All About Bulldogs

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History and Background

The history of the English Bulldog is as unique as its distinctive face. First bred in England as a cross between the pug and the mastiff, the Bulldog's main purpose was as an entertainment dog in the sport of bull-baiting, a popular game during the Middle Ages -- from the 1200s through the mid 1800s, when it was outlawed by an act of Parliament. The aim of the dog was to attack and bite the bull, not releasing its grip until the bull was brought down. Bulldog owners boasted of their dog's ferocity and courage, and their ability to fight to the finish even when suffering extreme pain.

It is recorded that all levels of society took part in this blood sport, and that even Queen Elizabeth enjoyed this form of entertainment. The longevity of the sport is owed in large part to the belief that the meat of the bull would be more usably nutritious if the bull was in an excited state before slaughter -- a belief that has been since grounded in fact.

After bull baiting was banned in 1835, a new chapter began for the Bulldog. Although the Bulldog lost much of its popularity because of the end of the fighting, there were still those who appreciated the breed for its devotion and fortitude. Ardent Bulldog enthusiasts rescued the breed from what appeared certain extinction, encouraging its most attractive physical and characteristic features, while replacing its ferociousness with a gentle and docile disposition. The dog maintains its ferocious tenacity in the face of danger however, fighting to the death, if necessary, in the protection of family. These qualities, altogether, make the Bulldog a very popular and friendly dog.

Today, with its clownish and amiable personality, it has also become a favorite among American pet owners, and a favorite of institutions throughout the world, who use the Bulldog as a mascot to denote their own strength in the face of adversity and battle. They include the United Kingdom, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, and hundreds of businesses, schools, universities and sports teams.

Characteristics

The English bulldog is a brawny little powerhouse whose characteristic crablike waddle exudes great strength, stability and vigor.

The dog's head is large and spherical, and the muzzle is extremely short, giving the face a flattened appearance. The English bulldog's eyes are dark and set low and wide on the forehead in the frontal plane. The nose is black and slightly upturned. The jaws (or "chops") are massive, broad and undershot. The lower jaw juts out in front of the upper jaw to scarcely expose the lower incisors, producing a comical grin. The lips are fleshy and pendulous. The cheeks are well rounded and protrude sideways. The ears are thin, small and angle forward like flaps that frame the forehead.

The English bulldog's neck is short and thick; the shoulders are massive, muscular and broad. The chest is deep and full, and the back is barreled and slightly arched. His rounded hips protrude slightly above the level of the back. The stubby tail is thick and either straight or screwed. His short, stocky legs have great muscle definition. They are splayed out and slightly bowed at the elbows and hocks to form a sturdy, base-wide stance.

The English bulldog stands about 16 inches tall.

 

The female weighs about 50 pounds (23 kilograms), and the male weighs about 54 pounds (24 kilograms).

The English bulldog's skin is loose and pendant with heavy wrinkles and thick folds on the face and a dewlap hanging from the throat. The coat is short and fine textured. The various color patterns are brindle, piebald, and solid white, red, fawn or fallow.

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What to Expect

Personality:

The English bulldog has a sweet, gentle disposition. Dependable and predictable, the bulldog is a wonderful family pet and loving to most children. People-oriented as a breed, they actively solicit human attention.

However, they have retained the courage that was originally bred into them for bull baiting, so they make fine watchdogs. Although they generally get along well with other family pets, English bulldogs can be aggressive to unfamiliar dogs.

Living With:

English bulldogs make fine apartment pets and do not require a yard. Typically low-endurance dogs, they need only a moderate amount of exercise. They thrive best in temperate climates; they readily overheat and have breathing difficulties in hot weather, and they chill easily in cold temperatures.

Generally loud breathers, English bulldogs tend to snore and wheeze. Many drool as well. They are moderate shedders and their short coats require little grooming. However, the wrinkles on the face should be wiped regularly to prevent skin infections.