Getting a tattoo is a decision that will last you a lifetime, so it is important to make a good one. When you decide on a bulldog tattoo, you are not limited to run-of-the-mill cartoon depictions or pigeonholed into a stereotypical tattoo; however, the bulldog tattoo does bring with it a history and symbolism. Whatever type of bulldog tattoo you decide on, make sure you understand its meaning and choose something that represents you.
United States Marines
The bulldog has a long association with the United States Marine Corps. This dates back to World War I, when German soldiers referred to the US Marines as "devil dogs." The Marines took this in stride and adopted the term as well as the image of a vicious-looking bulldog as a mascot. Whether you are a veteran, a current Marine or simply a military fan, a Marine Corps bulldog tattoo can honour a specific battle, war or soldier. Depending on your history with the Marines, you can personalise the tattoo to your specifications. Marine bulldogs work well on the arms, back or shoulders.
The bulldog has another association with British nationalism. Similar to the American bald eagle, the British bulldog stands as a sign of toughness and tenacity for English people. It is generally depicted in a bowler hat with a United Kingdom flag called the Union Jack prominently displayed. Sometimes the bulldog is depicted smoking a large cigar or wearing a jacket made from a Union Jack. This tattoo is good for patriotic English people, but it does carry a connotation of extreme political views.
Bulldogs, though they have a history of being fighting dogs, make great pets. While they generally have a short lifespan and are somewhat limited in the physical activities they can perform, bulldogs can be extremely loyal, protective and tender. To memorialise a favourite pet bulldog or simply show your love of the breed, a realistic bulldog tattoo might be right for you. Make sure to get an accurate photograph of the type of bulldog you want so the tattoo artist can sketch it correctly.
Similar to its association with extremeness and toughness, sports teams commonly use the bulldog as a mascot. Depending on your favourite sports team, a bulldog tattoo can show your loyalty and love of the game. Many well-known college football teams like the University of Georgia, Yale and Georgetown all have their own distinct bulldog mascot, complete with its own name and appearance.