A bulldog, and that too an English one? That does conjure up all kinds of exciting images, maybe from your childhood or from books you may have read as a child. An extremely popular breed, English bulldogs have been around for a real long time. English literature is full with examples of such bulldogs. Incidentally, the word `bulldog’ first found mention in literature sometime around year 1500. It was, however spelt differently then, it seems. But the references were clear enough to indicate that the authors really meant the bulldog.
As `bulldog’, the first noted reference dates back to around 1631-32, according to Wikipedia. It was somewhere in a letter. There are more such references in the latter half of the 17th century. The point here is that, with such a long history behind it, the English bulldog has a lot to say about itself when it comes to interesting facts about the breed. Let’s look at some of these facts.
Believed to be a healthy mix of pugs and mastiffs, bulldogs were originally bred in England around the 16th century. That explains why it’s called the English bulldog. And it also explains why these bulldogs are so well loved around England and other places, including by politicians and celebrities. Such is the fame of the English bulldog that even Winston Churchill was the proud owner of two of them. And that distinction earned him the name `British Bulldog.’
Going back to their roots, English bulldogs were originally bred as bull fighters. The bullfighting continued to be a popular sport in England from 1206 to 1835, when it was eventually banned. One major reason for the ban was the ferocious attacks by bulldogs on other animals and even humans during the bullfights. You can imagine how difficult it must have been then to handle the bulldogs. Training and handling difficult species always needs more patience and hard work, as trainer Danny Dog tells us on his site.
Interestingly, the bulldog would have disappeared following the ban, but for dog lovers who didn’t want the species to become extinct. Since bulldogs were no longer needed after the ban on bullfight, dog lovers took it upon themselves to save them for other uses. Some of these creatures were taken to the US and Germany to work as herding dogs, while others remained in England to serve as companions.
The lovers of English bulldogs simply adore what they describe as the good build and looks of the animal. Since they were bred for bullfighting, it was important for the bulldogs to have a solid build that would keep them stable in the face of bull attacks. The English bulldog has an unusually loose skin that protects their vital organs, while the wrinkles on its face function as channels for blood flow. The jaw virtually pushes the bottom teeth of the bulldog upward, facilitating better grip. These unusual features of the English bulldog are, interestingly, what make them so popular among dog lovers.
Streak of independence
Proud and independent, the English bulldog is a determined animal that doesn’t need help to tackle its enemy. Self-sufficiency is ingrained in their nature and they are usually able to manage everything by themselves. They prefer to go it alone, whatever the situation and however difficult the circumstances.
Not natural breeders
Even after so many centuries since they were first bred, these bulldogs have not evolved as natural breeders. Their huge build makes it difficult for the males to reach out to the females. Thus, most English bulldogs are, even today, artificially inseminated and bred. The actual process of delivery also doesn’t come naturally to the females, and the young ones are normally born through C-section.
With its impressive personality, the English bulldog is a great choice when it comes to serving as mascots. Many universities and sports teams have the English bulldog as their mascot, probably due to the sheer strength these animals exude. In the US, there’s an infantry division of soldiers that has a bulldog mascot, and even a song to go with it.
The English bulldogs travel well and are quite hardy when it comes to going long distances in difficult conditions. A Google search would, in fact, bring you across dozens of transport companies named after the bulldog.
Despite their sturdy build, or perhaps because of it, bulldogs tend to suffer from a host of health issues. Respiratory problems, hip dysplasia and other medical problems are common among the English bulldogs.
Not made for water
It’s again their awkward body build and shape that doesn’t allow these bulldogs to swim safely in water. Being large-skulled, they are exposed to the danger of drowning while swimming. So it’s a good idea to keep the English bulldog away from water.
Adored by many despite its ferocious looks and behavior, the English bulldog is perhaps one of the most interesting breeds of dogs known to mankind. From presidents to celebrities, there are many who love to have these tough and powerful-looking animals around them. Perhaps, they give these celebrities an even greater sense of power.
Their unusual traits and characteristics make the English bulldogs quite a winner at many an activity. These bulldogs continue to remain in the limelight even years after their original purpose of bullfighting came to an end. In 2015, Otto, a bulldog that’s great at skateboarding, broke the Guinness World Record for “Longest Human Tunnel Traveled Through by a Skateboarding Dog.” It went under the legs of 30 people in Lima, Peru, to end up in the coveted Guinness record book!