The following is the complete text regarding the Bulldog from the 1792 third edition of A General History of Quadrupeds by Thomas Bewick and Ralph Beilby. Although the engraving of the dog of that era is much more moderate than the Bulldog would soon become, the shocking element in the breed history concerns the cavalier and cruel nature with which the dog’s ferocity was demonstrated in a story that we can only hope was myth: a man amputates his dog’s feet one by one to prove that it’s still game after each assault.
Even if only a parable, all of the elements that still plague the modern bully breeds are still present in abundance in this treatment: blood sport, braggadocio, betting, and testosterone laden aggression.
The Bull-Dog is the fiercest of all the Dog kind, and is probably the most courageous creature in the world. It is low in stature, but very strong and muscular. Its nose is short; and the under jaw projects beyond the upper, which gives it a fierce and unpleasing aspect. –Its courage in attacking the Bull is well known: Its fury in seizing, and its invincible obstinacy in maintaining, its hold, are truly astonishing. It always aims at the front; and generally fastens upon the lip, the tongue, the eye, or some part of the face; where it hangs, in spit of every effort of the Bull to disengage himself.
The uncommon ardor of these Dogs in fighting will be best illustrated by the following fact, related by an eye-witness; which at the same time corroborates, in some degree, what wonderful account of the Dogs of Epirus given by Elian, and quoted by Dr. Goldsmith in his history of the Dog:– Some years ago, at a bull-baiting in the North of England, when that barbarous custom was very common, a young man, confident of the courage of his Dog, laid some trifling wagers, that he would, at separate times, cut off all the four feet of his Dog; and that, after every amputation, it would attack the Bull. The cruel experiment was tried; and the Dog continued to seize the Bull as eagerly as if he had been perfectly whole.
Of late years, this inhuman custom of baiting the Bull has been almost entirely laid aside in the North of England; and, consequently, there are now few of this kind of Dogs to be seen.
As the Bull-Dog always makes his attack without barking, it is very dangerous to approach him alone, without the greatest precaution.
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