Bulldog is the name for a breed of dog commonly referred to as the English Bulldog. Other bulldog breeds include the American Bulldog, the French Bulldog and the Old English Bulldog which is now extinct. The Bulldog is a muscular, heavy dog having a wrinkled face and a distinctive pushed-in nose. The American Kennel Club (AKC), The Kennel Club (UK) and the United Kennel Club(UKC) oversee breeding standards. According to the American Kennel Club, Bulldogs are the 5th most popular pure breed in the United States in 2013.
First time the world Bulldog was coined in literature around 1500, the oldest spelling of the word being Bondogge and Bolddogge. The first reference to the modern spelling is dated 1631 or 1632 in a letter by Preswik Eaton. The designation “bull” was applied because of the dog’s use in the sport bull baiting. In mid-17th century New York, Bulldogs were used as a part of a citywide roundup effort led by Governor Richard Nicolls. Because cornering and leading wild bulls was dangerous, Bulldogs were trained to seize a bull by its nose long enough for a rope to be secured around its neck. Bulldogs were continually promoted by a dog dealer Bill George. Bulldogs show slow maturity but still their lives are relatively short. At five or six years of age they are start showing signs of aging.
The Bulldog is a breed with characteristically wide head and shoulders along with a pronounced mandibular prognathism. Bulldogs generally have thick folds of skin on brow; round, black, wide-set eyes; a short muzzle with characteristic folds called a knot above the nose; hanging skin under the neck; drooping lips and pointed teeth and occasionally an underbite. The coat is short, flat and sleek with red, fawn, white, brindle and piebald colours.
Bulldogs are one of few breeds whose tail is naturally short and either straight or screwed and so is not cut or docked like some other breeds. A straight tail is more desirable according to the BCA breed standards, if it is facing downwards, not upwards.
In the UK, the breed standards are 50 pounds for a male and 40 pounds for a female. A typical mature male weighs 45 to 55 pounds and females weigh about 45 pounds. The AKC recommends the average weight of a bulldog to be 40 to 50 pounds.
AKC states that a Bulldog’s disposition should be “equable and kind, resolute and courageous, and demeanour should be pacific and dignified. The Bulldog should not be vicious or aggressive and these attributes should be counted by the expression and behaviour.
Breeders have worked on reducing or removing aggression from these dogs. The Bulldog is known to be of good temperament, mostly friendly and patient in nature. They are regarded as excellent pets because of their tendency to form strong bonds with children. They are also known fro getting well with other dogs and pets. They become so attached to home and family that they do not venture out of the yard without a human companion.
The UK Bulldog Breed Council puts the average life span of the breed at 8-11 years. A UK survey found the life expectancy of the Bulldog as 6.5 years. The reasons for death of Bulldogs is accounted as cardiac related (20%), cancer (18%) and old age (9%). Statistics from the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals indicates that out of the 467 Bulldogs tested between 1979 and 2009, 73.9% were affected by the hip dysplasia. Some of these are even prone to interdigital cysts-cysts that form between the toes. These cause the dog some discomfort and are treated by the veterinarian. They can also suffer from respiratory diseases, cherry eye, a protrusion of the inner eyelid, allergies and hip issues in older Bulldogs.
Bulldogs require daily exercise to avoid any overweight which could cause heart and lung problems and also stress on joints. Bulldogs have small naval cavities which make it difficult from them to keep their body cool. They are even sensitive to heat. So these dogs require extra care in warmer climates and during summers. They must be given plenty of shade and water. Air conditioning and a lot of good ventilation are required to keep them healthy and safe. They normally sweat through the pads on their feet and so enjoy cool floors. They may even die of hyperthermia due to excessive heat. They can be big snorters, heavy breathers and loud snorers.
The English Bulldog is popularly used to represent England or the United Kingdom. It has been associated with Winston Churchill’s defiance of Nazi Germany. The English Bulldog is the official mascot of the US Marine Corps. Thirty nine universities use a Bulldog as their mascot including Mississippi State University, South Carolina State University and several others.