HISTORY

 

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AFTER THE BBC PROGRAM ON "PEDIGREE DOGS EXPOSED" AND THE  MEDIA  CONTROVERSY WHICH FOLLOWED, ORCHESTRATED BY A VOCIFEROUSLY  MINISCULE ACTION GROUP GIVEN APPARENT CREDIBILITY  BY THE R.S,P.C.A   CHIEF  VET OF THAT TIME AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS WITH ANIMAL RIGHTS AGENDAS OF THEIR OWN, THE KENNEL CLUB DECIDED TO UNILATERALLY AMEND SEVERAL STANDARDS WITH THE MOST SEVERELY AFFECTED BEING THAT OF  THE BULLDOG . SO WE HAVE DECIDED TO DEDICATE A PAGE TO A BRIEF HISTORY OF BULLDOGS IN THE UK.

1891 pencil drawing of bulldogs Dryad and British Monarch by.jpg (142902 bytes)

CH.BRITISH MONARCH A DARK BRINDLE DOG b.Oct1884 d.1892 over 45 pounds in weight & CH.DRYAD A FAWN WITH DARK MARKINGS b.1885 d.

A QUARTETTE OF FAMOUS BULLDOGS.PROPERTY OF SAM WOODIWISS 1899.jpg (62610 bytes)

A QUARTET OF FAMOUS BULLDOGS THE PROPERTY OF SAM WOOIDWISS.Esq.SEDGEMERE .EAST FINCHLEY  Our Dogs May 13th 1899

 

BYROM 19TH CENTURY BULLDOG.jpg (934771 bytes)SIR ANTHONY 19TH CENTURY BULLDOG.jpg (186562 bytes)

A COUPLE OF 19TH CENTURY BULLDOGS

famous bulldogs owned by Mr.W.Jefferies.jpg (2320270 bytes)

RIVAL STONE -DICK STONE-BRITISH STONE-BEN STONE & DRUID STONE

The above is a photo of an original signed etching we own by W.Luker Jnr. of the famous "Stone"stud dogs owned by Mr.W.Jefferies a successful breeder and prominent member of the Bulldog Club Inc. at the end of the 19th century /early 20th century who is reputed to have sold Rodney Stone to Mr.Croker, an American  of Irish origin ,for £1000.

Form follows function.!!!!!!

With many thanks to Wes Stacey for his contribution to parts of this article.

Old books tell us the progenitor of the Bulldog was at the time of the Norman Conquest a large, short faced dog who grabbed the bull by its ear and hurled it to the ground. Owning such dogs was not the lot of the common man who would have been unable to feed them but as people moved off the land and into the towns and cities and in the process became more affluent, they began to acquire dogs and the Bulldog then evolved in the hands of the common man who, from financial necessity, needed a smaller animal than was previously used by the more affluent lords and earls for the specific purpose of pinning down the bull. As time went on, breeders developed a smaller dog with an undershot mouth, an upswept jaw which provided a more powerful hold and a laid back nose, so the dog could breathe more easily while maintaining its grip, therefore, dogs with a tendency toward an upswept jaw which could seize and hold and not shear the tender nose or lip of the bull were selected. When bull baiting was discontinued fanciers sought to preserve this distinctive feature and others which makes the bulldog instantly recognisable. The jaw of the Bulldog is undershot (the bottom jaw extends past the upper jaw and sweeps up) and the length of the jaw determines its overall strength. The jaw can be compared to a length of wood, the longer the piece the weaker it will be. Therefore, ideally the Bulldog had a very short face and jaw and possessed a deep stop which in relation to the nose was higher. The muzzle slanted  back and the chops hung well below the mouth. The ears of the Bulldog were small and set high at the side of the head and rosed . Early Bulldogs had ears that were pricked or buttoned but their owners believed that during the baiting of the bull ,blood would run into the ear, causing the dog to release its grip in order to shake its head. It was also thought the button ear, especially when too long, could impede the dog’s vision . These were later classed as faults. The eyes of the Bulldog needed to be placed wide apart. This gave them  a wide field of vision ,with two prominent frontal bones above. A deep furrow between the eyes divides the skull  from the stop to the top of it. The skull had to be large to contain the powerful muscles which activated the jaw . These features combined to act  like a drainage system and allowed the Bulldog to successfully accomplish its task of  baiting the bull.
When the Bulldog held the bull by the nose, the breathing was accomplished through its wide-opened nostrils. Its nose was inclined back towards the eyes thus allowing a gap between it and the flesh of its victim.  The fine wrinkles on the top of the skull also helped to drain the bulls blood toward the deep furrow (between the eyes). This, combined with the prominent frontal bones, ensured that the blood did not hinder the dog's vision. The depth of the stop, being lower than the top of the nose and contained either a full or broken roll, diverted  any blood from the nostrils down the side of the skull via the chops. The chops hanging lower than the bottom jaw also ensured that blood did not enter the mouth but would only flow past the dewlaps and onto the ground. 
When viewed from above, the bulldog is pear shaped, with the front end forming the widest portion of its body, and tapering to the rear. Similarly, all the weight of the dog is in the cranial regions, including its large head, muscular and strongly boned front. Therefore, the Bulldog’s centre of gravity lies very heavily in its front end, unlike other breeds. The advantage of having a greater cranial mass as compared to a lighter rear, became apparent when the dog was being shaken about by the bull. The front end, being muscular and heavy, reduced the whiplash on the spine, hence acting as a “shock absorber”. The muscular and barrel-like rib cage, combined with the heavy cranial aspect, ensured that the vital organs (heart, lungs etc) of the thoracic cavity were well protected if the dog was thrown onto a solid surface. The   brisket of the Bulldog is well let down and round, this also helped to ensure a cushioning effect if the dog was hurled to the ground by the bull. 
The neck of the Bulldog is well muscled, arched, thick and moderate in length. If not,the shaking of the bull’s head would have been sufficient to snap it. The back of the dog dipped slightly behind the shoulder before arching at the loins then once again curving smoothly down to a low set tail. Therefore, the dorsal (back) aspect follows the curves created by the brisket and tuck up of the dog, in parallel. The ribs are very deep and the tuck up pronounced. A relatively strong rear is required, therefore the Bulldog had to have a decent turn of stifle to the hock, which should then fall at a 90-degree angle to the ground.
                                                                                                    

First In 1864 and then in 1875 a number of the most eminent dog people of their time got together in England to form The Bulldog Club and issued the first ever dog standard in the world to stop this ancient breed from extinction.Some of these gentlemen belonged to the group who later created the Kennel Club itself including its first President Mr.A.J.Sewell who wrote an article on mating, whelping and rearing bulldogs in the booklet "The Perfect Bulldog" by J.Hay Hutchinson, one of the most eminent dog men of his time, many were highly successful businessmen who had hands-on experience and able to assess the breed a few years after bullfighting had been made illegal.  Obviously there were many " types" of Bulldogs, used for various purposes, domiciled in various parts of Britain -not only for bullfighting, bear baiting or dog fighting, etc. There must have been many different  types ,colour, temperaments, depending on their respective uses, there were even toy bulldogs going backwards and forwards to France, all these types had to be considered when the standard was being drawn up to describe the perfect bulldog. It is interesting to note that the master crafters of the day were given the task of making models mostly in bronze which were then used to establish the original type around the world. This group of fanciers determined to ensure that the purity of this native breed was not diluted or amended and that the breed retained the characteristics required for its perceived function up to that time, the only deviation was that the dog's character would change to being companionable and these dogs were selected for successful breeding programs which made the bulldog that we know today.

  This very comprehensively detailed and carefully worded document, compiled and adopted as the Bulldog Standard by The Bulldog Club Incorporated  as the correct standard type of excellence in the breed after carefully comparing all obtainable opinions of that time, is easily misunderstood by people who fail to study it carefully, was adopted by the Kennel Club upon its inception. First in 1952 they asked for modifications to be made then in 1987 it was deemed by them not to have a modern turn of phrase and was not only edited but had a lot of the original descriptive content removed. This revision was then claimed by the Kennel Club  as its own.

It is interesting to note that in those early days the cost of  The Bulldog Club Inc membership of £1.1s was deemed too expensive by some people. (This fee has never changed to date) As a result Bulldog Clubs began to proliferate not only in the capital but also in the provinces,at one time there were as many as 27 Bulldog clubs. The British Bulldog was created ostensibly to enable everyone in the provinces to belong to a club which did not require such a high membership fee. It created its own standard shown below::::::::

Click on the thumbnail  to expand and read:-

british std 1.jpg (4939402 bytes) british std2.jpg (5480519 bytes) british std 3.jpg (4829834 bytes) brit std 4.jpg (4943905 bytes)

The Incorporated objected to the creation of the British Bulldog  Club but eventually had to bow down to KC pressure . As other clubs began to be established  the various committees decided that (as the Incorporated was aloof) they would form an  alliance and agree a common standard,since the British formed part of this alliance the revised Standard  was based on theirs but with modifications .(see below, click on thumbnails to expand and read).

allied std 1.jpg (2046590 bytes) allied std 2.jpg (2788852 bytes) allied std 3.jpg (2973667 bytes)

allied std 4.jpg (2425613 bytes) allied std  5.jpg (2536550 bytes)

After the 1914 -18 war the Allied clubs met with the Incorporated, encouraged to do so by the Kennel Club who wanted just the one Bulldog standard, The Incorporated standard was adopted by all clubs with a few modifications and is shown below .(click on thumbnail to enlarge and read)

Inc std 1934-1.jpg (2974070 bytes) Inc Std 1934-2.jpg (2063983 bytes) inc standard 1934 -3.jpg (445126 bytes)

Old books, in our extensive library, have pictures which trace how the Breed evolved. By the end of the 19th century bulldogs were already beginning  to assume the shape which is recognised today worldwide (see picture above of 1899) and  which identifies them instantly anywhere in the world. In 1949 the Kennel Club had discussed the possibility of amending the standard as can be seen below;(click on thumbnail to enlarge and read)

inc std revision 1949 -1.jpg (3349984 bytes) inc std 1949-2.jpg (1427508 bytes)

 

  By 2003 the Bulldog Breed Council working in conjunction with the Kennel Club had fine tuned the KC standard for the Bulldog to ensure judges did not misunderstand the description of what has been described as one of the most complex of breeds, and only select healthy unexaggerated dogs  for honours in the ring. As a result at the end of the millennium show Bulldogs were healthier than they have ever been, winning groups and Best in Shows  not only in the UK but worldwide and the fact that a bulldog was, in the UK, the 7th top dog all breeds in 2008 and second in the utility group demonstrate this truism.

One should understand that this standard was drawn up for dogs which  had to be the epitome of health and fitness to fulfil the function that was demanded of them.

For the benefit of the visitors to this site, especially since the current administrators of the Kennel Club have decided to ignore proposals made  by the Bulldog Breed Council and confirm (practically unchanged) on October 1 2009, the infamous interim breed standard published in January 2009, we have also included a page on the standard on this website.