Bulldogs weren’t always big softies. Originally, the Bulldog was bred for the sport of bull-baiting in England. The fanciers of the sport molded a Bulldog to perform specifically for bull-baiting. The Bulldog who fought a bull in the ring needed to be a certain build and to have fighting qualities. Breeders worked diligently to mold the fighter that became the bull baiter. The fanciers wanted a dog built low to the ground to make it harder for the bull to get his horns underneath the dog. If the bull lifted the Bulldog on his horns, the dog would be thrown across the stadium.
Plus the dog needed to be sturdy and well muscled to withstand the occasional toss. Many early Bulldogs were smaller and lighter than the Bullies of today. The nose needed to be set back from the front of the muzzle and needed to turn up, so that when the dog had a good grip on the bull’s nose, the dog’s nose wouldn’t be
buried in the bull’s face. The dog would be able to breathe without ever letting go of the bull. The Bulldog’s distinctive wrinkles were a sought-after feature because they channeled the bull’s blood away from the dog’s eyes and nose.
The Bulldog breeders also wanted a dog who was determined and wouldn’t quit. In bull-baiting, people placed bets on how long the dog would face the bull. Horrible stories circulated about handlers who maimed their dogs to show that the dogs, even on two or three legs, would keep going after the bull. When bull-baiting was finally outlawed, the Bulldog’s future looked grim. But fortunately, many people admired the Bulldog’s temperament, and breeders set out to preserve and perfect the Bulldog by breeding out any viciousness but keeping the tenacious side of the dog’s personality.
The result is today’s Bulldog fierce looking on the outside and a marshmallow on the inside. But remember that your Bully’s marshmallow interior can turn to granite if you ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do. A Bulldog has retained his spirit of determination and steadfastness. You can’t argue with a Bulldog.
The Bulldog is a member of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Non-Sporting Group.The non-sporting group mostly includes dogs who may have had a specific job once upon a time but who are now considered great companion dogs. When you think about the Bully’s role, that’s not such a bad job description. Being a friend may be the most important job a dog can have.
So your Bully is a companion. Although plenty of Bulldogs compete in performance events, just as many are content to be low-maintenance buddies. Bullies are good with children and enjoy a walk with the family or a game of tag or hide-and-seek. They’re not enthusiastic about playing fetch, but they certainly
don’t mind watching you get the ball.
The Bulldog is too large for the toy group, and he definitely isn’t a terrier he’d never fit down the burrow of any small animal. The Bully isn’t a sight or scent hound and doesn’t have the endurance for chasing game, even if he wanted to. The Bulldog doesn’t herd sheep or cattle, so that eliminates the herding group. He’s not a sporting dog. He doesn’t flush or point birds, and he can never retrieve a duck from a pond. He doesn’t fill the bill as a dog to pull a cart or guard a flock or help fight crime as a policeman’s pal. The non-sporting group categorizes all dogs that don’t fit in any other class.
You can’t force a Bulldog to do anything. He’s bred to be singleminded and unyielding to rough handling. Also, fighting with your Bully can aggravate breathing problems, if they exist, and can lead to a serious emergency. Coax your Bully with kind words and tasty treats.
A Bulldog isn’t high maintenance, but she does need more care than you may think. The Bully doesn’t have a lot of thick, fluffy undercoat to worry about, but Bulldogs do need care. Pay attention to particular parts of your Bully’s body:
Hair: Those tiny, short hairs shed, but the coat isn’t the biggest concern with Bulldogs.
Wrinkles: Wrinkles are the biggest issue concerning the Bulldog. Make sure your daily routine includes cleaning the wrinkles and drying them thoroughly to prevent rash, infection, or other skin problems.
Skin: Bulldogs are prone to skin ailments and allergies. Check for hot spots and bald patches (see Chapter 14 for more information on Bully ailments).
Ears: Keep the ears clean and dry.
Tail: Don’t forget your dog’s tail. The base of some Bulldog tails fits into a sort of pocket of flesh, and that needs to be kept as clean and dry as the wrinkles. A dab of petroleum jelly in the pocket helps prevent irritation.
Bulldog care includes other functions, besides keeping the body groomed, that you need to perform to ensure a healthy pet:
Make sure that your dog has identification. Attach her license and rabies tags to a buckle collar. You may also want to include a tag with your name and phone number. Consider getting your Bully microchipped as another form of ID.
Watch what you feed your Bulldog. Control her weight, and don’t let her get too heavy. An overweight dog has even more trouble breathing and may develop hip problems and arthritis. Extra weight puts extra stress on her heart and lungs, too. Extra pounds can aggravate any existing problems and may cause others.
No matter what you feed your Bulldog, keep her fit and trim and healthy.
Keeping a Bulldog healthy can cost more than other dogs’ health care. Surgery can be expensive because of certain procedures that are protocol for the Bulldog. Bullies may have small tracheas and elongated palates. When your dog has any kind of surgery, she may be in danger during the recovery period. At that time, she isn’t fully awake, and the soft palate can fall over the opening of the trachea, cutting off the air supply. You pay extra for someone to sit with your dog, making sure that she can breathe.
Bulldog Breeders and Health Food
The Bulldog developed in the northern farmland counties of the British Empire where it was used in the "sport" of bull baiting. Fortunately this "sport" is gone and the Bulldog remains. It was one of the first breeds recognized by the newly organized Kennel Club of England in 1873. At this time the breed standards were established. These standards have not changed since. This breed is very strong (muscled and willed) and has
taken more than one child for a walk to wherever the dog decided to go. Nutritionally the Bulldog is a breed of dog that is very slow to mature. They reach their full adult body size at about 14 months but should be
nutritionally treated as a puppy until about the 30th month. This will help develop healthier bones, teeth, muscles, and coats.
For the Bulldog I recommend foods high in potato type carbohydrates with the protein being from a beef, wheat, and yellow corn blend. You should avoid feeding a Bulldog any white rice, soy, poultry, or lamb. Native food supplies for this breed would have been beef and dairy products blended with large quantities of high carbohydrate potatoes and cabbage. For this reason, today's Bulldog needs a food with a very
high percentage of carbohydrate and fiber but not a very high amount of protein.