UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan: 11-14 years
Average size: 45-50 lbs
Coat appearance: Sleek, smooth, short
Coloration: White, brown and black
Other identifiers: Triangular eyes; egg-shaped skull; round, muscular body.
Possible alterations: Coat coloring varies and can be seen in a variety of colors and combinations.
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
The family tree of the Bulldog
is massive with many branches. One of those branches holds the bull-and-terrier breeds, the various results of 18 th-century crosses between bulldogs and terriers. Those crosses were made with the intent of producing a dog with the strength and tenacity of the bulldog and the intensity, alertness, agility and “game” nature of the terrier.
|James Hinks Bullterrier
The earliest Bull Terriers came in a variety of sizes. Some were as small as four to seven pounds and were considered toy breeds. Others were medium-size at 15 pounds and some ranged up to 45 to 60 pounds, close to the size of the modern Bull Terrier. They had an arched back, bent legs and an undershot jaw, all features that were reminiscent of the breed’s bulldog heritage.
James Hinks of Birmingham, England, was a well-known breeder of Bull Terriers in the 1860s, and it was he who started them on the road to the more refined look they have today: the longer head and the more symmetrical body that was predominantly or completely white. To create them he used existing bull-and-terriers, his white Bulldog Madman, and white English Terriers, which are now extinct.
Nicknamed White Cavaliers, they became fashionable accessories for gentlemen about town and could be soon sitting alongside them as they drove their carriages through the park. A rhyme of the time tells the story of the breed succinctly, saying that Hinks “Found a Bull Terrier a tattered old bum; Made him a dog for a gentleman’s chum.”
The fad spread to the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885, and the Bull Terrier Club of America was founded in 1897. A new variety of Bull Terrier was invented in the early 20 th century when some breeders crossed them with Staffordshire Bull Terriers
, adding color to the coat. The “Colored” variety of Bull Terrier was recognized in 1936. Today the Bull Terrier ranks 53 rd among the breeds registered by the AKC.
Once upon a time Bull Terriers were bred to fight. Crossing a terrier and a bulldog produced a breed with fearlessness, tenacity and strength that made them natural gladiators. The fighting branches of the Bull Terrier’s family tree have since withered away, and the modern breed is a loving, loyal, clown of a dog who makes an excellent family companion for those with active lifestyles. They love being with people and want to be included in all family activities whether it’s a ride in the car, a neighborhood stroll or a romp in the park.
Many dogs have certain propensities toward health problems, and Bull Terriers are no different, showing an inclination toward skin conditions and allergies. This can often be a good thing because it presents a problem that can be spotted, but it’s important to make sure that you take your Bull Terrier for regular checkups anyway.
The Bull Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 11 to 14 years, may suffer from patellar luxation. It is also prone to minor health problems like heart complication, allergies and compulsive behavior, and more serious conditions such as kidney failure and deafness. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run cardiac, thyroid, hearing and urine protein:urine creatinine ratio tests on the dog.
A Bull Terrier needs half an hour to an hour of physical and mental exercise daily. He’ll enjoy going for walks, chasing a ball, or testing his wits against an interactive toy. He’s also capable of competing in agility and obedience trials. Be sure to always walk him on leash so he won’t run after other animals or go off exploring on his own.
Bull Terrier puppies are bouncy and into everything. High-impact exercise can damage growing bones, so until your puppy’s full grown, at 12 to 18 months of age, beware of bone-jarring activities such as jumping on and off the furniture, playing Frisbee, or running on slick wood or tile floors. These can all stress or injure the still-developing joints and ligaments.
Early and consistent training is essential. You must be able to provide leadership without resorting to physical force or harsh words. A Bull Terrier isn’t the easiest breed to train, and you’ll be most successful if you appeal to his love of play with positive reinforcement techniques while still remaining firm and consistent in what you expect.
Bull Terriers can be difficult to housetrain. Follow the housetraining program closely; the crate method is best. A crate will also prevent your Bull Terrier from destroying your belongings or otherwise getting into trouble.
Bull Terriers will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They are fairly active indoors and a small yard will do. They prefer warm climates.
Bullies are intelligent and have a mind of their own. Training should be started early and always done in calm-assertive manner, as they won’t respond to discipline or harsh tones. Training is best done in short sessions due to Bull Terriers’ short attention span and they will quickly become uninterested, even if treats are used as a reward. Lots of patience is necessary when working with a Bull Terrier, as training can be a long process.
Even after a Bull Terrier is fully trained, they may decide to test their boundaries as they get older and project dominance. These situations should be handled with calm assertion; like a teenager, they just want to see what they can get away with.
Bullies need a lot of vigorous exercise. Though short and stocky, they are a hardy breed and are happiest when they are active. Long walks, short runs, or playing long games of ball in the back yard will meet their daily activity requirements. If a Bull Terrier is not getting enough exercise, they are sure to let you know. They are notoriously destructive, making easy work of flower beds or expensive furniture, and some develop the neurotic behavior of obsessively chasing their own tail.
Grooming the Bull Terrier is a cinch. Though the breed is naturally clean with little doggie odor, a bath every three months (or when he’s dirty) in a mild shampoo is a good idea. Brush his sleek coat with a natural bristle brush or rubber hound mitt once a week. Use coat conditioner/polish to brighten the sheen.
His ears need to be checked every week and cleaned if needed, and toenails trimmed once a month. Regular tooth brushing with a soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste keep the teeth and gums healthy and the breath fresh. Introduce grooming to the Bull Terrier when he is very young so he learns to accept the handling and fuss patiently.
Children And Other Pets
Bull Terriers and Miniature Bull Terriers
are active dogs who can play rough, so they’re not recommended for homes with young children. They’re great playmates with boundless energy for active older children who understand how to interact with dogs.
Bull Terriers can, however, be aggressive toward kids they don’t know, especially if there’s a lot of shouting or wrestling going on. They may feel it’s their duty to protect “their” children from their friends. Always supervise play; as with any dog, never leave a dog alone with a child, and teach children how to approach and touch dogs.
With the children in their own family, they’re highly tolerant, but they don’t like being teased. Don’t permit your children to play tug-of-war with the dog.
Bull Terriers, especially unneutered males, can be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex, but opposite genders usually get along well. Bull Terriers shouldn’t be trusted with cats or other small furry animals.
Is this breed right for you?
Bull Terriers can get along in most living enviroments, and they thrive in families with older children to play with. This breed can get along in smaller dwellings as long as a rigorous exercise regimen is part of their daily routine. Bull Terriers can be prone to various skin allergies and other more-serious health issues. All potential owners should take into consideration the financial responsibility with regard to a variety of health concerns.
Low Maintenance: Infrequent grooming is required to maintain upkeep. No trimming or stripping needed.
Moderate Shedding: Routine brushing will help. Be prepared to vacuum often!
Difficult Training: The Bull Terrier isn’t deal for a first time dog owner. Patience and perseverance are required to adequately train it.
Fairly Active: It will need regular exercise to maintain its fitness. Trips to the dog park are a great idea.
Good for New Owners: This breed is well suited for those who have little experience with dog ownership.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Did You Know?
Because of his fun-loving, mischievous personality, the Bull Terrier is sometimes referred to as “the kid in a dog suit.”
In popular culture
- General George S. Patton owned a Bull Terrier named Willie, and a portrayal of him is featured in the 1970 movie Patton.
|Bull Terrier about 1960
- In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1838), Bill Sikes’ dog “Bullseye” is a Bull Terrier.
- From 1987 to 1989, Budweiser’s beer commercials featured a female Bull Terrier named “Spuds MacKenzie”.
- The book The Incredible Journey by author Sheila Burnford features a Bull Terrier named “Bodger”, as well as in the 1963 film.
- The 1993 Nickelodeon cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life features a bull terrier named “Spunky”, who is Rocko’s pet dog.
- The 1995 film Toy Story features a mean Bull Terrier named “Scud“.
- Target’s mascot, named “Bullseye“, is a Bull Terrier.
- Ken Greenhill’s 1977 novel Hell Hound recounts the story of a sociopathic Bull Terrier named Baxter, whose desire for a dominant master drives him to murder. The novel was adapted to the cult French horror film Baxter in 1989.
- The album cover for Working Class Dog by singer Rick Springfield is of his own pet Bull Terrier named Ronnie.
- Chris Van Allsburg, writer of books such as Jumanji and The Polar Express, includes a Bull Terrier named “Fritz” in each book he writes.
- “Grimm” from the syndicated comic strip Mother Goose and Grimm is a yellow, cartoon Bull Terrier.
- A formerly abandoned deaf Bull Terrier named “Patsy Ann“, from 1929-1942, would greet new ships coming into the harbor in Juneau, Alaska. She was dubbed the “Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska” in 1934. A statue in Juneau was erected in her honor in 1992.
A dream day in the life
Games, training, running and more games. The Bull Terrier was originally bred for fighting purposes, so though it is a playful breed, training is required not only to diminish its protective tendencies, but also for mental and physical stimulation. Loyal ’til the end, Bull Terriers live for constant companionship, and a day spent with its beloved human makes this breed happy as a clown.