History of Bulldogs

U.S. Marine Corp Mascot

Thanks to the German Army, the U.S. Marine Corps has an unofficial mascot. During World War I many German reports had called the attacking Marines “teufel-hunden,” meaning Devil-Dogs. Teufel-hunden were the vicious, wild, and ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.

Soon afterward a U.S. Marine recruiting poster depicted a snarling English Bulldog wearing a Marine Corps helmet. Because of the tenacity and demeanor of the breed, the image took root with both the Marines and the public. The Marines soon unofficially adopted the English Bulldog as their mascot.

At the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, the Marines obtained a registered English Bulldog, King Bulwark. In a formal ceremony on 14 October 1922, BGen. Smedley D. Butler signed documents enlisting the bulldog, renamed Jiggs, for the “term of life.” Pvt. Jiggs then began his official duties in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A hard-charging Marine, Pvt. Jiggs did not remain a private for long. Within three months he was wearing corporal chevrons on his custom-made uniform. On New Years Day 1924, Jiggs was promoted to Sergeant. And in a meteoric rise, he got promoted again — this time to Sergeant Major — seven months later.

SgtMaj. Jiggs’ death on 9 January 1927 was mourned throughout the Corps. His satin-lined coffin lay in state in a hangar at Quantico, surrounded by flowers from hundreds of Corps admirers. He was interred with full military honors.

But, a replacement was on the way. Former heavyweight boxing champion, James J. “Gene” Tunney, who had fought with the Marines in France, donated his English Bulldog. Renamed as Jiggs II, he stepped into the role of his predecessor.

Big problem! No discipline! Jiggs chased people, he bit people. He showed a total lack of respect for authority. The new Jiggs would have likely made an outstanding combat Marine, but barracks life did not suit him. After one of his many rampages, he died of heat exhaustion on 1928. Nonetheless, other bulldogs followed. During the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s they were all named Smedley, a tribute to Gen. Butler.

In the late 1950s the Marine Barracks in Washington, the oldest post in the Corps, became the new home for the Corps’ mascot. Renamed Chesty to honor the legendary LtGen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller Jr., the mascot made his first formal public appearance at the Evening Parade on 5 July 1957. In his canine Dress Blues, Chesty became an immediate media darling, a smash hit!

After the demise of the original Chesty, the replacement was named Chesty II. He became an instant renegade. You name it, he did it. He even escaped and went AWOL once. Two days later he was returned in a police paddy wagon. About the only thing he ever managed to do correctly was to sire a replacement.

In contrast to his father, Chesty III proved to be a model Marine. He even became a favorite of neighborhood children, for which he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal. Other bulldogs would follow Chesty III (bulldogs don’t live long). When Chesty VI died after an Evening Parade, a Marine detachment in Tennessee called Washington. Their local bulldog mascot, LCpl. Bodacious Little, was standing by for PCS orders to Washington, they reported.

Upon arrival at the Marine Barracks in Washington, LCpl. Little got ceremoniously renamed Chesty VII. He and the English Bulldogs who followed him epitomize the fighting spirit of the U.S. Marines. Tough, muscular, aggressive, fearless, and often arrogant, they are the ultimate canine warriors.

English Bulldogs. Teufel-hunden. Devil Dogs. They symbolize the ethos of the Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines.

Source Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey)


Breed General Info

The term “Bulldog” was first mentioned in literature around 1500, the oldest spelling of the word being Bondogge and Bolddogge. The first reference to the word with the modern spelling is dated 1631 or 1632 in a letter by a man named Preswick Eaton where he writes: “procuer mee two good Bulldogs, and let them be sent by ye first shipp”. The name “bull” was applied because of the dog’s use in the sport of bull baiting. This entailed the setting of dogs (after placing wagers on each dog) onto a tethered bull. The dog that grabbed the bull by the nose and pinned it to the ground would be the victor. It was common for a bull to maim or kill several dogs at such an event, either by goring, tossing or trampling. Over the centuries dogs used for bull-baiting developed the stocky bodies and massive heads and jaws which typify the breed as well as a ferocious and savage temperament. Bull-baiting – along with bear-baiting – reached the peak of their popularity in England in the early 1800s until they were both made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835. This amended the existing legislation to protect animals from mistreatment and included (as ‘cattle’) bulls, dogs, bears and sheep, so that bull and bear-baiting as well as cockfighting became prohibited. Therefore, the Old English Bulldog had outlived its usefulness in England as a sporting animal and its active or ‘working’ days were numbered. However, emigrants did have a use for such dogs in the New World. In mid-17th century New York, Bulldogs were used as a part of a city-wide round-up effort led by governor Richard Nicolls. Because cornering and leading wild bulls was dangerous, Bulldogs were trained to seize a bull by its nose long enough for a rope to be secured around its neck. Bulldogs as pets were continually promoted by dog dealer Bill George.

Despite slow maturation so that growing up is rarely achieved by two and a half years, bulldogs’ lives are relatively short and at five to six years of age they are starting to show signs of aging.

In time, the original old English Bulldog was crossed with the pug. The outcome was a shorter, wider dog with a brachycephalic skull. Though today’s Bulldog looks tough, he cannot perform the job he was originally created for as he cannot withstand the rigors of running and being thrown by a bull, and also cannot grip with such a short muzzle.

The oldest single breed specialty club is The Bulldog Club (England), which was formed in 1878. Members of this club met frequently at the Blue Post pub on Oxford Street in London. There they wrote the first standard of perfection for the breed. In 1894 the two top Bulldogs, King Orry and Dockleaf, competed in a contest to see which dog could walk 20 miles. King Orry was reminiscent of the original Bulldogs, lighter boned and very athletic. Dockleaf was smaller and heavier set, more like modern Bulldogs. King Orry was declared the winner that year finishing the 20 mile walk while Dockleaf collapsed.

At the turn of the 20th century, Ch. Rodney Stone became the first Bulldog to command a price of $5000 when he was bought by controversial Irish-American political figure Richard Croker.

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