The bulldog breed originated in Great Britain as a bull baiter. When the sport of bull baiting was outlawed, a gentler version of bulldog was bred instead. Once called the "Olde English bulldog," then "English bulldog," the dog is officially called the bulldog by the American Kennel Club.
The English Bulldog
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When is a bully a good thing? When it's a bulldog, to be sure. The bulldog, regardless of the type, is a happy-go-lucky dog with a mug that doesn't match his personality. French and English bulldogs have brachycephalic heads -- that is, they have short heads and snub noses. Once called the "English bulldog" because the breed originated in England, this sweet-tempered dog was bred to be a fighter of bulls. The bulldog is a thick, medium-size dog with a low body and smooth hair. Bulldogs weigh between 49 and 55 pounds. They are members of the AKC non-sporting group.
The French Bulldog
The name French bulldog is a little misleading, as this breed also originated in England as a smaller version of the bulldog. During the Industrial Revolution when many Brits fled to France to find work, they took their little "toy" bulldogs with them; the French took to them heartily and adopted the breed as their own. With an intelligent and alert expression, the French bulldog weighs between 19 and 28 pounds. Their ears are called "bat ears" for good reason -- they look like they came off the head of a fruit bat. The Frenchie is also a member of the AKC non-sporting group.
There are two AKC-recognized breeds that are not actually bulldogs but look like them. They are the dogue de Bordeaux (think of the dog in Turner and Hooch) and the bullmastiff. The dogue de bordeaux is a handsome dog weighing in at 99 to 145 pounds. Also called the French mastiff, the dogue de Bordeaux (pronounced doggy-d-bor-doe) is a first-class drooler, and snores when in a deep sleep. With a calm temperament, the dogue de Bordeaux is also the quintessential watch dog.
The bullmastiff is "40 percent bulldog" according to the AKC foundation breeding annals, the other 60 percent being mastiff. Ranging from 100 to 120 pounds, the bullmastiff, like all the other bulldog breeds, is friendly, calm and protective of his loved ones. Both the bullmastiff and the dogue de Bordeaux are in the AKC working group.
The American bulldog is not recognized by the AKC but is recognized by five other purebred dog organizations, most of them dedicated to the bully breeds. The American bulldog is sometimes mistaken for the pit bull terrier, but is actually a hybrid of the pit bull terrier, a non AKC breed, and the AKC-recognized American Staffordshire terrier. Neither of these dogs are actually bulldogs, but together they created the American bully. Known for being a real "people pleaser," the American bully is a large dog weighing in anywhere between 70 and 120 pounds.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.