By Elizabeth Hugo-Millam & Cheryl Knapp
Living with the Bulldog by Elizabeth Hugo-Millam T he Bulldog, classic symbol of courage and tenacity. A breed of dog universally recognized as one of gentle devotion and endless fascination. Th is breed is all of these things and so much more. History Th is breed has a fascinating history that can be divided into three sections. It has its beginnings in the ancient and brutal sport of bullbaiting. Th is horri fi c sport, at one time the National sport of England, is the one and only job the breed was bred to do. Breeding selections were made purely on the dog’s ability to perform. It was from this sport that the breed’s very unique con- formation sprung forth. A tethered bull was set on by a Bulldog who was expected to crawl on his belly to the front of the bull, leap up and not only grab, but hold onto the nose of the bull while the bull tried furiously to shake the dog o ff . Th e dog has to be nimble enough to not only withstand the shaking but also the tossing. He also had to be small enough that a waiting handler could possibly catch him and save him from further harm.
Th is sport continued for centuries until it was declared by an act of parliament to be illegal in 1835. Th is act ushered in a very tenuous time for the breed. With no “job” left to do and with only the lowest classes of people left as devotees, the Bull- dog nearly became extinct in the years fol- lowing the ban. It was the dog show era, beginning in 1860, that helped keep the breed from disappearing forever. Th e shows attracted “Bulldogs” of all types from the very small to the very large. Th e last of the pure Bull- dog breeders saw a need for a standard to preserve classic features, which also includ- ed the very important size aspect. Th e Bulldog is a medium size dog and this was of critical importance during this tumultu- ous time. After a few starts and stops an o ffi cial Bulldog Club was formed in England in 1875 (and is still in existence) and an o ffi - cial Standard fi nalized. Th e standard used in the US and Canada is the closest to the original standard approved by Th e Bulldog Club Inc. ( England) and he Bulldog Club of America (BCA) is adamantly opposed to any standard changes. Health Th is is a contentious issue surround- ing the breed. Th ere has been a “culture
of acceptance” that has evolved over the years that implies the Bulldog is inherently unhealthy due almost completely to his unique conformation and ultimately the o ffi cial standard for excellence. Th e casual breeder often regards health issues as “typical” for the breed and propagates these health issues by careless breeding practices. Accepting buyers have been told for decades that these health problems are somehow normal for the breed and veterinarians see in droves the results of these careless practices. Th e reality is that it should never be expected that a Bulldog will be unhealthy. Th e BCA has actively promoted health testing for all breeding stock. BCA is a CHIC member and requires the follow- ing tests for those interested in entering the database; Required tests; Cardiac, Patella, Trachea. Recommended but not required; hip dysplasia, elbow dys- plasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) or OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Ani- mals) for eyes, BAER (Brainstem Audi- tory Evoked Response) for deafness and Hyperuricosuria. BCA has also implemented the Ambas- sador for Health program, which rewards dogs for their participation in health testing. Many top performance and
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