Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

The Bulldog

1003 of 1172 nominations


The Bulldog

Is this an icon?


The Bulldog

So called because it was once specifically bred to participate in bullbaiting, the English bulldog is indelibly associated with the national attributes of resilience, loyalty and courage. Its flat, wrinkled face with pushed-up nose, broad shoulders, heavy paws and comparatively slender rear end were characteristics bred into it in the Middle Ages. They were to help it to perform its sporting function of clamping its jaws over a bull’s muzzle and hanging on for grim death. After bullbaiting was made illegal by the Humane Act 1835, the breed looked in danger of dying out, but was preserved in an altogether gentler, child-friendly version – albeit one prone to a range of medical ailments. What helped in modern times to confirm the bulldog as a symbol of Englishness was its uncanny resemblance to Sir Winston Churchill. The wartime Prime Minister wasn’t unaware of the similarity, once helpfully explaining to a Nazi envoy that “the nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.”


Your comments

This breed of dog has already been an icon for many years and represents the steadfastness and stoicism of the people as well as their gentle, forgiving nature. Although todays Bulldog still retains his ancestors’ courage and tenacity and is rugged in appearance, with the look of great strength, todays Bulldog is docile in manner and affectionate by nature. He has long since lived down any stigma of the sport from which he takes his name.

Ginette Elliott

Beware the British hound, Who brings the bull's big head to the ground. For an ancient glimmer lingers in the Bulldog's eye, That says "I never quit my hold until the moment i die!" ****** What this breed has seen and done from the Roman arena down to the bull ring and the fighting pits is a tale of perserverance and courage that is best told among only the strong of heart and is definitely not for the squeamish. That the breed has survived to become a docile household pet and a steadfast companion is both well deserved and ironic for such a seasoned warrior. But a note to would be burglars and housebreakers: The old spirit still dwells within and that docile, easy going carpet ornament can quickly become the bulldog of old if the need arises. And he never let's go until the job is done. Tenacity is his middle name.
Brian Bringham

It symbolises the strength, tenacity and fearlessness of the nation.
Peter David Wormald

View All Comments (34)



I nominate the English weather.