The English Bulldog has been around for a while, although its ancestors were quite different in temperament than the Bulldog of today. These dogs were originally bred for the sport of bull baiting. This betting sport required the dog to attack and subdue a bull. Naturally, the dogs bred for this task would have to be quite aggressive and tough. The compact, powerful Bulldog performed admirably in this context.
In the mid 1800’s, however, dog fighting was outlawed. The aggressive traits the Bulldog was known for were no longer required. Instead of being left to peter out, the breed was instead crossed with the pug. The intent was to create a better looking dog with more palatable character traits. This endeavour was successful.
The English Bulldog’s reputation for aggression and tenacity has made it a popular mascot for sports teams. Its unique appearance has sparked a number of devotees, although persistent health problems prevent the breed from being as popular as it could be.
A quick glance at a Bulldog might give the impression of a dog that recently ran headlong into a brick wall. The short muzzle and folds around the nose give it a very unique appearance. Eyes are dark and set wide apart. These dogs are quite stocky and have thick, strong shoulders. The tails are naturally short and curly and require no docking.
The coat of a Bulldog is short, sleek, and requires little grooming. They can come in a variety of colours, including faun, red, white, and brindle. These dogs are average shedders.
This breed has come a long way from their battle-ready roots. Although they may appear intimidating, they’re actually quite gentle. Bulldogs are great with children and given correct training make great family pets. This isn’t to say that they won’t take on intruders though! They have a strong guarding instinct. However, this can be exhibited in negative ways if they are not trained correctly. If an English Bulldog feels that he is the leader of the pack, he’ll take it upon himself to keep everyone in the family in line. He may start aggressively guarding furniture or toys. This behaviour can and should be trained away, as it is very stressful for both the dog and the owner.
Sadly, this breed is plagued by a number of health problems. All dogs of this breed will have breathing problems. This can be dangerous in warm conditions – Bulldog’s are very sensitive to extreme temperatures, they are prone to heat stroke and can even die from hypothermia. English Bulldogs are more likely than any other breed to have hip dysplasia. Because of their broad heads, most puppies must be born by caesarean section, which can put mothers at risk. Birth defects are common, as are skin infections. Finally, unless you enjoy doggie flatulence, Bulldogs should not be fed anything but their regular dog food.
As you may imagine, the many folds around a Bulldog’s muzzle makes them messy eaters. They also tend to drool and slobber quite a bit. If you value a spotless home, this may not be the breed for you.
English Bulldogs love people and crave attention. If properly trained they can be a wonderfully affectionate pet. In some cases they do tend to be combative with strange dogs, but with proper socialization this won’t be too big an issue.