The First Bulldog
and the First Bulldog Champions
In 1802, a bill to abolish bull baiting initiated the decline of the bulldog breed. The practice of bull-baiting continued until 1835 when it was finally made illegal by an Act of Parliament.
With the decline of bull baiting, bulldogs were no longer in demand and the number of purebred bulldogs began to diminish rapidly. If it had not been for a small group of dedicated fanciers, Bulldogs may have been lost forever.
Fortunately, a group of true lovers of the breed got together, with the desire to retain the breed and all its good points.
In 1864, the first Bulldog Club was formed with the motto 'Hold Fast'. It was founded by a man named R.S. Rockstro who called together a group of about 30 Bulldog enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the club only lasted three years, but this was long enough to see to the writing of the 'first' Breed Standard. It was called the 'Philo-Kuan' Standard, after the nom the plume of the Standard's author, Samuel Wickens.
In 1875, the original Bulldog Club was founded at the Blue Post Inn in London. It was the forerunner of all dog clubs in the world, and existed even before the UK Kennel Club was conceived. Members drew up a Standard similar to the Philo-Kuan, which is still used today and varies only slightly from the offical Standard. The Bulldog Club was incorporated in 1894. Its main objective was to control the infiltration of the Spanish Bulldog strain that weighed around 100 pounds or more. These Bulldogs were considered oversized and one of the first purposes of the Breed standard was to promote a more moderate size in Bulldogs. The Club held its annual exhibition of Bulldogs in London but it also offered trophies and medals for competition among its own members in other cities. The Bulldog Club Incorporated had a list of club judges, who were elected annually. The special prizes were offered only at shows were one or another of these club judges officiated.
Ball, referred to in the Philo-
Kuon Standard as having a
tail approaching perfection
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he was usually called. Crib was bred by Mr. Lamphier and sold to Mr. Turton who campaigned him to his title. He was never defeated during his entire ring career.
The matings of Crib to Berrie's Rose, Lampier's Meg, Rusts Miss Smiff and Becketts Kit were various strains that built the foundation of today's Bulldogs.
The first Bulldog to be shown was King Dick in 1860 and 1864, owned by Jacob Lamphier. Another of Mr. Lamphier's Bulldogs, named Adam, was the first Bulldog to be registered in The Kennel Club stud book. The Bulldog considered the one nearest to perfection ever seen was the famous Crib, or Turton's Crib as
The Bulldog Club of America was founded in 1890 by H.D. Kendall of Lowell, Massachusetts, with the aim to unite those interested in "encouraging the thoughtful and careful breeding of the English Bulldog in America". The Club was originally composed of a small group of men in the northeastern United States, but membership soon grow country-wide and the structure of the organization was reshaped in 1950 to make The Bulldog Club of America a truly national organization. The club has a unique organizational form with a national executive body composed of National officers and a legislative body composed of representatives for each geographical area or Division. Each Division in turn has its Division officers and a Board of Governors, to carry out the work of BCA within its geographical boundaries. National Officers rotate every two years to assure no area dominates. Membership in a division automatically implies membership of BCA.
One of the first dogs to be shown was Donald, a brindle-and-white exhibited by Sir William Verner in the show in New York in 1880. According to the famous judge, Enno Meyer, "Donald lacked somewhat in substance but he had a rather good head".
The best bulldogs that had been shown in America at that time were beyond doubt Robinson Crusoe of Colonel John E. Thayer and the excellent bitch, Champion Britomartis.
Another dog in this period was Mr. Graves' Handsome Dan, probably the best American-bred of this time, with the distinction of being the famous Yale mascot.
In 1907, the Bulldog Club of Philadelphia was the first local or regional club to be recognized.
When the Bulldog Club of America was first organized it used the English bulldog standard, but soon the original standard was considered as not descriptive enough and an executive committee was created in 1896 with the aim to conceive a new standard.
The South African Bulldog Club was probably the first Bulldog Club formed outside Great-Britain and the United States. It was founded in 1908 under the leadership of Dr. Currie and held its very first championship show in 1913.
The London Bulldog Society, originally known as the South London Bulldog Society, was another famous London Bulldog organization. Like the Bulldog Club Incorporated, it held an annual show in London and offered numerous special prizes for competing members at nearly all of the more important shows.
Local Clubs of that time included the Birmingham and Midland Counties Bulldog Club, located in Sutton Coldfield and the Manchester and District Bulldog Club, in Manchester.