1209 that bull-baiting was introduced by the Earl of Warren as a annual pre-Christmas festival. While bull-baiting was outlawed in England in 1835, it is because of that cruel spectator sport that the bulldog was originated. Around the 13th century, the bulldog was bred to attack a bull by grabbing its nose and not letting go. People of the time believed that the meat of the bull was tastier if the animal had been baited before it was butchered. This form of entertainment also including baiting bears. Owners of the bulldog took pride in the ferocity of the animal and its ability to withstand pain. In fact, some owners of the breed were said to have tortured the dog while it held onto the bull just to prove its strength and fortitude. After bull-baiting was outlawed, some tried to engage the bulldog in fights among its own kind, but the dogs were not cooperative. Without a cause, the bulldog may have easily become extinct. By the mid-1800s its popularity diminished. But the bulldog had many admirers, who rescued the breed from extinction by breeding out the ferocity and maintaining the dog's unique physical characteristics. These breeders were successful in creating the amiable, calm breed we know today. The bulldog enjoyed great popularity in the 1940s and 1950s.
Size and Appearance of the Bulldog Breed
The heavy-set, low-slung body of the bulldog features wide, muscular shoulders and short, stout front legs. The longer back legs are strong and muscular, while the moderate-size feet are firmly set with compact toes and short stubby nails. The massive head of this breed has wide-set, round eyes, which are usually very dark in color. The ears are small, thin, and set high on the head. The muzzle is very short and broad with a large, wide nose - usually black in color - displaying big nostrils. The huge, square jaws of this breed contain large, strong teeth. The short neck is thick and strong, arching nicely into the back. The chest is very broad and full, while the back is short and strong. The short tail is either straight or screwed, and it is carried down. The gait of the bulldog is described as being loose-jointed with a rolling, or sideways, motion. The short, straight coat of the bulldog is fine in texture, and the skin is normally soft, falling in loose wrinkles around the head, neck, and shoulders. The coat of this breed comes in many varieties of color including: solid white, solid red, fawn, or fallow, red brindle, other brindles, and piebald.
Described as a docile and mellow dog, the bulldog is friendly and loves human attention. While its looks can be intimidating to those who do not know the breed, the bulldog is one of the gentlest dog breeds. While it can have a stubborn streak, this dog aims to please its owner. It is very good with children, and it is usually quite friendly with strangers. This breed is normally good with other pets in the household, but it may be aggressive with strange dogs. It should be noted that the bulldog usually snores very loudly, and most dogs have the tendency to drool or slobber. This breed is a great addition to the family. It can serve well as a protector, and it craves human affection.
Bulldog Recommended Maintenance
While caring for the coat of the bulldog takes minimal time and effort, the wrinkles around the face, and any folds around the tail, need to be attended to and cleaned on a daily basis. Grooming of the fine, short-haired coat consists of combing or brushing with a firm bristle brush. Bathing should only be done when necessary. This breed is considered to be an average shedder. The bulldog is not a particularly active breed, but a daily walk is recommended. This dog should not run or walk long distances, and it is very sensitive to hot, humid weather. The bulldog is appropriate for apartment dwelling, as it is an indoor dog that is relatively inactive. Many snore, wheeze, and drool.
Life span: 8 - 10 years
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)
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.