Olde English Bulldogge Information and Facts: Is the Breed Right for You?
The Olde English Bulldogge vs. the Old English Bulldog
When most people think of bulldogs, the Old English Bulldog or even the modern-day English Bulldog is often what comes to mind. Surprisingly, Old English Bulldogs are actually extinct and modern-day English Bulldogs are what we've come to automatically identify as the stereotypical bulldog with its short stature, boxy body, and heavy wrinkles.
Both of these breeds are commonly confused with the Olde English Bulldogge (OEB), which made its first appearance in the 1970s in the United States. This new breed was in many ways created to capture the traits of the original and extinct Old English Bulldog—the athletic, agile, bull-baiting breed of the 17th century.
Fact: Old English Bulldogs Are Extinct
Today's Olde English Bulldogge looks dissimilar to its living relative, the English Bulldog, and was choicely named to help distinguish the two.
Olde English Bulldogges are a blend of the following breeds:
- 1/2 English Bulldog
- 1/6th Bullmastiff
- 1/6th American Pit Bull Terrier
- 1/6th American Bulldog
An Extinct Breed: The History of the Old English Bulldog
The Old English Bulldog is an extinct breed. The breed was created in England around the 1600s or 1700s, and it is the ancestor of many bully breeds that are still around today including the English Bulldog and American Bulldog. Celebrated for its compact, muscular build and its large lower jaw, this strong, courageous, agile, and hardy breed was used for English blood sport and bull baiting in London up until the decline of these activities upon the passing of the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835. The breed was thought to derive from the Old Mastiff or Alaunt of the 17th century, an ancient breed used in times of war.
Breeding to Extinction
One parent breed, the proper Mastiff, wasn't quick enough for bull baiting, so the Old English Bulldog was blended with the Old English Terrier to create an athletic, fast-acting hybrid. This breed was designated the "Bull and Terrier" and was an early attempt at the Bull Terrier and American pit bull breeds. This development further led to the eventual decline of the Old English Bulldog.
Breeders who appreciated this great, beautiful dog made an effort to breed out some of its aggression. They began to cross remnants of this dog with other breeds in an attempt to select for the temperament and features they wanted; finally, they developed the English Bulldog. Unfortunately, however, this breed has numerous inherited health issues.
How to Tell Bulldog Breeds Apart
A Comparison of Bulldog Breeds
Olde English Bulldogge
50–70 lbs (F); 65–85 lbs (M)
30 to 50 lbs (maybe 60 lbs)
60–90 lbs (F); 71–119 lbs (M)
17–18 inches (F); 18–20 inches (M)
12–16 inches (F); 12–16 inches (M)
20–24 inches (F); 20–26 inches (M)
Free Breeders and Free Whelpers
C-section with large litters
Heat and Cold Tolerance
English Bulldog Traits and Temperament
Before getting into the specifics the OEB, I'd like to first tell you how it differs from the English Bulldog or classic bulldog you are probably familiar with. Olde English Bulldogges tend to be a bit healthier, as they are a mix of several breeds and specifically designed to be more active and healthy with less of the traditional health problems English Bulldogs face.
English Bulldog Traits
- Appearance: Large head, short muzzle (brachycephalic), undershot jaw
- Size: Medium (averaging 50 pounds as adults)
- Body: Stocky, blocky head; short legs
- Wrinkles: Heavy
- Temperament: Gentle, loyal, protective, stubborn
- Notable Traits: Heavy breather, brachycephalic
- Health Issues: Respiratory, heat and exercise intolerance, dental and pallet malformations, skin and dietary allergies, knee joint and hip complications, reproductive issues and dystocia-prone (difficult birth), cherry eye
The most obvious difference is that the English Bulldog is much smaller and lighter in build and much more sensitive to hot and cold—you can't have them outdoors for long periods of time in extreme temperatures or exercise them as hard. The average cost of ownership of an English Bulldog (in vet fees) is over several thousands of dollars a year. They are very expensive dogs to own and tend to have numerous health issues much like French Bulldogs.
The breeders' goals moving forward should be to create even healthier dogs that are free breathers, free breeders, and free whelpers, meaning that they can breathe with ease, can breed without artificial insemination, and do not need to be delivered via C-sections.— Author
What Is the Difference Between an Olde English Bulldog and an American Bulldog?
Olde English Bulldogges and American Bulldogs are quite similar in appearance, however, the American Bulldog is much larger, taller, and originated in the 1700s. The OEB is a fine breed for beginner owners, whereas the American Bulldog is recommended for experienced owners. Both are great with children, trainable, and loyal; the American Bulldog has a higher tendency to bark, is more energetic, has higher grooming needs, and is not hypoallergenic, whereas the Olde English Bulldogge is hypoallergenic.
The Appearance of a Standard Olde English BulldoggeClick thumbnail to view full-size
A New Breed: The Olde English Bulldogge
The modern Old English Bulldogge is essentially a healthier and more active remake of its 17th-century relative. It is a mix of the English Bulldog, American Bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Mastiff. All of these breeds were used to selectively achieve the traits and temperament desired. The result: A good-looking and athletic (compared to the English Bulldog) dog with a happy disposition.
David Leavitt and the OEB Association
The Olde English Bulldogge was so named to differentiate it from the modern English Bulldog and is not currently recognized as a breed by the AKC. However, the breed is recognized by the IOEBA (the International Olde English Bulldogge Association). Many, including the AKC, don't consider this dog to be a breed but rather a mix. However, all dogs essentially change and adapt and are bred for certain features over many years. Eventually, they are often recognized as a breed. It would not surprise me if in years to come, the AKC begins to recognize OEBs as a breed.
Breed Evolution and Breeding Standards
In 1971, David Leavitt employed a cattle-breeding model developed by Dr. Fechimer of Ohio State to arrive at a bulldog breed to achieve an athletic dog of similar build with a gentler disposition to that of the bull-baiting period. According to David Leavitt, the OEB does not have much of the undesired traits of the breed's relatives (difficult births, hip issues, and brachycephalic syndrome). Leavitt is quoted below regarding his breed standards:
"Cesarean section births are not necessary. Artificial insemination, due to male ineptness and lack of drive, has been replaced by natural ties. Life span is over eleven years. All breeding stock have had hip x-rays. No dog with bad hips is bred."
Today, many breeders misleadingly register their designer puppies and dogs for sale as OEBs, even though their breeding program standards may have been compromised.
To combat false breed registries, the Leavitt Bulldog Association and registry was formed in 2006 to recognize the small percentage of OEB original stock.
Olde English Bulldogge Breed Traits and Temperament
- Body Weight: 50-70 pounds (females); 65-85 pounds (males); (Mine weighs in at about 96 pounds!)
- Body Height: 17-19 inches (females); 18-20 inches (males)
- Body Type: Medium-sized to large. Wide shoulders, muscular, strong, and athletic
- Muzzle Type: Large and broad; brachycephalic traits but with unrestricted nares; undershot jaw, blocky head
- Temperament: Courageous and stable temperament, enjoys praise; trustworthy, loyal, and protective
- Lifespan: Between 10 to 14 years
- Coat Type: Short
- Trainability: High; eager to please
Video: Living With the Olde English Bulldogge
My Experience Owning a Bulldog
When I'm looking at a new dog, I often do my research online and look at breed descriptions. While those are helpful, I don't just want a list of stats and some general generic description, I want to know what it's actually like owning one and I like to hear from actual owners. For that reason, here's my experience:
- Find a Reputable Breeder: I got mine when he was eight weeks old. He came from a reputable breeder who followed the breed standard and strived to make a better breed, including doing genetic testing for health defects.
- They Are Stubborn: This breed is different from any other kind out there. I have owned mutts, Border Terriers, Rottweilers, and pit bulls, and this breed is a breed of its own. They have a personality of their own and are very strong-headed, bordering on stubborn.
- Train Them Early: This was my first time owning a strong-minded dog, and I probably could have been a stronger owner and a better pack leader with a stronger presence. Despite having taken my dog to two puppy schools, hiring a private trainer, and working with him myself, he's not as well-trained as dogs I've had in the past. I'm largely to blame, though this breed isn't going to be as obedient or timid as a Golden Retriever.
- Be Prepared for Drool: This breed is very slobbery. I'm always surprised when I speak with bulldog owners who tell me their dogs are not slobbery. My dog is extremely slobbery—I think it's the mastiff mix that makes it so.
- Teach Them Manners: Because these dogs are large and strong, that's something to keep in mind for why you want a well-trained dog. Think about going over to someone's house who has a jumpy dog. With a Maltese, it's not a big deal. However, with a 10-pound Olde English Bulldogge, that dog isn't just bouncing off your grandma's ankle—he's taking her to the ground. With that said, you need to be a strong owner, have a well-trained dog, and be in control of your dog.
Common Health Problems in Bulldog Breeds
In addition to elbow dysplasia, skin allergies, and dietary allergies, these are some of the most common health issues in bulldog breeds:
Canine Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the hip socket in dogs. In severe cases, it can lead to lameness and arthritis. It is a genetically inherited trait that may be worsened by breed type, weight, activity or inactivity, and trauma and/or associated muscular atrophy.
In the case of canine hip dysplasia, the spherical ball of the femur does not fit into the socket of the pelvis properly; it is either too shallow or loose. The body tries to repair the section by forming cartilage over the site, which leads to inflammation and future abnormalities including degenerative osteoarthritis.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) oversees hip screenings and classification as does the Penn Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Both programs monitor and analyze data collected on the condition via diagnostic radiographic techniques (OFA and PennHIP shots) and a hip grading system. Controlled exercise and rehabilitation, drugs, and surgery are commonly recommended for hip dysplasia depending on case severity.
Bloat or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)
Bloat or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a medical emergency. This condition occurs acutely in big dogs, whereupon the stomach twists (torsion), occludes major vessels, and fills with gas. This condition puts pressure on the diaphragm and cuts off blood flow to the heart; surrounding tissue may die or rupture. Bloat is a medical emergency and occurs in deep-chested and large breed dogs, especially after heavy exercise or eating.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic airway syndrome may be mild in Olde English Bulldogges but severe in French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs. The term brachycephalic literally refers to the shortened head or muzzle of these breeds. These dogs have a smaller upper jaw and redundant soft tissue in the skull which leads to an overcrowding of teeth, stenotic nares, an elongated soft palate, saccule issues, heat stroke susceptibility, and exercise intolerance. These breeds are also challenging candidates for surgery and anesthesia.
Cherry eye is a condition of the nictitating membrane (or third eyelid) and is characterized by the protrusion of or prolapsed soft tissue of the eye. Surgical intervention or topical anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended. There are no methods of prevention.
How to Select the Right Dog for Your Lifestyle
Before acquiring a new canine companion, it's important to know what kind of breed you want and what kind of lifestyle you want to live with your pet. If you're looking for a puppy to go on long runs with you, the Olde English Bulldogge is not for you. While they are healthy, active, and agile, their body type is just not conducive to long runs. They are a dog you can take to the park and have fun with outdoors, providing it's not extreme temperatures. They are also great for lounging around the house with.
I hope this article has given you a better idea of the Olde English Bulldogge and whether or not it's the right breed for you!