Originating in Britain the ancestors of the Bulldog were the Mastiff and a type of terrier which were bred to produce a sturdy, brave and agile dog for the purpose of bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and dog-fighting. It is likely that the early dogs were closer in appearance to the Boxer or a large Staffordshire Bull Terrier than to the present day Bulldog with his somewhat exaggerated physical characteristics. Bull-baiting, which had been a popular sport in Britain since the 13th century, was declared illegal in 1835 and dog-fighting became the Bulldog’s primary occupation. It was found however that Bull Terriers were more suited to the pit and as Bulldog numbers started to decline fanciers formed the Bulldog Club in 1864 to ensure the continuance of the breed. No longer required for their former violent pursuits the original Bulldog ferocity was eliminated by careful breeding. Today’s gentle dog retains the legacy of his brutal past in the undershot jaw which gave him a powerful hold, the set back nose which enabled him to breathe whilst gripping the bull, and the facial folds which served to allow blood to run away from the eyes and nose. The Bulldog was first recognized by the Kennel Club in 1873
A nation’s symbol of determination, tenacity and unflinching courage the Bulldog possess all these qualities and more. His pugnacious looks belie a most sweet-tempered and affectionate nature. He is renowned for his love of his family and his gentle tolerance with children, and his happiness lies in being allowed to be with his people as much as possible and being included in everything. An excellent watchdog the Bulldog rarely barks without good reason and, despite his tendency to befriend and trust everyone without reservation, he will bravely guard his family and their property if called upon to do so. Despite his appearance a well-bred, fit Bulldog can be very active. He can run surprisingly fast and has extremely quick reactions. He is not particularly dog-aggressive but will give a good account of himself if challenged and his tenacious nature means that he will not give up quickly or easily. For those that can tolerate snoring and some drooling and are prepared to clean the dog’s face and under-tail folds daily the Bulldog will be a true and loving companion.
A Bulldog requires a moderate amount of exercise to keep him fit in both body and mind. Regular walks and the opportunity to play off-lead and investigate things of interest in a secure environment will be of great benefit in keeping his mind active and his body in good condition. While he can be a lively dog he is not built for endurance or for the more vigorous dog sports. The important thing to remember when exercising is that the breed is very intolerant of hot weather. If the dog becomes overheated, whether through the ambient temperature or through excessive exercise, he will have great difficulty in breathing and lowering his body temperature due to his short muzzle.
Basic obedience training is necessary to instil good manners and respect. Stubbornness is a Bulldog trait and if he decides not to oblige there is no point in attempting to force him, either verbally or physically, as he will simply dig his heels in even more firmly. The best approach to training is to be gentle, patient, and persistent and to use treats and praise to reinforce the correct behaviours. This method is more likely to be met with co-operation, especially if training is carried out in short sessions and made fun for the dog. Socialization from an early age is essential in order that the Bulldog learns to be at ease in all situations and to accept various people and dogs.
- Elongated soft palate
- luxating patella
Some photographs of the Bulldog...