ENGLISH BULLDOG 101
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Where does the English Bulldog come from? The history of the English Bulldog traces back into a time when bullbaiting was hugely popular in England. Right up to 1835 (when blood sports were finally banned), people bet huge amounts of money on the outcomes of matches between dogs and Bulls. The breed of choice for these contests was the now extinct Old English Bulldog – a ferocious fighter, and the direct ancestor of today’s English Bulldog. After 1835, the fierce and courageous Old English Bulldog lost much of its popularity and nearly went extinct. Thankfully, a group of Bulldog enthusiasts revived the breed by maintaining its most attractive physical and characteristic traits. However, the original Bulldogs’ ferocious tenacity was replaced by a mellow gentleness. Precisely this refined character has made the English Bulldog such a popular and friendly companion dog. In 1886, the new breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club. In outer appearance, the English Bulldog is a compact and sturdy middle-sized dog - with a large head marked by deep facial wrinkles. Its tail is naturally short and shaped like a corkscrew. The Bulldog’s short, glossy coat can come in white, piebald, fawn, red, brindle, or in a combination of these colours with white. Adult English Bulldogs measure between 12 and 15 inches, and weigh between 40 and 50 pounds. That is between 30 and 38 cm in height and between 18 and 23 kilos in weight. The females are slightly smaller and lighter than the males. What is their temperament like? English Bulldogs come with a very sweet, mild-mannered temperament. But at the same time, they are quirky and adorably stubborn dogs who seem to be born for mischief. With their antics, they frequently make their owners laugh. Thanks to their very friendly nature, English Bulldogs make excellent family pets. Whilst usually quite accepting towards all humans and other animals, they are particularly fond of children: An English Bulldog’s patience for little humans is almost unparalleled. Of course, being a people-loving dog by nature does have its drawbacks: Its kind-hearted temperament does not make the English Bulldog the best guardian breed in the world. However, with patient training, even the friendliest Bulldog can be motivated to sound an alarm where appropriate. Their laid-back nature and fondness of a sedentary lifestyle make English Bulldogs the perfect canine companions for apartments-dwellers. How intelligent and trainable are English Bulldogs? As we just said, this breed can be trained to bark when appropriate, which brings us straight to the question just how intelligent and trainable these dogs really are. They certainly are capable of learning house manners and new commands. However, they are not given to performing complex obedience drills. Unlike highly trainable breeds like the German Shepherd or the Boxer, the English Bulldog does not feel the need to please its owners. On the other hand, these selectively smart dogs are quite happy to please themselves: For example, if they have reason to believe that obeying commands will get them what they want – for example their favourite treats -, they can perform amazingly well. So, these independent dogs are not hopelessly untrainable - you just need to be a bit more creative with them than with other breeds. An approach based on positive reinforcement will usually work best with this adorably stubborn and strong-willed breed. Are English Bulldogs healthy dogs? Unfortunately, being a brachycephalic (which means short-headed) breed, English Bulldogs have a long list of health issues. Because of this feature, many of them suffer from reverse sneezing, shortness of breath and heat stroke. Some of the major health problems of the breed include skin irritations, hernias as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. Other issues that can occur are elongated soft palate, shoulder luxation, internalized tail, cherry eye and patellar luxation. Also, the English Bulldog is unusually prone to joint- and ligament-injuries. This is due to an abnormal growth of cartilage – a structural defect inherent in the breed. Various allergies, thyroid- and heart problems as well as cancer can also befall the English Bulldog. To maximize the chances for your puppy being as healthy as possible, you want to choose an English Bulldog breeder who tests their breeding stock for at least the most common conditions the breed is prone to. Also, feeding your dog a high-quality, grain-free diet can go a long way to keeping them as healthy as possible. The average life span of the English Bulldog is between 8 and 12 years. How much exercise does the English Bulldog need? This very calm and low energy breed does not require lots of exercise, which makes them a perfect fit for anyone fond of a sedentary lifestyle. However, English Bulldogs do enjoy low-key activities, like interactive playtimes or nice relaxed walks. To satisfy their love for entertainment and play, a few short walks and play sessions spread throughout the day are quite sufficient. A good way to keep your English Bulldog entertained is to provide it with a choice of different toys. This especially comes in handy if you have to leave your dog alone in the house for a few hours. You could try out different smart toys which are specifically designed to keep canines occupied – for example treat-dispensing balls or puzzle toys. What are their grooming requirements? In terms of brushing, the English Bulldog’s very short, tight coat does not require much care: Brushing them once a week is more than enough. The best tools for this are mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. Of course, as for every dog breed, spring and autumn are shedding season. In these times, you might want to brush your dog at least once per day to keep its short hairs from getting onto your floors, on your furniture, and on your clothes. To avoid skin infections, your English Bulldog’s facial folds need daily cleaning. Also, due to their short jaws, it is advisable to brush their teeth at least three times a week.