Bulldogs as team mascots

Why do so many schools have bulldogs as their team mascots? This is very common at the high school level (at least i n Texas) and college level (http://www.smargon.net/nicknames/). Bulldogs aren’t an especially popular breed nor do they have a reputation for being mean. I know of no teams who have pit bulls, dobermans or German shepards as their mascot.

So what’s the deal with Bulldogs?

They’re relentless.

Plus they look cute in turtlenecks.

I’d say it’s not about having a mean disposition, it’s about being having courage, toughness, and perserverance. A dog that can take down a bull qualifies.

Here is how it happened at Georgetwon Univeristy in D.C.
I bet it the GQ answer might need to be a case by case basis.
But having said that I think Gary T’s perception of Bulldog=“tenacious” is more what folks were going for using a Bulldog rather than “vicious”

Yale started it for US football teams. Yale was the first football powerhouse, and a lot of newly-formed teams emulated them, right down to the nickname. That is how the Georgia Bulldogs, for example, came to be named.

And here’s the history of Yale’s mascot, Handsome Dan.

(I should amend my last post to say that Yale was one of the early powerhouses. Princeton can also claim that distinction - perhaps why there are also many teams with the “Tigers” nickname.)

Oddly enough, I learned recently that years ago before the University of Kansas had the famed Jayhawk as their mascot, they had used a bulldog. And since the KU school colors (Crimson and Blue) were inspired by Harvard and Yale, maybe they got the bulldog mascot idea from Yale as well.

Modern bulldogs are indeed gentle and amiable; the breed has changed over the years. Long, long ago, there was a cruel “sporting event” in which a few dogs and a bull were turned loose in a pen. Folks would wager on whether the bull would die before killing the dogs. The “tenacious” part came when a dog got a chance to bite the bull’s throat or face. He wouldn’t let go, no matter how the bull thrashed around.

Besides, the look of a modern bulldog is of a barrel-chested, broad-shouldered, muscular guy, who walks with confidence despite his distinctive face.