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.
He says: "I at one time had an English bulldog who accompanied me constantly in deer stalking. He learned to crouch and creep up to the deer with me, never showing himself, and seemingly to understand what I wished him to do. When necessary, I could leave him for hours together alone on the hill, when he would never stir until called by me. If a deer was wounded, he would follow the track with untiring perseverance, distinguishing the scent of the wounded animal, and singling it out from the rest, never making a mistake in this respect. He would also follow the stag till he brought him to bay, when, with great address in avoiding the horns, he would rush in and seize him either by the throat or the ear, holding on till I came up, or, as he once did, slaughtering the animal, and then coming back to show me where he had left it".
This pleasant writer then describes how this bulldog hit the line of the wounded stag after other dogs had failed to do so, how he ran the scent, and ultimately returned bleeding to his owner, and with an ugly gash in his side. Then he took the party through thick woods, over rough ground, to where the stag, with his throat torn open, lay dead at the foot of a rock. Those of the party who had declared the dog fit only to "kill a cat or pin a bull," were now lavish in their praise of him, would have given almost untold gold for him, but, said St. John, "we were too old friends to part, having passed many-years together, both in London, where he used to live with my horses and run with my cab, and also in the country, where he had accompanied me in many a long and solitary ramble over mountain and valley." Mr. F. Adcock says that some of his bulldogs would hunt a hedgerow as well as a terrier, and were equally as good at retrieving from water.
The above prove that the bulldog, which has obtained such an evil character for ferocity, may, under proper training and surroundings, become as companionable as any other dog. He is very faithful to his master, and his appearance is certainly worse than his disposition. When he has the chance he is quite as sociable as most dogs, his temper is reliable, and, on the show bench, he may be petted and caressed by the stranger with far less likelihood of being bitten than would be the case with the terriers and collies. Then he is not addicted to barking too much, is not liable to run away, when kept in the country, on hunting excursions; but he is not built on the proper lines to follow a dog cart or run after a bicycle.
So far as companionship with man is concerned the bulldog's lot has not always been a happy one. In his early days, as I have said, he was kept for the purposes of bull-baiting, it being a popular fallacy that "bull beef" was tenderer and more palatable when cut from a bull that had been made angry and worried by dogs. As a fact, in some localities such meat was not allowed to be displayed for sale without being labelled "bull beef," unless the animal from which it came had been "baited" prior to being slaughtered. In modern days the bulldog is valued for amusement and for show purposes, and when making his living on the benches he is, in nine cases out of ten, kept in a kennel along with other dogs of the same breed, and seldom given the social advantages which fall to the more fortunate St. Bernard, terrier, or collie. Perhaps there may be a happier day for the British bulldog in this particular, especially that he has now a couple of well supported specialist clubs to look after his welfare.
One thing there always will be against the actual popularity of the bulldog, and that is the great difficulty there is in breeding first-rate specimens, and, with very few exceptions, our best bitches are wretched mothers, in some cases refusing to breed at all, in others failing to suckle the puppies, and in others the puppies often enough are born dead. Inbreeding, huge heads, and malformation of chest and forelegs are no doubt responsible for this state of things, nor is it likely matters will improve in this particular at any early date. Two of the most notable exceptions to this difficulty in breeding from good bitches are to be found in Mr. T. Ball's Susan and Mr. E. Farman's Ruling Passion, whose success where other equally good bitches have failed make them worthy of mention here.
The principal collection of bulldogs to be found in this country is the exhibition periodically held by the Bulldog Club (established in 1875), who held their twentieth gathering in 1893. Here an entry of something like a couple of hundred is usually found, containing, no doubt, all the best dogs of the day. The classification is, of course, particularly complete, and includes divisions for dogs 451b. weight and over; classes for bitches 351b. weight and over, and light weight classes below the above standards There are divisions for dogs over 551b. for bitches over 451b.; for dogs between these two weights and for bitches between 351b. and 451b.; others for dogs under 451b. weight and for bitches under 351b. Such is the usual weight classification, but there are other divisions provided, in which no weight is stipulated. The Bulldog Club has also four challenge cups, two of them worth fifty guineas each, and two of the value of twenty guineas each.
The British Bulldog Club, established in 1892, already a strong body, is likewise great in special prizes, having two £50 challenge vases and two £25 cups, and two 10-guinea goblets for puppies. Both clubs are well to do so far as membership is concerned, and in other particulars, whilst each has carefully drawn up a distinct description of what a bulldog should be.
For the following very complete description of a typical bulldog I am indebted to Mr. Cyril F. W. Jackson, of Bath, who also kindly assisted me in the early portion of the chapter.
"In judging a bulldog the general appearance is of all importance, for, though it is of course necessary to give each point in detail, still the eye once accustomed to the impression made by the appearance of a dog of this breed true to type, will almost unconsciously recognise the following salient points. The immense skull, the protruding under jaw, the grotesque facial angle, to be seen in no other breed, the massive neck, and the extraordinary disproportion of the girth of the brisket as compared with that of the waist, the prodigious width of chest, the shortness of the body, the roach back, the shortness from the elbow to the pastern, the malformation of the tail, and, lastly, the disparity in weight of the fore part with that of the hind, all contributing to build up a dog, probably presenting to the casual observer more individuality than any other breed, save perhaps a bloodhound or a basset hound. The habit of some judges of allowing themselves to be biassed by one point of superexcellence in the specimen they have to pass their opinion on, is distinctly wrong, as a show specimen should be of uniform merit throughout, and should not excel in one point more than another.