With roots deeply planted in British soil, the English bulldog is a stubborn yet relatively docile breed that has been quite popular since the late 1800s. Initially bred for ferocity and courage, the bulldog is now a devoted and sweet member of the non-sporting group of dogs.
History & Origin
The English bulldog is the symbol of tenacity and stubborn determination. Centuries ago, the breed was called the “bandogge” since the dog spent much of its time bonded to or tied up with other dogs. The earliest reference to “bulldog” was found in literature in 1609.
The bulldog was one of the top 10 breeds for the year 2008.
The bulldog was originally kept as a butcher’s dog to control unruly oxen. It was also used as a guard dog, hunting dog and most commonly for the sport of baiting. This blood sport is now considered cruel and inhumane but in the early 13th century, it was quite popular. The sport involves tethering the “bait,” a bull, bear, horse, ape or lion, and the dogs were sent in to attack the animal and try to overpower it. One of the more common baits was the bull. The bulldog was commonly used to fight the bull, thus resulting in their name. The bulldog would grasp the fleshy nose of the bull and pin it to the ground. Bull baiting continued for centuries until outlawed in 1835.
The bulldog was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1976.
The bulldog was bred for bull baiting and their facial shape reflects this. The short muzzle and undershot jaw were necessary to enable a vicelike grip. The nose is placed far back on the face to allow the dog to breathe while holding a bull by the fleshy nose. Even though they are no longer bred for bull baiting, their facial features still reflect their past profession.
The bulldog is a medium-sized dog with a stocky built and broad chest. The legs are short and bowlegged and the tail is often curled. Their face and head usually is very wrinkled with many facial folds. The hair coat is short and can be liver, tan, black, white or a combination.
The bulldog stands 12 to 16 inches at the shoulder and weighs 50 to 60 pounds.
The bulldog is a stubborn dog but is devoted and quite docile. They can do well in apartments with the occasional stroll in the park. Bulldogs are not fond of excessive exercise and do not have boundless energy. They prefer to spend their days lounging around the house.
Home & Family Relations
The bulldog loves to be in company of family and is generally good with children. The breed will alert their family to the presence of strangers by barking and growling but tend not to attack. Their imposing figure is generally enough to ward off evildoers.
The bulldog doesn’t do very well in obedience training. They are quite stubborn and tend not to follow instructions quickly. Some feel this trait indicates that the bulldog is dimwitted but most bulldog owners feel this simply reflects the bulldogs need to think about things before they act.
Due to a surge in popularity, some disreputable breeders have begun breeding bulldogs without thought to temperament. This has resulted in an increase in aggression within the breed. Make sure you acquire your bulldog from a reputable breeder and socialize your puppy at an early age.
- Heat illness occurs when exposed to excessive environmental temperatures and being unable to dissipate the heat quickly.
- Brachycephalic syndrome is a group of facial abnormalities that result in difficulty breathing and snorting.
- Dystocia is the term used to describe difficult birthing. Due to their large heads, it is difficult for the mother to pass the puppies vaginally and most bulldogs have cesareans to deliver their babies.
- Vaginal hyperplasia an exaggerated response of the vaginal tissue to estrogen during certain phases of the heat cycle. The vaginal tissue becomes swollen and may protrude through the vulva.
- Facial fold dermatitis is the skin problem that occurs when the facial folds retain moisture. Infection can occur.
- Interdigital dermatitis, also known as pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.
- Cryptorchidism is the term used to describe the situation when one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum and remain in the abdomen.
- Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, limping and arthritis.Hypoplastic trachea – is an undersized windpipe that results in difficulty breathing and can increase the chances of developing pneumonia.
- Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland that can result in sluggishness, weight gain and serious illness.
- Cherry eye is a prolapse of the third eyelid. Though not a serious injury and does not cause blindness, the prolapse can be irritating to the surface of the eye and cause persistent tearing or eye pain.
- Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
- Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a disorder of the eye that results when tear production is decreased.
- Ventricular septal defect (VSD) – a congenital defect of the ventricular septum of the heart.
- Tetralogy of Fallot – Congenital condition that includes 4 heart abnormalities: pulmonic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, dextrapositioned aorta and right ventricular hypertrophy.
- Aortic stenosis – this disease is caused by stenosis of the aorta and causing symptoms such as weakness, collapse and sudden death.
- Ununited anconeal process is the failure of the anconeal process of the elbow to unite with the ulna, resulting in fracture. This condition can cause lameness and arthritis.Congenital elbow luxation – is a dislocation of the elbow joint.
- Lymphosarcoma, also known as lymphoma, is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system.
- Urethral prolapse is the protrusion of the lining of the distal or tail end portion of the urethra through the external urethral opening.In addition, bulldogs are prone to demodicosis, mast cell tumors, hair losselbow dysplasia, lymphoma, acne, deafness, eyelid problems.
The average lifespan for the English bulldog is 8 to 10 years.