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Olde English Bulldogge Information and Facts: Is This Dog Breed Right for You?

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An Olde English Bulldogge puppy—this breed originated in the United States in the 1970s.

An Olde English Bulldogge puppy—this breed originated in the United States in the 1970s.

The Olde English Bulldogge vs. the Old English Bulldog

When most people think of a bulldog, the Old English Bulldog, or even the modern-day English Bulldog, is often what comes to mind. Surprisingly, the Old English Bulldog is actually extinct, and the modern-day English Bulldog is what we've come to automatically identify as the classic 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.

Olde English Bulldogges

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:

Why Do Olde English Bulldogges Make Great Pets?

Olde English Bulldogges have many great attributes. Compared to other bulldog breeds, they have less of the health issues associated with standard brachycephalic breeds (characterized by a shortened muzzle) and are known for their excellent temperament. Here are some of their positive attributes:

  • Good Temperament: They are trustworthy, loyal, protective, and loving.
  • Friendly: They do well with other animals and small kids (when socialized and trained early).
  • Athletic: They are athletic, hardy, and less sensitive to hot and cold climates compared to other brachycephalics.
  • Hypoallergenic: Their coat type and coat dander do not trigger allergies in most sensitive individuals.
  • Trainable: They are eager to please and do well when engaged in training activities.
  • Good Health: Compared to other breeds, OEBs possess less of the commonly inherited negative bulldog traits (airway issues, hip issues, climate sensitivity, difficult births and breeding).
Abraham Cooper's famous 1817 painting "Crib and Rosa" of the now extinct Old English Bulldog.

Abraham Cooper's famous 1817 painting "Crib and Rosa" of the now extinct Old English 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, this breed has numerous inherited health issues.

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

A New Breed: The Olde English Bulldogge

The modern Olde 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 an athletic bulldog breed with a similar build and gentler disposition than that of the extinct Old English Bulldog. According to David Leavitt, the OEB does not have 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.

Data was rounded from 1/6th or 16.67% to 17%. Information adapted from Wikipedia.

Data was rounded from 1/6th or 16.67% to 17%. Information adapted from Wikipedia.

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 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.
My Olde English Bulldogge "Bam Bam."

My Olde English Bulldogge "Bam Bam."

  • 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 100-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.

How to Tell Bulldog Breeds Apart

This photograph cross-compares three popular types of bulldog breeds.

This photograph cross-compares three popular types of bulldog breeds.

A Comparison of the Differences in Bulldog Breeds

*Breed information adapted from Wikipedia

TraitOlde English BulldoggeEnglish BulldogAmerican Bulldog

Size

50–70 lbs (F); 65–85 lbs (M)

30–50 lbs (maybe 60 lbs)

60–90 lbs (F); 71–119 lbs (M)

Lifespan

10–14 years

8–10 years

10–15 years

Body Height

17–18 inches (F); 18–20 inches (M)

12–16 inches (F); 12–16 inches (M)

20–24 inches (F); 20–26 inches (M)

Health Concerns

Several

Numerous

Several

Breathing Difficulty

Mildly Problematic

Highly Problematic

Moderately Problematic

Breeding

Free breeders and free whelpers

C-section required

C-section with large litters

Heat and Cold Tolerance

Mild Sensitivity

High Sensitivity

Mild Sensitivity