The history of Bulldogs in Bullbaiting


Baiting of animals was one of the oldest mass entertainments in England. It was very popular until the ban in the first half of the 19 century. Old Roman poet Claudius mentioned "British dog pushes huge bull forehead to the ground" at the 4-5 centuries.

His contemporary Symmachus wrote how seven Irish Bulldogs showed great courage and ferocity at the Roman arena. It caused people to believe that these dogs are transported in iron cages. It is likely that the Romans implanted love of bloody spectacles in the inhabitants of the British Isles, but the Bull baiting as a separate type of blood sport has, apparently, English origin.
The popularity of this sport made dog's breeding flourishing and caused the appearance of Bulldogs. Later this breed became known as the Old English Breed. Bull baiting required for the dog to have special constitution. The dog was to be hardy, fearless, and insensitive to pain, and always ready to fight. This had to be a squat, stocky, not too heavy dog with a broad chest and shoulders, with short smooth hair and a death grip. It had to obey the orders of the owner under any circumstances.

This is the way Old English Bulldogs were bred out. Bulldog has unique traits of character and is always ready to fulfill any tasks. There had been fixed one fact in history showing the dog’s great functionality.

Once Bulldog's handler cut off his dog's leg to show that his Bulldog is able to continue the baiting under any circumstances. And the dog kept on fighting while other legs and head were not cut off. This case shows that Bulldogs possess unbelievable steadfastness and endurance. This quality made the dog suitable for other kinds of baiting. Bulldogs were used for bating of bears, horses, donkeys, monkeys, lions and tigers and even rats.

Before the fight has begun the handler hold strongly spoiling for fight Bulldog for its ears. Then after special signal the dog was released. Bulldog attacked a bull from the front, and, seizing the moment, grabbed with death grip its face: nose, lip, tongue or eyes. After this, Bulldog held the victim and did not unclench the jaw, till the exhausted bull lay down proclaiming his defeat by lingering bellowing. Experienced and cautious bulls carefully protected their face, leaning nose to the ground. Bulls exposed forward their horns to throw Bulldog, which could lead to disastrous results for the dog. That is why smart dogs escaped bull’s horns due to their construction and tactics of the fight.

If the Bulldog was so much fond of battle, that it even didn’t hear the master's command to stop, its tail was squeezed or a master bit tail - it was the best way to make the Bulldogs release the victim, or at least loosen its grip.

If a Bulldog grabbed "to death," its jaw unclenched with a special wooden tool. If a Bulldog grabbed the bull's leg, it was immediately rejected. Some puppies have already drilled at a six-month-age.
Despite the bull baiting being enormously popular, Bulldogs were neglected for a long period of time. In ancient documents Bulldogs were described to be more stupid than larger dogs. They developed slowly, rarely reaching sexual maturity at a year and a half, and having reached it, bred sluggishly. Finally, having reached maturity in the five-, six-year age Bulldogs began to decrepit.
Today it is impossible to say which of these ancient statements about the Old Bulldog are true and what not, but it's worth noting that later, when for the first time the breed was standardized, the Bulldog was called "unjustly slandered."

By the end of the 18 century the popularity of Bull baiting began to fall. Dog fights conquered the sympathies of the British. To fight with the other members of the canine tribe quite other qualities required - speed, flexibility and mobility. Bulldogs were bred with terriers calling the result as a Bull-and-terrier. This breed combining the best fighting qualities of both breeds was highly appreciated. There were not actions aimed to save the purity of the breed.

However there were people who succeeded to gain control over the process of disappearing and began to breed the Bulldogs. The history of this dog is full of interesting facts, which you may read in the following articles.