The Story Behind Mack Trucks’ Trademark Bulldog Hood Ornament

April 08, 2016 by Carina Ockedahl, @Ockis9
Mack Gold Bulldog Hood

(Photo: Mack Trucks)

You have to go back to the old RCA Victor company and its dog “Nipper” to find a canine logo as famous as the bulldog that adorns Mack Trucks.

The canine hood ornament, 95 years old, can be spotted on almost every vehicle in the manufacturer’s lineup. The tiny pooch is known as Mack the Bulldog, and also is featured on company apparel and its magazine is called “Bulldog.”

Mack, founded in 1900 but now owned by Sweden’s AB Volvo, offers variations of the canine ornament, some of which wear tiny helmets, construction and fireman outfits, and Superman-style red capes.

There’s no debating the iconic status of the dog, whose popularity can be traced back to the First World War—and specifically — the Mack AC truck.

Photos: Mack the Bulldog — Where He Came From

Introduced in 1916, Mack provided the U.S. government with about 4,500 AC trucks. More than 2,000 units went to Great Britain. The vehicle quickly gained favor among the American, French and British troops during World War I due to its durability and performance.

The AC was great for all purposes, Doug Maney, curator of Mack’s historical museum, told Trucks.com. The vehicle was strong and tenacious, much like an English bulldog, and the shape of its hood resembled the animal too.

“The AC had a blunt hood that kind of tapered down and resembled their [the soldiers’] English bulldogs,” said Maney. “The English bulldog was a tough animal: The dogs were bred to take down bulls.”

British soldiers made the connection between dog and truck and started referring to the AC model as the Bulldog Mack. The name stuck.

However, it wasn’t until 1921 that the first bulldog was featured on a Mack truck—not as an ornament—but as an emblem on the vehicle’s side. Back then, the company was boastful in its advertising, Maney said. The design was a front view of an English bulldog tearing up a book, and on the book was printed the words “hauling costs.”

In other words, “a Mack will destroy your hauling costs,” Maney said. And below the book, “the slogan ‘Performance Counts’ was placed across the bottom of the plate.”

By 1932, a bored Alfred F. Masury, Mack’s chief engineer, created the ornament. A medical issue had sidelined Masury, leaving him looking for something to do with his hands. The answer: a carved bulldog.

“That figure ultimately became the model for the first patent on the infamous Mack bulldog radiator cap ornament.” Maney said.

That same year, the carved bulldog figure appeared on the front of the Mack AB, a lighter-duty version of the AC. It was eventually mounted on the AC during its final year of production in 1938.

Throughout the years, the company’s trademark symbol has evolved—not just from emblem to hood ornament—but in design as well. Mack trimmed the ears and tail of its pooch in 1979 to provide a smoother surface, since it would often catch on the gloves or jewelry of drivers, owners and mechanics when tilting the hood of the truck.

Its function changed too. The ornament was placed on trucks with exposed radiator caps, but as truck design evolved, access to the radiator was concealed under the vehicle’s body panels. The Bulldog went from being exclusively a radiator cap ornament to a handle.

“On conventional models with tilt hoods, the Bulldog ornament became the handle for opening the hood to access the engine compartment for maintenance and servicing,” Maney said. “On a cab-over engine model the Bulldog ornament became the handle for stabilization for the person washing the windshield or servicing items such as windshield wipers or radiator coolant.”

To this day, the tiny dog remains a handle on Mack’s current production models. However, even as its functionality changed, the ornament is still a powerful symbol of American trucking with a history that links back to a vehicle that’s as tenacious as a bulldog.

15 Responses

  1. M

    Good information and story ! AND, that is our Son of which we are very proud !

    Reply
  2. Scott

    I have a Mack Bulldog in mint condition, probably from the early seventies. I don’t see it in any of the pictures of people selling the ornaments. What is a good website or forum to see if there is any demand?

    Reply
    • Reggie Nason

      looking for bulldog from early ’60s “B” mod. Mack to be used on an urn for an old truckers ashes. can you text me a picture ? Reggie 360-477-7804

      Reply
  3. Lonnie Archibald.

    Was the Mack Bulldog eliminated from the truck hoods during WW11 then back again after the war?

    Reply
  4. Bob

    Mack Company is nothing left but a ‘shell’ company using amack’s past for promotion purposes. It is a real shame.

    Reply
    • JOHN

      Not true , Mack brand is still America truck. the gold bulldog ornament on Mack trucks means that the Mack truck has all original Mack engine , Mack Maxi-Torque Transmission, and Mack rear axles.

      Reply
  5. Bud Starkey

    Mack brothers, the founders of Mack Truck had a bulldog and that dog became the symbol of the Mack Truck.

    Reply
  6. Nasser Khodadadadiyan

    But i have a different view about bulldog on the hood of a truck named Mack. I will tell u if u ask me

    Reply
  7. John Martin

    The Mac Bull Dog dies were made by my grandfather. He was a tool and die man in
    Philadelphia Pa. , who was paid $1 by the Mac Co. for all rights. Someone in the family has the #1 and #2 made. I can still see the ash tray sitting next to my other grandpa, and Grandpa sitting in his leather chair smoking his Chesterfields and putting the ashes into the Mac ashtray. The ashtray was a gift from on grandpa to my other grandpa.

    Reply
    • Gary Norris

      HI John
      I have a bulldog emblem that was my fathers it is not the same as the new emblems it has been in the family for approx. 80 years
      it has a number 2 stamped on the underside
      I am not sure if it is off a Mac it was chrome but dad painted it black many years ago
      I haven’t been able to find a photo that matches it
      would be interested in knowing where it came from
      regards Gary Norris

      Reply
  8. Patricia Oare

    We have a chrome bulldog hood ornament that was on our used Dodge Ram that we bought back in the 1970’s or 1980’s . Don’t remember which. Can you tell me if it’s worth anything ?

    Reply
  9. sheralynn law

    I have a solid bronze/brass Bull dog with Mack written on its collar which has been in the family for over 20 years. It measures approximately 4 inches and was used as a paperweight for years. I cannot find any pictures of this though – any ideas where to look?It doesn’t appear to have any other marks.

    Reply

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