The Bulldog is a short, broad, compact, massive dog, with sturdy legs that appear bowed (although the bones of the legs are straight). Its head is large and features a large, sour expression that is created by a pronounced undershot jaw (with no teeth showing), hanging jowls, and a flat, wrinkled face. The body is very broad and low with a deep, capacious chest and rounded ribcage. The abdomen is tucked up. The heavy shoulders are set far apart and slant outward for great stability. The circumference of the skull (measured in front of the ears) should be at least as great as the dog's height at the withers. The eyes are set low and wide apart. The ears are "rosed" and the large nose is wide and black (never brown). The upper lips completely cover the lower jaw. The naturally short tail is carried low, and might be straight or kinked. The skin is soft and loose, covered with a smooth, short coat that comes in several colors including brindles, white, fawn, red, or piebald. Bulldogs tend to run 5 to 10 lbs. heavier than the average weight listed in the AKC standard. The Bulldog has a characteristic rolling gait.
During the Middle Ages, butchers in England developed the Olde English Bulldogge to help them catch bulls for slaughter. The dog's short muzzle and strong jaws allowed it to hold onto the bull's nose, cheek, or throat long enough to force it to its knees—or even get it to stumble into the barn or slaughterhouse. By the thirteenth century, these valuable working dogs also were used in the sport of "baiting." Outlawed in England in 1835 because it was excessively cruel, baiting involved tying a large animal (such as a bull, horse, or bear) to a tether and then setting dogs on it to see if they could overpower it.
With the 1835 British ban against baiting, the Bulldog nearly disappeared except for a few specimens. Bulldog fanciers used those remaining individuals to resurrect the breed. (Indeed, the modern sport of dog showing is likely the only thing that saved the breed from extinction.) Bulldog breeders today believe that breeding Bulldogs with Pugs created the modern Bulldog's appearance, and that this change was motivated by a desire to erase the memory of the formerly fearsome fighting dog. The breed's temperament also changed. Today's Bulldog is a courageous yet gentle creature.