The first mention of "Bulldog" as the distinctive name of this now national breed occurs in a letter, written by Prestwich Eaton from St. Sebastian to George Wellingham in St. Swithin's Lane, London, in 1631 or 1632, "for a good Mastive dogge, a case of bottles replenished with the best lickour, and pray proceur mee two good bulldoggs, and let them be sent by ye first shipp." Obviously the name was derived from the dog's association with the sport of bull-baiting. The object aimed at in that pursuit was that the dog should pin and hold the bull by the muzzle, and not leave it. The bull was naturally helpless when seized in his most tender part. As he lowered his head in order to use his horns it was necessary for the dog to keep close to the ground, or, in the words of the old fanciers of the sport, to "play low." Larger dogs were at a disadvantage in this respect, and, therefore, those of smaller proportions, which were quite as suitable for the sport, were selected. The average height of the dogs was about 16 inches, and the weight was generally about 45 lbs., whilst the body was broad, muscular, and compact.
In forming a judgment of a Bulldog the general appearance is of most importance, as the various points of the dog should be symmetrical and well balanced, no one point being in excess of the others so as to destroy the impression of determination, strength, and activity which is conveyed by the typical specimen. His body should be thickset, rather low in stature, but broad, powerful, and compact.
The bulldog head should be strikingly massive and large in proportion to the dog's size. It cannot be too large so long as it is square; that is, it must not be wider than it is deep. The larger the head in circumference caused by the prominent cheeks, the greater the quantity of muscle to hold the jaws together. The head should be of great depth from the occiput to the base of the lower jaw, and should not in any way be wedge- shaped, dome-shaped, or peaked. In circumference the skull should measure in front of the ears at least the height of the dog at the shoulders. The cheeks should be well rounded, extend sideways beyond the eyes, and be well furnished with muscle. Length of skull--that is, the distance between the eye and the ear--is very desirable. The forehead should be flat and the skin upon it and about the head very loose, hanging in large wrinkles. The temples, or frontal bones, should be very prominent, broad, square and high, causing a wide and deep groove known as the "stop" between the eyes, and should extend up the middle of the forehead, dividing the head vertically, being traceable at the top of the skull. The expression "well broken up" is used where this stop and furrow are well marked, and if there is the attendant looseness of skin the animal's expression is well finished.The bulldog face, when measured from the front of the cheek-bone to the nose, should be short, and its skin should be deeply and closely wrinkled. Excessive shortness of face is not natural, and can only be obtained by the sacrifice of the "chop." Such shortness of face makes the dog appear smaller in head and less formidable than he otherwise would be. Formerly this shortness of face was artificially obtained by the use of the "jack," an atrocious form of torture, by which an iron instrument was used to force back the face by means of thumbscrews. The nose should be rough, large, broad, and black, and this color should extend to the lower lip; its top should be deeply set back, almost between the eyes. The distance from the inner corner of the eye to the extreme tip of the nose should not be greater than the length from the tip of the nose to the edge of the under lip. The nostrils should be large and wide, with a well-defined straight line visible between them. The largeness of nostril, which is a very desirable property, is possessed by few of the recent prize-winners.
The inclination backward of the nose allows a free passage of the air into the nostrils whilst the dog is holding his quarry. It is apparent that if the mouth did not project beyond the nose, the nostrils would be flat against the part to which the dog was fixed, and breathing would then be stopped.The upper lip, called the "chop," or flews, should be thick, broad, pendant and very deep, hanging completely over the lower jaw at the sides, but only just joining the under lip in front, yet covering the teeth completely. The amount of "cushion" which a dog may have is dependent upon the thickness of the flews. The lips should not be pendulous.
The upper jaw should be broad, massive, and square, the tusks being wide apart, whilst the lower jaw, being turned upwards, should project in front of the upper. The teeth should be large and strong, and the six small teeth between the tusks should be in an even row. The upper jaw cannot be too broad between the tusks.The underjaw projects beyond the upper in order to allow the dog, when running directly to the front, to grasp the bull, and, when fixed, to give him a firmer hold. The eyes, seen from the front, should be situated low down in the skull, as far from the ears, the nose, and each other as possible, but quite in front of the forehead, so long as their corners are in a straight line at right angles with the stop, and in front of the forehead. They should be a little above the level of the base of the nasal bone, and should be quite round in shape, of moderate size, neither sunken nor prominent, and be as black in colour as possible--almost, if not quite, black, showing no white when looking directly to the front.
A good deal of a Bulldog's appearance depends on the quality, shape, and carriage of his ears. They should be small and thin, and set high on the head; that is, the front inner edge of each ear should, as viewed from the front, join the outline of the skull at the top corner of such outline, so as to place them as wide apart, as high, and as far from the eyes as possible. The shape should be that which is known as "rose," in which the ear folds inward at the back, the upper or front edge curving over outwards and backwards, showing part of the inside of the burr.The neck should be moderate in length, very thick, deep, muscular, and short, but of sufficient length to allow it to be well arched at the back, commencing at the junction with the skull. There should be plenty of loose, thick, and wrinkled skin about the throat, forming a dewlap on each side from the lower jaw to the chest.
The chest should be very wide laterally, round, prominent, and deep, making the dog, appear very broad and short-legged in front. The shoulders should be broad, the blades sloping considerably from the body; they should be deep, very powerful, and muscular, and should be flat at the top and play loosely from the chest.The back should be short and strong, very broad at the shoulder and comparatively narrow at the loins. The back should rise behind the shoulders in a graceful curve to the loins, the top of which should be higher than the top of the shoulders, thence curving again more suddenly to the tail, forming an arch known as the "roach" back, which is essentially a characteristic of the breed, though, unfortunately, many leading prize-winners of the present day are entirely deficient in this respect.
The tail should be set on low, jut out rather straight, then turn downwards, the end pointing horizontally. It should be quite round in its whole length, smooth and devoid of fringe or coarse hair. It should be moderate in length, rather short than long, thick at the root, and taper quickly to a fine point. It should have a downward carriage, and the dog should not be able to raise it above the level of the backbone.The fore-legs should be very stout and strong; set wide apart, thick, muscular, and short, with well- developed muscles in the calves, presenting a rather bowed outline, but the bones of the legs must be straight, large, and not bandy or curved. They should be rather short in proportion to the hind-legs, but not so short as to make the back appear long or detract from the dog's activity and so cripple him.
The elbows should be low and stand well away from the ribs, so as to permit the body to swing between them. The ankles or pasterns should be short, straight, and strong. The fore-feet should be straight and turn very slightly outwards; they should be of medium size and moderately round, not too long or narrow, whilst the toes should be thick, compact, and well split up, making the knuckles prominent and high.The hind-legs, though of slighter build than the fore-legs, should be strong and muscular. They should be longer, in proportion, than the fore-legs in order to elevate the loins. The stifles should be round and turned slightly outwards, away from the body, thus bending the hocks inward and the hind-feet outward. The hocks should be well let down, so that the leg is long and muscular from the loins to the point of the hock, which makes the pasterns short, but these should not be so short as those of the fore- legs. The hind-feet, whilst being smaller than the forefeet, should be round and compact, with the toes well split up, and the knuckles prominent.
The most desirable weight for a Bulldog is about 50 lbs. The coat should be fine in texture, short, close, and smooth, silky when stroked from the head towards the tail owing to its closeness, but not wiry when stroked in the reverse direction.The bulldog colors should be whole or smut, the latter being a whole color with a black mask or muzzle. It should be brilliant and pure of its sort.
This description of the various show points of a Bulldog indicates that he should have the appearance of a thick-set Ayrshire or Highland bull. In stature he should be low to the ground, broad and compact, the body being carried between and not on the fore-legs. He should stand over a great deal of ground, and have the appearance of immense power. The height of the fore-leg should not exceed the distance from the elbow to the centre of the back, between the shoulder blades.I hope you find this post useful and interesting. Do comment about what you think about this breed. Let us know about your own personal experiences with the bulldog.