The dog breed known as the English bulldog is officially called just the bulldog, according to the American Kennel Club. The bulldog's purpose originally was to catch and hold bulls for butchers, and specimens were ferocious. Today's bulldogs lack the strength or endurance to hold onto a bull's nose the way their forebears did, nor do they have the temperament for it. Modern bulldogs are quite gentle. AKC standards for bulldogs are rigorous.
Head and Shoulder Standards
The English bulldog is bred to have wide shoulders as well as a wide head. The shoulders should have a lot of loose folds of skin. The ears are set far back on the skull and ideally should have folds that show the undersides of the ears as they curl forward over the wrinkled forehead. The big head needs to be at least as large in circumference as the length of the forelegs to the shoulder.
Face and Neck Standards
A champion English bulldog has a lower jaw that juts out further than the top jaw, creating a pronounced underbite, and there is a thick fold of skin over the dog's short nose, known as a rope. The eyes should be positioned low on the front of the face, but far apart, and should be round in shape with dark irises. The neck is short, muscular and thick, with wrinkles and hanging dewlaps.
Back, Body and Tail Standards
The bulldog's back should be well-rounded, with the hips widely spaced and set higher than the shoulders. The belly should be concave, and the chest rounded and well-muscled. There should be plenty of wrinkles along the length of the back, with the largest being located over the shoulder area. The short tail should ideally be set low on the rump and should be either straight or tightly coiled but not curly or long.
The front legs should be short and only slightly bowed. The paws should either face straight forward or point slightly outward, and all of the claws should be naturally short. The legs have a lot of loose skin that resemble baggy hose, and the toes should be proportioned to the size of the forelegs, and not too large or too small. The chest should be wide and round, with many sagging wrinkles and two dewlaps.
The hind legs should be muscular, widely spaced and slightly longer than the front legs to make the hips rise above the shoulders, with the toes pointing outward. There are fewer wrinkles on the hind legs, but they are still present on the foot area, making it look like the dog's socks have fallen down. The rump should be high, round and somewhat smoother than the rest of the animal's skin.
Coat and Skin Standards
The coat of the English bulldog grows short, fine and close to the skin. It should be glossy in appearance. Long hair is undesirable in this breed, and so is curly hair. The most desirable coat color is red brindle, which is a brownish-red shade with darker patches mixed in. Other brindle shades are the second most desirable, followed by solid white, solid red, fawn and piebald. The skin should be soft, loose and draped in thick wrinkles.
Weight and Disposition Standards
The male bulldog should weigh a solid 50 pounds, and the female should weigh 40 pounds. Bulldogs should be gentle, sweet and nonaggressive. Bulldogs are friendly and patient, and are known for getting along with children as well as other dogs or other pets. These dogs are loyal and attached to their families, usually refusing to go anywhere without their people. Bulldogs consider themselves lap dogs and are cuddly in nature.