History & Origins
Country of Origin - England
Bulldogs are descended from the ancient breed of Bullenbeissers, a mastiff-like dog used for guarding and attacking wild animals in Assyria, Greece, Egypt and Rome. The English Bulldog however was developed for a very specific purpose - the cruel sport of bull-baiting. This sport was introduced by the Normans in the 12th century after the conquest when street entertainers brought their bulls, bears and dogs to England. The dogs were allowed to bait the tethered bulls as a primitive side show and slowly this pastime grew from torment to torture.
By the 16th century it was so widespread that Queen Elizabeth would frequently offer it as entertainment to visiting dignitaries. With this royal patronage, a different kind of dog was developed who could excel in this sport. They needed to be smaller so they were out of reach of horns, with massive powerful jaws, and an ability to breathe while they hung onto a bull by their teeth. This meant that they needed a flattened nose set back from their jaw.
When cruel sports were banned in 1835, it seemed that the breed would vanish, but showing enthusiasts took over and Bulldog classes became highly competitive. Over the next 100 years, the Bulldog continued to change shape as their legs grew shorter and their face more flattened - until today there are serious health concerns within the breed. This doesn’t however affect the personality of this good-natured, gentle breed who makes a delightful companion dog for those happy to potentially spend a lot of money at the vets.