There is much debate about how we came to know the Bulldog, the predecessor to today's English and French Bulldogs. Many canine historians believe it is the result of cross breeding a Pug with a Bullmastiff. Indeed, we can see similarities in an English Bulldog's "smashed in muzzle" to that of the beloved Pug. We can also see a close resemblance between today's Bulldogs and Bullmastiffs, especially in their hindquarters.
If you have ever seen a photo of the early bulldogs, they resemble little the English Bulldog we know and love today. Shorter in stature, by nearly half today, what was once a more angled head is now round, wide with a protruding jaw.
Although English Bulldogs have only been recognized as a breed since 1902, they share many common traits with their cousins and grandparents, the Bulldogs. Bulldogs, as they name might imply, were bred to bait bulls in the bullring. Dating back to the mid 1500s in England, people, in their infinite wisdom put bulldogs in the middle of bullfights to entice the bulls into doing what they do, thanks to combination of testosterone and people's need for a show. In the process, these dogs were often pinched, abused and even eviscerated.
Although it would take 300 years, the British eventually outlawed this inhumane act in 1835. This left an entire breed of dogs with no job. Cruel is it sounds, knowing that every dog is bred for a job and now this dog's job has been eliminated, now what?
Loving certain physical traits of the Bulldog, but not the temperament, breeders went to work to create the one we adore today. Indeed, a far kinder version of the ferocious one who held his own against a bull, English Bulldogs are without a doubt, one of the sweetest of breeds.
Although more prone to hip dysplasia, overall, are larger breed dogs, such as German Shepherds, Akitas and Australian Shepherds, the English Bulldog has a chance of developing the hip dysplasia in his lifetime. This can be directly attributable to favoring the shorter, stockier bulldog over the taller version of the 1700 and 1800s.
Hip dysplasia is what happens when the hip socket, called the acetabelum, is malformed, causing the spherical end of the femur to rub against it, because it's no longer fitting in properly. This causes arthritis, which if you've ever suffered from, you know that it's painful.
It's a chronic condition that over time tends to worsen because the more the two bones rub against one another, the more inflamed the point of contact becomes, which results in throbbing discomfort.
There are myriad of treatment options available to both prolong your companion's life and minimize his suffering. From analgesics to acupuncture to surgery, you have many alternatives to consider.
If you are considering getting an English Bulldog, you are thinking about bringing one of the sweetest breeds into your home. While it can be argued that while selectively breeding for a smaller, stockier bulldog of yesteryear, one trait that is indeed favorable is the temperament of the English Bulldog.