History of the Bull Terrier Breed
The bull terrier breed can be traced back to the mid-1830s, when it is believed that the dog was created by crossing a bulldog and an Old English terrier. This cross was known as the "bull and terrier." Later, the "bull and terrier" was apparently bred with a Spanish pointer to add some size to the breed. It was in 1860 that breeders decided to produce an all white dog, and James Hinks is credited with crossing the "bull and terrier" with a white English terrier and a Dalmatian to produce the fashionable white bull terrier. The bull terrier's history is one steeped in fighting. The breed was a popular choice for gentlemen when dog fighting was not only legal, but also a well-attended entertainment venue. The bull terrier had been taught to defend itself and its master, but not to provoke a fight, which is why the white variety was soon dubbed "the white cavalier." After dog fighting was outlawed, the bull terrier enjoyed popularity for exhibition purposes. This breed has also been used as a watchdog or guard, a ratter, and a herder. Over time, the breed maintained its distinctive head shape even while the body became more streamlined. In the early 1900s, the white bull terrier was crossed with the Staffordshire bull terrier, which resulted in the colored bull terrier. The colored bull terrier was recognized as a separate variety of the breed by the AKC in 1936. To date, the white variety is more popular and well-known, and the dog's comical expression has been seen in several movies and advertising campaigns.
Size and Appearance of the Bull Terrier Breed
Slightly longer than it is tall, the bull terrier is a muscular dog of strong build. The front legs are moderately long, straight, and of good bone. The hind legs feature very muscular thighs. The feet are round, compact, and cat-like. The head is long and strong with a deep muzzle, and the distinct forehead is flat from ear to ear. The ears are usually small and thin and placed close together on top of the head. The small, dark, triangular eyes of this breed are sunken, but offer a glinting, intelligent expression. The nose is usually black with well-developed nostrils. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. The neck is long and muscular, and it tapers cleanly from head to shoulders. The short tail is normally set low and carried on the horizontal. It is thick at the base and tapers down to a point. The gait of this breed is described as agile and powerful. The coat of the bull terrier is short and flat with a glossy finish but harsh to the touch. The bull terrier comes in two varieties: white and colored.
Bull Terrier Temperament
Many describe the bull terrier as a comical dog with imagination and a stubborn streak. It is generally a good-natured dog despite its gladiator-like ancestry. This breed is not recommended for homes with small children, as the bull terrier does not take well to teasing. It is better for a family with older, more respectful children. The bull terrier should not be in a home with other small animals. It can be aggressive with other dogs, although a male and female or two female bull terriers may get along fine in the same household. This breed does not do well if left alone for long periods of time, and it may become destructive if it does not get enough attention. Firm training is important, but the bull terrier can sometimes be difficult to train. This dog is protective of its family and can be a wonderful companion with the right socialization and training from the start.
Bull Terrier Recommended Maintenance
The coat care for the bull terrier is minimal. The occasional combing or brushing with a firm bristle brush will suffice. This breed is considered to be an average shedder, normally shedding twice a year. The loose hair is easily removed with a daily rubdown, which will also keep the coat looking shiny. Bathe only when necessary. This energetic breed loves to be entertained, and daily physical and mental exercise is necessary. It should be allowed to run in safe areas only, and it should be kept on a leash at all times when out for a walk. Without enough exercise, the bull terrier may become lazy and overweight. This dog will do okay in an apartment dwelling as long as it gets enough exercise. At least a small, fenced-in yard is suggested. It is important to socialize puppies from the beginning to prevent them from having domination tendencies.
Bull Terrier Health
Life span: 11 - 14 years
Major concerns: deafness (whites), kidney problems
Minor concerns: heart problems, patellar luxation
Occasionally seen: lens luxation
Suggested tests: hearing (whites), UP:UC ratio for kidney function, cardiac, (eye)