The iconic English Bulldog! A true English breed that symbolises strength, determination and loyalty. This medium-sized breed has a thick set smooth coat, a rather low stature, broad, powerful and compact. It has a relatively large skull which is a breed characteristic owing to its ancestry as a bull baiter during the Medieval times. The head is broad and square with well-rounded cheeks that extend sideways beyond the eyes. The flat forehead has slightly loose skin that forms fine wrinkles. A slightly visible furrow extends from a defined stop to the middle of the skull. It has a slightly wrinkled face covering the short, broad muzzle with large black nose and nostrils. It has thick and broad chops (flews) that cover the lower jaws on the sides which join the underlip in front. The square jaws form a pronounced mandibular prognathism (undershot) but the teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed. It has round, very dark, moderately-sized eyes which are situated low down in skull when viewed from front and ‘rose ears’ set high on the head. It also has a short tail, set on low that turns downwards, thick at the root then tapers sharply to a fine point. The neck of the Bulldog is thick, deep and strong with some loose skin on the throat that forms slight dewlap on either side. It has a broad, very powerful looking and muscular shoulder, well-rounded ribs and a tucked up belly. The front legs have large bones, thick, muscular, straight and set wide apart, slightly shorter than the back legs. The back legs are equally muscular with slightly bent hocks plus stifles that turn slightly outward. All four feet are round, medium-sized and compact with thick padding. Coat colours are brindle with various shades, white and piebald or with black mask or muzzle. Typical weight for dogs is 25 kg and 23 kg for bitches. Average height is between 31-40 cm.
The exact origins of the English Bulldog are murky, but the gentle and affectionate attitude of the modern breed strike a sharp contradiction to its ferocious and savage origins. In the 12th century, bull baiting was introduced to Britain by the Normans from France where they used mastiff-type dogs to bring down a tethered bull. This sport as a form of entertainment became popular in the 16th century and the leggy mastiff-type dogs were replaced by smaller, more muscular dogs with large heads, powerful jaws and a tremendous bite force to bring down a bull. These early dogs became the ancestor of the Bulldog. However, these dogs were known by a different name and were often called “bonddogges” or “bolddogges”. The name “bulldog” was not mentioned in any literature until the early 17th century when a man named Preswick Eaton wrote in a letter mentioning “two good Bulldogs”. When bull bating became illegal in England in the 1830s the role of the Bulldog as a sporting animal gradually diminished and through the years, breeders promoted the dog as a pet by gradually developing the breed with a far calmer temperament, more docile, affectionate, and loving but still retain its ferocious and masculine look.
The British Bulldog is an alert, bold and loyal breed. It is dependable, brave but not aggressive, vicious in appearance but is very affectionate and loving. It is a courageous dog and makes a very good guard dog who will see off any intruder in the house. It can sometimes be determined and persistent but is very much a family dog, often seeking out attention from its owners. A puppy Bulldog has a lot of energy but typically becomes quieter as it grows old. It is one of the slowest maturing dogs, not reaching adulthood for two and a half years. It has a tendency to snore loudly and most dogs drool and slobber.
The Bulldog is a fun-loving breed but it can be quite determined and persistent. Training the dog to be a follower in the pack is very important. A dominant Bulldog will have a tendency to be aggressive with other animals. Strong human leadership is required to train the dog to become a good follower. The best training method for the Bulldog is through fun learning sessions that involve repetition and positive reinforcement.
The Bulldog is generally and easy-to-care breed. It has a very short coat that does not require any fancy grooming. Brushing the coat twice a week with a soft bristle brush or a rubber curry will keep it healthy and shiny as this will promote good blood circulation and remove dead hair. It sheds moderately during spring and fall. Inspect the wrinkles on a regular basis and clean with a soft, damp cloth when necessary. Dirt tends to accumulate in between the wrinkles which may irritation and/or bacterial growth which may lead to skin problems.
The Bulldog is a brachycephalic breed (narrowing of the upper airway) which affects short-nosed dogs. It will not do good in a warm weather environment because it will die of overheating. Too much physical activity will make the Bulldog hard to breathe. A typical setting for the breed is an indoor life with ample air conditioning or in a home located in colder regions. Most Bulldog puppies are born by C-section. A Bulldog from a poor lineage can have hip and spine problems (malformation). The Bulldog is also prone to knee injuries, cherry eye, inverted eyelids, cataracts and dry eye syndrome. Other health issues associated with the breed are skin allergies, bladder stone issues, gastric torsion and cancer.
Do not expose the Bulldog in a warm environment. Too much exercise or stress will result in breathing difficulty which may result in a heatstroke. The Bulldog is inactive indoors and will be content walking in and around the house or sleeping on the couch all day. A 15-minute outside walk in a shaded area or when the climate is cool is enough to satisfy its exercise needs.
The Bulldog is an excellent family pet because it has a very strong tendency to form strong bonds with children. It is also generally known to get along quite well with other dogs and pets in the house.