MORE ON TEMPERAMENT
The column in the December 1999 AKC GAZETTE focused on the importance of understanding and coping with the typical temperament of the modern Bulldog. This column is intended to add a slightly different dimension to the complex personality of this breed.
First, let me dispel the notion that modern Bulldogs have personalities that match their macho appearance. Although they were originally bred for bullbaiting and bear fighting in England, that formerly fearless, aggressive mentality has been virtually eliminated by generations of selective breeding.
Today, the typical Bulldog possesses one of the most pleasant and gentle personalities one could wish for in a pet. That’s because no reputable breeder will tolerate, much less breed, Bulldogs that exhibit routinely nasty temperaments.
When any sign of aggression appears, especially in a young dog, conscientious breeders don’t immediately attribute it to bad genes, however. Any purebred dog, or mixed breed for that matter, can develop an unpleasant, even dangerous, disposition depending on how it has been treated by its owners.
When no evidence can be found that the dog has been abused, the next step is to determine whether the dog might be suffering from an injury or a disease. Like humans, dogs often become irritable when they are in pain.
One of the things knowledgeable breeders learn early on, is that most Bulldogs have a very high tolerance for pain. Many times their pain is impossible to detect because Bulldogs can disguise it so well. Not until the pain becomes unbearable are signs of anger and aggression likely to appear.
Once mistreatment, injury and disease are ruled out as causes of uneven temperament, it is reasonable to suspect the trait has been inherited. Even then it is prudent to investigate to determine whether any of the dog’s siblings or ancestors have also exhibited bad temperaments.
Although aggressive traits in Bulldogs are extremely rare in the modern era, they do exist. Such behavior should immediately be reported to the breeder when no physical or emotional cause of aggression can be determined. Yes, dogs have emotions, too.
It is difficult for reputable breeders to admit they might be producing mean Bulldogs, but most of us realize it can happen. And we certainly want to know about it.
Aggressive tendencies are part of the Bulldog’s ancient heritage, and a few recessive genes for this probably exist to this day. But let me hasten to add that even when Bulldogs were used almost exclusively in the cruel sports of baiting bulls and fighting bears, their owners often spoke of their gentle, fun-loving nature in the setting of a good home and a caring owner.
From one of those kinds of homes comes a heart-tugging tale about a modern Bulldog in Canada whose temperament won the hearts of its owners, dog judges and even much of Surrey, British Columbia.
His name was Little Auggie, and he was a 52-pound American and Canadian champion show dog whose temperament can only be described as incomparable. The owners of Ch. Rudyks Little Auggie describe his delightful personality this way:
“Auggie was a real show dog with a beautiful coat and markings. He had a personality all his own. Known for his countless antics, he could never stop doing mischievous things.
“His greatest stunt was with his very own 45-gallon plastic barrel. Our yard is on a hill, and Auggie would drag his barrel up to the highest part of the hill, then jump into the barrel and roll down the hill for about 150 feet, barking all the way as if he was laughing.
“When he got out of the barrel, he would drag it back up the hill to do his thing all over again.
“He was one of our favorites because he was such a character. Every moment with him brought new meaning to the words fun and entertainment.”
Of course, not many Bulldogs have such a comical personality. But each in their own way can provide hours of companionship and devotion in their purest form.
- William Andree, 204 S. Beach Dr., Monticello, IN 47960.