The American Kennel Club (AKC) National Championship is the Super Bowl of dog shows. With over 5,000 dogs competing in the 7 breed groups (Sporting, Working, Toy, Non-Sporting, etc.), the 22nd annual AKC National Championship held in mid-December revealed a new “star.”

The AKC crowned its newest champion, Star, with the Best in Show title. Star is a 3 ½ year old bulldog owned by a couple from Texas. To celebrate Star’s historic win, let’s take a deeper look at the bulldog.

The bulldog, also known as an English Bulldog, originated (not shockingly) in England.  They were first bred for the outlawed sport of bullbaiting and were first recognized by the AKC in 1886.

Through the years, bulldogs have been bred to be shorter and stouter than their ancestors. The classic “smushed” face is a purposefully bred trait, though it comes with health drawbacks. But as far as personality goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a breed more lovable and goofy than a bulldog.

Their easy-going personality makes them ideal for families with small children. Their big personalities are sure to keep you entertained, but they come with a stubborn streak. Any bulldog owner can attest to the breed’s toughness which can sometimes make training difficult. They are a breed that needs some convincing. Luckily, they are highly motivated by food and will do anything for a treat.

 While many people mistake this breed for being lazy, it can come as a surprise that bulldogs require moderate exercise and a special diet. On average, bulldogs weigh between 40-55 pounds. Their propensity to easily gain weight makes them susceptible to obesity. A carefully managed diet and exercise program are beneficial in preventing this.

While these cute and cuddly dogs may seem like a great fit for you, keep in mind that they are considered a high-maintenance breed. No, that does not mean they require a lot of grooming. In fact, grooming is quite minimal for a bulldog. Their high-maintenance reputation comes in the form of their health. That’s right, there’s a price to pay for that iconic smushed face – which in the veterinary world is known as brachycephalic. This means that these dogs have skull bones that are shortened in length.

Brachycephalic dogs are well-known for their breathing issues (ex. Pugs, Boston Terriers). All that snorting and snoring may be cute at first, but it has the potential to cause issues down the line. In addition, bulldogs are very prone to both environmental and food allergies. Testing at your veterinarian can help pinpoint the cause and treatment is fairly straightforward once it has been identified. Typically, this can be resolved with a special diet and/or allergy medications like Cytopoint or Apoquel.

Despite their health concerns, this lovable breed remains a top choice for families across the nation. Their sweet personalities, cuddly nature, and go-with-the-flow attitude make them ideal for many different lifestyles.