Olde English Bulldogge History

The origin of the bulldog has long been subject to controversy.  Centuries ago, the breed was called the "bandogge" since the dog spent much of its time bonded to or tied up with other dogs. The earliest reference to "bulldog" was found in literature in 1609.  Most breed historians agree that the bulldog owe their name to the fact that they were once used to guard, control, and bait bulls.  Bull baiting involved  tethering the "bait," a bull, bear, horse, ape or lion, and the dogs were sent in to attack the animal and try to overpower it.  One of the more common baits was the bull.  The baiting of bulls was based on the belief that if the beef were to be slaughtered, it should first be baited so the meat would be more tender & nutritious.  As a result, the butcher who sold the flesh of a bull who had not been baited, was liable to a penalty & the meat was considered unproper for consumption.  Bull baiting was also considered a “sport” and enjoyed great popularity in the middle ages among noblemen and royalty.

Thankfully, the Humane Act was passed in 1835, outlawing the “sport”.  Pit fighting became popular at this point.  Being larger and not as nimble, the bulldog was not the dog of choice for this new “sport”. Ultimately, the extremely tenacious bulldog became less and less relevant, and found itself out of a job. Dog show fanciers began a program of outcrossing in order to create a gentler, shorter, squattier version of the bulldog.   Over time they succeeded in creating the modern day English Bulldog.   Unfortunately, the English Bulldog, while more appealing to show judges, was, and still is, riddled with serious health issues and genetic defects.

Being concerned with the health and condition of the modern day bulldog,  David Leavitt of Spring Grove Pa. began creating the Olde English Bulldogge in 1971.  His goal was to create a healthy, athletic bulldog, that was considered capable, but without the extreme tenacity of it’s ancestors. The dog was to have a loving disposition, but still protect it’s family if called upon. This goal was achieved by using a line breeding scheme that was developed by Ohio State University for use with cattle. The original foundation stock consisted of ½ English Bulldog, 1/6 American Bulldog, 1/6 American Pitbull Terrier, and 1/6 Bullmastiff.  After many carefully planned crosses the Olde English Bulldogge emerged and began breeding true.  By 1985 three true lines had been developed and the breed was considered sound, stable and well suited for modern life.

The differences between the Old English bulldogs (OEB) of today and the bull-baiting dogs of the 1800's are obvious.  Larger in stature with less aggressive behavior, fewer health issues, and better breeding abilities, the OEB are also great with families with children.