CHAPTER III. THE BULLDOG

It must be acknowledged that there are many strains of this breed which are constitutionally unsound. For this reason it is important that the novice should give very careful consideration to his first purchase of a Bulldog. He should ascertain beyond all doubt, not only that his proposed purchase is itself sound in wind and limb, but that its sire and dam are, and have been, in similarly healthy condition. The dog to be chosen should be physically strong and show pronounced muscular development. If these requirements are present and the dog is in no sense a contradiction of the good qualities of its progenitors, but a justification of its pedigree, care and good treatment will do the rest. It is to be remembered, however, that a Bulldog may be improved by judicious exercise. When at exercise, or taking a walk with his owner, the young dog should always be held by a leash. He will invariably pull vigorously against this restraint, but such action is beneficial, as it tends to develop the muscles of the shoulders and front of the body.

When taking up the Bulldog fancy, nine out of every ten novices choose to purchase a male. The contrary course should be adopted. The female is an equally good companion in the house or on the road; she is not less affectionate and faithful; and when the inevitable desire to attempt to reproduce the species is reached the beginner has the means at once available.

It is always difficult for the uninitiated to select what is likely to be a good dog from the nest. In choosing a puppy care should be taken to ensure it has plenty of bone in its limbs, and these should be fairly short and wide; the nostrils should be large and the face as short as possible. The chop should be thick and heavily wrinkled and the mouth square. There should be a distinct indent in the upper jaw, where the bone will eventually curve, whilst the lower jaw should show signs of curvature and protrude slightly in front of the upper jaw. The teeth from canine to canine, including the six front teeth, should be in a straight line.

See that the ears are very small and thin, and the eyes set well apart. The puppy having these properties, together with a domed, peaked, or “cocoanut” shaped skull, is the one which, in nine cases out of ten, will eventually make the best headed dog of the litter.

The breeding of Bulldogs requires unlimited patience, as success is very difficult to attain. The breeder who can rear five out of every ten puppies born may be considered fortunate. It is frequently found in what appears to be a healthy lot of puppies that some of them begin to whine and whimper towards the end of the first day, and in such cases the writer's experience is that there will be a speedy burial.

It may be that the cause is due to some acidity of the milk, but in such a case one would expect that similar difficulty would be experienced with the remainder of the litter, but this is not the usual result. Provided that the puppies can be kept alive until the fourth day, it may be taken that the chances are well in favour of ultimate success.

Many breeders object to feeding the mother with meat at this time, but the writer once had two litter sisters who whelped on the same day, and he decided to try the effect of a meat versus farinaceous diet upon them. As a result the bitch who was freely fed with raw beef reared a stronger lot of puppies, showing better developed bone, than did the one who was fed on milk and cereals.

Similarly, in order that the puppy, after weaning, may develop plenty of bone and muscle, it is advisable to feed once a day upon finely minced raw meat. There are some successful breeders, indeed, who invariably give to each puppy a teaspoonful of cod liver oil in the morning and a similar dose of extract of malt in the evening, with the result that there are never any rickety or weak dogs in the kennels, whilst the development of the bones in the skull and limbs is most pronounced.

Owing to their lethargic disposition, young Bulldogs are somewhat liable to indigestion, and during the period of puppyhood it is of advantage to give them a tablespoonful of lime water once a day in their milk food.

Many novices are in doubt as to the best time to breed from a Bull bitch, seeing that oestrum is present before she is fully developed. It may be taken as practically certain that it is better for her to be allowed to breed at her first heat. Nature has so arranged matters that a Bull bitch is not firmly set in her bones until she reaches an age of from twelve to eighteen months, and therefore she will have less difficulty in giving birth to her offspring if she be allowed to breed at this time. Great mortality occurs in attempting to breed from maiden bitches exceeding three years of age, as the writer knows to his cost.

It is desirable, in the case of a young bitch having her first litter, for her master or mistress to be near her at the time, in order to render any necessary assistance; but such attentions should not be given unless actual necessity arises.

Some bitches with excessive lay-back and shortness of face have at times a difficulty in releasing the puppy from the membrane in which it is born, and in such a case it is necessary for the owner to open this covering and release the puppy, gently shaking it about in the box until it coughs and begins to breathe.

The umbilical cord should be severed from the afterbirth about four inches from the puppy, and this will dry up and fall away in the course of a couple of days.