According to an Encyclopedia Britannica article, the bulldog breed developed in the early 13th century to fight bulls. The English Bulldog descended from ancient mastiffs that originated in Asia and were brought to Europe. Mastiffs were bred for ferocity in fighting, holding, or bringing down aggressive prey.

The article said bull baiting probably got its start in England from people observing the butcher's dogs attempting to restrain livestock. Of course, there are always those people who will say, "I'll bet that dog of mine can do better than that!" And the natural response is, "Oh, yeah? Put your money where your mouth is!"

The fight was staged in a field, a pit or an arena. The idea of bull baiting was for the dog to engage the bull. It didn't necessarily have to be one on one; it could be several dogs against one bull. The dogs were trained (if the training was done correctly) to creep upon the bull's belly close enough to be able to grab the bull's nose. The bull, knowing this is the dog's intention, lowers its horns to defend itself by tossing the dog into the air. Below is a drawing of a typical bull-baiting event in 13th-century England.

bull baiting

An article from bulldoginformation.com said because of the breed's bullfighting background, the dogs are powerful and courageous, often vicious and largely unaware of pain. Their relationship with their owner, however, is relentlessly loyal.

Bulldogs have short, fine coats that are tan, white, reddish brown or brindle. The American Kennel Club says they stand about 1315 inches high and weigh about 4050 pounds. In my experience, this has never been correct. My last English, Hank, was 75 pounds of muscle and barely 13 inches tall.

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Traci Coates 2007

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