Bulldog Not: Say it isn’t So

Bulldog Not: Say it isn’t So

WSC after the 1951 general election returned him to Downing Street.
Churchill after the 1951 elec­tion, which returned him to Down­ing Street.

“The clas­sic British bull­dog, a sym­bol of defi­ance and pugnac­i­ty, may now dis­ap­pear. A shake-up of breed­ing  stan­dards by the Ken­nel Club has sig­nalled the end of the dog’s Churchillian jowl. Instead, the dog will  have a shrunk­en face, a sunken nose, longer legs and a lean­er body. The British Bull­dog Breed Coun­cil is threat­en­ing legal action against the Ken­nel Club. Chair­man Robin Sear­le said: ‘What you’ll get is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent dog, not a British bull­dog.’

I referred this one to long­time col­league, promi­nent motor­ing writer and bull­dog par­ti­san Gra­ham Rob­son, who writes:

As a long-time bull­dog own­er (you have met var­i­ous of my much-loved mutts) I am at once delight­ed and appalled by what is being pro­posed. Loud-mouthed crit­ics of “tra­di­tion­al” bull­dogs talk about breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties (usu­al­ly untrue), too-fat bod­ies (only some breed­ers encour­age this—mine nev­er), heads too large and legs too short (arguable—none of mine were ever grotesque), and dif­fi­cul­ties in deliv­er­ing pup­pies with­out a vet’s help (unfor­tu­nate­ly true).

The Ken­nel Club (if you want an his­toric par­al­lel, think of the Gestapo or George Orwell’s Thought Police) is now demand­ing changes to what is known as the writ­ten stan­dard for some dogs—not just bull­dogs, but oth­er breeds too. They will even­tu­al­ly get their way, but it will take decades of selec­tive breed­ing to pro­duce a series (rather than an occa­sion­al exam­ple) of bull­dogs to a “new” stan­dard.

Per­son­al­ly, I would be delight­ed to see bull­dogs with some­what longer legs, but still with the tra­di­tion­al face (includ­ing a “flat” face and Churchil­lesque atti­tude), and a wide-legged stance—like each of the sev­en gen­er­a­tions of bull­dog which my fam­i­ly has owned, and owns to this day. How­ev­er, I would be appalled to see longer noses, shrunk­en faces and lean bod­ies, since this means we will be going back to the “Box­er” iden­ti­ty, destroy­ing the most endear­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of the true bull­dog.

Any­one who does not believe that my son’s five-year-old bull­dog can­not play, run, and enjoy him­self in every way is wel­come to try to wear him out before I do. 

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