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The Amazing Bull Terrier

Updated on October 29, 2012

The Bull Terrier

This is a handsome and impressive breed - so much so that the Budweiser Corporation used him as its spokes-mascot (Spuds MacKenzie) in the late 1980's. While his physical characteristics give some who are unfamiliar with his temperament pause - he is a friendly, obedient and playful character who is happiest just having fun. He is also a well balanced dog who can be ready for a frolic at any time.

History

The precursor breed was developed in 1835 by mating an English Bulldog to the now extinct White English Terrier. In the mid-part of the 1800's, an English dog breeder by the name of James Hinks, developed a version from previous bulldog-terrier cross breeds. This all white sporting charmer was then known as the Cavalier - the name Cavalier because he was bred as a fighting dog. Soon thereafter they were recognized as a new breed - the Bull Terrier. Our modern Bull Terriers have been bred to take much of the fight out but are still distinguished as being a breed for the experienced owner.

In order to help alleviate a major health problem inherited from the White English Terrier - a line of White Bull Terriers were back bred with the Staffordshire brindle in the early 1900's. This brought some color to the breed and also minimized the deafness suffered by the White. The colored Bull Terriers come in brindle, red and white and tri-colored and were voted a separate variety in 1936.

Traits

I had the opportunity to interview and get some special insights about the breed from Steve Gogulski. Steve is one of the owners of Bullies of NC, located in the tidewater area of North Carolina, within the town of Richlands. I asked Steve, 'What first interested you to breed the Bull Terrier and what keeps you dedicated to the breed?' Without hesitation he replied, 'My lifelong interest came after I saw my first one. They have a unique look all their own. I had grown up with many other types of dogs and loved them all. However, the loyalty and character of an English Bull Terrier has won my heart and kept me dedicated to the breed. I guess the saying, “Once you own a Bull Terrier you’ll never own another dog", holds true.'

They are clownish, happy, active and very attached to their owners. They have a tendency to climb into a vacant lap and emit a soft snorting-purr which owners say they find spell binding. Exercise and a large yard are recommended since a bored Bull Terrier will get into mischief - chewing through just about anything and searching for just that right thing to destroy.

Physical Appearance

The most striking characteristic as you view your first Bull Terrier is what has been described as its egg shaped cranium. A flat topped head slopes down a 'Roman' muzzle - and the eyes seem to penetrate you with their gaze. The body is full and muscular and the tail is carried horizontal from the body. Walking with an exaggerated gait and standing 24 inches tall and weighing between 50 and 80 pounds - he is known as the 'gladiator of the canine race'.

I asked Steve if people were anxious about the dog because of its 'imposing' look, 'I’m not sure the correct word would be anxious. The Bull Terrier definitely has a unique look like no other dog. Besides their distinguished head and nose they are actually the only breed of dog with a triangle shaped eye. Due to the form of their eye lid they always appear to be making a perfect triangle'. Steve continued, 'No matter where we go with our Bullies they’re sure to draw a crowd. Due to their rarity, some have never seen one, people are fascinated and drawn in - they’ll be happily surprised by their good nature and character. Many love the way they look - but there are others who find them ugly as can be with the resemblance to a goat or pig. I guess when somebody is so used to looking at their pug or hound - their first impression of a Bull Terrier may not be favorable. We all love our dogs and the dog of choice for people relies heavily on each owner’s lifestyle, personality, and activity level. The Bull Terrier isn’t a dog for everyone, but for those who own one and know just how awesome they are, will rant and rave about them for the rest of their lives. '

Sample of Bitches
Sample of Bitches

Training

I would suggest that some sort of training is a must for this breed due to his stubbornness and physical strength. You want to channel their need for activity toward a positive end. Their aggressive style of play, while in good fun, could easily pancake a small child.

It is known that the Bull Terrier is harder to train than most breeds - slow and patient is the rule. This also goes for house training - it will take awhile.

I asked Steve about this and he had some fascinating insights, ' Bull Terriers become very attached to their owners and their families. This usually makes them very good natural guard dogs, but care must be taken that they are not encouraged to become possessive and jealous. While this would seem a desirable attribute for someone who wants a dog to protect his wife and family, it can be a nuisance if the dog does not distinguish between acceptable strangers and malevolent ones. Bull Terriers can also become involved in the presence of violent physical activity such as children’s fist fights or exceptionally rough play, activity where they see no reason not to join in, or to guard the family against the physical assaults of outsiders.'

Bull Terriers and Children

From my research on the breed they can be loving and affectionate to children but must be socialized and trained at an early age. Their love of play and roughhousing could inadvertently cause problems if a small child is in the way. Bullies have a high threshold for pain which also makes them unaware if they are going too far.

Steve had some perspectives on bringing a Bull Terrier into the family, 'Bull Terriers like to join family activity and for this reason require constant and firm discipline. They can be wonderful with children if handled with common sense, both by the adults and the children. Bull Terriers will tolerate a large range of children’s behavior but they will not tolerate being teased and can be rough if constantly provoked. In their formative years, as do children, Bull Terriers require large amounts of supervision. They are tireless playmates, will chase balls, follow the children, and watch their games for hours on end.'

What if You Want to Show

If your objective is to show, socializing your Bull Terrier from a very early age is recommended - make it fun for him and train for only short periods at a time. Play with your puppy and teach him to look at you while you are speaking - give him a treat for good behavior. Take him on walks with a loose lead, up and down in a line and in circles. Practice in short and wide distances - different shows have varying show circles! Teach him to be handled by you and by strangers, to behave and perform with others around and with some distractions. Make him comfortable with differing environmental influences and he won't be rattled at the show. As mentioned in the 'Training' section - an obedience class is worth its' weight in gold.

As a reputable and well known breeder Steve has comes across what it takes to make a great show dog, ' If proper research is conducted for either a pet quality or show quality puppy - a prospective owner can find an appropriate and reputable breeder - one who is breeding to emulate the breed standards. With this said, the puppies found from these breeders will most likely be coming from champion pedigree; or at least from a bloodline that has already established a reputation for producing healthy, well-tempered Bull Terriers - ones' that have the structure and conformity expected in a top quality animal. Any dog that has the proper standards of the breed can be shown. This, however, does not mean they are any better in quality than another dog that has never been shown. I recommend people wanting a Bull Terrier for show purposes to attend a few local shows and speak with other owners or clubs associated with the breed. '

Health

Having bred Bull Terriers for years, Steve is well aware of any health issues the breed faces, 'Like any other breed of canine there are always genetic health issues associated to each particular breed and it is always important to conduct thorough research to ensure the puppy you purchase is coming from quality bloodlines and from a reputable breeder. This in itself will greatly minimize the possibilities of genetic faults that can be produced from improper breeding with lesser quality Bull Terriers - ones who may not have the genes to produce healthy puppies that complement the standards of the breed.

It is most often the white (especially solid white) Bull Terriers that are prone to be born with a hearing impairment. For this reason most responsible breeders prefer to breed a white Bull Terrier to an opposite sex that is colored which helps add color to the bloodlines and minimize the chances of deafness.

Skin allergies are another common health concern with Bull Terriers - again most often occurring with the White Bull Terriers. Usually the allergies stem from improper diets causing food allergies and resulting in red patches commonly found on the paws, neck, and belly. If your Bull Terrier develops allergy problems have it treated by switching to a grain free diet.

To ensure you are getting a healthy puppy from a breeder ask to see verification of genetic health tests conducted on the parents as well as the litter'.

Finding the Right Breeder

This is always difficult since the industry is so fragmented - word of mouth, internet reviews and research are options.

I asked Steve for some advice to give prospective owners, 'Here’s a subject that will be answered differently by every breeder. For some breeders it’s a touchy subject especially if they’re not exactly breeding appropriately. For many breeders the things I plan on bringing up here will be very much disliked because too many breeders are breeding to make a profit without even reporting their income to good old Uncle Sam. Every breeder should offer the following items with the sale of a puppy:

  • AKC Registration Papers
  • AKC Four Generation Litter Pedigree
  • Health Guarantee
  • Sales Receipt
  • Puppy Information Package
  • Annotation of puppy food and schedule of feeding
  • Copy of the inoculation records for the puppies and 1st set of shots from an actual Veterinarian not the breeder

It is very important that puppies are tested for known genetic disorders within the breed. It’s obvious that not all of these tests can be conducted on a 6 – 8 week old puppy so it’s very important to know the overall health of the breeding sire and dam as well as the tests conducted to all the breeder’s adult dogs. Some of the more popular disorders associated with Bull Terriers are deafness, skin allergies, kidney disease, liver or heart problems.'

Additionally Steve had some tips to look for in a reputable breeder:

  • A well organized and informative website that provides answers to most every question a consumer would want to know.
  • Puppy Purchase Application. A good breeder will care deeply about their dogs and want to ensure their puppies are going to appropriate homes. Breeders usually have some type of application form to fill out prior to accepting a deposit.
  • Photos of their kennel facilities. Don’t believe the breeders who tell you all their dogs stay inside their homes unless they authentically have only 3 or 4 dogs. Most breeders won’t post any pictures of their dogs living areas or kennels because they know many would consider them to be poor and provide the consumer with the “Backyard Breeder or Puppy Mill” image.
  • A reputable breeder will invite you to their kennel to show off their dogs, proudly display their health, and their living conditions.
  • Plenty of photos of their adults along with a description about them. Is there a good mix of colored Bull Terriers? Breeding too many white to white bullies can cause genetic disorders.
  • An actual four generation AKC pedigree for each dog. Don’t be fooled by breeders who build their own pedigrees. A scanned copy of the AKC 4 generation pedigree eliminates any doubts of inappropriate editing and false advertisement. Nothing beats the original document!
  • An actual AKC DNA Certificate for all studs. Most people don’t realize the importance of conducting DNA tests on their breeding dogs. It’s one thing to claim the dog to be of the pedigree listed on his AKC papers and another to prove it.
  • Referrals – it’s always good to receive a referral from other people who have purchased a puppy from the breeder. Many breeders will include feedback from customers on their website.
  • A thorough explanation of their Health Guarantee should be depicted on their website.
  • A reputable breeder will provide rescue service for the type of dog they breed and devote time towards placing those dogs in homes where they’ll be taken care of and loved.

Fun Facts

  • General George S. Patton owned a white Bull Terrier named Willie - short for William the Conqueror
  • Well known as 'the three year old in a dog suit'
  • Although they were bred from the same ancestors the Bull Terrier is not related to the Pit Bull Terrier
  • Australian house pet Puppa Trout was active into her 17th year
  • Bull Terriers rarely bark - if he does pay immediate attention
  • The Dalmatian was also evolved from the White English Terrier
  • Can be known to obsessive compulsively lick themselves - a trait they have in common with the French Bulldog - I am constantly asking my Frenchie to stop licking her toes!
  • Bull Terriers shed their coats twice a year - the loose hair can be removed by a daily rubdown with a special rubber glove or grooming comb specifically made to gather hair
  • A Bull Terrier may well live an active and healthy life until he is eleven or twelve which is about the normal life span of this breed
  • Males and females vary only slightly in temperament - the unaltered males tend not to tolerate prolonged association with other unaltered males


Bibliography

www.justdogbreeds.com

www. terrificpets.com

www.bullterrierclub.com

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