When you say the word “Bulldog,” most of us automatically think of the English Bulldog, one of our most prominent national symbols and a distinctively recognisable dog! However, there are more breeds than just the English Bulldog covered by the Bulldog umbrella, and while all of the breeds share various similarities, there are also a significant number of differences too!
While different countries of the world recognise various different types and lines of Bulldog breeding, within the UK and in general in the Western world, there are four main Bulldog breeds that you might see out and about. Other than our own English Bulldog, all of these are breeds of dogs that have been developed and selectively bred in other countries such as America and France, but way back in the mists of time, they all share common origins.
If you are not quite sure about what constitutes a Bulldog or how to tell one type of Bulldog from another, read on for our explanations!
The English Bulldog is the dog that we in the UK typically think of as a Bulldog, and most of us could easily pick one of these from out of a line up! The English Bulldog has a history going back for many centuries within England, and was traditionally bred for use in the now illegal sport of bull baiting, hence their name. The Bulldog was renowned to be fierce, tenacious and fearless, and capable of holding their own against much larger animals.
The English Bulldog can weigh up to 50lb for males or 40lb for females, and is available in a wide range of colours and patterns. Most Bulldogs have some white in their coat, and tan and white is the most common English Bulldog colour.
The English Bulldog is short and stocky, with an extremely muscular appearance and an almost square conformation. They have wide, deep chests and heads that are very large comparatively to their body size. They are also distinctive for having the very typical flat-faced Bulldog appearance, which is correctly referred to as brachycephalic.
The French Bulldog is much more petite than the English Bulldog, and were originally bred for their size during the 1800’s, first of all within the UK but later and in much greater numbers in France.
The French Bulldog is a dog from the Mastiff family, along with the English Bulldog, but was bred to produce a domestic companion dog when bull baiting, the main usage for Bulldogs, was outlawed.
French Bulldogs are petite in height and muscular comparatively to their size, but not as heavily muscled as the English Bulldog. Their heads are also smaller in relation to their bodies than the English Bulldog, but still have the businesslike squashed-looking facial appearance.
Other than their size and build, one of the key differences between the English Bulldog and the French Bulldog is that while the English Bulldog has short floppy ears, the ears of the French Bulldog are erect. French Bulldogs or “Frenchies” as they are sometimes known, are also available in a wide variety of colour and pattern variations.
The American Bulldog is a descendent of the English Bulldog, and was first imported into America when the UK began colonising the States, as British immigrants brought their own dogs with them. They were used as general purpose farm dogs, for protection, livestock guarding and other roles.
While the American Bulldog and the English Bulldog share the same origins, breeding practices and the traits that have been selectively bred for over time have diverged significantly in the two countries, and the English Bulldog and American Bulldog no longer appear very similar to each other.
The American Bulldog can weigh anywhere between 60lb and 120lb, so there is quite a lot of scope for size variation across the breed, and they are generally significantly taller than the English Bulldog too. Their heads are smaller in relation to their bodies than the English Bulldog, and they are leaner and less heavily built, while still being muscular.
The heads of the American Bulldog are also less pronouncedly squashed than the English Bulldog, with a reasonable amount of variance across the breed in terms of how short the muzzle is. Some dogs of the breed have muzzle shapes and sizes more similar to the Boxer dog than the English Bulldog. The American Bulldog’s coat again, can be found in many colours and patterns.
The Olde English Bulldogge is a recently created American breed, with selective breeding and the first attempts to register the breed made during the 1970’s. The aim of producing the Olde English Bulldogge was to create or revert the Bulldog breed back to a dog that is much more similar in appearance to the old working Bulldogs of England than the current English Bulldog appearance, as the English Bulldog now looks significantly different to its historical ancestor.
The Olde English Bulldog should be slightly taller and leaner than the English bulldog while still being heavyset and muscular, and one of the core differences is the reduction of the breed’s head size to a more natural historical norm. The breed itself is currently classed as a rare breed, and is recognised by the American Kennel Club as of January 2014, but not yet the UK Kennel Club here in Britain.