The Bulldog has its roots firmly planted in British soil and has come to be recognized throughout the world.
The Bulldog has been named Great Britain's national dog, as well as the official mascot of the British Navy. The Bulldog has been kept for a variety of purposes over the years; as a butchers dog to help control unruly oxen, as a hunting dog, but most commonly and certainly the purpose for which the breed gained notoriety, for the so-called "Sport" of baiting. The "Bait" basically involved the tethering of an animal; bears, bulls, horses, apes and lions were considered fair game. The object was to send the trained dog in to attack the animal and try to overpower it. In the case of the bullbait, the Bulldog's objective was to grasp the fleshy nose of the bull, holding on at all costs, to thereby "Pin" the massive animal to the ground. The breed's over sized head, short neck, broad deep chest, incredible tenacity and set back nose (which enables them to breathe freely while locked onto the bull's nose) were all qualities needed in bullbaiting. Although a perilous task, many dogs did succeed and large wagers were placed on the outcome. Bullbaiting became popular in England during the early Thirteenth Century and bearbaiting some 200 years before this. By the end of the Thirteenth Century most English market towns had their own "Bull Ring" and at Tutbury in Staffordshire annual baiting continued for five centuries until they were brought to an end by Duke of Devonshire in 1778. Bred from a long line of savage ancestors, the Bulldogs of British sporting days grew to become so savage, so courageous as to be almost insensitive to pain. Therefore, in the year 1835, dog fighting as a sport became illegal in England. Breeders, however, were determined to preserve the breed and in the process the deadly fighter was transformed into a good-natured companion, enabling these improved Bulldogs to become popular show dogs, as well as pets.