Believed by some to be just an Irish strain of old English bulldogges, the Irish Bulldog is one of the oldest bullenbeisser breeds and the ancestor of many modern dogs of this type. Originally a hunter, guardian and all-around farm dog, it was also used to control rowdy cattle and later as a baiting contestant, as well as a successful fighting dog. Unlike most "sport" dogs of its kind, the Irish Bulldog reportedly contained no terrier blood and is oftentimes claimed by its admirers to be THE original bulldog of Britain from which all others developed, but even though it has been celebrated for its supposed purity, this rare bulldog did receive some outside influences throughout its history, mostly from local Irish hunting terriers and fighting bulldogges from England and Scotland, aimed at both improving its working ability and increasing the gene pool. During the heyday of dog-fighting, the few Irish Bulldogge lines which were maintained pure lost favour in the "sport" circles since they simply couldn't compete with the increasingly popular game terrier crosses and eventually became extinct, while the breed as a whole slowly became assimilated into the Irish bull-terrier population, from which the Irish Staffordshire Bullterrier breed was later established. Even though it has long been considered extinct, the Irish Bulldog's name is still occasionally used for certain Irish strains of Staffies and Pit Bulls, and there are even some breeders who claim to have the original Irish Bulldog lines, but this is oftentimes simply a marketing ploy. On the other hand, many are convinced that the mighty Irish Bulldog can still be found in its homeland and that it didn't disappear during the World Wars at all.
The legendary Irish Bulldog is said to be the original "red-nosed bulldogge", a bearer of a physical characteristic that was influential in the creation of the famous Dudley Terrier and presently valued in some strains of the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, namely the so-called "Old Family Red Nose" bloodlines. A few attempts at re-creating the breed have been reported over the years, one of them being the American Olde Irish Bulldogge programme. However, although the red-nose variety was undeniably more popular, black-nosed dogs were just as common and it is unclear where the "Old Irish Red" name came from, with some speculating that it was originally a reference to a specific bloodline rather than the entire breed. Prized for its strength and resilience, the Irish Bulldogge is remembered as a muscular and athletic breed, having a head that was larger and somewhat rounder than the many local bull-n-terriers which it spawned, sporting a short, powerful muzzle with a very slight underbite and possessing a friendly and calm personality around humans, while being more than unfriendly towards other dogs.
Even though piebald, brindle and darker examples with white markings were also common, the breed's short glossy coat has always been most valued in solid fawn, red or brown shades. Average height was around 17 inches, but smaller dogs existed as well.