The English Bulldog: A Proper Gentleman

Background

Although the English bulldog was initially bred for fighting, the breed has since been reborn into a lifestyle of gentility. As you can guess from their name, bulldogs were originally used in the sport of bullfighting. These brave dogs would bite onto the bull’s nose in order to provoke the bull. Many physical features of today’s bulldog were developed during selective breeding for bullfighting: the bulldog’s low-slung body made it easy for the dog to crawl out of reach of an angry bull’s horns, while its distinctive underbite allowed it to latch onto a bull’s nose, and its own scrunched nostrils were still able to inhale and exhale while pressed against the bull. After bullfighting was outlawed for its inhumanity, English bulldogs were repurposed for dogfighting – which was considered a “more humane” form of entertainment at the time. After dogfighting was also outlawed in 1835, the bulldog breed’s ferocity was eliminated through selective breeding, acclimating the dogs to a life of love and leisure. The pets we adore today have very little in common, temperamentally, with their ancestors.

Shapes and Sizes

These dogs are heavy and powerful. Males typically weigh about 55 lbs, while females average a little lighter at around 51 lbs. Their short, smooth, and glossy coat requires very minimal care and comes in a variety of colors and blends, including brindle, solid white, red, fawn, and piebald. A bulldog’s wrinkled skin can harbor skin infections, so be sure to use a damp cloth to clean out your pet’s skin folds on a regular basis.

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Axle Klysen as a puppy, sporting his Carthage Bulldogs jersey!

Personality Traits

Bulldogs’ tranquil and outgoing personalities make them exceptionally compatible with children. This breed’s courage is perhaps the only personality trait the dogs have retained from their bullfighting days, and it only serves to make them more lovable. They also have a tendency to be a little obstinate, which can sometimes be quite comical. According to the American Kennel Club, the bulldog is the 4th most popular dog breed in the United States.

Health Issues

Their short, squished snouts make it difficult for bulldogs to cool off, so this breed is especially sensitive to both excessive exercise and heat. Don’t think that these dogs can get away without any exercise, though! Bulldogs still need their regular walks. Just be watchful, because these dogs can be susceptible to heat stroke, especially when they get overheated or overexcited. Bulldogs are also known to occasionally suffer from respiratory issues if the folds of their palates sag enough to block their airways. Additionally, if you’re thinking of breeding your bulldog, keep in mind that these dogs often require a C-Section for successful delivery – the puppies’ heads are so large that they have difficulty fitting through the birth canal.

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Another picture of Axle Klysen, reminding everyone that rest is a necessity, especially for bulldogs!

Fun Facts

  • If you didn’t already know, bulldogs are a favorite as a mascot for athletic teams. (Go Dawgs!) Many claim the most famous bulldog mascot is the live one belonging to the University of Georgia, affectionately called “Uga.
  • Quite a few celebrities own bulldogs! The list includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, Zac Efron, David Beckham and Martha Stewart, to name a few.
  • When the breed originated, bulldogs were prized for their facial wrinkles, which strategically helped prevent blood from trickling into their eyes while wrestling with a bull.
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