English Bulldog has a very unique appearance – so unique that there are very few people who would not instantly recognize a English Bulldog. Let’s take a look at this breed and see what makes it so different from other breeds. This physical description is based on the breed standard.
Appearance and Attitude
The perfect Bulldog must be medium size with a heavy, thick-set, low-slung body, a massive short-faced head, wide shoulders, and strong legs. The general appearance and attitude should suggest great strength, stability of temperament, and the ability to get the job done. Most males will be in the 55- to 65-pound range, and females will be in the 45- to 50-pound range.
The Bulldog is a decorous, self-respecting, confident animal. He does not pick fights, but if attacked, he will defend himself and protect the people he cares about. In the absence of his owner, the Bulldog might invite an intruder in, show him around, and then lead him to the silverware. Because the Bulldog’s general appearance belies his demeanor, the intruder may not accept the invitation and the silverware will likely remain safe.
In the beginning, Bulldogs were bred for bull-baiting and fighting (more on that in chapter 2). If the dog was to survive, he therefore had to be lean, agile, and athletic. When this inhumane, vicious sport was outlawed, the purpose of the dog changed and so did his appearance and temperament. He became shorter, chunkier, a companion, a gentle and loving friend, and something of a couch potato.
English Bulldog, of course, has a very distinctive head. His skull is quite large. So large, in fact, that the circumference of the skull in front of the ears should measure at least as much as the height of the dog at the shoulders. The cheeks are well rounded and bulge sideways past the eyes. There is an indentation between the eyes, dividing the head vertically.
The eyes should be placed at the point where the forehead and the cheeks meet. They are round and very dark. If the eyes of humans are windows to our souls, the eyes of the Bulldog are certainly windows to his personality; they portray kindness, gentleness, and interest. They should be alert but not looking for trouble.
The Bulldogs expression depends greatly on the proper shape and carriage of the ears. The ears should be set high on the head and wide apart. They should be small and thin. The shape known as rose ear is considered the most desirable. The rose ear folds over and back, revealing the inside of the burr. Erect ears and button ears (where the ear flaps fold forward) are considered undesirable.
The face is short, with a broad, short muzzle that is turned upward. The nose is large, broad, and black, and the tip is set deeply between the eyes. Historically, this placement of the nose enabled the dog to breathe as he hung onto the bull. In addition, the wrinkle pattern on the face prevented any blood from getting into his nose.
The jaws should be massive, broad, square, and undershot – the lower jaw projects considerably in front of the upper jaw and turns up. This undershot bite makes it possible for the dog to hang on almost indefinitely.
English Bulldog s chest is broad, and the front legs are short, muscular, and set wide apart. The calves of the legs are well developed. Because of this, the dog appears bow-legged, but the bones of the legs should not be curved. The body should be very capacious, with full sides and well-rounded ribs. It should be very deep from the shoulders down to its lowest part where it joins the chest, giving the dog a broad, low, short-legged appearance.
The back should be short and strong, very broad at the shoulders and comparatively narrow at the loins (the area just behind the ribs). The hind legs should be strong and muscular and longer than the forelegs, to elevate the loins above the shoulders. Along the topline, there should be a slight fall in the back, with the lowest point close behind the shoulders. From there, the spine should rise to the loins, then curve again more suddenly to the tail. This forms an arch, which is a very distinctive feature of the breed. This topline is called a roach back or wheel back.
The tail may be either straight or screwed, but never curved or curly. It is short and hung low on the back, with a thick root and a fine tip. The dog carries it down. The tail is never docked. It may appear too long at birth, but puppies grow faster than their tails.
It almost seems like the Bulldog has more skin than he needs. Puppies, especially, seem to be able to turn around inside their skin. The skin on both puppies and adults is soft and loose, especially at the head, neck, and shoulders. His head and face are covered with wrinkles. At the throat, from jaw to chest, there should be two loose pendulous folds. These form the dewlap.
Coat and Color
The coat is short, smooth, and fine. The preferred colors are red brindle, any other brindle, solid white, solid red, or fawn (brindle is a color pattern in which black alternates with another color to produce a striped effect). Piebald (a pattern with comparatively large patches of two or more colors, one of which is usually white) is also allowed. Only solid black is considered objectionable in the breed standard. But, like beauty, the preferred color is really in the eyes of the beholder. And English Bulldogs can be found in many different colors and shades of color.
The Bulldog has a unique way of moving with a loose-jointed, shuffling, side-wise motion giving the breed its characteristic roll. This distinctive gait is the result of the dog’s heavy, wide shoulders, short front legs with longer hind legs, and narrow rear. In spite of all this, the Bulldog can move quickly and jump a reasonable height (such as up on your bed, or into the back of the van when it’s time to go somewhere).