This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Non-Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland, Non-Sporting Division.
So much for the activity and working capacity of a bulldog that has been pronounced by some parties to be one of the best of his race ever exhibited. However, all bulldogs are not so unable to walk at a fair pace as was the case with this dog; still, he must be given as an example of the evil of breeding for certain exaggerations which nature could never have produced without human assistance, and of the curious decisions that often take place in the show ring.
As already observed, with the discontinuance of bull-baiting, following the passing of an Act for the prevention of cruelty to animals, in the year 1835, came a lull in the production of the breed, and we read that at the commencement of the present century the "true" bulldog was very scarce. I have in my possession a painting (of which engravings are extant, dated May 15th, 1809), by H. B. Chalon, representing three bulldogs, Wasp, Child, and Billy. Of these dogs it was said they belonged to Mr. H. Boynton, were of the late Duke of Hamilton's breed, and the only ones left of that blood. Such dogs were so great in estimation that Mr. Boynton refused 120 guineas for Billy, and 20 guineas for a whelp before taken from the bitch. It was further asserted at the time that they were "the only real bulldogs in existence, and that upon their decease that variety of dog may be considered extinct." Well, it is evident a bit of puffing could be done in those days, for the bulldog is now far from extinct, though Wasp and Child and Billy have long since departed for a happier home. Indeed, there are more bulldogs in existence at the present time than has ever previously been the case in our history.
Mr. Boynton's bulldogs were typical specimens, and one or two of them would have passed muster today. There is a white one with erect ears; another lying down, white with a patch, with rose ears; the third - the best of the bunch - a dark brindle and white with fair ears, but not so heavy and cumbersome in body, head, and limbs as is the case with the modern type. Perhaps from these dogs came the historical Crib and Rosa, pictures of which are seen in almost all the print shops, and the original of which was published in 1817. Many bulldog pictures are extant. One of the best I know is a coloured print of three bulldogs in Sydenham Edward's work on "The Dog," published in London, August, 1800. Bingley in his "Natural History' gives us a big white dog with a patch on him, not unlike some of the best specimens of to-day, especially in body. The " Sportsman's Cabinet," 1803, gives us the picture of a dark brindled and white dog with a gaily carried stern, erect ears, and, to our educated minds of the nineteenth century, but a half-bred animal at the best. Reinagle painted this dog, but it is not so good a specimen as Chalon's, which came out a year or two later.
The picture of a bulldog in Youatt's book (1845) is peculiar, to say the least. It represents a white dog as big as a mastiff, with bowed legs, a "roach" back, short whip tail, and cow-shaped hocks. Still, he looks strong enough to pin a bull. However, about that time considerable attention was being given to the production of the British bulldog; but there was little material to work on, though there were enthusiasts in the cause even then, who mostly lived in London and in other large manufacturing centres. When dog shows began to exist, an impetus was given to all varieties of the canine race, the bulldog amongst the rest. Jemmy Shaw had kept some of the best blood in London; and old Ben White, who preceded the celebrated Bill George in his kennels at Kensal Town; Jacob Lamphier, of Birmingham; Charlie Stockdale, William M'Donald, London; James Hinks, Reeves, and Mr. Percivall, of Birmingham; Mr. Ashburne, Mr. Turton, all gave them attention, and to such men as these enthusiasts - if most of them were dealers - we owe what good bulldogs there are at the present time.
I think there is little doubt that from the time of J. Lamphier's King Dick - a red smut dog of about 481b. in weight, and certainly the best of his day, and one of the best bulldogs that ever lived, who was whelped in 1858, and died when eight years old - until within about eight years ago we had our very best bulldogs. These were active animals, such as could run after a dogcart, or, perhaps, pin a bull if it were required. The craze for breeding for exaggerated points - huge skulls and heads, unduly low fore quarters, with shoulders set on at right angles, and standing wider in front than the bull himself - was not so pronounced as it came to be somewhat later. Take, for instance, such dogs as King Dick (already alluded to), Crib (known as Turton's Crib, a brindle and white dog of 641b. weight, and as good an all-round specimen as was ever produced), Mr. P. Eden's Bend Or, Captain Houldsworth's Sir Anthony, Mr. T. Verrinder's Slenderman, Mr. J. H. Joyce's Bacchus, Bumble (known as the penny show dog, because he was first exhibited at a penny show in Birmingham), Mr. Shirley's Sancho Panza, Mr. Oliver's Monarch, Mr. R. J. Hartley's Venom, and many more good, sound, and active bulldogs could be named which flourished within the teens of years prior to about 1882.
Perhaps here it will be well to mention that at the earliest London show classes were provided for Bulldogs over 181b. weight, and for others under 181b. weight; sometimes the regulation was under and over 2olb. The classes which included the small-sized dogs, were as a rule very well filled, on an occasion there being over forty dogs and bitches in the one division. These as a rule were typical little animals, thorough bulldogs in every way, but most of them, not all, had more than a tendency to carry their ears erect in ugly fashion. Whether this was the reason they lost their popularity I cannot tell, but gradually these small-sized bulldogs ceased to attract, and about 1870 the classes for them were discontinued. The London fancy mostly had had them in hand, Harry Orme, Bill Tupper, W. M'Donald all at one time or another showing good specimens; Violet, Floss, Frank, Tiny, and others being the chief prize winners. It has been said that some of our French visitors took a great fancy to these miniature emblems of British pluck, and through Tupper and Orme secured all the best specimens. Be this as it may, there are few under 2olb. bulldogs in Great Britain at the present time, whilst in the land of the Gaul such are by no means uncommon, and quite recently an endeavour has been made to reintroduce the strain here under the misleading name of "Toy Bulldogs." Now as our acknowledged weight of a toy dog is not more than from seven to eight pounds at the very most - six pounds is much the more correct weight - I am surprised that there are show committees who will provide classes for these French bulldogs to be called "toys," going up to 231b. each in weight. At least this was the limit at a recent exhibition. The foreign specimens shown had enormous spoon-shaped ears, some of the exhibits were fairly well shaped as bulldogs though their expression more favoured the Schipperke. They were but sorry representatives of the type Billy Tupper was so fond of in the sixties. If we require these little bulldogs, there is better material at home for providing them than anything our French neighbours can send "perfidious Albion." A few excellent little animals of native growth are still to be found; moreover, there was that little bitch of Mr, Cyril Jackson's, Sally Scattercash, about 231b. weight, who was proved sufficient of a bulldog to win prizes in her ordinary class. She had no bat ears and Schipperke characteristics, but did possess a pedigree, being by Monarch III., from his own mother, Skittles. Sally was bred by Mr. C. Bartlett, of Bath.