The bulldog, ferocious or gentle
Here is a dog that fools most people. Just because Bulldogs look ferocious, people think they are ferocious. Usually just the opposite is true. Bulldogs today are among the gentlest dogs you could own.
This was not true hundreds of years ago. In those days, these sturdy dogs were tough and vicious. They had to be. Those who were weak or without courage did not survive.
You might be wondering how the name Bulldog came to he used and why the dog is built the way he is. Both came as a result of a cruel “sport” called bull-baiting, which was popular in the middle ages. It was something like the bull-fighting of today in Spain and Mexico – only instead of a man fighting the bull, a dog did.
In bull-baiting a dog was put in a ring with a ferocious bull for a fight of survival. The dog needed a strong jaw for a good bite. And once he got a good bite, he needed a short nose and a huge chest so that he could breathe while holding tight to the bull with his mouth. Usually if a dog got a good solid bite he would defeat the bull. But, the bull had weapons, too. Many a dog was crushed with a hoof or gored with a horn.
By 1835, when bull-baiting was outlawed in England, this bull-fighting dog had been developed to look like the Bulldog of today. The humane law that stopped bull-baiting almost caused the extinction of the breed. In those days, dogs were rarely kept as pets – if a dog was fed, he had to work. And, since these dogs could no longer be used for bull-baiting, many owners no longer bred their dogs. Fortunately, some noblemen kept their hounds as watchdogs, and the breed was able to survive.
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