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Breed Profile: English Bulldogs

Originally, Bulldogs were used by farmers to drive cattle to market, and also to compete in a grisly sport called bull baiting. Unlike their ancestors, Bulldogs of today are gentle, playful creatures who love being with children. They are not very active dogs at all, and are more than happy to take a short walk every day, and spend a lot of their time sleeping.

History of the Bulldog

Bulldogs were bred entirely in England, with the first mention of the breed occurring around 1500, and were taller and heavier than today’s Bulldog, since they were bred especially for use in the bloody sport of bull baiting, which was finally outlawed in the country in 1835. Bulldogs were an aggressive breed during those days, because fighting was the only life they knew. Many people thought that the breed would die out then, seeing that they did not have any use anymore, but there were many who admired the strength, persistence, and stamina of the Bulldog. They decided to carry on with the breed’s appearance, but change the aggression to a sweet and more gentle temperament.

Through patience and determination, breeders changed the aggressive, fighting Bulldog, to the gentle and loving dog we see today. During the 1800’s, it was against the law to walk a Bulldog on the streets of Rome - even if a leash was used, because of its ferociousness. This law changed just a few years later however, when the Bulldog became known as one of the friendliest, sweetest, and gentlest of breeds around.

General Physical Characteristics of the English Bulldog

Bulldogs are between 12 and 15 inches tall at the shoulder. Mature males and females weigh around 50 and 40 pounds respectively, with show dogs weighing about 10 pounds more. They have soft, loose skin that is covered with a short, fine coat in a variety of colours including a range of brindles, solids, piebald, and patches. He has a large head and a flat face, with wrinkles all over his face, neck and shoulders. Bulldogs are average shedders, and a good brush once or twice a week should keep shedding down to a minimum.

Character and Temperament of the Bulldog

The Bulldog has a sweet and gentle temperament, but he can be stubborn sometimes. He is also courageous, which makes him an excellent watchdog. He has a friendly, easy-going nature, and gets on with everyone. Just like any other breed, the Bulldog needs exposure to other pets, children and different situations, to ensure that he grows into a well-adjusted adult dog. Puppy kindergarten is a good start, having visitors around often, taking him into stores that allow dogs, and taking him to play in busy parks, will all help to improve his social skills.

Life span of the Bulldog

The life span of the Bulldog ranges from between 8 and 12 years.

Common Health and Personality Issues in English Bulldogs

There are a number of health issues that Bulldogs are prone to, just some of them being:

  1. Dry eye – inadequate tear production
  2. Cherry Eye – when the gland under the third eyelid protrudes and resembles a cherry in the corner of the eye
  3. Entropion – eye irritation caused when eyelashes are turned inward and rub against the eyelid
  4. Reverse or Inverted sneezing - not a true health issue as such, but one that sounds a lot worse than what it is. Usually happens when nasal fluids drip onto the soft palate, causing it to close, and also when something gets into the Bulldogs nose. Stroking the dog’s throat should make the sneezing stop
  5. Extremely hot weather is dangerous to Bulldogs, and just a short time outside in high temperatures, can cause heatstroke, and in many cases, death as well. They don’t do too well in very cold weather either, making them very definitely dogs that should live inside most of the time

Anyone planning on getting a Bulldog as a pet, should speak to their vet about the health issues the breed is prone to getting, and what to do about it.

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