They're stocky, wrinkly, and have a smushed face and an underbite. That's right, we're talking about English Bulldogs. Those features may not sound endearing but it's hard not to love these friendly, laid-back affectionate dogs. Here are interesting English Bulldog facts that may surprise you:
1. The Breed Has Been Recognized For Over 130 Years In The U.S.
Bulldogs were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1886. And in 1890, the Bulldog Club of America (BCA) was formed to maintain standards for the breed. Because they were the first recognized bulldog specialty club in the U.S., the BCA is considered the official Parent Club for the breed.
2. They Were Bred To Fight Bulls
English Bulldogs were originally bred for bull baiting in the United Kingdom. Bull baiting was an unfortunate and violent blood "sport" that pitted a bull against another animal (in this case, a dog). Fortunately, it was outlawed in 1835.
3. They Have Wrinkles (And Other Features) For A Reason
Bulldogs look the way they do because it helped protect them during bull baiting.
- A short and stocky body gave them a low center of gravity to help keep them on the ground as bulls tried to launch them into the air.
- The underbite gave them a better grip when using their teeth to latch on to the animal they were pitted against.
- A flat face and short snout allowed them to breathe while holding on.
- Smaller back legs reduced the likelihood of injuring their spines if shaken.
- The wrinkles helped keep blood out of their eyes.
- And loose skin helped protect their vital organs.
Pro Tip: Owners today need to keep their bulldog's wrinkles (especially those around the nose) clean to avoid infections.
4. They Are Brachycephalic
Because they have short snouts, bulldog are considered brachycephalic. This is why they are more inclined to snorting, snoring, grunting, drooling, loud breathing and gassiness. Being brachycephalic can lead to some respiratory issues, such as airway obstruction syndrome. In fact, brachycephalic dogs are more likely to die during air travel and bulldogs have the highest number of these deaths. This is why most airlines have banned brachycephalic breeds from flying.
5. They Can't Swim
Bulldogs have a lot of trouble swimming. Their large head, stubby legs, short snout, wide frontside and narrower backside all make it nearly impossible for them to stay afloat. However, there are some bulldogs out there that can swim but they need to be supervised the entire time.
6. They Have Trouble Breeding
Another way that bulldogs are affected by their body structure is mating and breeding. Males have trouble reaching the females for proper mounting. Because of this, breeders use artificial insemination to avoid physical stress.
7. They're Usually Born Via C-Section
The bulldog’s awkward body also makes it difficult to give birth naturally. Puppies are often delivered via Caesarean section because their heads are so large they can’t fit through the birthing canal. It’s estimated that over 80% of bulldogs are delivered by c-section to avoid injury or death to the mother.
8) They Come In Many Colors
The coats of bulldogs vary widely in color and marking. This is because there are 10 colors and four markings, making for countless combinations. Common colors include white, fawn and brindle.
9) They Could Have Gone Extinct
After bull baiting was outlawed in 1835, there was no longer a need for the bulldog. But breeders saw the dog’s potential and began breeding them to have more gentle and kind temperaments.
10) They Are One Of The Most Popular Dog Breeds In The U.S.
Despite facing the possibility of extinction, English Bulldogs have bounced back so strongly that are the fifth most popular breed in the U.S. as of 2018, according to AKC. In fact, AKC has them ranked in the top five since at least 2013.
11. They're Considered The National Breed of England
The English Bulldog is considered the national breed of the U.K. During World War II, England was depicted as a bulldog and Winston Churchill was often referred to as the “British Bulldog” because of his toughness.
12. They Make Good Urban Dogs
English Bulldogs tend to be pretty mellow and lazy. They don’t need much exercise and overheat relatively easily, so they would rather snooze in their dog bed than take a long walk. They do need some exercise, but that can be satisfied with a short walk. Because of all this, they make great apartment companions (despite weighing 40-60 pounds).
13. They're Great For Families
Bulldogs make great family dogs because they are friendly, easy-going and love people. They tend to do well with kids, cats and other dogs. The United Kennel Club (UKC) even classifies them under the “companion” category.
14. They're Presidential
Two U.S. presidents had English Bulldogs as pets. The 29th president Warren G. Harding had one named Oh Boy and the 30th president Calvin Coolidge had one named Boston Beans.
15. They're A Popular Choice For Mascots
There are at least 15 U.S. colleges and universities with bulldog mascots. Perhaps the most famous is University of Georgia. In addition, the 3rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army commissioned Walt Disney to create a mascot for them in 1965. The mascot was named Rocky the Bulldog.
Bonus Fact: They're Good At Skateboarding
English Bulldogs have set several world records when it comes to skateboarding. In 2009, a bulldog named Tillman set the record for fastest 100 meters on a skateboard by a dog at 19.678 seconds. And in 2015, a bulldog named Otto set the record for "Longest Human Tunnel Traveled Through by a Skateboarding Dog" with 30 people.