Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Bull-dog, an abnormal canine monster, a dog idiot

The bull-dog's image in 1858 is identical to his image in 2012

BULL-DOG (canis molossus), a species of dog said to be peculiar to the British islands, and distinguished almost solely for its undiscriminating ferocity. The dog, generally, by naturalists is distinguished into 3 divisions, to one of which all natural species belong, while to a comvination of 2 or more all the artificial varieties are to be referred. These are the canes sagaces, veloces, and feroces, distinguished respectively for their intelligence, their speed, and their ferocity. The first or highest is represented by the spaniel, to which belong all the pure species which hunt by scent; the middle, by the greyhound, or more properly, gazehound, to which are referred all those which hunt mainly or solely by speed; and the lowest, by the bull-dog, of which pugnacity is the sole characteristic.

The bull-dog is low in stature, deep-chested, and strongly made about the shoulders, which, with the chest and neck, are enormously developed, as are the muscles of the thigh behind, although, generally, the hind quarters are light as compared to the fore part, and the flanks hollow and tucked up, like those of the greyhound. In his head, however, are seated his principal peculiarities. It is remarkable for its short broad muzzle, and the projection of its lower jaw, which causes the lower front teeth to protrude beyond those of the upper. The condyles of the jaw are placed above the line of the upper grinding teeth; and it is this conformation which renders the bite of the bull-dog so terribly severe, and his hold, when once taken, almost immovable. The lips are thick, deep and pendulous; the ears fine, small, and pendant at the tip; the tail thick at the root, but tapering to a point, as fine as that of the greyhound. "He is the most ferocious and unrelenting of the canine tribe, and may be considered courageous beyond every other creature in the world; for he will attack any animal, whatever be his magnitude, without hesitation, either at his own caprice, or at the bidding of his owner. His most important quality, and that, probably, which causes all the others, although we cannot perceive the connection, is the diminution of the brain; which in the bull-dog, is smaller and less developed than in any other race; and it is doubtless, to the the decrease of the encephalon that must be attributed his want of intelligence, and incapacity for receiving education." So strongly marked is this peculiarity, that an able recent writer on the dog considers the bull-dog as a sort of abnormal canine monster, a dog idiot, yielding to uncontrollable physical impulses, now of blind ferocity, now of equally blind and undiscriminating, mandlin tenderness, which renders him more addicted to licking, slobbering, and mumbling the hand, the boot, or any other part of any person to whom he takes a sudden and causeless liking, and whom he is just as likely to assault the next moment, than any other species.

This view is, however scarcely to be regarded as philosophical. All creatures have their places in the scale of creation; and, without any one of them, the chain of existence, and it may be added of intelligence, would be incomplete. It is probably, also, that the intelligence and capacity of this animal to learn are underrated. Men are very apt, because they bestow much pains on the education of one animal, and none on that of another, to pronounce this a wonder of intelligence, that incapable of learning. It cannot, however be denied that the bull-dog does not display the usual intelligence nor the fidelity of the dog; since he will capriciously attack his master, of whom he may, ordinarily, be morbidly fond. A proof of his distinct purpose in creation is his native antipathy to the bull; which is not akin to the propensity of all animals, particularly of dogs, to pursue any thing which flies, but to the instinctive antipathy which induces the ichneumon to attack the venomous snake, the kitten to assail the mouse, and the ferret to hunt the rat – antipathies not connected with the desire of prey, and owned by the one party as intensely as by the other. In proof of this, a thoroughbred bull-pup of 6 months, which has never seen a bull, the first time he beholds one, will run to the head, which is his invariable point of attack, and, seizing him by the lip, tongue, or eye, hang on, in spite of every attempt to detach him, and will suffer himself to be killed or even dismembered – instances of which horrible barbarity have actually occurred in what are absurdly called the good old times – rather than forego his hold. It is clear, indeed, that bull-baiting was the consequence of this natural hatred and antagonism of the 2 animals, not the cause of it.

It was an old saying that 1 bulldog was a match for a bull, 2 for a wolf, 3 for a bear, and 4 for a lion. The latter experiment was tried on a wild, newly imported African lion, in the tower of London, some years since; when, although not one of the dogs showed a symptom of fear, or relaxed his hold, the lion annihilated them all, with blows of his paws, in a few seconds. The very propensity of the bull-dog to run at the head only, renders them useless to attack wild beasts; as it limits the number of those which can attack at once to as many as can seize at one time. If they would only lay hold on all sides, like foxhounds, nothing but a rhinoceros could resist the combined attacked of a pack of bull-dogs. With the of bull-baiting, the demand for the bull-dog has ceased; although he is still found useful to cross with other dogs, to which he imparts courage, endurance, and tenacity of purpose. There is a large cross of the bull-dog, where it would be least expected, in the greyhound, introduced by Lord Orford, to give certain valuable qualities; and the greyhound shows it by always running at the head of large animals, as deer. There is, also, a probably cross in the pointer, shown in the pendulous jowl and rat tail, as well as in the determined character.

The New American Cyclopaedia