How to become a bulldogger

My first meeting with an English bulldog happened at the time when I had three German Shepherds, had spent fourteen years doing classical dog training and thought there was no way I could be doing something completely different. Apparently, the proverb “Never say never” is true.
When fifteen years ago I was asked to train a 2,5-year-old English Bulldog, I was first quite skeptical about it, being quite sure that if a companion dog at the age of 2,5 years required training, it meant there were big problems with both the dog’s character and discipline. What’s more, what I knew of English Bulldogs as a breed was limited to the image of a gloomy beast that had only two modes of existence – sleeping and growling. I could well see myself trying to tame this “meat dumpling” of a dog with a muzzle that resists muzzling as such. Soon, I was sure I couldn’t train such a dog and denied the offer. Yet, the owner of my potential client turned out to be quite persistent. She saw me overtaken by the financial crisis and persuaded me to at least try working with her dog.
Imagine my surprise when at one of our first sessions the dog seemed to have already been well trained before and all I needed to do was only to freshen up his memory. This was the impression I got, but the fact stayed the same – nobody had ever worked with the dog! During the entire period of our training I had to pull on the pinch collar just once (by the way, with a German Shepherd, you have to do it at least 5-6 times during a single training session to get the dog to come to senses and finally start working). To cut a long story short, eventually, the Bulldog and myself passed the exams in GTC (General Training Course) and PG (Protection and Guarding), getting the highest grades in both. Certainly, one could object by saying, but that particular Bulldog could have been especially gifted! After all, in every breed there are both geniuses and dopes. Well, my further experiences with the same breed turned my understanding of their capabilities completely upside down.
Apart from my „trained client”, whose name was King, in the same house there lived a female Bulldog named Dolly. She was not trained together with King as she was pregnant at the time. When the time of delivery came, it was, of course, necessary to do a C-section (alas, it is one of the peculiarities of the breed). The future dad was taken for a walk to prevent him from interfering in „the process”. The operation was a success, the new daddy came back home and saw Dolly lying together with her puppies. She was still under narcosis though. King came up to them slowly and carefully. He touched his „wife” with his paw but met no reaction on Dolly’s part, he barked over her ear – no reaction, he poked her with his muzzle – still nothing. Then he sat down beside her and wept. Those were absolutely real tears, big and transparent, and there was an expression of such grief and despair on his face that everyone fell silent. Apparently, King decided that Dolly was dead. Having cried for a while, King sighed and lay down beside the puppies suggesting that he would breastfeed them. Can you imagine that he was actually ready to breastfeed his kids himself! The idyll didn’t last for long, however: one of the babies accidentally peed on his dad’s nose, the dad didn’t like that, snorted and went away. The owner of the dog remarked: “Quite a typical male! All the love vanishes with the first wet pampers!”
This incident was a huge boost to my confidence in the Bulldogs’ intelligence. Soon, another tragicomic episode from the Bulldog family life impressed me even more. It happened when King met his next girlfriend. For the mating time, Dolly, “the first lady”, “the legitimate wife” was taken outside and returned after the procedure was over. What she did next was amazing. She sniffed King under his belly and, smelling the presence of another female, gave her husband a meaningful slap with her paw. The look on Dolly’s face screamed: “So you cheated on me, you scoundrel!” After punishing her unfaithful husband, Dolly burst into tears and spent the rest of the day on her hydro mattress. For the next three days the insulted lady kept crying her heart out, refused to eat and go for walks. She calmed down only after her owner had a heart-to-heart talk with her on “the polygamous nature of Bulldog males”.
Time went by and I was enjoying my time with the Bulldog family and a chance to share all their fortunes and misfortunes. Soon, I felt that I wanted to have one of such smart creatures at my own home. Alas, at the moment a Bulldog puppy cost more than I could afford, and I could not accept a present from the “King & Co” for ethical considerations. I dreamed of owning a Bulldog but knew the dream had a long way to go before coming true.
But opportunities are always there for those who can take them! One day I was leafing through a daily and came across an ad about Bulldog puppies for sale. The price seemed surprisingly and unrealistically small, it seemed almost symbolic. First, I thought it was a misprint and called the given number. It turned out that the breeder was going through hard times in his life and couldn’t keep the puppies any more. Needless to say, in that same evening I had a small Bulldog at my own home!

What’s more, my new dog turned out to be a niece of that same King that I used to train, the one that acquainted me with the pleasures of this breed. By the way, after my new puppy’s first week with us, my mother, who isn’t the biggest fan of dogs, remarked: “Don’t you think that she is smarter than our German Shepherds?” Wow, to hear something like this from my mother means getting the highest praise possible!

After a while we decided that Lyusya (it was our Bulldog’s name) had to have a “family” of her own. While I was in the Czech Republic, I was lucky enough to buy a Bulldog born there from two English dogs. It was a 7-month-old male and in the end his contribution to the development of the breed turned out to be really immense. Even now he would be considered a really good representative of the breed. Lyusya and my new male, my first couple, marked the beginning of a new era for me. I would start buying more and more new Bulldogs from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, the US, England, Sweden and Italy. All of them were brought from the best kennels in different countries, and all of them made their own significant contribution to the development of the breed.

I consider that originally the breed was created on the basis of cultivating deformities; therefore, I have never supported inbreeding in pair matching. To my mind, inbreeding for this breed will be a bit too much. Thanks to this policy, the majority of our Bulldogs have a distinguishingly good health and a long life-span, despite the popular opinion that Bulldogs are sickly and tend to have a short life expectancy.

If you decide to acquire an English Bulldog, bear in mind two main features of the breed: they find it hard to tolerate strong heat (because of their shortened nasopharynx and rather narrow trachea) and they don’t swim. To be more precise, they do swim all right, but the problem is that in contrast to other breeds, they don’t swim to the shore when they feel tired while swimming. A tired Bulldog doesn’t fight for his life. He simply folds his paws and sinks to the bottom. And it’s almost impossible to predict when it might happen. Therefore, a Bulldog must swim only under the watchful eye of the owner or handler.

Regardless of his blood-soaked warrior past, the Bulldog is a devoted, sociable and trustworthy dog. In Riga there was a case when two 7-month-old Bulldogs saved their owner’s flat from burglary.

To many uninitiated it may sound unbelievable, but one of the main features of the breed is its gentle and affectionate character. Great strength, swiftness (regardless of the deceptively clumsy looks), exceptional sense of balance, intelligence, a cheerful and peaceful nature and incredible loyalty – these are characteristic features of the breed. Of course not all Bulldogs possess each of these qualities. Some of them will be more intelligent than you expected and some will be less. Some dogs will have a strong will and others will be less willful. Some will be more courageous and others will be less. Nevertheless, all the peculiarities mentioned above distinguish the breed among other representatives of the canine race.

Even inexperienced owners quickly observe that the Bulldog has an easy-going character and a steady temperament. A bulldog will be eager to fulfill any of his owner’s wishes at the drop of a hat and will then return to the starting position only to say that he’s ready to do more.

Bulldogs are easily trained; they follow the given commands very precisely and are easily taught to obey.

The Bulldog is a dog of small stature, so he perfectly suits the dimensions of modern city apartments. Bulldogs are in a good mood most of the time and will easily cheer up every one around. They are strong, brave and persistent dogs having a pronounced sense of self-respect, high intelligence and determination. If there are children in the family, it is difficult to find a better nanny for them – there’s no breed that would be more loyal and thoughtful. Besides, to take care of the Bulldog is quite easy as it is a short-coated dog. The Bulldog is also suitable for busy people since the breed does not need long walks. The Bulldogs also have a strong immune system.

In general, by acquiring a small Bulldog puppy you acquire a load of positive emotions, which is an absolute must-have in the stressful reality of today.