The Bulldog breed began with the Alaunt, an extinct line of working dogs existing in ancient Asia and Europe. Around 1500 AD in France, Alaunts were separated into three distinct categories based on physical appearance and duties performed: 1) Alaunt Gentile – a greyhound-like dog, which was eventually assimilated with Alaunt Veantre; 2) Alaunt Veantre – local hunting breeds; and 3) Alaunt de Boucherie – a mastiff-like dog crucial in the development of fighting and baiting dogs. Alaunt de Boucherie were termed the original Bulldogs as they were used to control and defend cattle. By the 15th century, bulldogs were used in the “sport” of bull baiting. This entailed a bull having a rope tied around its horns and being staked to an iron in the center of the ring; subsequently, bulldog owners would set their dogs loose, baiting the bull/bear one at a time for about an hour.
During the Elizabethan Area, bull- and bear-baiting was extremely popular, attracting people from all classes of society. The participation in this “sport” made dog owners more conscious of the importance of the physical structure and size of the dog. This started the evolution of the bulldog; the dog began changing shape with the bulk of its weight near the head. Bull baiting was succeeded by dog fighting, which further gave way to the diminishing number of purebred Bulldogs. While bull baiting led to the crossbreeding of bulldogs for fierce, vicious, and tenacious traits, dog fighting led to the crossbreeding with the Terrier. This combination was thought to create a better fighting dog.
Around 1835, laws were passed in England prohibiting bull baiting and the Olde English Bulldogges main purpose of existence vanished. Within a decade the numbers of bulldogs declined drastically almost to extinction.
Dog show fanciers eventually decided to reconstruct the breed, but wanted to tone down the aggressive temperament of the original Olde English Bulldogge. They crossed the remnants of the existing stock with other breeds and over the years that followed they developed the modern English Bulldog. Unfortunately though, this modern dog is wrought with all kinds of genetic health problems.
In the early 1970s, David Leavitt developed the Olde English Bulldogge (OEB) breeding line. He developed the line to have the look, health, and athleticism of bull-baiting dogs, but without the extreme tenacity. He did this by crossing half English Bulldog with half Bullmastiff, American Pit Bull Terrier, and American Bulldog. By 1985, three true lines were developed and the breed was deemed sound, stable, and well suited for modern life. Mr. Leavitt created a true-breeding lineage as a re-creation of the healthier working bulldog from early nineteenth century England. Using a breeding scheme developed for cattle, Leavitt crossed , American Bulldogs, American Pit Bull Terriers and. The result was an athletic breed that looks similar to the bulldogs of 1820 but also has a friendly temperament.