English Bulldog - Yesterday and TodayAuthorities 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.

Leave a Reply