English Bulldog - History and Breed Standard

Breed History

  The English Bulldog was first classified as such in the 1630s though there is earlier mention of similar types referred to as bandogs.  The early English Bulldogs were not bred to be pets but rather a working dog for butchers.  The were used to catch and hold dangerous cattle that were to be slaughtered for market. 
Although used originally for bull-baiting, the English Bulldog also fought its way through the dog pits but after 1835 began to evolve into the shorter faced, more squat version we now know.  It entered the show ring in 1860 and the ensuing years saw a big personality change.  A delightfully and playful dog with a pugilistic expression, which belies a loving, affectionate nature to family and friends.  One of the oldest indigenous breeds, known as the national dog of Great Britain.

Breed Standard

The IOEBA’s official English Bulldog breed standard is a detailed written description of the perfect “type” or “flawless” English Bulldog. 

A well written detailed breed standard is a very effective tool that can be used to assist English Bulldog breeders in the selection process and evaluation of English Bulldogs that are being considered for a structured breeding program or as a possible conformation show participants.  

It is important that breeders of English Bulldogs understand and use the IOEBA’s official English Bulldog breed standard, as the offspring they produce will have an impact on the English Bulldog breed now and in the future for many generations.   The goal of all reputable English Bulldog breeders is to achieve perfection as far as correct breed type, health and temperament.

All IOEBA conformation judges use the IOEBA’s official English Bulldog breed standard as a guide to give themselves a mental picture of  breed perfection by which they select future IOEBA conformation champions.

General Description :   The complete English Bulldog must be of medium size and of a smooth coat; with a deep, thick-set, low defined body, substantial short-faced head, broad shoulders and powerful limbs.  The general appearance and temperament should suggest great solidity, vigor and strength.  The disposition should be of equal and kind, affectionate yet courageous (not vicious and aggressive), and disposition should convey an impression of determination, strength, loyalty and activity. 

Head :
 Large and square compared to the body with a nice, furrow (rope) over the nose.  Fault:  Head too small in proportion to the body.

Ears :  The ears should set high on the head.  In size the ears should be small and thin.  The shape termed “Rose Ear” is correct and folds inwards at its back, the upper or front edge curving over outwards and backwards, showing part of the inside of the burr.

Muzzle :  The muzzle should be short, broad, turned upwards and deep from corner of eye to corner of mouth with sensible wrinkling.  Distance from inner corner of eye (or from center of stop between eyes) to extreme tip of nose should not be less than distance from tip of the nose to edge of the under lip.  Nostrils large wide and open, with well defined vertical straight line between.  Fault:  Muzzle too long, scissor or even bite.  Wry jaw is a disqualifying fault.

Eyes :  Wide apart and of moderate size.  Any color is acceptable, however, odd eyes (one dark, one blue or light) should be considered non preferred.  Lacking pigment around the eyes is undesirable.  Fault:  Misshapen or bugged eyes are a serious fault.  Crossed eyes or non-symmetrically shaped eyes are a disqualifying fault.

Nose :  Wide and broad.  The nose should have nice open nostrils.  Nose all colors acceptable.  The nose should be a solid color.  Lacking pigment should be considered non preferred.  Fault: Completely pink nose (a small amount is acceptable).

Neck :  Short in length and very muscular flowing into the shoulders and should not be set on the dog, so it appears to stop at the shoulders.  Fault:  Long or weedy appearing neck.

Chest :  Ribs should be well sprung (rounded) and the chest wide and deep.  Depth of chest should be at least to the elbows.  Fault:  A hollow or narrow chest (slab sided) should be considered a serious fault.

Back :  Males should appear square and balanced.  Females should appear similar with consideration given for body length.  Short with a very slight rise from the shoulders to the rump is preferred.  A level back is acceptable as long as the tail does not come straight off the top of the back.  Fault:  Excessive sway-back.

Shoulders :  Shoulders should be well laid back with significant angulations to allow for good movement.  Straight shoulders are a fault.

Legs :  Forelegs should be straight and wide apart, neither bowing out nor turning in.  There should be significant bone substance.  Elbows should be relatively close to the body.  Lacking bone and substance is very undesirable.  Fault:  Bowed or turned out resulting in poor movement.  

Rear legs should exhibit significant bend of stifle so to allow for good movement.  They should be well muscled.  Fault: Straight or “posty” rear legs are a serious fault.  Cow hocks are a disqualifying fault.

Feet :  Round, tight both front and rear coming from strong pasterns.  Fault:  Weak  pasterns and/or splayed feet.

Height :  The height should be 09 – 14 inches at the shoulder.

Weight :  Between 50 – 55 lbs.  Weight over 55 lbs up to 60 lbs allowed in breeding stock or pets, but will be penalized in the show ring.

Color :  Any color is acceptable, including merle, with no preference for one over another.  The coat should be short, glossy and stiff to the touch.

Coat :  Fine texture, short, close and smooth (hard only from shortness and closeness, not wiry).

Tail :  The tail may be either straight or “screwed” (but never curved or curly), and in all cases must be short, hung low, with decided downward carriage, thick root and fine tip.  If straight, the tail should be cylindrical and of uniform taper.  If “screwed,” the bends or kinks should be well defined, and they may be abrupt and even knotty, but no section of the tail should be raised above the base or root.

Temperament :  The disposition should be outgoing, happy, loyal, courageous yet affectionate in nature.  Human aggression without provocation is a disqualifying fault.