Bull Terrier

Once upon a time in 19th-century England, a breeder crossed a bulldog with a terrier. The breeder had an eye toward developing a dog breed that had both the speed and skill of the terrier and the relentlessness of the bulldog. The result was initially called the “Bull and Terrier,” and soon other breeders were creating the same mix.

Bull Terrier image

Initially, the experiment that created the “Bull and Terrier” was intended to create a dog who would be good at capturing vermin.  Sadly, along the way someone decided the Bull and Terrier would be well-suited to bloodsport and began using the dogs for fighting.

Despite this, when she is well socialized, the Bull Terrier makes a wonderful family pet. The pugilistic traits once bred into the dog have died off over the years. Like every animal, the Bull Terrier will behave as she is conditioned. Unfortunately, fighting dogs are still among us, but they exist only because their owners subject them to cruel training techniques designed to make them behave or respond aggressively. Animal advocacy groups have done a good job of shining a light on the dogfighting problem and are working tirelessly to rid the world of it.



History

Midway through the 19th century, an English gentleman named James Hinks bred a “Bull and Terrier” with an English White Terrier, a dog now extinct. Hinks sought to breed an all-white dog and correct some of the physical deficiencies he perceived in the original breed. Along the way, the “Bull and Terrier” was divided into separate breeds, the Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, both smaller and more controllable than their ancestors.

A dog named “Lord Gladiator” was recognized as the first modern Bull Terrier in 1917. Unfortunately, breeders were uncovering some health problems attributable to breeding only for all-white dogs, so Ted Lyon began introducing color in the early 20th century. From that time on, reputable breeders have bred the Bull to be exclusively a happy if energetic family companion.

Fun fact: Spuds McKenzie, the Budweiser beer mascot from 1987 to 1989, was a Bull Terrier. The real-life Spuds was female.    


Size

Bull Terriers weigh between 35 and 75 pounds and stand between 21 and 22 inches at the shoulder.

When it was determined that breeding exclusively for the all white-coat was creating unhealthy dogs, colors were introduced and the Bull Terrier blossomed into shades of brindle, black-brindle, red, fawn and white, and tricolor. The all-white variety is still around too, having regained her health once breeding for white dogs only was halted.


Personality

With energy and love to spare, the Bull Terrier can seamlessly fit in as a beloved family member. They are also reported to have excellent sense of humor and display a desire to entertain the family. The Bull’s family will have remember she has exercise needs. She’ll make do with a long walk or a short run and will probably chase a ball a few times. Do not underestimate her need for exercise as she can become destructive without it.

Breed authorities recommend that people acquiring a Bull Terrier have experience in dog training. This is because the breed can be extremely stubborn and training will require patience. Training should be calm, assertive and persistent, and treats can be used. The breed will not respond to harsh, disciplinarian techniques.

The value of early socialization cannot be overemphasized. Although Bull Terriers will embrace being a part of your pack, they are not always trusting of strangers, particularly young children. Socialization will help the dog understand that the child does not intend to hurt her. Likewise, kids need to be taught to respect dogs and not push them beyond their limits. The smaller or younger the child, the greater the need for supervision around a Bull Terrier.

The Bull Terrier can be food-aggressive. Teach children not to bother the dog when she is eating, and separate her from other pets at mealtime.

All that said, a study in Germany from 2008 showed that Bull Terriers have no significant temperament difference from Golden Retrievers among overall measures.


Health

Most Bull Terriers live to be 10 to 12 years old, but it is not uncommon for them to reach ages 15 and up. The chief health concern, especially in all-white dogs, is deafness, occurring in more than 20% of the all-white puppies. The colored specimens have a much lower incidence of blindness, at just 1.3%. Nonetheless, all new pups should be tested for deafness, as it’s a difficult thing for an owner to identify independently (many dogs seem to have selective hearing).

They are particularly troubled by allergies from insect bites, such as those from fleas and mosquitoes. This can be controlled with both preventive and palliative medications.

Bulls are subject to familial nephropathy, mitral dysplasia, patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia and zinc deficiency. In addition, the are prone to eye problems (entropion and ectropion, as well as enlarged hearts and bone cancer.


Care

Bull Terriers are low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Weekly brushing will control shedding and give your dog’s coat an attractive sheen. Shedding is heaviest in the spring and fall. They do not require frequent bathing unless they get into something unpleasant outdoors.

Watch your dog’s nails to see if her exercise routine is keeping them short. If not, clip and smooth (or have a veterinarian do this for you).  The Bull Terrier is subject to ear problems, so talk to your vet about a gentle, inexpensive daily cleanser that will keep infection at bay.


Rescue

Bull Terriers are low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Weekly brushing will control shedding and give your dog’s coat an attractive sheen. Shedding is heaviest in the spring and fall. They do not require frequent bathing unless they get into something unpleasant outdoors.

Watch your dog’s nails to see if her exercise routine is keeping them short. If not, clip and smooth (or have a veterinarian do this for you).  The Bull Terrier is subject to ear problems, so talk to your vet about a gentle, inexpensive daily cleanser that will keep infection at bay.


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