The Old English Bulldog: Everything You Need to Know

The Old English Bulldog was a unique and now-extinct dog breed developed for the purpose of participating in bull baiting and dog fighting. 

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the Old English Bulldog, from history and physical traits to personality and health. 

A Brief History of the Old English Bulldog

Origins and Development

The exact ancestry of the Old English Bulldog is unknown. However, we know that it was developed to participate in “bull-baiting” – a gruesome and cruel blood sport popular in old England. 

During bull-baiting contests, the Old English Bulldog, alone or in packs, was placed in a pit with an angry bull. Viewers would bet who would win and how much time the opponents would last in the pit. 

Decline and Extinction 

In 1835, England passed the Cruelty to Animals Act, thus banning blood sports, including bull-baiting and dog fighting. This affected the popularity of the Old English Bulldog, and its population numbers decreased. 

At the same time, breed members were crossed with the Old English Terrier to create a new dog – the Bull and Terrier. This new dog was more popular and replaced its ancestors, and the Old English Bulldog went extinct. 

Physical Characteristics of the Old English Bulldog

Size and Weight

The Old English Bulldog was a medium-sized dog that weighed around 45 pounds and stood 15 inches tall at the shoulders. Breed members were muscular and very powerful. 

Coat and Colors

The Old English Bulldog had a short, smooth coat that was easy to care for. The coat came in a variety of colors, including white, black, brown, fawn, brindle, and any combination of these colors. 

Distinctive Facial Features

The Old English Bulldog had a broad head and a short snout, which gave the dog a particularly unique appearance. Overall, the dog’s body was relatively small but stocky and muscular. 

Temperament and Personality Traits

Affectionate and Loyal

Despite the bloody heritage and fighting skills, the Old English Bulldog was affectionate and loyal to its owner and human family. The breed formed close bonds with the handler. 

Protective Instincts

The Old English Bulldog was devoted to its family and would do whatever it took to protect them, even if it meant putting themselves in danger. This made it an excellent guard dog. 

Stubbornness and Independence

The Old English Bulldog was not easy to train and would often push boundaries to see what they could get away with. The breed required a calm and experienced handler. 

Health Issues and Lifespan

Common Health Problems

From the Old English Bulldog’s appearance, we can assume that breed members were prone to breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and skin allergies. The brachycephalic face also made the breed sensitive to hot weather. 

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Old English Bulldog typically ranged from 8 to 12 years. However, many breed members died young in the fighting pits and did not live to their senior years. 


Overall, the Old English Bulldog was a strong and fierce dog in the fighting pits and a devoted companion at home. Today, the breed is extinct but its legacy continues to live. 

The Old English Bulldog helped create the Bull and Terrier, which is the ancestor to many modern dogs, including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. 

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