WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BULLDOG, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK
The origin of the Bulldog is questionable at best. The breed was originally known as the British Bulldog and was never, at any time, properly referred to as the English Bulldog. That common name is a complete misnomer. The Bulldog is, without question, a product of the British Isles and is, to the minds of many, the most quintessential symbol of his homeland. Bulldogs may have been in existence since the third century, but under another name, and its first "usefulness" was for bullbaiting.
Bullbaiting was a cruel and inhumane sport. In the year of 1209 (approximately), during the reign of King John, a bystander witnessed two bulls fighting for a cow in the castle meadows, until all the butchers' dogs pursued one of the bulls and brought it down. This may have been the origin of the "sport" of bullbaiting. In 1778, The Duke of Devonshire, in Staffordshire, succeeded in abolishing bullbaiting, which had become an annual occurrence since 1374.
The Bulldog is first mentioned in literature in the 16th century. Names such as "Bondogge" or Banndogge" were used in 1576 while Shakespeare referred to them as the "Bandog". The Bandog was said to have resulted from a cross between the Mastiff and the Foxhound. There is evidence, however, that the Bulldog was used in the development of modern breeds to heighten the courage and improve the tenacity of a variety of other breeds. Some have speculated that the Bulldog and the Mastiff shared common parentage and were descended from the Alaunt, a kind of ancient Mastiff. In the early history of British dogs, we are taught that the ancient Britons went into battle accompanied by large, ferocious dogs. These huge dogs were armored with leather that bore sharp outward projections.
In all probability, the English Mastiff and the Bulldog were both descended from these ancient war dogs. All of the foregoing notwithstanding, we can still only guess at the true origin of the modern version of the Bulldog.
The Bulldog is known as the national symbol of Great Britain. The characteristics of a "perfect" Bulldog specimen are: medium size, smooth and fine coat, heavy thick-set low-slung body, massive short face head, wide shoulders and sturdy legs.
Bulldogs are an ideal pet because they, quite simply, love to be with their family. They adore children and make an excellent companion for them because of their gentle, yet sometimes stubborn nature. Bulldogs are laid-back, loyal, good natured and undemanding, which makes them excellent companions for the elderly.
Bulldogs cannot take strenuous exercise, so if you are looking for a breed to jog around the block with you, you truly must seek another breed of dog. They might jog for a minute or two, but soon you will find yourself picking up and carrying your Bulldog friend - all 40-55 pounds of him - back home. Bulldogs are known as "couch potatoes" or the "lazy man's dog". Contrary to popular belief, Bulldogs never drool, but they might snore and quite loudly. Most Bulldogs are known as the "clowns" of the canine world. They can be very humorous, a bit quirky and quite comical which only adds to their charm!
Bulldogs are also the only breed known, so far, to retain their puppyhood longer than any other breed. From birth until about 3-4 years of age, the Bulldog will be nothing more than a big, lovable puppy and into everything, very much like a 2 year old child. Therefore, Puppy School is a must and obedience training as the Bulldog matures should also be done. Believe us! Having a well-behaved Bulldog is of utmost importance if for no other reason than the stubbornness a Bulldog will often display. As they age, Bulldogs become lovable "couch potatoes".
At the age of approximately 6 to 10 months, a Bulldog will go through a stage, commonly referred to as "the ugly stage". This ugly stage does not happen to all Bulldogs nor does it happen at an exact age every time. You will look at your previously "gorgeous" puppy and think, "Oh my! Have I made a mistake? This Bulldog is just plain ugly"! DO NOT PANIC! The "uglies" are similar to the pubescent stage in young men and women whereby they become gangly, awkward and appear to be all legs and arms.
The color of the coat should be uniform, pure of its kind and brilliant. The various colors found in the breed are to be preferred in the following order: (1) red brindle, (2) all other brindles, (3) solid white, (4) solid red, fawn or fallow, (5) piebald, (6) inferior qualities of all the foregoing. A perfect piebald is preferable to a muddy brindle or defective solid color. PLEASE NOTE: According to the AKC and the Bulldog Club of America, solid black is very undesirable. Also, chocolate, blue, and tri-colors (black, tan and white) or any combinations thereof are also very undesirable colors and are NOT "rare" colors in the breed. Do not be fooled! We do not breed for any color other than the colors stated in the above paragraph and those endorsed by the American Kennel Club and the Bulldog Club of America.
The Bulldog is not just another dog. He is unique in every way and different from any other breed of dog. The Bulldog, along with other "flat face" or "pushed-in face" dogs, is known as a Brachycephalic breed. Other breeds belonging to this group are: Pug, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, Shih-Tzu, English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog, Mastiff, Bull Mastiff, to name a few. Brachycephalic breeds have been bred to possess a normal lower jaw (often times an over-done lower jaw) that is in proportion to their body size, and a compressed upper jaw. In producing this cosmetic appearance, these breeds have been compromised in many important ways and the owner must be familiar with the special needs of owning one of the Brachycephalic breeds.
Bulldogs are characterized by brachycephalic respiratory syndrome, which affects the different areas of the respiratory tract. Most dogs do not suffer from all aspects of the syndrome, but owners should be acutely aware of which syndromes their Bulldog may have.
STENOTIC NARES - This is just a somewhat fancy name for "narrowed nostrils" or "pinched nostrils. A Bulldog may or may not have very small nasal openings for breathing, an if they do, surgical correction is possible.
The average height of a fully grown Bulldog is 12 to 16 inches. The average weight is approximately 50 to 60 pounds, with females weighing less. The Bulldog's coat is short, smooth, glossy and finely textured with no fringe, feather or curl.
MEGAESOPHAGUS - A condition in humans, cats and dogs where peristalsis fails to occur properly and the esophagus is enlarged. When the dog's esophagus is functioning properly, it acts as a muscle and pushes the food down the esophagus into the stomach. However, when a dog has megaesophagus, the esophagus stays enlarged and does not push the food down to the stomach. Therefore, the food fails to enter the stomach and often stays in the esophagus. Eventually the food may be regurgitated or food could accidentally enter the lungs during breathing (called "aspiration pneumonia") which presents a grave danger to the dog. Sometimes the food will remain in the esophagus and decay.
ELONGATED SOFT PALATE - It is often times difficult to fit the soft tissues of a dog's mouth and throat into any short faced breed, such as a Bulldog. As a result, the soft palate, which separates the nasal passage from the oral cavity, flaps loosely down into the throat, causing snorting sounds. All brachycephalic breeds suffer from this, but actual distress is rare, except in the Bulldog. The Bulldog tends to have more severe symptoms in almost all aspects of the brachycephalic syndrome. Excessive barking or panting may lead to swelling in the throat which can, in turn, lead to trouble. Again, the soft palate can be surgically trimmed.
TRACHEAL STENOSIS - Some Bulldogs have dangerously narrowed windpipes (tracheas). This condition creates tremendous anesthetic risk and should be ruled out by radiographs prior to any surgical procedure.
EVERTED LARYNGEAL SACCULES - The normal larynx has two small pockets called "ventricles" or "saccules". When a dog has increased effort in breathing, over time, these pockets will actually turn inside out, inside the dog's throat. When this happens, the protuberances need to be surgically snipped. This finding may prevent progression to a full laryngeal collapse.
HYPERTHERMIA (OR HEAT STRESS) - Due to all the upper respiratory obstructions, the brachycephalic dog is not a very good "panter". A dog with a more conventional face and throat is able to pass air quickly over the tongue through panting. Saliva evaporates from the tongue as air is passed across and the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and circulated back to the rest of the body.
In the Bulldog, and other members of brachycephalic breeds, there is much extra work required to move the same amount of air that the airways become inflamed and swollen. This leads to more severe obstruction, distress and further over-heating. The upper airways of the Bulldog compromises his or her ability to take in air. Under normal conditions, the compromise is not great enough to cause a problem. However, an owner should take care not to let the dog become grossly overweight or get too hot in the summer months. Be aware of what degree of snorting and sputtering is usual for your individual Bulldog. Plus, should your Bulldog ever require general anesthesia or sedation, your Veterinarian may want to take extra precautions or take x-rays prior to sedation to assess the severity of the respiratory syndrome. Although anesthetic risks are higher than usual in the brachycephalic breeds, under most circumstances every necessary precaution plus extra care is readily managed by most animal hospitals.
HYPOTHERMIA - Hypothermia is the exact opposite of Hyperthermia. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures affects the Bulldog almost as much as heat stress. Hypothermia will usually occur when the Bulldog is cold and damp or wet. Never leave your Bulldog exposed to extremes of temperature - neither hot or cold! All our dogs must go outside sometimes, if for no other reason than for bathroom duties. However, leaving your Bulldog unattended outside in hot weather or cold weather for extended periods of time can cause serious threats to the overall health of your Bulldog. Signs of hypothermia include: A drop in normal body temperature (anything below 35 degrees C. is considered hypothermic in all animals.) Signs need to be recognized so immediate treatment can be given. Otherwise, the dog may not recover. Symptoms are: Shivering, the dog feels cold to the touch, pale mucous membranes, pulse rate slows and core temperature is reduced.
Signs of Heat Stroke (Heat Stress) - Excessive panting, drooling or slobering, slowing down, foaming at the mouth, excess salivation, weakness, falling down, inability to stand, uncontrolled movement, agitation and glazed eyes.
BULLDOG'S TEETH OR "BITE" - The Bulldog has a most unusual bite, also seen in a few other breeds, called an undershot or underbite. This bite is not to be penalized unless it is too far to the extreme in either direction. The undershot bite is when the bottom teeth slightly overlap the top teeth. However, when the Bulldog is facing front and at rest, with the mouth closed, the teeth are never to be seen protruding through the lips. When the Bulldog's underbite is over exaggerated this means the Bulldog's bottom jaw has formed improperly and can cause much trouble when it eats.
WRY MOUTH - A wry mouth can be acquired or may be a predisposition in some breeds. No breed of dog is excluded from this malformation of the teeth and jaws. Wry mouth is a twisting of the mouth cause by one side growing at a faster rate than the other. It may cuase difficulty with eating and grasping. The acquired condition is usually due to puppies trying to chew toys that are too hard or too large and heavy.
THE BULLDOG'S HEAD - To us, there is nothing more exciting than to see a perfect picture of a Bulldog, from head to toe. However, perfection in anything and especially in any breed of dog, only comes around once in a blue moon, no matter how hard anyone tries to create that "perfect dog".
In the show ring, each breed of dog is judged by the number of points allowed for each part of the dog's body. - the head, shoulders, ears, neck, back (topline), legs, feet and tail, along with the gait of the dog, character (temperament), condition of the coat (hair), color, size, etc. Dog shows are not a "beauty pageant" as some might think. Dogs do not win their championships by being the prettiest dog in the show ring. It is the accumulative points a judge will give each dog that add up to the total points to win in the ring.
The most points awarded for the head of a show dog goes to the Bulldog. This breed is just one of few that are characterized, in the show ring, as a "head breed". A whopping 39 points are used to judge nearly every square inch of the Bulldog's head. This means that every aspect of the Bulldog's head must meet the strict requirements to gain as many points as possible. The eyes and set of the eyes, the ears and ear set, the broadness of the skull, the turn up of the bottom jaw, the teeth, cheeks and nose must meet all the necessary requirements or the dog will be out of the running to win a blue ribbon. After all is said and done, it is truly the head of the Bulldog that distinguishes him from all other breeds of dog. Therefore, should you ever wonder just why your Bulldog does not have the appearance of a Bulldog you might see in a magazine or on TV, more than likely, the dog is missing a lot from having the best head as possible.
Overall, the Bulldog's head should be quite large and almost "brick" in shape - never round or oblong. The circumference of the head, measured in front of the ears and all the way around under the chin, should measure at least the height of the dog or larger. The neck should be short and well-arched.
BULLDOG EARS - The Bulldog has a most distinctive shape and placement of their ears. The shape of the ears is called "rose ears"....not rosey ears, nor tulip ears! The correct rose ears are placed high on the head, wide apart and as high and as far from the eyes as possible. The size of the ears are small with thin leather. Ears should never be carried erect, nor be prick-eared or button in shape; never set too high or too low and should never be cropped.
BULLDOG EYES - The eyes, when seen from the front, should be set low down in the skull and as far away from the ears as possible. The corners of the eyes should be in a straight line at right angles with the stop. The eyes should be quite in front of the head, as wide apart as possible, provided the outer corners of the eyes are within the outline of the cheeks when viewed from the front. Eyes should be quite round in forms, moderate in size, neither sunken nor bulging and the color should always be very dark. The lids should cover the white of the eyeball when the dog is looking directly forward. The lid should show no "haw".
EYE ANOMALIES AND EYE PROBLEMS - Bulldogs sometimes have several different eye ailments, some of which are more serious than others and some that are thought to be inherited.
DRY EYE - Dry eye is a condition that Bulldogs seem to be more prone to than other breeds. Dry eye usually occurs as the Bulldog becomes a "Senior Citizen". However, dry eye can also occur following the surgical removal of "cherry eye" or from head trauma. Dry eye can easily be managed with the use of prescription eye drops placed in the eye(s) once or twice daily, every day for the remainder of the dog's life.
CHERRY EYE - For some unknown reason, "cherry eye" seems to be more common in Bulldogs than other breeds. However, any breed can have "cherry eye". When the tear producing gland of the third eyelid pops out of position, it protrudes from behind the third eyelid as a reddish mass at the inner corner of the eye. The condition is most commonly seen in younger dogs. More often than not, there will be only one eye to exhibit cherry eye, but both eyes can develop cherry eye. Despite the awful appearance, cherry eye does not always produce signs of pain in the eye. However, the longer the gland is exposed, the greater the incidence of the gland becoming irritated and inflamed. It can ulcerate and hemorrhage, if the dog rubs at the eye. The function of this gland can be compromised if it is exposed for long periods of time without treatment. The resulting damage can be permanent dry eye. Cherry eye can be corrected with a surgical procedure and today's methods using laser surgery far exceed the older methods. Some will swear this is an inherited condition, while others say it is something that happens when that particular gland is weak. And there are even those who will say it can be caused by the dog pulling too hard and too long on a choke type collar. That's just one reason we recommend Bulldog owners use a body harness on their Bulldog.
ENTROPIAN - A condition where there is an inward rolling of the eyelid edges. A common eye problem that can be present soon after birth or acquired later in life. It most commonly affects the lower eyelids. Entropian that is considered to be inherited usually develops within the first few months of birth. It may also develop late in life, secondary to other changes around the eye.
ECTROPIAN - An eversion or rolling outward of the eyelid margin, resulting in exposure of the palprebal conjunctiva, which is a delicate membrane that lines the eyelid. It most commonly affect the lower central eyelid. Predisposing factors may be: Developmental ectropian may occur as a breed characteristic, sometimes found in the St. Bernard, Bloodhound, Mastiff, Cocker Spaniel and is recognized in dogs less than a year old.
DISTICHIASIS - A condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes (cilia) from the glands of the upper and lower eyelids. A hair follicle develops deep within the glands rather than on the skin surface of the eyelid. As the hair grows, it follows the direction of the gland and exits from the gland opening along the smooth surface of the eyelid margin. In most cases the eyelashes, called distichia, rub the cornea of the eye, causing irritation and tearing and occasionally corneal abrasion. Distichiasis is considered to be an inherited condition in purebred dogs and can be seen in a wide variety of breeds, such as the Cocker Spaniel, the Toy and Miniature Poodle, the Golden Retriever, the Miniature Long-haired Dachshund, Shetland Sheepdog, Bulldog, Lhasa Apso and Shih-Tzu.
CATARACT - Changes in the structure of the lens of the eye(s), leading to cloudiness and usually to blindness. Cataracts are more common in the older dog.
TAILS - There are several types, shapes and sizes of Bulldog tails. Only two tails are considered the "proper" tail. The "spike" tail is the one most preferred because it hangs straight down from the rear end of the dog and looks very much like an old railroad spike. The "screw" tail is just that - resembling sort of a cork screw shape. Both the spike tail and the screw tail are recognized by Bulldog Breed clubs as the standard tail for the breed. The most undesirable tails are the gay tail, the inverted tail and the tight screw tail. The gay tail stands straight out from the body and is carried high and "gayly" when the dog is running or playing.
The inverted tail and the tight screw tail are the worst tails the Bulldog can have. The inverted tail literally grows inward into the dog's body. It is extremely difficult to keep clean and nine time out of ten, the Bulldog will suffer from chronic infections, foul odors and pain from the inverted tail. The tight screw tail is not much better. Tight tails are usually cork screw in shape and are wound so tightly, it is almost impossible to get under or around the tail to keep it clean. Therefore, there will be possible infections, foul odors and some pain with a tight screw tail.
Whatever you do, please seek second and even third opinions before having your Bulldog's inverted or tight tail amputated. Some Veterinarians will recommend this. However, there are horror stories of amputated tails causing more harm than good and generally, the amputation can cause nerve damage and loose stools in your Bulldog for the rest of his life.
FEET - There are almost as many shapes and sizes of Bulldog feet as there are Bulldogs. We point out the correct feet which make the Bulldog more comfortable for walking, playing and just lying around. And, of course, should you decide to purchase a show quality Bulldog, correct feet are a definite must have! Most breeders and show dog owners/handlers want the feet of their show dogs to be compact, moderate in size, firmly set and with good pasterns. The toes should be compact, well split-up with high knuckles and short stubby toe nails. The front feet may be straight or turned out slightly.
Splay feet are most unattractive and are not proper feet for the Bulldog. You will sometimes see splay feet on a young puppy who is just learning to get his balance and trying to maneuver different types of surfaces. Usually weak pasterns and other issues with the pasterns are the biggest cause of splay feet, but not keeping your Bulldog's toenails trimmed properly can also cause the feet to splay.
FORELEGS - The forelegs (front legs) of the Bulldog should be short, very stout, straight and muscular. The legs should be set fairly wide apart with well-developed calves, presenting in a somewhat bowed outline. However, the bones of the legs should not be curved or bandy (bowed), nor the feet placed too close together.
THE TOPLINE OF THE BULLDOG - The Bulldog has many unusual points to their bodies, unlike any other breed and the topline (or back) is no exception. We stress as close to correct conformation as possible simply because the Bulldog will be able to move better, eat better, rest well, play well and will be less likely to develop ailments and illnesses as he/she ages if the overall specimen is the best it can possibly be. And, the Bulldog that is put together properly will look, act, walk and sound exactly like a Bulldog. We do not stress "perfection" because there has never been a perfect dog of any breed, nor possibly will there ever be!
THE BODY OF THE BULLDOG - Another unusual characteristic of the Bulldog is its "pear-shaped" body. And, although there are a few other breeds who are wider in the front than they are in the rear, this pear-shaped body and the sum of the rest of the parts, sets the Bulldog apart from other breeds. The brisket and body are very capacious with full sides, well rounded ribs and is very deep from shoulders down to its lowest part, where it joins the chest. The brisket is well let down between the shoulders and forelegs, giving the dog a broad, low, short-legged appearance. Wide shoulders, barrel ribs and a narrow pelvic area give the Bulldog his pear-shaped body.
ACCEPTABLE COLORS FOR THE BULLDOG'S COAT
The Bulldog's coat is short, fine, soft and smooth with brilliant coloring. There are several coat colors approved by both The American Kennel Club and the Bulldog Club of America. All other coat colors, especially those touted as "rare", "exotic", etc. are not accepted by these Club who have spent many years writing and revising the "guidelines" for the standard of the Bulldog breed. Pictures on the Internet can sometimes be misleading, but below are examples of the colors and "patterns" of the Bulldog's coat approved as the standard for the Bulldog.
In order of preferred and acceptable color: #1-Red brindle, #2-All other brindles, #3-solid
white, #4-solid red, fawn or fallow, #5-Piebald, #6-Inferior qualities of all the foregoing colors.
"I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source." ~ Doris Day
"Bulldogs Of Integrity"
BELOW: #4 - SOLID RED, FAWN AND FALLOW