The Spanish Bulldog

I am happy to take an opportunity of exhibiting the interest I take in Bulldog subjects by bringing to your readers’ notice a most valuable discovery made by my old friend Mr. John Proctor, of Antwerp. He and I have for many years had the honor to appear in the character of English judges at the Paris Dog Show. No feature in this delightful exhibition has more interest for us as Britons than the classes which remind us of our national breed, the Bulldog. It is my belief that the Bulldog is but one member of the important family of the Molussus, which is recognizable by the truncated muzzle. I do not claim any originality for this opinion, but I do admire myself for having the courage to brave the wrath of the home fancy by saying so. We have no generic name for this family, but
in France they are called Dogues, whence we get our own word dog, but we have corrupted the meaning of it. The heads of the group are the Spanish Bulldog, the dogue de Bordeaux, and the little toy oddities of Paris, bred and reared by Lutetian bootmakers, and lastly, the English Bulldog. It is clear to me as an unprejudiced eynologist, and entirely unaffected by what previous authorities have said on the subject, that the original home of the breed was Spain, where the dog was “made” for a special mission. The fair name of Spain always was, and still is, associated with sport in which the bull plays the leading role. The Spaniard fashioned a dog to suit this sport, with a firm strong body, stoutlegs, a short neck of powerful muscle, a big head with a wide mouth and prominent upturned underjaw, so that the dog could still breathe while retaining his grip, and the weight would tire out the bull which was unable to fling off the dog. From Spain dogs of this kind migrated to France; it is only a short excursion to Bordeaux, where the services of the dog were in demand as fighting dogs and for dog and donkey contests. Then they traveled up to Paris which has always had an eye for the artistic, so they bantamized the breed to the modern Toy Bulldog. From France the breed came over to England, and with several other imported varieties, took their place among what modern writers describe as the indigenous breeds of Great Britain. This is a theory carefully thought out to suit those who maintain that the Bulldog is a British product. Personally, I believe that the only breeds indigenous to the British Isles are the Irish and Scottish Terriers. In English history there Is no mention of the Bulldog before the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and I find it quite easy to assume that at a period when the relations between England and Spain were exceedingly strained, and Britannia’s sea-dogs were plundering the Spanish coast and worrying their galleons, that among the loot were these doughty dogs. Certain it is that the sport of these animals would take the Virgin Queen’s masculine fancy. It is unfortunate that though due credit has been accorded to the gallant knight who about the same time imported the potato, it is still unknown to England whether it was a Drake or a Frobisher, or which enterprising captain it was, who placed his country under a far greater obligation by bringing over from the enemy the animal which has become our national dog. To approach a little closer the main object of this communication. When the late Mr. Frank Adcock many years ago stirred the Bulldog fancy to its depths by the introduction of the Spanish Bulldogs Toro and others, the English fancy turned upon him, and when he courageously put his dogs on the show bench he was told they were “inventions, “no pure breed at all, but the result of a freakish experiment with Mastiffs, Bulldogs and perhaps other varieties. The unbelief and prejudice were so strong, and the literary onslaughts so violent, that nobody for years after attached any value to Mr. Adcock’s claims, which were simply that his importations were—Bulldogs. A long time after I had the good fortune to encounter, in the Paris show, a magnificent class of dogs called the Dogues de Bordeaux; smaller than a Mastiff but more bulky, brown-red in color, mostly Dudleys, with Bulldog skulls, but the heads larger and more wrinkled; and to my mind these animals were plainly the Spanish Bulldog, or its first cousin. I boomed the variety in the Stock-Keeper, whose readers had never seen nor heard of them before, and the enterprising Messrs. Sam Woodiwiss and H. E. Brooke subsequently imported a few fine specimens and showed them here. Our English fanciers just dropped short of heaving a brick at them, but those who had eyes to see, and were willing to see, recognized that they were in the presence of the ancestors of the English Bulldog. We English are unwilling to be taught anything about animals, and when I imported Toy Bulldogs from Paris my countrymen glanced askance at them until I found the dwarfs an English ancestor or two. As a matter of fact, I think the French Toys owe little or nothing to English descent, but I propitiated my critics. A French friend assured me that these dogs were called Boule-dogs from the round shape of the head, and that their owners did not know the word “bull” nor its meaning. Well, to return. I am quite satisfied that the Bulldog owes its origin to Spain. Mr. Adcock’s importations date only some ten or fifteen years back, but if I can show that the Bulldog existed in Spain in the early part of the seventeenth century it will, I suppose, support my contentions. When Mr. Proctor and I were in Paris last year my friend had the good fortune to obtain a most valuable piece of evidence on this point. He found an old bronze plaque. Everybody must admit that this is the head of a cropped
Bulldog—Spanish, Bordeaux or English is immaterial;; It is a Bulldog. The description above the head reads: Dogue De Burgos, Espagne. Burgos is the principal town of the province of Old Castile, in Spain, and was noted for the breeding of dogs used in the arena. The date is 1625, and the name of the artist “Cazalla.” The appearance of title plaque indicates its age. and everything points to the probability of its being genuine. Anyhow, I give all the particulars, so that whoever cares to may make inquiries. Mr. Proctor purchased the medallion in Paris from Mons. A. Provandier, a well known breeder of Toy Bulldogs, who relates that he bought it one Sunday in the Paris Dog Market from a trainer of dogs who visited the market. This man stated that he had it from a bric-a-brac dealer in the Paris Gingerbread Fair, at which time there are always two or three thousand dealers in art ironwork and all sorts of such things, standing by their booths on the roadside. Mr”. Proctor took his find to a connoisseur, who pronounced it authentic, and it was then that I decided, with the owner’s kind consent, to publish it in England for the benefit of the English Bulldog fancy, who cannot fail to recognize its historic value and to’ acknowledge the light it throws upon a question which so violently agitated the kennel world when Mr. Adcock brought it forward. I am indeed happy in this wise to be able to hand down Mr. Proctor’s name and my own to an appreciative Bulldog posterity.

Written by Mr George B. Krehl. honorary member of the Bulldog Club, In Stork-Keeper.

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