The Australian Bulldog is essentially the English Bulldog, but bred for Australian conditions. Medium-sized and equipped with a muscular body and short coat, the Australian Bulldog encompasses all of the valued traits of the English Bulldog such as loyalty and its affectionate nature but cancels out some of the physical characteristics that has made bulldogs ill-suited to Australia’s climate.
The modern Australian Bulldog was developed by Pip Nobes in Queensland in the early 1990s. It was developed from an English Bulldog and an Australian pig hunting dog, bred from an assortment of bull terriers. Australian pig dogs, used to hunt the wild boar found in the bush areas of the country, are very hardy working dogs that have become very well accustomed to the extreme heat and dry of the Australian climate. Nobes’ initial goal was to produce a Bulldog with an improved level of health.
Like its cousin the English Bulldog, the Australian Bulldog is a very affectionate and people-focused companion animal. The aggressive bull baiting it was once bred for is in no way reflected in the modern Bulldog’s temperament. Hundreds of years of selective breeding has seen the breed become a good-natured, patient and kind companion that is fantastic with children and, in most cases, other pets around the home.
The English Bulldog is plagued with a number of health problems and this new breed has reduced the severity of some of these conditions, as well as the likelihood of them occurring at all. While many conditions have been reduced, heat is still the Bulldog’s main concern. Although extreme heat still causes the Australian Bulldog breathing problems, the breed has thus far proven to be much more suited to the harsh conditions of Australia.
Australian Bulldogs are much taller than their English Bulldog cousins, measuring between 46-51cm and weighing in at between 28 – 35kgs. Australian Bulldogs will usually live to between 12 and 15 years of age.
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The Australian Bulldog, like its English cousin is a very persistent yet even-tempered and gentle breed of domesticated dog. The intimidating appearance and the breed’s history is misleading as the English Bulldog has gone through many years of selective breeding to encourage the fine qualities the modern breed now has.
Australian Bulldogs are very people-orientated and crave human attention at all times. The breed is highly affectionate and especially good with children, protective and enthusiastic. Because the Australian Bulldog requires so much attention it is best suited to a family environment where there will be some contact throughout the day.
Separation anxiety is common in the breed if they are left alone for an extended period of time. Because the Australian Bulldog is a stubborn and persistent animal, training can be a chore but only if the owner doesn’t commit to a regime with patience and consistency. Commencing training when the Bulldog is a puppy is a must and establishing a pecking order early is essential for good behaviour to follow.
Australian Bulldogs are very loyal animals and are keen to please their owners. Firm and consistent discipline is important when establishing the position of the pack leader; respect will only follow if the owner remains dominant.
Australian Bulldogs are not overly energetic but are enthusiastic at play time and should be exercised thoroughly at least once a day. Although bred to deal better with harsh Australian conditions, they are best suited to living indoors as they can feel the heat, especially in summer.
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The Australian Bulldog is a very new breed of domesticated dog, first developed in the 1990s in Queensland, Australia. Pip Nobes first mated an English Bulldog with an Australian pig hunting dog of bull terrier origin. The mix produced a taller and more athletic Bulldog with fewer health problems and a greater tolerance for the Australian heat.
The English Bulldog was developed in England for the purposes of bull baiting, a practice where dogs would attempt to latch on to the snout and face of an enraged bull. It was believed that by getting a bull’s spirits up and heated, the animal’s meat would be more tender and delicious upon slaughter. Bull baiting was also a popular spectator event and other animals like bears would be baited as well.
With the abolishment of bull baiting in the 1930s the English Bulldog was swiftly put out of work. Although no longer required to fight, many people in England had developed a fondness for the Bulldog’s great loyalty, tenacity and strength. The breed was developed into a companion dog and while it remained strong and loyal, its aggressiveness was soon replaced with a joyful and affectionate nature.
Upon arrival in Australia the modern English Bulldogs were particularly ill-suited to the country’s extreme heat. Nobes’ development of a healthier Australian Bulldog breed was featured on Burke’s Backyard in 1998 and was positioned as a bulldog with a great temperament and particularly healthier than the English Bulldog. From then on the Australian Bulldog captured the nation’s interest and the breed has enjoyed a great deal of success. In 2003, Pip Nobes founded the United Aussie Bulldog Association (UABA). She later left that group and formed the Australian Bulldog Society (ABS) in 2004. The group’s aim is to have the Australian Bulldog formally recognised by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC). To this day the ANKC has not fully recognised the breed.
Because the Australian Bulldog is such a young breed it’s difficult to measure the true extent of improved health over that of the English Bulldog. The Australian Bulldog does tend to suffer from many of the same conditions that affect the English Bulldog, but many of these cases are either less severe or occur at a lesser rate in the breed.
Brachycephalic Syndrome is still a common problem with the breed and the Australian Bulldog should be closely watched whilst outdoors, exercising or during periods of hot weather.
Aussie BullDog Club: http://www.aussiebulldogclub.com
Burkes Backyard breed info: http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/pets/pet-road-tests/aussie-bulldog/