There are certainly many breeds of dogs that are cute and lovable. Everyone loves a puppy and seemingly all puppies are cute. But among the many breeds of dogs there is one that stands out as being particularly interesting to look at, whether a pup or fully grown. In the United States we call these dogs English Bulldogs. I say in the United States because in Great Britain, where bulldogs originate, they are just bulldogs plain and simple.
Question: How do you make a bulldog smile? Answer: You don’t, he makes you smile. One look at the wrinkles, wide stance, and flat faced appearance of the bulldog and it is hard not to smile. Their looks and disposition contribute to making the bulldog one of the most popular dogs in the United States. They are fiercely loyal dogs who are happy just to spend time being around their owners.
Records fail to make the true origins of the bulldog clear, but some things are for certain. Most everyone agrees their name comes from the cruel sport of bull baiting. Bulldogs were also used to control and corral bulls in England. In the middle of the 19th century bulldogs ceased to be “sporting” dogs when the “sport” of bull baiting was outlawed.
While the popularity of the bulldog waned after bull baiting was banned, in a few years they became a show dog. But none of this explains just why the bulldog looks the way it does; so let’s move along.
Dog breeding was not the science hundreds of years ago that it is today. Breeders would mate dogs based upon their appearance. And in doing so they eventually obtained many of the physical traits we see in bulldogs today. The bulldog’s nose is high on the head to let the dog breath easily while maintaining a firm grip on a bull.
Some believe the wrinkled skin allowed for give and there was less of a chance that a bull’s horns would break the skin. Of course being very low to the ground made them a tougher target for the bulls. It has been thought the wrinkles on a bulldog’s face make it easier for tears to drain away from the eyes. The bulldog has a powerful jaw that gives it a vise-like grip.
Combine all of this with strong hind legs and you have a dog that looks tough but is really quite gentle and good with children. Of course the bulldog was at one time aggressive, however for over 150 years they have been bred as companions and family pets. At one time there was a reason for the looks we find so adorable in today’s English Bulldog.
by Jack Kean