Bulldog is the name for a breed of dog commonly referred to as the English Bulldog. Other Bulldog breeds include the American Bulldog, Olde English Bulldogge and the French Bulldog. The Bulldog is a muscular heavy dog with 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.
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 "rope" 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. In the UK, the breed standards are 50 pounds for a male and 40 pounds for a female. In the US, a typical mature male weighs approximately 45–55 pounds. Mature females weigh in at approximately 45 pounds. 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.
Bulldog breed clubs put the average life span of the breed at 8–12 years, although a UK survey puts it at 6.5 years. 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. 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.
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. Patellar luxation is another condition which affects 6.2% of Bulldogs.
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".
The name "bull" was applied because of the dog's use in the sport of bull baiting. This entailed the setting of dogs (after placing wagers on each dog) onto a tethered bull. The dog that grabbed the bull by the nose and pinned it to the ground would be the victor. It was common for a bull to maim or kill several dogs at such an event, either by goring, tossing or trampling.
Over the centuries dogs used for bull-baiting developed the stocky bodies and massive heads and jaws which typify the breed as well as a ferocious and savage temperament. Bull-baiting – along with bear-baiting – reached the peak of their popularity in England in the early 1800s until they were both made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835. This amended the existing legislation to protect animals from mistreatment and included (as 'cattle') bulls, dogs, bears and sheep, so that bull and bear-baiting as well as cockfighting became prohibited. Therefore, the Old English Bulldog had outlived its usefulness in England as a sporting animal and its active or 'working' days were numbered. However, emigrants did have a use for such dogs in the New World. In mid-17th century New York, Bulldogs were used as a part of a city-wide round-up 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 as pets were continually promoted by dog dealer Bill George.
Despite their fat "puss" expression, Bulldogs are generally docile and tractable. However, they can move very quickly over short distances. Bulldogs do not need a lot of physical exercise, so they are well-suited for living in apartments and other urban environments. They are friendly and gregarious, but occasionally willful. The phrase "stubborn as a Bulldog" may derive from observing an agitated Bulldog.
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." Breeders have worked to reduce/remove aggression from these dogs , and as such, the Bulldog is known to be of good temperament most have a friendly, patient nature. Generally, Bulldogs are known for getting along well with children, other dogs, and pets. They can be so attached to home and family that they will not venture out of the yard without a human companion and are more likely to sleep on someone's lap than chase a ball around the yard.