Early Bulldog History
Bulldogs first came to the Americas in the early 17th century. These early bulldogs were prized for their strength, speed, and stamina and were often matched against larger, heavier opponents (bears, buffaloes, bulls) in baiting matches. Fighting bulldogs often bore colorful nicknames like “Mack the Masher” and “Bud the Bruiser,” building up reputations and fan followings that were all their own. Around this same time, early bulldogs also became a staple on the plantations of the Old South, where their job duties included herding farmyard hogs, steers, bulls, and other resistant livestock as well as protecting the same from wild predators and human poachers.
Interestingly, the dog that is today known as the “American bulldog” had to wait quite a long time to get its formal permanent name. Known at first as the English White (or, alternately, the White English) for its white color, or in some areas as Alabama, after its state of origin, the bulldog didn’t actually become the bulldog until as late as the 1980s. And when the name “bulldog” finally did stick, it didn’t even have anything to do with how the dog looked, but rather with its dogged work ethic herding bulls!
Bulldogs were the hardest working members of the farm and ranch, catching and restraining even the roughest, toughest steers and big Brahma bulls so their owners could brand and examine them. Bulldogs were also enlisted as personal protection dogs starting around this time because they were fierce enough to fight off feral dogs, wild boars, wolves, coyotes, hyenas, bears, and even humans up to no good as needed.
Starting in the latter half of the 1980s, the bulldog began to be known as the American Bulldog, its given name being reminiscent of the important role the bulldog had played in early colonization and settlement life. As bulldogs became more popular as family pets and personal protection dogs, they became an increasingly desirable breed to the general public.
Today’s Modern “American Bulldog”
Today’s modern bulldog hails from one of four distinct strains, with each strain having descendants that reach all the way back to the original 17th-century bulldogs. Each of these four strains first originated in the deep south from Alabama to Georgia. The four strains are named Scott, Bailey, Johnson, and Williamson.
Today’s modern American Bulldog ranges in size from medium to large and continues to exhibit the assertive personality traits and powerful upper body strength that characterized the earliest bulldogs. In fact, these traits have made the American bulldog the number one choice for trained protection dogs in homes and businesses today.
Bulldogs as a breed are strong-willed, but also quite amenable to the type of obedience and socialization training that can turn them into productive canine citizens and pack members. The hallmarks of a bulldog that comes from authentic breeding lines and high quality, appropriate training include native intelligence, mental and emotional stability, determination, courage, high pain tolerance, natural assertiveness and leadership skills, calm self-possession during the conflict and an innate protection dog instinct.
Whereas once these traits were invaluable for protecting the family plantation, farm, or ranch from interlopers (animal and human), today these same traits are equally sought after for protection in crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods, suburban communities and also more rural areas.
While only a handful of modern American bulldogs today still engage in their original roles of herding and guarding livestock, participating in-game matches, protecting against wild animal predators, and similar duties, the bulldog as a breed has retained all of its natural abilities to successfully perform these tasks. Remnants of these early roles are easily seen in today’s modern bulldogs who are working as trained protection dogs in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Today’s bulldogs exhibit the same calm, cool, take-charge demeanor and intelligence that their early relatives did, which ensures that their popularity continues to grow.
Responsible Bulldog Ownership
Because of the American bulldog’s strong, intelligent and independent personality, early introduction to obedience and socialization training is a must for everyone’s safety. Bulldogs need the structure of knowing what is “right” and what is “wrong” if they are to become protection dogs in modern society. Without attention to these critical lessons, a bulldog runs the risk of being deemed a danger and a menace rather than a protective influence on people and property.
However, with an early introduction to training and socialization lessons that is ongoing into adulthood, the American bulldog becomes a protection dog that simply will not quit. The well-trained bulldog’s strength, smarts, stamina, speed, and bravery will forever be at the service of their master. As trained personal protection dogs, American bulldogs will literally fight to the death to protect those that they are charged to protect and serve.