The Bull Terrier, also known as the English Bull Terrier, dates back to the early 1800s and originated in Great Britain. These are powerful yet exceedingly friendly dogs that thrive on affection yet are always game to frolic. As with most terriers, they are tenacious and independent free-thinkers, who love to play and be active with their owners. They can be strong-willed, stubborn, alert, agile and energetic. They are not bothered by rough play and are good with children and families. They were accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1897 and are members of the Terrier Group. One of the most well-known Bull Terriers in this country is Spuds MacKenzie, the former mascot for Budweiser Beer. Unlike many terriers, the Bull Terrier will not bark unless it truly feels like there is a need to vocalize an alert. Due to their strength and strong will, the Bull Terrier requires consistent training and early socialization. The owner of the Bull Terrier must be the alpha dog, or the Bull Terrier will quickly take over the household. This breed also requires a good amount of exercise and mental stimulation or they can become aggressive and destructive.
The average Bull Terrier stands 20 to 24 inches at the withers and weighs an average of 50 to 80 pounds. These dogs have an extremely muscular build and are very strong. The Bull Terrier has a short but dense coat that is easy to care for, and regular brushing will help to reduce excess shedding.
Bull Terriers are almost universally believed to be the result of crossing a Bulldog to the now-extinct White English Terrier, which produced a type of dog known as the Bull-and-Terrier. Some authors suggest that the cross may have been between a Bulldog and a large, smooth Black-and-Tan Terrier. Either way, the resulting Bull-and-Terrier was later mated with the Spanish Pointer to add size to the breed, which is evident in today's Bull Terriers. The Bull Terrier was developed by sportsmen for sportsmen, as well as to be a gentleman's trusted companion. They were bred to be tough, courageous, athletic and powerful and to have a sense of fair play – never initiating controversy, but not backing down once provoked. Hence, the white variety soon earned the nickname "The White Cavalier."
Some sources suggest that the breed was developed specifically to be set against other dogs in illegal pit contests, for purposes of "gentlemen's sport" after the blood-sport of bull-baiting was outlawed in England in or around 1835. Once bull-baiting was outlawed, the enthusiasts went underground, fighting bulldogs against bulldogs in "pits." Apparently, the bulldogs were too slow to please the crowds, so people began crossing bulldogs with terriers to create a better fighting breed, called "the most determined and savage race known." The popularity of these vicious dog fights soared, especially in London and Birmingham, England, with the dogs being described as having the stamina, power and solidity of the Bulldog and the intelligence, tenacity and speed of the Terrier.
In the 1850s and 1860s, fanciers of these dogs thought that an all white Bull Terrier would be fashionable. This led to the two modern varieties of Bull Terriers: colored, and white, with additional crosses with the White English Terrier. In 1936, the colored Bull Terrier became recognized as a separate Variety of the Bull Terrier breed. By 1880, the Bull Terrier had become a breed noted for its beauty, balance and power. Its egg-shaped head and Roman nose distinguished it from other breeds. Dog fighting was eventually banned, and the Bull Terrier survived as a successful purebred show dog and family companion. Since 1897, the Bull Terrier Club of America has been the National Club recognized by the American Kennel Club as the parent club for the Bull Terrier. President Teddy Roosevelt shared the White House with a Bull Terrier.
Bull Terriers have an average life expectancy between 10 and 12 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, congenital deafness, familial nephropathy, mitral dysplasia, patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia and zinc deficiency. They also are prone to eye problems such as entropion and ectropion, as well as enlarged hearts and bone cancer.
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.
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.
Apartments or condos may not be the best homes for this breed, as they are rowdy and rambunctious and have been lovingly referred to as the proverbial "bull in a China shop."
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.
Families with children should socialize puppies early on to accept outside children as welcome guests. While Bull Terriers will bond nicely with kids in their own family, they can sometimes be aggressive to to other children and should be taught early on that all kids are to be welcomed with open arms.
Separation Anxiety develops often in Bull Terriers. It is important that this breed get enough exercise throughout the day and have enough activities to keep them busy when left alone, or they will become destructive. Some Bullies need to be crated well into adulthood to keep them (and the house furniture) safe when left alone.
Bull Terriers are possessive of their people and their territory and can be aggressive to other animals. They are usually fine with dogs of the opposite sex, but cats and same-sex dogs should not be introduced into a Bull Terrier's home.
They can also be food aggressive. Children should be taught not to approach a Bull Terrier during mealtime.
Bull Terriers love to play, and kids can have a blast with them for hours on end. Small children should always be supervised, though, because this breed can be very rambunctious and can accidentally cause an injury. They also have short fuses. When a Bull Terrier is teased or pushed too hard to do something he doesn't want to do, he will snap or bite. Kids should understand never to tease a dog, and not to push a dog beyond his limits.
The Bull Terrier must be strongly built, muscular, symmetrical and active, with a keen determined and intelligent expression, full of fire but of sweet disposition and amenable to discipline.
Should be long, strong and deep right to the end of the muzzle, but not coarse. Full face it should be oval in outline and be filled completely up giving the impression of fullness with a surface devoid of hollows or indentations, i.e., egg shaped. In profile it should curve gently downwards from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose. The forehead should be flat across from ear to ear. The distance from the tip of the nose to the eyes should be perceptibly greater than that from the eyes to the top of the skull. The underjaw should be deep and well defined.
Should be clean and tight.
Should meet in either a level or in a scissors bite. In the scissors bite the upper teeth should fit in front of and closely against the lower teeth, and they should be sound, strong and perfectly regular.
Should be small, thin and placed close together. They should be capable of being held stiffly erect, when they should point upwards.
Should be well sunken and as dark as possible, with a piercing glint and they should be small, triangular and obliquely placed; set near together and high up on the dog's head. Blue eyes are a disqualification.
Should be black, with well-developed nostrils bent downward at the tip.
Should be very muscular, long, arched and clean, tapering from the shoulders to the head and it should be free from loose skin.
Should be broad when viewed from in front, and there should be great depth from withers to brisket, so that the latter is nearer the ground than the belly.
Should be well rounded with marked spring of rib, the back should be short and strong. The back ribs deep. Slightly arched over the loin. The shoulders should be strong and muscular but without heaviness. The shoulder blades should be wide and flat and there should be a very pronounced backward slope from the bottom edge of the blade to the top edge. Behind the shoulders there should be no slackness or dip at the withers. The underline from the brisket to the belly should form a graceful upward curve.
Should be big boned but not to the point of coarseness; the forelegs should be of moderate length, perfectly straight, and the dog must stand firmly upon them. The elbows must turn neither in nor out, and the pasterns should be strong and upright. The hind legs should be parallel viewed from behind. The thighs very muscular with hocks well let down. Hind pasterns short and upright. The stifle joint should be well bent with a well-developed second thigh.
Round and compact with well-arched toes like a cat.
Should be short, set on low, fine, and ideally should be carried horizontally. It should be thick where it joins the body, and should taper to a fine point.
Should be short, flat, harsh to the touch and with a fine gloss. The dog's skin should fit tightly.
Is white though markings on the head are permissible. Any markings elsewhere on the coat are to be severely faulted. Skin pigmentation is not to be penalized.
The dog shall move smoothly, covering the ground with free, easy strides, fore and hind legs should move parallel each to each when viewed from in front or behind. The forelegs reaching out well and the hind legs moving smoothly at the hip and flexing well at the stifle and hock. The dog should move compactly and in one piece but with a typical jaunty air that suggests agility and power.
Any departure from the foregoing points shall be considered a fault and the seriousness of the fault shall be in exact proportion to its degree, i.e. a very crooked front is a very bad fault; a rather crooked front is a rather bad fault; and a slightly crooked front is a slight fault.
The Standard for the Colored Variety is the same as for the White except for the sub head "Color" which reads: Color. Any color other than white, or any color with white markings. Other things being equal, the preferred color is brindle. A dog which is predominantly white shall be disqualified.
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Sources: American Kennel Club