The English Bulldog exudes a confident demeanor and resolute steadfastness due to its massive appearance alone, but its nature is calm and gentle with a good upbringing. The sensitive and affectionate companion dog is particularly suitable for families with older children.
According to tradition, Phoenician traders brought it around 600 BC. Molossians from the eastern Mediterranean came to Great Britain, who, after crossing with local mastiff-like dogs, produced the forerunners of the English bulldog. The first written evidence dates back to 1209, when a pack of bulldogs was used to separate fighting bulls. The common names Bonddog (to bond) and Bolddog (bold = courageous) describe the traits that were most valued.
The name Bulldog is first mentioned in the 17th century. Originating from the originally positive idea of protecting fighting bulls, which brought in a lot of money for the farmers at the market, the dogs were now chased onto tethered bulls for popular amusement. The breeding of fighting dogs was aimed at the highest possible aggressiveness and a massive body. The back nose made it possible to breathe freely when the short but huge jaw had bitten into the bull’s nose until the bull fell to the ground. According to numerous reports, the immense aggressiveness increased so much that despite suffering serious injuries such as broken legs or bellies ripped open by bull horns, the “bullbaiter” continued to fight, often to their own death. Bulldogs that got stuck in other places were considered worthless and were excluded from all fights. The badly injured bull was then slaughtered and the meat sold. The justification for the cruel bullbaiting was that only beef saturated with stress hormones would be edible. After the legal prohibition of bloody exhibition fights, bulldogs were then allowed to compete against bears, monkeys, badgers or even lions. Bulldogs were also allowed to fight each other until all dog fighting was banned in Great Britain in 1835.
With the laws of the government the bulldogs would have almost died out, but there were enough lovers who founded the world’s first breeding club, the “Bulldog Club”, in 1864. The club existed only for a short time, but it set the first breed standard ever. The successor came in 1875 to the “Bulldog Club Incorporated”, whose breeding goals through conscientious crossbreeding shaped the nature and physical appearance to what the breed is known for today: lovable housemates with a peaceful character and good-natured social behavior. Top breeding performance over the course of 160 years even enables the English Bulldog to be used as a therapy dog for disabled children. Based on the English Bulldog, the lines French Bulldog, American Bulldog, and Continental Bulldog were created. In the Mini-Bulldog, the pug is crossbred and the Olde English Bulldog is a backbreeding that comes close to its historical appearance.
In 2009 the British Kennel Club announced a fundamental revision of the previous breed standard. The reason for this were severe health impairments in the English Bulldogs as a result of excessive breeding in order to achieve an even more beefy stature. Heads of unborn puppies that were too large made normal birth impossible in bitches, so caesarean sections were necessary. Difficult breathing due to a nose that is much too short, often covered by thick skin folds, runs that are too short and fertility disorders are just a few examples of so-called torture breeding. In the same year, the Kennel Club passed the revision against the massive protest of the breeders who presented the English Bulldogs as healthy. The FCI also adopted the new breed standard a year later. The umbrella organization in Germany VDH excluded the General Club of English Bulldogs ACEB, which had been the leading association in Germany until then. Since then, the Association of German Dog Breeders has kept the studbook itself and has the breeding sovereignty in order to put the well-being and health of the English Bulldog at the center of its breeding activities.
The large, almost square head with a pronounced stop and a wide muzzle are the hallmarks of Molossoid dog species. The small, thin-skinned ears stand relatively far apart and are set high. The insides of the auricles that are turned outwards are called rose ears. The fore-face of English Bulldogs is short, wide nostrils allow sufficient air to be breathed through the recessed nose. The medium-sized, widely spaced eyes are very dark brown. Wrinkled facial skin opens into thick lips and the lower row of teeth is visible on the muzzle because it lies in front of the upper incisors (overbite). Loose skin encases the very thick neck (dewlap), which sits on strong, slanted shoulders and a broad chest. The strong back rises slightly as the hindquarters are slightly longer than the forelegs. The muscular forelegs are set wide apart, with the paws pointing slightly outwards, as in cats. On the slender hips sits the relatively low set tail, which is of medium length and is carried lowered. An upward bend is not standard. Quite often, however, there is a corkscrew rod that can be traced back to degenerated vertebrae. Breeding with these dogs is forbidden in Germany because health problems are associated with this deformity. The fur is dense and short-haired. According to the standard, it should be solid red, fawn or white. Brindle or piebald variants are also allowed. In general, the muzzle and mask may be black, black or tan fur is undesirable.
The breed, affectionately known as “Bully”, is well suited for keeping an apartment, but even if you have your own home, the English Bulldog does not belong in the garden, no matter how comfortable the dog house. The sensitive and affectionate dog needs close contact with the family from puppyhood in order to remain mentally healthy. The daily walks should not be too long in the heat, as high temperatures are poorly tolerated. The character is good-natured and calm with good socialization, although attending a dog school is recommended. English bulldogs are individualists in whom a harsh command tone only creates aggression or stubbornness. The patient and playful method works better, with a lot of empathy and praise. Willingness paired with enormous strength requires an early onset, solid education, whereby the owner should assess before buying whether he will later be able to hold the adult animal, if the situation requires it. If the intrinsically high stimulus threshold is exceeded by an event, the dormant traits of his previous history, courage and perseverance, could usually emerge completely surprising and quickly overwhelm less experienced owners.
With regular exercise and conscious feeding, this risk does not arise in the first place: obesity. The skin folds on the face require daily care by dry wiping. If necessary, some cream will help to prevent infections caused by the accumulation of tear fluid. A prolapse of the nictitating membrane (cherry eye) is often observed, which can lead to inflammation of the lacrimal gland and cause dry eyes. A surgical intervention restores functionality. The English Bulldogs are not suitable for dog sports due to their heavy physique and shortness of breath, but longer hikes at a moderate pace are gladly undertaken if the condition builds up early. The routes should be in the shade if possible, such as forest paths, but a summer holiday on the Mediterranean is too strenuous for the Bully. Too much cold is just as uncomfortable as the fine fur hardly offers any heat insulation. Discomfort in the hip joints and allergies can also occur.
The English Bulldog at a glance
Origin: Great Britain FCI Breed Standard No. 149, Group 2, Section 2: Molossoids, Great Dane-like dogsSize: mediumWithers height: 30 – 41 cmWeight: males approx. 25 kg, bitches approx. 23 kgFur color: red tones, brown, fawn, white, piebald, brindle : Reliable, cozy, headstrong, in need of love Health risks: Sensitivity to heat, breathing problems, eye diseases, hip dysplasia (HD) Life expectancy: approx. 8-10 years
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