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Other names "English" or "British Bulldog"
Country of origin England, United Kingdom
Life span 6–10 years[1][2][3]
Notes National animal of Britain
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

Bulldog is the name for a breed of dog commonly referred to as the English Bulldog or British Bulldog. Other Bulldog breeds include the American Bulldog, Old English Bulldog (now extinct), Olde English Bulldogge, and the French Bulldog. The Bulldog is a muscular, heavy dog with a wrinkled face and a distinctive pushed-in nose.[4] The American Kennel Club (AKC), The Kennel Club (UK), and the United Kennel Club (UKC) oversee breeding standards. Bulldogs are the 5th most popular purebreed in the United States in 2013 according to the American Kennel Club.[5]


  • Description 1
    • Appearance 1.1
    • Temperament 1.2
  • History 2
  • Health 3
  • Popular mascot 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



Bulldog, Purebred six-month-old puppy from AKC Champion bloodlines

The Bulldog is a breed with characteristically wide head and shoulders along with a pronounced mandibular prognathism. There are generally thick folds of skin on a Bulldog's 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 colors of red, fawn, white, brindle, and piebald.[4]

Example of four-year-old Bulldog of champion bloodline, side view. Notice the "rope" over the nose, and pronounced underbite.

In the UK, the breed standards are 50 pounds for a male and 40 pounds for a female.[6] In the United States, a typical mature male weighs 45 to 55 pounds. Mature females weigh about 45 pounds. The American Kennel Club recommends the average weight of a bulldog to be 40 to 50 pounds.[4]

Bulldogs are one of the few breeds whose tail is naturally short and either straight or screwed and thus is not cut or docked as with some other breeds. A straight tail is a more desirable tail according the breed standard set forth by the BCA if it is facing downward, not upwards.


According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a Bulldog's disposition should be "equable and kind, resolute, and courageous (not vicious or aggressive), and demeanor should be pacific and dignified. These attributes should be countenanced by the expression and behavior".[7]

Breeders have worked to reduce/remove aggression from these dogs.[4] Eventually, the Bulldog is known to be of good temperament.[4] Most have a friendly, patient nature. Bulldogs are recognized as excellent family pets because of their tendency to form strong bonds with children.[4]

Generally, Bulldogs are known for getting along well with children, other dogs, and pets.[8] They can become so attached to home and family, that they will not venture out of the yard without a human companion. They are also more likely to sleep on someone's lap than chase a ball around the yard.


Painting of a Bulldog from 1790 by English artist Philip Reinagle.
Painting of a Bulldog by Arthur Heyer (1872–1931).

The term "Bulldog" was first mentioned in literature around 1500, the oldest spelling of the word being Bondogge and Bolddogge. The first reference to the word with the modern spelling is dated 1631 or 1632 in a letter by a man named Preswick Eaton where he writes: "procuer mee two good Bulldogs, and let them be sent by ye first shipp".[9] In 1666 Christopher Merret applied: "Canis pugnax, a Butchers Bull or Bear Dog."[10] as an entry in his Pinax Rerum Naturalium Britannicarum.

The designation "bull" was applied because of the dog's use in the sport of

External links

  1. ^ a b Frequently asked questions on The Bulldog, 'Britain's National Breed' Bulldog Breed Council
  2. ^ a b "2004 Purebred Dog Health Survey". Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b o’Neill, D. G.; Church, D. B.; McGreevy, P. D.; Thomson, P. C.; Brodbelt, D. C. (2013). "Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England". The Veterinary Journal.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Get to Know the Bulldog", 'The American Kennel Club', Retrieved 29 May 2014
  5. ^ American Kennel Club 2013 Dog Registration Statistics Historical Comparisons & Notable Trends, The American Kennel Club, Retrieved 29 May 2014
  6. ^ "English Bulldog – Appearance & Grooming". Petwave. Retrieved 22 January 2013
  7. ^ American Kennel Club – Bulldog. Retrieved on 9 June 2012.
  8. ^ Ewing, Susan (2006). Bulldogs for dummies. Indiana: Wiley Publishing.  
  9. ^ Jesse, George R. (1866). Researches into the history of the British Dog, from ancient laws, charters, and historical records: With original anecdotes, and illustrations of the nature and attributes of the dog, from the poets and prose writers of ancient, mediaeval, and modern times. With engravings designed and etched by the author. Rob. Hardwicke. p. 306. 
  10. ^ Merret, Christopher (1666). Pinax Rerum Naturalium Britannicarum, continens Vegetabilia, Animalia, et Fossilia. p. 169. 
  11. ^ Ellis, Edward Robb (2005). The Epic of New York City – A Narrative History. Basic Books, New York. ISBN 978-0-7867-1436-0
  12. ^ Oliff, D. B. (1988) The Mastiff and Bullmastiff Handbook, The Boswell Press ISBN 0-85115-485-9.
  13. ^ The sun., 11 September 1894, Page 4, Image 4
  14. ^ "Hip Dysplasia Statistics: Hip Dysplasia by Breed". Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  15. ^ "British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club Hip Dysplasia Scheme – Breed Mean Scores at 01/11/2009". British Veterinary Association. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  16. ^ Patellar Luxation Statistics.
  17. ^ Evans, K.; Adams, V. (2010). "Proportion of litters of purebred dogs born by caesarean section". The Journal of small animal practice 51 (2): 113–118.  
  18. ^ Denizet-Lewis, Benoit (22 November 2011) Can the Bulldog be Saved? The New York Times.
  19. ^ "Convenant Bulldog, breeding rules". Raad van Beheer (Dutch Kennel Club). Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  20. ^ Elliott, Valerie (14 January 2009). "Healthier new Bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl". London: The Times. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  21. ^ Baker, Steve (2001). Picturing the Beast. University of Illinois Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-252-07030-5.
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ Drake-University
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ Yale University
  26. ^ [3]
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ Janik, Kinga (6 July 2007). "Bulldogs Best at Bolstering School Spirit?". Georgetown Journalism. Retrieved 22 July 2008. 


See also

[28] The Bulldog is popularly used to represent

"Venus", the Bulldog mascot of WWII Royal Navy destroyer HMS Vansittart
The original Handsome Dan, mascot of Yale University

Popular mascot

Bulldogs have very small nasal cavities and thus have great difficulty keeping their bodies cool. Bulldogs are very sensitive to heat. Extra caution should be practiced in warmer climates and during summer months. Bulldogs must be given plenty of shade and water, and must be kept out of standing heat.[4] Air conditioning and good ventilation are required to keep them healthy and safe. Bulldogs actually do most of their sweating through the pads on their feet and accordingly enjoy cool floors. Like all brachycephalic, or "short faced," breeds, Bulldogs can easily become overheated and even die from hyperthermia.[4] (see Brachycephalic syndrome) They can be big snorters and heavy breathers, and they tend to be loud snorers. Bulldog owners can keep these issues under control by staying aware and protecting their Bulldog(s) from these unsafe conditions. In 2014 the Dutch Kennel Club implemented some breeding rules to improve the health of the Bulldog. Among these is a fitness test where the dog has to walk 1 km (0.62 miles) in 12 minutes. Its temperature and heart rate has to recover after 15 minutes.[19] In January 2009, after the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, The Kennel Club introduced revised breed standards for the British Bulldog, along with 209 other breeds, to address health concerns. Opposed by the British Bulldog Breed Council, it was speculated by the press that the changes would lead to a smaller head, fewer skin folds, a longer muzzle, and a taller thinner posture, in order to combat problems with respiration and breeding due to head size and width of shoulders.[20]

Bulldog about to sleep

Like all dogs, Bulldogs require daily exercise. If not properly exercised it is possible for a Bulldog to become overweight, which could lead to heart and lung problems, as well as stress on the joints.[18]

Over 80% of Bulldog litters are delivered by Caesarean section[17] because their characteristically large heads can become lodged in the mother's birth canal. The folds, or "rope," on a Bulldog's face should be cleaned daily to avoid infections caused by moisture accumulation. Some Bulldogs' naturally curling tails can be so tight to the body as to require regular cleaning and ointment.

Some individuals of this breed are prone to interdigital cysts—cysts that form between the toes. These cause the dog some discomfort, but are treatable either by vet or an experienced owner. They may also suffer from respiratory problems. Other problems can include cherry eye, a protrusion of the inner eyelid (which can be corrected by a veterinarian), allergies, and hip issues in older Bulldogs.

Statistics from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals indicate that of the 467 Bulldogs tested between 1979 and 2009 (30 years), 73.9% were affected by hip dysplasia, the highest amongst all breeds.[14] Similarly, the breed has the worst score in the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club Hip Dysplasia scoring scheme, although only 22 Bulldogs were tested in the scheme.[15] Patellar luxation is another condition; it affects 6.2% of Bulldogs.[16]

The UK Bulldog Breed Council puts the average life span of the breed at 8–10 years.[1] A 2004 UK survey of 180 Bulldog deaths puts the median age at death at 6 years 3 months. The leading cause of death of Bulldogs in the survey was cardiac related (20%), cancer (18%), and old age (9%). Those that died of old age had an average lifespan of 10 to 11 years.[2] A 2013 UK vet clinic survey of 26 Bulldogs puts the median lifespan at 8.4 years.[3]

White-red Bulldog
Bulldog puppy


At the turn of the 20th century, Ch. Rodney Stone became the first Bulldog to command a price of $5,000 when he was bought by controversial Irish American political figure Richard Croker.

The oldest single breed specialty club is The Bulldog Club (England), which was formed in 1878. Members of this club met frequently at the Blue Post pub on Oxford Street in London. There they wrote the first standard of perfection for the breed. In 1894 the two top Bulldogs, King Orry and Dockleaf, competed in a contest to see which dog could walk 20 miles. King Orry was reminiscent of the original Bulldogs, lighter boned and very athletic. Dockleaf was smaller and heavier set, more like modern Bulldogs. King Orry was declared the winner that year, finishing the 20-mile walk while Dockleaf collapsed.[13] The Bulldog was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886.[4]

In time, the original old English Bulldog was crossed with the pug. The outcome was a shorter, wider dog with a brachycephalic skull. Though today's Bulldog looks tough, he cannot perform the job he was originally created for as he cannot withstand the rigors of running and being thrown by a bull, and also cannot grip with such a short muzzle.

Despite slow maturation so that growing up is rarely achieved by two and a half years, Bulldogs' lives are relatively short. At five to six years of age they are starting to show signs of aging.


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