Archive for the “English Bulldog Yesterday and Today” Category
English Bulldog – Yesterday and Today.
Unfortunately, the English Bulldog’s appearance, popularity (in numbers), and ancient occupation have often lead to trouble. The breed’s unique face is often seen as aggressive rather than comical, and people are afraid of her.
There have also been Bulldogs who have bitten people. Poorly bred, unso-cialized, abused or neglected, untrained English Bulldogs can be a threat to anyone within reach. These dogs may bite out of frustration with their lot in life, or they may bite because they are afraid. Unfortunately, any bite by a Bulldog reflects badly on the breed as a whole.
What Is BSL?
Breed-specific legislation (or, as it is commonly known, BSL) is any law that limits or forbids the ownership of certain kinds or dogs. Although Pit Bull-type dogs have been the primary target, Bulldogs have also been the focus of many breed-specific laws. These laws are usually introduced after a bad biting incident in a community. Perhaps a dog ran out the front door and chased down some kids running past, and when she caught the kids, she bit one of them. City or community lawmakers and parents hate incidents like these (so do dog owners!) and strive to prevent any more of them.
Unfortunately, BSL is not fair. An entire breed should never be punished because one or a few dogs have caused a problem.
There Are Better Ways
Another problem with BSL is that it doesn’t work. Many communities that have passed BSL laws have found that the incidence of dog bites has increased rather than decreased. This is usually because the legislation focused on a few breeds rather than on problem dogs and problem owners. Wiser communities have instituted other programs to counter dog bite problems.
- Dog clubs, dog trainers, veterinarians, humane societies, and shelters can emphasize responsible dog ownership. Flyers, brochures, classes, and news-paper articles can help dog owners learn more about their dogs and how to train and care for them correctly.
- Dog bite prevention programs in day care centers and schools have been very successful. Many dog clubs offer these programs, and the AKC has a free education program for elementary school children.
- Instead of blaming a breed of dog for a problem, the owner should be held responsible for the actions of his dog—or the owner’s lack of action in confining, controlling, training, and socializing his dog.
All dog owners need to be involved in their community. Legislation that threatens to erode dog owners’ rights to keep a dog are dangerous. Know what’s going on in your city, county, and state, and stay involved.
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Bulldog breeders and owners have a sincere interest in protecting the breed from overbreeding. To some extent, the EnglishBulldog herself provides some protection against that happening, because Bulldogs are not prolific breeders. Their litters are small when compared with many other breeds, and cesarean sections are almost always necessary, so the initial cost of breeding is greater than with most other breeds.
Bulldog breeders recognize that there are too many puppies being born (of all breeds) each year who will become homeless and die untimely deaths. Breeders do not want this fate for Bulldogs (or any dog), so, under the direction of BCA, a Bulldog rescue group was established. Humane societies and animal shelters know whom to call in their area if a English Bulldog is brought to them; veterinarians also know whom to call if they receive an unwanted Bulldog. At the expense of BCA, this homeless, unwanted animal is given a complete physical examination, medical care, and neutering, and will soon be ready for a new home that has been evaluated for suitability. For a reasonable sum, the new owner has a wonderful English Bulldog. The dog is to be returned to rescue if for some reason she can no longer stay in her new home. Many other breed clubs have established the same type of rescue program.
Breeding dogs and owning dogs are serious, long-term commitments. It has been said that the measure of a man can be taken by the way he treats children and dogs!
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The breeders and fanciers of the English Bulldog have taken part in a remarkable process of evolution. Although it has taken many, many years, a snarling, fighting, aggressive animal has been changed into a gentle, quiet companion. Bulldogs have gone from bull-baiting arenas and fighting rings to becoming the beloved mascots of football teams. Many colleges have the English Bulldog as their sports mascot because of the Bulldog’s history of giving her all to be the winner. Today we expect to see the Yale Bulldog or the Butler Bulldog sitting on the team bench. Many high schools throughout the nation also have Bulldog mascots, hoping that the Bulldog tenacity will somehow rub off on their team.
Advertisers are using the Bulldog more and more to attract public attention to their products. Mack trucks were long represented by a Bulldog. The term Bulldog grip is often used to describe the hold of various tools, especially wrenches and pliers. The English Bulldogs appearance is unique, and she gives a good account of herself before the camera.
The English Bulldog who played Lucky Dog entertained us at dog shows as he toted his Purina dog food. Many of us enjoyed the television series Jake and the Fatman because we always anxiously awaited the appearance of Max (actually, Ch. Breckley Buford Win and Grin). In addition to his skills as an entertainer, this dog won his AKC championship and Companion Dog obedience title all in one year. He brought honor to the breed and joy to his owners.
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The first English Bulldog to be exhibited at a dog show in North America was a dog named Donald, who was whelped in 1875. He was shown at New York in 1880 by Sir William Verner. Donald was brindle and white and reportedly weighed about 40 pounds.
The first English Bulldog was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1886. He was a brindle and white dog named Bob, sired by Taurus ex Millie and owned by Thomas Patten of Appleton, Wisconsin.
In 1888, a British-bred Bulldog named Robinson Crusoe became the first AKC Bulldog champion.
Ambassadeur, a male owned and bred by Charles Hopton. Hopton was a successful breeder on both sides of the Atlantic, and his Rodney kennel name was said to denote both quality and soundness in the breed. The first American-bred Bulldog bitch to attain her AKC championship was Princess Merlow, owned by Harry Ruston.
Developing an American Standard
Americans used the British breed standard until a committee was formed in 1894 to modify it. The club officially adopted what was believed to be a more informative, concisely worded standard in 1896.
Since then, the American conformation standard has remained almost entirely intact. There have been only two revisions, and both times they concerned the dog’s nose. On September 5, 1914, the description of the “butterfly or parti-colored” nose as highly undesirable was deleted, and instead, the “dudley or flesh-colored” nose was made the breeds only disqualifying fault. The latest revision, on July 20, 1976, deleted “dudley or flesh-colored nose” and substituted “brown or liver-colored nose” as the disqualifying fault.
English Bulldog Club of America
English Bulldogs were being imported, bred, and shown in the United States about ten years before H. D. Kendall, a breeder from Lowell, Massachusetts, conceived the idea of forming a Bulldog club in the United States. The objective of the organization was “to join together for the purpose of encouraging the thoughtful and careful breeding of the English Bulldog in America, to perpetuate the purity of the strain, to improve the quality of native stock, and to remove the undesirable prejudice that existed in the public mind against a most admirable breed.”
With those goals, the Bulldog Club of America (BCA) was formed by a group of eight interested fanciers at a New England Kennel Club all-breed dog show in Boston on April 1, 1890. The club was incorporated in New York State on February 29, 1904. The Bulldog Club of America is one of the oldest active purebred dog clubs in the United States.
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Selective breeding brought into being the English Bulldog of today, who is as loving and loyal as her predecessors were vicious. Among those who saved and transformed the breed was William George, who devoted himself to securing a more honor-able status for Bulldogs. Breaking away from the low and cruel practice of dog-fighting, he gave his kennel the lofty name of Canine Castle. There he produced several outstanding dogs. One of them was Young King Dick, who was reputed to be a remarkable specimen of that era.
Recent research reveals that the first known written description of the breed was produced in 1860 on a parchment scroll in Britain. The first class for English Bulldogs at a dog show was at Birmingham, also in 1860.
The first Bulldog club, simply named the Bulldog Club, was organized in Britain on November 3, 1864. The club had thirty members, and their motto was “Hold Fast”. Their stated objective was “the perpetuation and the improvement of the old English bulldog”.
The Bulldog Club’s major accomplishment during the three years it existed was drafting in 1865 the first official Bulldog breed standard. It was written by the club’s treasurer, Samuel Wickens, and was referred to as the Philo-Kuon standard – which was actually the author’s pen name.
For the next ten years, the number of Bulldogs entered at dog shows began to increase, and classes for dogs and bitches were offered in various weight categories from 12 pounds to 25 pounds and over. However, it was not long before Spanish Bulldogs – some weighing as much as 100 pounds – were imported into Britain. The British breeders believed these dogs could threaten the continuation of the purebred English Bulldog.
In March 1875, a group of British breeders met and reconstituted the former Bulldog Club at a London pub called the Blue Post. (The pub still exists today at Newman and Oxford Streets, but has been renamed the Rose and Crown). At this time, a written standard of perfection for the breed, describing the complete anatomy of the English Bulldog, was formulated; it was published on May 27, 1875. A table of points for the standard was adopted by the club and published on September 2, 1875.
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Both the Bulldog and the Mastiff are believed to have a common origin in the extinct breed known as the Alaunt (also written Alaune or Allan). In “The Knight’s Tale”, published in 1390, Geoffrey Chaucer described the Alaunt as a white dog “as large as any steer” and having great strength and courage. The breed was used for chasing lions and bears.
Randle Cotgrave’s A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, published in London in 1611, says the Allan de Bouchere, “is like our Mastiff” and is used “to bring in fierce oxen, and to keeper their stalls”. In the descriptions of these dogs, there are three distinct Bulldog characteristics that remain to this day: large, thick heads; short muzzles; and fierce courage. When attacked, they hung onto their opponent by their teeth. Bandogges or Bulldogs also were known to have been crossbred with various other breeds to correct the other breeds’ lack of courage, tenacity, and determination.
Early English Bulldogs were heavier than they are today, although they have always maintained an exceptional degree of tenacity and stamina. The early Bulldogs were also quite powerful, ferocious animals. In temperament, they were not the soft-hearted, friendly companions of the modern era.
There can be no doubt that the English Bulldog was originally bred for bull- and bear-baiting, as well as for fighting other dogs. These “baits” were held in roped-off enclosures, and the object was to see whether the dog could approach a tethered bull or bear, grab him, and pin him to the ground. The enraged animal would attempt to dislodge the dog, and terrible injuries to both often resulted. Spectators lost and won large sums based on the outcome of such contests.
At that time, the English Bulldog was quite large, weighing from 80 to 100 pounds or more. The sport of bull-baiting was popular with all classes of British society in the 1500s and 1600s, particularly around London and the Midlands. There were bullrings and dog pits in many areas. In the beginning, the dog would attack the bull by the ear and hang on until the bull was exhausted. Later, the bull’s nose was the target, and a smaller, quicker dog was more efficient.
The inhumane practice of bull-baiting was finally outlawed in Great Britain in 1835. Although there were still illegal dogfights, Bulldog breeding soon diminished, since the dogs apparently no longer served a useful purpose. Had it not been for a handful of Englishmen who saw the virtue of preserving this exceptional breed, the banning of bull-baiting would have resulted in the extinction of the Bulldog.
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Authorities differ so completely about the origin of the English Bulldog that the name itself is in dispute. While some believe the breed derives its name from the bull-like shape of the head, others maintain that the name came from the ancient custom of using Bulldogs in the sport of bull-baiting. There appears to be little doubt, however, that an early canine species resembling the Bulldog has been in existence for centuries.
Some early references indicate that the oldest English spelling of the name was probably Bondogge or Bolddogge. Later, the Bandogge was mentioned by William Shakespeare (1564–1616) in act 1, scene 4 of The Second Part of Henry VI. Conjurer Roger Bolingbrook describes the time when wizards do their work as “The time of night when Troy was set on fire; The time when screech-owls cry, and bandogges howl; And spirits walk, and ghosts break up their graves …”.
Possibly the first use of the modern spelling is found in a letter from 1631, written to George Willingham of St. Swithins Lane, London, from Prestwick Eaton of St. Sabastian, requesting “two good mastiffs and two good bulldogs.” That letter seems to establish that Bulldogs and Mastiffs were two distinct breeds of dogs in Britain.
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