The English Bulldog, also known as the British Bulldog or simply the Bulldog, of course originated from the British Isles. The word "bull" in its name is derived from its use in connection with the cruel blood-sport of bull-baiting, which started centuries ago and ultimately was officially outlawed in England in the mid-1800s. The Bulldog is dignified yet friendly and companionable. Despite its stout body and formidable features, the Bulldog is extremely gentle and very protective over its family. It is particularly good with children and should never be vicious or aggressive. Bulldogs also are exceptional guard dogs, but they can be stubborn and headstrong. Early socialization and consistent training will help to head off behavioral problems. The puppy Bulldog loves to play, but older Bulldogs are more apt to spend a day lazing on the couch. Bulldogs need require exercise to prevent excessive weight gain, and they need plenty of interaction with their human companions. This breed does not like to be left alone for long periods of time.
Bulldogs are one of the most beloved breeds of all time, and they are known for their wrinkly coat and comical facial characteristics. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886 and approved in 1976, as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
The average Bulldog stands 12 to 16 inches at the shoulders, and their average weight is between 40 and 55 pounds. Bulldogs have a short, easy to care for coat, but the folds in their skin need to be cleaned and checked on a regular basis to reduce the risk of infection.
The history of the English Bulldog is unfortunately a violent one. This breed was created, sometime in the 1500s or 1600s, specifically for the purpose of bull-baiting, a cruel so-called "sport" that pitted a dog against a bull for a fight to the death. The original Bulldog must have been ferocious, powerful and courageous. Attention to conformation, temperament, beauty or symmetry of form was not valued. Instead, they must have been bred to be savage, vicious and almost immune to pain. The Bulldog's unusual extremely undershot jaw stems from those awful days, as it enabled him to grab a bull and clamp down, and hang on until the end. It was not a good time for the human-canine relationship. Dog fighting in underground "pits" became popular as bull-baiting's popularity waned.
In 1885, bull and dog fighting became illegal in England. Despite the fact that this could have led to the disappearance of the Bulldog, a number of fanciers attempted to preserve this fine breed, to retain its good qualities without promoting its bad ones. Within a few generations, the English Bulldog became one of the finest physical and temperamental specimens among canines, with its original viciousness completely gone. This is the English Bulldog of today, who is docile and adaptive. He can live anywhere, loves children, is easy to care for and is affectionate and loyal. The Bulldog is probably one of the gentlest breeds in America today.
The Bulldog has an average life expectancy of 8 to 12 years. Because of the large size of their head in disproportion to their bodies, most Bulldog bitches cannot deliver their litters naturally. As a result, Caesarian sections are extremely common in this breed and are typically planned in advance. Other breed health concerns may include:
Eye Problems: Issues relating to the dog's vision and/or ability to see
Deafness: Defined as the lack or loss, complete or partial, of the sense of hearing
Cancer (Various forms): Defined as any malignant, cellular tumor
Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
Cryptorchidism: Cryptorchidism is the physical absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum of a dog
When you look at the short, droopy face of an English Bulldog, you couldn't possibly imagine him bringing an actual bull to its knees, but that's exactly what this breed was originally designed to do. English butchers in the Middle Ages would send the Bulldog out to assist them in catching bulls for slaughter. Their short faces and powerful jaws could latch onto a bulls' neck and literally bring it to the ground.
Today, however, the Bulldog has a reputation for being a gentle lover of belly rubs more so than a herculean hunter. They are playful, lovable and loyal. Good with kids, Bulldogs will exhibit the patience of a saint when children want to hug and climb on them. They are one of the most amiable breeds, laid back and never high-strung. While puppies are energetic and rowdy, adult Bulldogs mellow out quickly and prefer an afternoon nap to a long walk in the park.
Bulldogs don't need a lot of vigorous activity, and in fact should not be exercised too hard in hot weather. Despite their love of relaxation, Bulldogs should be walked regularly to keep them in shape, as obesity can be a problem. Apartments and condos can make a Bulldog just as happy as a house with a big yard. They are easygoing creatures and are highly inactive when indoors, so the size of the home is never an issue for Bulldogs, as long as they have a nice place to sleep.
Bulldogs are stubborn and can be a challenge to train. Food and positive reinforcement are the only two methods that should ever be employed with this breed, as a heavy hand will get you nowhere.
Despite their general easy-going attitude, food aggression is a problem with many Bulldogs. They love to eat and no one should ever mess with a Bulldog and his dinner. Children should be taught to stay away and other animals should not be fed in the same area as a Bulldog.
Dog aggression can be another problem with Bulldogs. If raised along side another dog, they should be fine, but males tend to exhibit aggression as adults, especially toward other males. Bulldogs should be socialized around other dogs as early as possible.
If snoring, grunting, snorting, drooling and flatulence bother you, then a Bulldog is not right for you. They exhibit all of the above traits – to excess.
English Bulldogs are short, compact, incredibly muscular and broad dogs. Their short legs have a bowed appearance, but are in fact straight. Bulldogs have large heads with a distinctly sour expression that is created by their seriously undershot jaw, large drooping jowls and wrinkled, flat faces. They have broad chests and heavy, wide-set shoulders. The eyes of this breed are low and set wide apart, the ears are rosed and their noses are wide and black. They have soft, loose skin and short coats that come in colors of brindle, white, fawn, red or piebald. Their gait is characteristic of the breed and is described by the standard as rolling, but never lumbering.
The bulldog is a short, broad, compact, massive dog, with sturdy legs that appear bowed (although the bones of the legs are straight). Its head is large and features a large sour expression that is created by a pronounced undershot jaw (with no teeth showing), hanging jowls, and a flat, wrinkled face. The body is very broad and low with a deep, capacious chest and rounded ribcage. The abdomen is tucked up. The heavy shoulders are set far apart and slant outward for great stability. The circumference of the skull (measured in front of the ears) should be at least as great as the dog's height at the withers. The eyes are set low and wide apart. The ears are "rosed" and the large nose is wide and black. The upper lips completely cover the lower jaw. The tail either hangs down or can bend in kinks. The skin is soft and loose, covered with a smooth, short coat that comes in several colors including brindles, white, fawn, red or piebald. Bulldogs tend to run 5 to 10 pounds heavier than the average weight listed in the AKC standard. The Bulldog has a characteristic-rolling gait.
Size and Weight
Male English Bulldogs average about 50 pounds for males and 40 pounds for females. Female Bulldogs look less "bulldogish" than males, as their features are not as exaggerated. Proportion and symmetry is of higher value for show dogs than the actual size or weight of the dog.
Coat and Color
The English Bulldog's coat should be short, straight, glossy and fine. They have soft, loose skin, especially on the head, neck, and shoulders. The head is covered with heavy wrinkles and there are two loose folds at the throat to form a dewlap.
English Bulldogs come in a variety of colors: brindle (all shades), solid white, solid red, fawn, or fallow (pale cream to light fawn, pale yellow, or yellow red; and piebald. Solid black is uncommon and frowned upon per breed standard.
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Sources: American Kennel Club