It is thought that Bulldogs were first seen in the 16th century. They were produced to fight bulls, bears and other fierce beasts for highly popular gambling events called "bull baiting." Although the large game animals were tethered or attacked by entire packs, many dogs were gored, crushed and killed. All levels of English society partook in this pastime; there was much money and fame to be had for the person who produced the biggest, hardest and strongest dogs. Prior to being called "bull dogges," they were known by a number of names: Bear Dog, Bolddogge, Bondogge and Butchers Bull were popular ones. The scientific term, Canis Pugnax, was applied in 1666.
The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 put an end to public bull baiting and similar bloodsport. It was a watershed moment that apparently jump-started a Bulldog evolution. The shorter muzzles, lesser endurance and sweeter temperaments of today's Bulldogs was probably the result of the 1835 law. It was not too many decades later when, in 1878, The Bulldog Club (England) was founded. Now the oldest single breed club in the world, it was formed at the Blue Post, a pub on Oxford Street in London. To this day, the Club helps to maintain English Bulldog ancestry and hosts a championship show every March.
In 1890, the American Bulldog Club was established in New York by English immigrants who took their Bulldogs with them to the "new world." This club was incorporated under New York State laws in 1904 and was one of the first breed clubs to join the American Kennel Club. In 1922, the U.S. Marines formally adopted the English Bulldog as the corps' mascot. The first formally enlisted Bulldog, Pvt. Jiggs, was inducted at a ceremony at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia — the same place where, in 1927, his death was mourned after having reached the rank of Sergeant Major in 1924.