We have often heard (I mean most of us here) that beside the „Alaunt de Boucherie“, there also existed a smaller version of the Alaunt de Boucherie (not much smaller, but more agile and athletic) exclusively bred for Bullbaiting. (For example the Bulldogue du Midi in France, some Alanos in Spain etc,)
In my opinion this type of Bulldog used as baiting dog is the ancestor of all „Bulldog type fighting dogs“ of nowadays, including the apbt. This stunning dog bred by Glen Jones and Nelson Ray, in my opinion resembles this athletic and agile type of the Alaunt de Boucherie very well!
Bull baiting, the long-practiced sport in which bully-type dogs were sent to attempt to bait and eventually bring down a tethered bull, evokes images of gruesome exhibitions staged for public amusement. As bull baiting grew in popularity, it led to the development of the Bulldog, which remains one of the most popular breeds. When bull baiting was banned, the resulting popularity of dog fighting led to the development of the pit bull terrier.
In his book, British Dogs (Collins, 1955), canine authority A. Croxton Smith writes, “That this brutal pastime gave pleasure to the spectators is obvious, but it is not certain that that was the primary object.” If we delve beneath its shocking premise, bull baiting reveals quite a bit about our changing perceptions of dogs.
Bull baiting beginnings
In The Book of the Dog (Nicholson and Watson, 1948) author Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald states, “The remarkable thing is that bull baiting did not begin as a sport at all. It was once illegal to slaughter a bull unless it had first been baited with dogs.” Historians agree that bull baiting evolved from the belief that prolonged exertion rendered tough meat tender and palatable. In 1655, English naturalist and physician Thomas Muffett explained, in the posthumously published book Health’s Improvement, that “violent heat and motion might attenuate [the bulls’] blood, resolve their hardness, and make the flesh soften in digestion.”
Bull baiting was codified into law in a Cambridge ordinance in 1376 forbidding the sale of meat from bulls that were not “baited,” meaning they were fed with grass in a stall. This interpretation actually would have made some sense if the law was meant to guarantee quality meat for sale.
Smith theorized that the term “bull baiting,” which originally referred to the practice of keeping bulls stabled and feeding them grass and hay, was later misinterpreted and an alternate definition became generally accepted. Bull baiting’s popularity may have also derived from practical necessity. Tainted meat was a perpetual hazard. Therefore, it’s understandable that potential consumers preferred to observe the town butcher slaughter an animal, which included baiting the bull, to ensure the meat’s quality.
From practical use to sport
Centuries later, it’s impossible to separate fact from legend, but there is no question that many people enjoyed watching bull baiting. In her book, 1700: Scenes from London Life (Sceptre, 2001), Maureen Waller writes, “[Sixteenth century] Londoners had a taste for cruel and ferocious sport, which reflected their own lives: nasty, brutish and short.” By 1500, bull baiting had progressed from a local food-safety ordinance to Britain’s national pastime.
At first, any sturdy farm dog was considered suitable. This included ancestors of modern sheepdogs, mastiffs and bulldogs. The ancestors of the mastiff-type dogs, called alauntes, were said to be good for baiting bulls.
Bull baiting dogs, including bulldogs and bull and terriers, were bred to bait animals, mainly bulls and bears. During bull-baiting the dog would attempt to flatten itself to the ground, creeping as close to the bull as possible, then darting out and attempting to bite the bull in the nose or head area. The bull would often be tethered by a collar and rope which was staked into the ground. As the dog darted at the bull, the bull would attempt to catch the dog with his head and horns and throw it into the air.
In 1835, the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in Parliament that outlawed „Blood Sport“ in the United Kingdom.The bulldog’s work was suddenly over and the bulldog rapidly started dying out. Around 1865 dog fanciers began developing dog clubs which eventually culminated into conformation shows. Many fanciers utilized various remnants of the dog utilized for „Blood Sport“ to resurrect the „Bull“ dog and ultimately developed today’s modern English bulldog.