Tenacity and Bravery- how the Bulldog and Devil Dogs got together

The English bulldog is a symbol of tenacity and toughness. But how did the United States Marines adopt it as their unofficial mascot, and end up with the “Devil Dog” nickname? Let’s look:

As ‘legend’ has it, the German soldiers who fought against United States Marines during World War I found them to be so tenacious and ferocious, that they started calling them “Teufel Hunden” (Devil Dogs) – a reference to the vicious dogs of the underworld in Bavarian folklore. And the name stuck.


The Bulldog connection

British soldiers had bulldogs, and used them in anti-German postcards on a regular basis during WWI. The built- in snarl and muscular bodied dogs gave a sense of fearlessness. But after the name Devil-Dog  appeared on the scene, the bulldog became even more of an icon, this time to the United States Marine Corps.

In 1918, a man named Charles B. Falls created a Marine recruitment poster that showed an English bulldog in a helmet.

devildogrecruiting poster

The beginning of the Marines relationship with the Bulldog


It was USMC Major General Smedley D. Butler who reportedly first introduced the English bulldog as the ‘unofficial mascot’ to the Corps in the 1920’s. (He was also the General who called war a “racket.”) He was the owner of at least 3 English bulldogs.

Throughout the ensuing wars, the Bulldog has been a constant symbol of the United States Marines. With names like “Sgt. Jiggs,” or “Chesty,” the bulldog has become an impressive icon of the Few and the Proud. Though they are a fighting breed, they are loyal to those who own them. Come after their masters, however, and the war is on.

But bulldogs are more than just military and police dogs. They are beloved pets and loyal friends to Americans such as Adam Sandler, Truman Capote, and Olivia Wilde, and chosen mascot of nearly four dozen universities and 250 secondary schools nationwide. For many families, bulldogs are popular pets for their sweet demeanor and cuddle-able physique. While these animals are valued for their spirit and bravery, bulldogs are also known for being affectionate, kind, and loyal. Josh Weiss-Roessler, correspondent for Cesar Millan,Inc.

As we enter the 4th of July weekend, perhaps it is worth a salute to these awesome animals who represent our United States Marine Corps.  Semper Fi!

devil dogs

The USMC’s unofficial mascot- the bulldog


Two U.S. Marine Corps corporals escort the current and prior U.S. Marine mascots, English bulldog Sgt. Chesty XIII and Pfc. Chesty XIV, down center walk during an Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington in Washington, D.C., July 19, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Adrian R. Rowan HQMC Combat Camera/Released)



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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee

I'm a published author of 4 books, numerous short stories, blogs and editorials. I've been working at Uncle Sam's since 2013. I have two degrees in Criminal Justice and worked for over 31 years at a local police department. I have been a patriotic American since I was a child.

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