The Bulldog ranks high in every survey of the most popular dogs in the U.S. The history of the Bulldog is a complex one, with blood sports and the European aristocracy playing a role in the history of the breed. The first use of the Bulldog was for a sport called bull-baiting, which helped develop the unique look of these dogs. The English Government banned bull-baiting in the 19th-century and almost made the Bulldog extinct until its role as a companion returned them to popularity.
A Sporting History
The American Kennel Club recognized the Bulldog breed in 1886 but had been popular in Europe for centuries. In England, the sport of bull-baiting was popular from the 13th-century to the mid-19th-century. The blood sport saw Bulldogs attack a tethered bull, with a fight ensuing. The Bulldog has a long history of changes being made to improve their fighting abilities. One of the most popular features of the Bulldog is its wrinkled face and underbite, both of which were important to bull-baiting success. The wrinkles around their faces trapped blood during a fight, with the underbite making it easier to bite a taller bull.
Extinction and the Aristocracy
The end of bull-baiting in 1835 began a difficult period for the breed. Known around Europe for their fighting abilities, most people had no use for the dogs following the banning of bull-baiting. Luckily, the loving nature of the Bulldog was identified by members of the English aristocracy. Breeders worked to change to nature of the Bulldog from aggressive to loving in the mid-19th-century. Members of the English aristocracy began to use Bulldogs as companions, leading to a return to popularity.
Noise and Smells
The changes made to the breed during the 19th-century made the Bulldog a companion breed in the view of the American Kennel Club. The Bulldog is a ferocious eating machine that tends to become overweight if not closely monitored, with the breed not being the best when it comes to exercise. Because of the lack of exercise the breed undertakes, it can be flatulent because of the amount of food it consumes. A healthy diet can help control weight and limit problems with gas. The Bulldog remains a noisy breed, with the dog vocalizing through snorts and grunts.
Appearance and Mascots
The markings and coloring of the Bulldog mean no dog is the same as another. The American Kennel Club allows registered Bulldogs to have any of ten colors and four different sets of markings. The Westminster Dog Show has seen two Bulldog winners who have increased the popularity of the breed. Alongside its popularity as a dog breed, the Bulldog is a popular mascot for schools, colleges, and sports teams at all levels.