The English Bulldog of today would not be recognized by fanciers of the earliest dogs of the breed. Those early dogs had a specific use, that of bull-holding, which was a legitimate part of the butcher's business. Unfortunately, this also developed into the grisly sport of bull-baiting, and they were also pitted against other animals, as well as their own kind. When these "sports" were outlawed in Britain, the breed's function essentially ceased. The Bulldog eventually developed into a shorter, squattier version of its progenitors, as that is what was preferred in the show ring. Regardless, the Bulldog has endeared itself to many because of its loving, gentle temperament.

The English Bulldog was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1935.

General appearance & Characteristics

The ideal English Bulldog is massive, of medium size and has a smooth coat, a heavy, thick-set, low-slung body, wide shoulders, sturdy limbs and a short-faced head. General appearance, coupled with attitude, suggests great stability, vigor and strength.

The English Bulldog has an equable and kind disposition; and is resolute and courageous. Their characteristic demeanor is one of peace and dignity. These attributes are evident in their expression and behavior.

When comparing both sexes, due consideration is to be given to bitches as they do not bear the breed characteristics to the same degree as the males.

All points of the standard are well distributed and bear good relation one to the other. No feature is so prominent or so lacking that it makes the animal appear deformed out of proportion.


The skull is very large. The circumference, taken in front of the ears, measures at least the same as the height of the dog, measured from the shoulders to the ground. When viewed from the front, the head is very broad and square, and appears very high from the corner of the lower jaw to the apex of the skull. In profile, the head appears very high, and very short from the occiput to the point of the nose. The forehead is flat, never rounded or domed; and never too prominent nor overhanging the face.

The well-defined temples (frontal bones) are broad, square and high, causing the stop, a hollow, or groove, between the eyes. The broad, deep stop extends up the middle of the forehead, dividing the head vertically, being traceable to the top of the skull. The well-rounded cheeks protrude sideways and outward beyond the eyes.

The extremely short face is measured from the front of the cheekbone to the tip of the nose. The very short muzzle is turned upward and is very deep from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth.

The distance from the bottom of the stop (between the eyes) to the tip of the nose is to be as short as possible, and does not exceed the distance measured from the tip of the nose to the edge of the under lip.

The massive jaws are broad and very square. The undershot lower jaw projects considerably in front of the upper jaw and turns up.

The thick, broad, pendant flews, referred to as the "chops", are very deep. They completely overhang the lower jaw at each side. In front, they join the under lip, almost or quite covering the teeth, which are scarcely noticeable when the mouth is closed.

TEETH -- A full complement of large, strong, white teeth meet in an undershot bite. The canines are wide apart; and the incisors are in an even, level row.

EYES -- The very dark eyes are quite round and moderate in size; never being sunken nor bulging. When the dog is looking directly forward, the lids cover the white of the eyeball. There is no haw showing.

Viewed from the front, the eyes are situated low down in the skull, as far back from the ears as possible. They are quite in front of the head and as wide apart as possible, provided that their outer corners are within the outline of the cheek, when viewed from the front. The corners of the eyes are in a straight line at right angles with the stop.

NOSE -- The large, broad nose is black in color. Its tip is set back deeply between the eyes. The wide, large nostrils are also black in color.

Very serious fault: Nose color other than black.

Disqualification: Brown or liver-colored nose.

EARS -- The small, thin, "rose" ears are set high on the head. The front inner edge of each ear joins the outline of the skull at the top back corner of the skull, placing them wide apart and as far apart from the eyes as possible.

Very serious faults: Erect ears; prick ears; button ears; cropped ears.


The short, very thick neck is deep, strong, and well-arched.


The very heavy, muscular shoulders are widespread and slant outward, providing stability and great power.

FORELEGS -- The short, very stout forelegs are straight and muscular. They are set wide apart, their well-developed calves presenting a bowed outline. The legs themselves are not curved or bandy, nor are the feet brought too close together. The low elbows stand well out, and loose, from the body.


The brisket and body are very capacious, and very deep from the shoulders down to the lowest part. The very broad chest is deep and full. The brisket is well let down between the shoulders and the forelegs, causing a broad, low, short-legged appearance. The sides are full. The body is well-ribbed-up behind, and the ribs are well-rounded. The belly is tucked up; not rotund.

The backline is short and strong. It is very broad at the shoulders and comparatively narrow at the loins. There is a slight fall in the back, its lowest part being close behind the shoulders. From there, the spine rises to the loins, then curves again more suddenly to the tail, to form the breed characteristic "wheel back." The top of the loins are higher than the withers.


The strong, muscular hind legs are longer than the forelegs, contribution to the elevation of the loins above the level of the shoulders.

HIND LEGS -- The short lower legs are straight and strong. The stifles turn slightly outward and away from the body, causing the hocks to approach each other and the hind feet to turn outward. The slightly bent hocks are well let down, providing length and strength from the loins to the hock.


The compact, firmly set feet are moderate in size. The compact toes are well split up and have high knuckles and short, stubby nails. The front feet may be straight or slightly turned out. The hind feet should be pointed well outward.


The short tail is hung low, and has a thick root, a decided downward carriage and a fine tip. It may be straight or "screwed," but never curved or curly. A straight tail is cylindrical and is tapered uniformly. A screw tail has well-defined bends or kinks that may be abrupt or even knotty, but no portion of the tail may be elevated above the base or root.


The skin is soft and loose, especially at the head, neck and shoulders.

WRINKLES & DEWLAP -- The head and face are covered with heavy wrinkles. There should be two loose, pendulous folds forming the dewlap at the throat, from the jaw to the chest.


The short, straight coat lies flat and close, and is smooth, glossy and of a fine texture. There are no fringes, feathers or curls.


Coat color is uniform, pure, and brilliant. The various breed typical colors are to be preferred in the following order:

  1. red brindle
  2. all other brindles
    (Note: to be considered perfect, brindles are to have a fine, even, and equal distribution of the composite colors.)
  3. solid white
  4. solid red, fawn, or yellow
  5. piebald
  6. inferior specimens of all the foregoing.
    (Note: a perfect piebald is preferable to a muddy brindle or a defective solid color. Solid black is very undesirable, but black is not so objectionable if occurring, to a moderate degree, in piebald patches.)

Note: A small white patch on the chest is acceptable in brindles and solid-colored dogs. Color patches on piebalds are expected to be well-defined, of pure color, and symmetrically distributed.

Disqualification: Albinism.


Weight for mature dogs is approximately 50 pounds. Weight for mature bitches is approximately 40 pounds.


Movement style and carriage are distinctive to the breed. It is a loose-jointed, shuffling, sideways motion, causing the characteristic "roll". However, action is free, vigorous and unrestricted.


Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Brown or liver-colored nose. Albinism.