The Bulldog (English Bulldog/British Bulldog) is believed to have evolved from the Molossian dog first brought to Britain by Phoenician traders in the 6th century BC. The breed was exploited in the sport of bull baiting, a practice that existed from Roman times. Though the Bulldog may appear to be oddly made, each point of its structure was bred into the breed to aid or protect it while attempting to overcome a bull. When bull baiting was outlawed early in the 19th century, the future looked bleak for the Bulldog until a handful of breeders set to preserving this breed that had become a symbol of British courage and tenacity. When The Kennel Club (England) was organised in 1873, the Bulldog was among the first of the breeds to be recognised.
The Bulldog was first classified as such in the 1630s though there is earlier mention of similar types referred to as bandogs, a term reserved today for a type of fighting dog. The Bulldog also fought its way through the dog pits but after 1835 began to evolve into the shorter faced, more squat version we now know. It entered the show ring in 1860 and the ensuing years saw a big personality change. A delightfully ugly dog with a pugilistic expression, which belies a loving, affectionate nature to family and friends. One of the oldest indigenous breeds, known as the national dog of Great Britain, and associated throughout the world with British determination and the legendary John Bull.
Bulldog (English Bulldog)
Temperament: For a dog that once faced bulls, the Bulldog is calm and dignified with a steady, even disposition. He is resolute and courageous but not vicious or aggressive. Conveys impression of determination, strength and activity. Alert, bold, loyal, dependable, courageous, fierce in appearance, but possessed of affectionate nature.
General Appearance: Smooth-coated, fairly thick set, rather low in stature, broad, powerful and compact. Head fairly large in proportion to size, but no point so much in excess of others as to destroy the general symmetry, or make the dog appear deformed, or interfere with its powers of motion. Face relatively short, muzzle broad, blunt and inclined slightly upwards, although not excessively so.
Dogs showing respiratory distress highly undesirable. Body fairly short, well knit, limbs stout, well muscled and in hard condition with no tendency towards obesity. Hindquarters high and strong. Bitches not so grand or well-developed as dogs.
Head: Viewed from side, head appears very high and moderately short from back to point of nose. Forehead flat with skin on and about head, slightly loose and finely wrinkled without excess, neither prominent nor overhanging face. Face from front of cheek bone to nose, relatively short, skin may be slightly wrinkled. Distance from inner corner of eye (or from centre of stop between eyes) to extreme tip of nose should not be less than the distance from tip of the nose to edge of the underlip.
Neck: Moderate in length, thick, deep and strong. Well-arched at back, with some loose, thick and wrinkled skin about throat, forming slight dewlap on each side.
Body: Topline: Slight fall to back close behind shoulders (lowest part) whence spine should rise to loins (top higher than top of shoulder), curving again more suddenly to tail, forming slight arch – a distinctive characteristic of breed. Back: Short, strong, broad at shoulders. Chest: Wide, prominent and deep. Body well-ribbed up behind. Brisket, round and deep. Well let down between forelegs. Ribs not flat-sided, but well-rounded. Undeline and belly: Belly tucked up and not pendulous.
Tail: Set on low, jutting out rather straight and then turning downwards. Round, smooth and devoid of fringe or coarse hair. Moderate in length – rather short than long – thick at root, tapering quickly to a fine point. Downward carriage (not having a decided upward curve at end) and never carried above back. Lack of tail, inverted or extremely tight tails are undesirable.
Forequarters: General appearance: Forelegs short in proportion to hindlegs, but not so short as to make back appear long, or detract from dog’s activity. Shoulder: Broad, sloping and deep, very powerful and muscular giving appearance of being “tacked on” body. Elbow: Elbows low and standing well away from ribs. Forearm: Forelegs very stout and strong, well-developed, set wide apart, thick, muscular and straight, bones of legs large and straight, not bandy nor curved. Metacarpus (Pastern): Short, straight and strong. Forefeet: Straight and turning very slightly outward; of medium size and moderately round. Toes compact and thick, well split up, making knuckles prominent and high.
Hindquarters: General appearance: Legs large and muscular, slightly longer in proportion than forelegs. Legs long and muscular from loins to hock. Stifle (Knee): Stifles turned very slightly outwards away from body. Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Hocks slightly bent, well let down. Hind feet: Round and compact. Toes compact and thick, well split up, making knuckles prominent and high.
Gait: Appearing to walk with short, quick steps on tips of toes, hind feet not lifted high, appearing to skim ground, running with one or other shoulder rather advanced. Soundness of Bulldog’s movement of utmost importance.
Coat: Fine texture, short, close and smooth (hard only from shortness and closeness, not wiry). Colour: Whole or smut, (i.e. whole colour with black mask or muzzle). Only whole colours (which should be brilliant and pure of their sort). viz., brindles, reds with their various shades, fawns, fallows etc., white and pied (i.e. combination of white with any of the foregoing colours). Dudley, black and black with tan highly undesirable.
Height/Weight: The low-slung, heavy-set Bulldog weighs 40-50 lb (18-22.5 kg).
Activity Level: The Bulldog has a relatively low activity level. He can adjust to just about any environment and his exercise needs are easily met. Potential owners should be aware that the Bulldog’s facial structure makes him subject to snuffling, snorting and snoring. He also suffers in hot weather so special care is needed in the summer.
Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Disqualifying Faults: Aggressive or overly shy. Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
Link: Bulldog video on Animal Planet.