Breed of the Week - Bulldog

The Bulldog, as we know, is one of the short faced groups of dogs and as such is closely related to several other breeds- the Mastiff and Bull Mastiff among the larger types, and the Boxer among those of approximately similar size.

The first positive reference to a distinct difference between the Mastiffs and the Bulldogs was contained in a letter dated 1631 and written to George Willingham of London from Prestwick Eaton requesting specifically, “two good Mastiffs and two good Bulldogs". While the differences were now obvious, it cannot be denied that both breeds had a common ancestor, probably the Alaunts, a long-extinct breed that had great strength and size and whose remarkable courage was used in the chase when in pursuit of lions and bears in the forests.

The Cotsgraves Dictionary, published in 1632, alludes to the Allan de Bouchere dogs as being Mastiff-like and displaying herding talents used to herd oxen, their heads large and thick, with short muzzles, and like our tenacious Bulldogs they would not let go once they sank their teeth into their adversaries.

One of the most charming attributes of our Bulldogs is their rolling gait. Jacob Lamphiere described it as follows in his first written standard for the breed: "Carriage: the dog should roll in his gait. He generally runs sideways. His hindlegs should not be lifted high as he runs, so that his hindfeet seem to skim the ground."

By 1890, a description of the gait in a show catalog for the Bulldog Club at the Royal Aquarium at Westminster read: "From his formation, the dog has a peculiar, heavy and constrained gait, appearing to walk with short quick steps on the tips of his toes, his hind feet not being being lifted high, but appearing to skim the ground, and running with the right shoulder rather advanced, similar to the manner of a horse in cantering.

Today in the American Kennel Club standard the gait is stated simply as: “The style and carriage are peculiar, his gait being a loose-jointed, shuffling, sidewise motion, giving the characteristic 'roll.' The action must, however, be unrestrained, free and vigorous."

"Although the words and description of all of the writings we have seen on what bulldogs have looked like through the centuries may vary in details, it is plain to see from the beginning the major points to be made about its conformation are almost the same today as they were then." The Book of the Bulldog by Joan M. Brearly

The Bulldog is not an overly active breed so you do not need to be very athletic to keep your Bulldog in shape. Moderation is key. Be careful of the temperature outside as well as in. Because of the short face of your Bulldog it may become heat intolerant or cold intolerant. Anything over 70 degrees may create a condition where his throat may swell and impair his breathing. Temperatures below 40degrees may produce an upper respiratory problem.
Long walks are not advised. Regular short walks, play sessions in the yard or letting the dog roam freely in a safely enclosed area under your supervision are sufficient exercise.

The Bulldog requires minimal grooming and bathing care. A small terry towel is great to wipe the Bulldog’s wrinkles on his body and face daily. Regular bathing, about every 8-12 weeks will keep the skin and coat clean and healthy. Brush your dog's coat vigorously before wetting the coat. This will get rid of most of the loose hair, which is harder to remove when the coat is wet. You should purchase a shampoo that is produced for dogs. Humans and dogs do not have the same PH balance. Wash the head last so as not to drip soap in his eyes. Also avoid getting water in the ear canals. Make sure all of the shampoo is thoroughly rinsed out of the coat.

The Bulldog’s ears can be cleaned with a cotton ball with a little ear cleaning solution that is sold in pet stores. Do not use a Q-TIP. You may go down too far into the canal and puncture the ear drum. Ear powders that are produced for dogs are also fine to use.

Get your Bulldog used to having his nails clipped at an early age. If clipping them yourself, make sure you establish where the quick is in each nail before you clip. Another great nail tool is a Dremel, or a similar nail grinder, if you are afraid to clip. The Dremel is a sanding tool that again should be introduced when the dog is young. It is advised to keep some type of clotting agent on hand such as a styptic powder, such as Kwik Stop, to stop the bleeding in the event you cut the quick. You can purchase a nail grinder or nail clippers that are made for dog nails at your local pet store.

Proper nutrition from a good dry food is suggested. Less expensive dog foods are most often based on grains and other plant protein such as corn, soy and wheat. All of which may cause flatulence, yeast problems, and allergy reactions. Dogs do benefit from a rotation diet. You may choose to stay with the same brand, but vary the protein, or try a Raw frozen diet. For treats, again, try to select a grain free treat.

Always keep fresh water in a clean bowl for your Bulldog.

For more information pertaining to the Bulldog breed you can visit The Bulldog Club of America.

written by Sharon Costello

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