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Bulldog is a collective name for various breeds of dog.
The bloodsport of baiting animals has occurred since antiquity, most famously in the Roman Colosseum; however, in later centuries, it is most associated with the English, who pursued it with utmost earnestness, which was barely known elsewhere in the world. For over six hundred years the pastime flourished, reaching the peak of its popularity during the sixteenth century. The various animal types involved in the bait resulted in the breed specialization and basic anatomical forms of fighting dogs, which we still see today.
The first historical traces of bull-baiting occur in the time of the regency of King John. Enraged steers, specially bred for their aggressive nature, were used to test the keenness of dogs. A collar around the bull's neck was fastened to a thick rope about three to five metres long, attached to a hook, then fastened to an embedded stake that turned, allowing the bull to watch its antagonizer.
The dog's goal in the attack was to pin and mercilessly hold onto the bull's nose, which is its most sensitive spot. If the dog gripped tightly, the bull became virtually helpless. To avoid this attack, experienced fighting bulls lowered their heads as much as possible in the direction of the attacking dog, protecting their noses and meeting the attacker with only their horns, tossing the dog into the air. The dog reciprocated by staying low to the ground as it crept towards the bull. These tactics resulted in a specialized breed in the form of the now-extinct original Old English Bulldog. This breed was extremely compact, broad, and muscular. A particular characteristic of the breed was the lower jaw that projected considerably in front of the upper jaw, which made possible the strong, vice-like grip. The nose was deeply set, which allowed the dog to get enough air as it gripped the bull. The contemporary recreation of the breed is called the Olde Englishe Bulldogge.
The English Bulldog of today is a far cry from its ancestor, which made its name by excelling in arranged combat. This breed of bulldog may be a fine animal to own for its sweet disposition, but it has maintained nothing of the tenacity, speed, and agility that were the definitive characteristics of the Old English Bulldog.
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