Although unexcelled in determination and courage, the British Bulldog is one of the easiest going of all breeds.
The dour expression which has earned for him the sobriquet of “Sour Mug” among dog owners hides a sunny, affectionate nature.
For all that, when put to the test few dogs will stand up to the Bulldog in fighting power.
He has become accepted as the National Dog of Britain, and truly possesses all the qualities “which made Old England’s name.”
Bred originally for bull baiting, a vicious old-time English “sport,” the Bulldog was built on rather different lines to other breeds.
His job was to approach the bull, grab it by the nose and hang on to that organ, despite the buffeting which the enraged bull would give him.
For that reason, he had to be particularly massive and heavy in the forequarters and rather light in the hind parts.
His head had to be massive and well cushioned with a sharply turned-up underjaw and receding nose so that he could get a maximum amount of air as he hung on to the bull’s nose.
Despite his apparently awkward build, he can move with surprising agility in a time of crisis and has the frame and courage to take all sorts of hard knocks.
Gentleman Among Dogs
Our present-day show Bulldogs vary considerably from old-time specimens but have retained all the necessary characteristics of the breed for its original purpose.
These characteristics have been exaggerated considerably, of course, but most people love to see a tip-top “Bullie.”
As bull baiting is “out” forever (it should never have been introduced), few would want to see this grand old breed disappear from the ranks of dogs.
Many others, who no longer serve a useful purpose to mankind, have disappeared altogether, but that fate is unlikely to overtake the Bulldog in his present style and shape.
He is now a gentleman among dogs, and the old-time prejudice against this and other breeds used for blood sports has long since disappeared.
In fact, at the present time, this prejudice only exists in regard to Greyhounds. Most other varieties are considered to have concluded their era of disrepute.
Due to their unusual make and shape, Bulldogs are extremely difficult breeders and the percentage of puppies which survive the ordeal of birth is much lower than in other breeds.
As a result, demand for Bulldog puppies usually exceeds the supply, and even ordinary type specimens realize much higher prices than in the majority of other breeds.
High-class ones realize very good prices indeed, and the fortunate breeder who owns an easy producer of good ones is in a very happy financial position.
Bulldogs, in common with other short-faced breeds, suffer considerably during the heat of an Australian summer, although some are found as far north as Townsville.
These owners know what is needed to bring them through the heat, and make ample provision for their comfort during hot weather.
Unless one is prepared to look after them properly, Bulldogs can be a poor investment in the hotter parts of Australia.
Not Good Watchdogs
The presence of a Bulldog around the home usually keeps the uninvited and unwelcome visitor away, his scowling expression and unfair reputation for ferocity being impressive.
But most owners of the breed agree that they are not good watchdogs.
They can be trained as guards.
In appearance, the Bulldog is a low-slung dog, tremendously heavy in forehand and head.
The body is pear-shaped, being wide at the shoulders and tapers off into a fairly slim waist when viewed from above.
His skull is massive and square in shape, eyes set wide apart, and ears, which are “rose” shaped, set as wide apart as possible.
The skin covering the head is deeply wrinkled with deep, heavy flews around the jaws, and dewlap carrying well down into the neck.
His nose is short and tilts at a sharp upward angle with a wide, deep, well turned-up underjaw.
The expression is sour, but in this ugliness there lies the beauty of the dog.
The shoulders are set on the outside on strong, heavy forelegs.
The body is slung between the shoulders, ribs are well sprung and deep with a distinct droop in toplines behind the withers.
From there on the backline rises in a distinct roach to the loin and then drops to the set on the tail.
The tail itself is straight and cannot be raised to back level in a correctly shaped dog.
Hind legs are rounded and in this breed appear to act more as props.
The coat is short and smooth and can be any color excepting black.
Brindles, fawns and whites are most popular, with brindle and white, white and red, and other mixtures also sought after.
It is generally accepted that a Bulldog cannot be a bad color, but attractively marked ones have a distinct advantage in the show ring, as have most dogs.
There are many arguments regarding size in the breed, most of the top winners being inclined to oversize, but the ideal size is about 16 inches at the shoulder and 50-55 pounds.