The Misunderstood Bulldog

April 8, 2013

For those who dislike – or fear – the Bulldog breeds, I can tell you that discrimination is alive and well with canines, just as with humans.  You cannot assume that all people of a particular race are bad, and you cannot assume that all dogs of a particular breed are bad.  Discrimination is wrong, no matter the species.

I am a Bulldog advocate.  They aren’t for everyone but for those who understand them and can be the strong pack leader required, no better dog breed can be found.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is from the same lineage as the American Staffordshire Terrier.  According to Wikipedia, the real difference between the two breeds is size and weight.  The American Pit Bull Terrier tends to be the larger.

The American Pit Bull Terrier became well-known because of their breeding.   In 19th Century England, they were bred to bait bulls and bears.  When that was outlawed, dog fighting became popular.  Dog fights are held in “pits” or rings and the animals are trained to fight to kill.  We all know the horrific story of football player Michael Vick’s dog-fighting days.

In earlier times, farmers used the Pit Bull to work withlivestock and the breed worked its way to becoming a wonderful family dog.  Remember the kids’ dog in the “Our Gang” movies?  He was a Bulldog.

Pit Bull Terriers have been maligned for years.  Stories of owners being mauled by their own dogs or attacking children put fear in our hearts.

FACT:  The American Canine Temperament Test Society says that Bulldogs have the most stable temperaments of all purebreds. (http://www. ATTS.org)

Betsy Tibbs with Blackie in 1939

 

My Mother grew up in rural Portland, TN, and always had Bulldogs for pets.  She possessed a natural talent for training her dogs, and we always thought of her as a “dog whisperer” before that term was coined.

My childhood pets were a Bulldog-Fox Terrier mix and a Bulldog–Chow mix.  Before I was born, Mother had trained

 

 

9. WITH DOG PRISSYPrissy, the Babysitter Dog

Prissy, the Bully-Fox Terrier-mix, to follow basic commands.  This smart little dog could almost read minds and seemed to anticipate what the people around her wanted.  She would fetch most anything, and Mother often used her to corral two-year-old “me.”  Bulldogs were known as wonderful caretakers and companions for children and were often referred to as “nanny dogs.”

Maggie, our Miniature English Bulldog may be a product of puppy mill breeding.  We fostered Maggie when she was 8 months old, and we had to go to school on raising a Bulldog.

Following research, I believe that Maggie was bred by a Midwestern puppy mill.  According to her breed standard, she should have topped out at 30 lbs.  She grew to 46 lbs. of solid muscle.

DSC_0143 Maggie With Our Grandson

While Maggie possesses traits of a larger Bulldog, her best trait is her fabulous personality and her love of children.  She adores our grandson.

If puppies are not properly socialized with lots of human contact, they will grow up to be shy and not necessarily friendly.  That doesn’t always translate to aggression, but it could.

Parents should be vigilant when children are around dogs of any breed.  Even though I trust Maggie with our grandson, I NEVER leave them alone together.  Children should be taught from an early age to respect a dog’s territory and never to pull their ears or tail or approach a dog that is eating or has a toy in its mouth.  Common sense would eliminate many problems.

Owners must be “leader of the pack.”  Dogs look to the strongest in the pack to lead them.  You MUST be that leader or your dog will not obey. It isn’t done with aggressiveness or physical punishment of any kind but is accomplished with respect.

Read a book; take a class; or talk to an experienced dog trainer.  Just learn how to lead your Bulldog, so he doesn’t lead you.

I believe that breeds are not “bad.”  It’s a combination of genetic breeding and how a dog is raised.  Indiscriminate breeders who don’t pay attention to genetics or temperament breed problems into the puppies.  This is what you see in puppy mills.  Any breed of dog can produce problem puppies, if the breeder doesn’t care.

 

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