She looks grim, is sluggish, and snores – a ‘dream partner’ is actually a different picture. But with his distinctive charm, their sense of humor, and her amiable, slightly clumsy play style, the English Bulldog won people’s hearts in the blink of an eye.
In fact, the appearance of this breed doesn’t seem to fit their character. Their rough stature and gloomy facial expression belie their friendly and sociable character. In dealing with people, the robust Bulldog even shows itself very sensitive. He reacts very sensitively to a sharp tone from his owner and can therefore also behave defiantly in the future. Although Bulldogs are very affectionate dogs, very focused on their people, they have retained a certain stubbornness. Commands that are too sharp or that the Bulldog doesn’t find useful can also sometimes be ignored. For example, the Austrian Bulldog Club writes that dogs are well-educated when one takes into account that they do not believe in unconditional obedience.
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However, once you’ve captured a Bulldog’s heart and given him a consistent, but loving education despite his stubbornness, he manifests himself as docile and well-educated. Thanks to his good-natured and calm nature, the Bulldog is now a popular family dog that can be easily taken anywhere – whether dining at a restaurant or staying overnight in a hotel. Bulldogs are very child-friendly and can therefore easily be kept in a family with children. In the best-case scenario, the children are already slightly older, because when playing around or playing it can happen that the heavy and strong dog underestimates its own strength and comes to involuntary collisions. On its own, however, a Bulldog will not even come up with the idea to romp, because the English Bulldog is lazy by nature.
Unlike Dalmatians or Border Collies, they naturally hardly jump around their owners to show that they want to exercise. So it takes motivation and conviction to lure them out of their easygoing basket. Once their inner voice has been conquered, the Bulldog is usually so enthusiastic that they don’t want to stop playing. The great dog painter and cynologist Richard Strebel, himself a Bulldog breeder, aptly described this characteristic of the Bulldog over 100 years ago:
“The basis of the Bulldog’s character is geniality and a touch of lethargy, both only as long as nothing happens to stir their passion for sleep. There is an apparent contradiction in this, but one can only describe the listlessness and the passion are right next to each other. Showing their passion also includes enormous perseverance as well as a strong will.”
Probably it is precisely this contradiction that makes the essence of the Bulldog so unmistakable and charming. Grim and closed in expression, but good-natured and reliable in their behavior. Lazy and listless, but at the same time active and driven once something has caught their attention.back to menu ↑
History and breeding
However, looking at the history of the English Bulldog, it soon becomes apparent where this apparent contradiction in their nature comes from. No other breed in its history has seen such a big change as the Bulldog. In short, once bred as an aggressive “fighting machine” that bravely withstood any battle, it is now kept as an affectionate, sensitive family dog that abhors violence.
But back to the beginning: The origins of the dog breed originated in the 6th century BC when the Phoenicians brought their Molossians to the British Isles for trade and crossed them with the large dogs living there. Historically, the dogs first appeared under the name ‘Bonddog’ or ‘Bulldog’ in the 13th century. For example, in 1209 the fearless dog had to separate two fighting bulls. Impressed by their daring nature and their powerful actions, the dogs were quickly employed as so-called ‘bullfighters’. Fighting bulls made the powerful dog very famous in the Middle Ages and eventually gave them the current breed name ‘Bulldog’.
Especially from the 16th to the 18th century, so-called ‘Bull Baiting’ was known in the United Kingdom as a popular social event where people often gambled large sums. Soon the popular dogfights against bulls also became fights against other large animals, such as bears, monkeys or even lions. Even pure dogfights, where two dogs fight against each other, were popular at the time. The Bulldog was already a pure fighting dog at that time, when breeding everything was focused on qualities that they should benefit from in combat. While their essence of courage and aggressiveness was to be highlighted, a wide jaw and a retracted nose were added externally, giving the dog enough air when biting into a bull.
In 1835, the brutal dog fighting in the United Kingdom was banned by the government, so the basis of the Bulldog breed was modified. The once-popular fighting dog almost disappeared from view as a result. He would probably be extinct if it weren’t for the fact that people discovered the flexible and lovable Bulldog behind the bred “fighting dog,” and put these traits at the center of attention. Thus, in the mid-19th century, the breeding of a new Bulldog type began to be characterized by friendliness and poise, rather than combativeness and aggressive behavior. In 1864 the newly founded ‘Bulldog Club’ presented a first breed standard.
Although the club was soon disbanded, the core of the breeding standard is the basis of the ‘Bulldog Club Incorporated’ that was founded in 1875 and determined the breeding of the English Bulldog. Thanks to selective breeding, breeders of the former fighting dog managed to create a well-tolerated and lovable family dog, which quickly became popular in private households as well. The flexible and deviant-looking Bulldog became a companion of the British gentlemen and eventually Britain’s national dog.
Overtyping such as extremely large heads and a short nose, enormously wrinkled faces and short legs led in some cases to the so-called gremlin breeding. In addition to respiratory and fertility problems, the broad shoulders, large head and narrow hips meant that in most cases natural delivery was no longer possible in females bred as such. The cesarean section increased to more than 80%.
To counteract extreme seepage breeding, the leading British Kennel Club – much to the protest of existing breeders – established a new breed standard in 2009. As a result, the health and well-being of the dog had to be central to the future of Bulldog breeding. The FCI adopted this current standard in October 2010.back to menu ↑
The Bulldog still has a massive head with a short muzzle, broad chest, fairly narrow torso and fairly short legs, but it should not be so overdeveloped that the dog would be restricted in its range of motion or appear deformed. The stocky, compact body should show good properties. Although males are quite heavy for their small size at about 25 kilograms, it should not be a nuisance.
An ideal English Bulldog is an active dog without any tendency to be overweight. Dogs with recognizable shortness of breath are very undesirable due to the breed standard. The Bulldog’s small, thin ears are set high above the eyes and set wide apart. The tail is characteristically low on the body and curves slightly downwards at the end. An ingrown tail is now banned due to health issues. The Bulldog’s short and very fine coat can come in shades of white, striped, spotted, red, ocher, or beige. However, the color black is undesirable.back to menu ↑
Care and health
The short, smooth coat is very easy to maintain. When cleaning the coat you should occasionally use a special brush a dog glove over the fur. However, the eyes, nose and wrinkles require daily cleaning and maintenance to prevent infectious diseases.
In addition, Bulldogs are very heat sensitive dogs. Longer walks during a heat wave should be avoided. It is important that the dog has enough drinks water and can retreat to shady areas. In normal temperatures, one or two walks a day will suffice – one of which should be a bit more extensive. Although Bulldogs seem a bit slow, lots of exercises and a balanced and healthy diet are important for preventing the unfortunately common obesity.
In addition, many Bulldogs still struggle with breathing problems, because of this, for example, they are short of breath and snore. Other typical diseases are hip problems (HD), allergies, epilepsy and ‘Cherry Eyes’, an eyelid disorder.
If you decide to buy an English Bulldog, consult the breeder about possible breed diseases and make sure the new 2009 breed standard is being followed. That’s the only way to avoid high vet bills.
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Upbringing and keeping
A physically and mentally healthy Bulldog is a very pleasant family member and companion, who feels just as much at home in a one-person household as in a large family. A second Bulldog in the house is a great happiness for each of these dogs, but living with cats is more likely to lead to problems.
The love of its owners is the most important of all for the relatively undemanding four-legged friend. Whether in a one-person household or in a large family, an English Bulldog likes to be the center of attention and thoroughly enjoys interacting with their owners. When the dog is sure of this love, he will be a very calm and balanced partner, who has little urge to work and does not seem to care about the hectic pace of a big city. His keepers must therefore be careful in training, but also persuasive, as all the persuasion is needed to ‘chase’ a Bulldog out the front door.
Owners of this breed should rather be the opposite of their dog in this case: only if they themselves bring enthusiasm to sports and exercise, if they are able to motivate their somewhat listless four-legged friend for long walks or games, the Bulldog will benefit from the physical activities. An English Bulldog will certainly never become an enthusiastic member of the dog sport. Not only because many breed representatives are representative of respiratory problems, but also because they simply don’t feel like jumping over obstacles if you can easily walk past them. So, in addition to a lot of dog ownership experience, Bulldog owners should have enough assertiveness and determination to lead their stubborn dog in the desired paths.
In addition, for successful cooperation with an English Bulldog, it is recommended to have a sense of humor, as well as the ability to “turn a blind eye” at times, because you cannot expect absolute obedience from these dogs. With lots of love and patience (and little rewards ), Bulldogs show themselves as loyal and affectionate companions who happily fulfill their people’s wishes—at least when it’s deemed meaningful.