Bull Terrier

Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated April 6, 2009)

There are two varieties of Bull Terrier. There is the original white variety, in which markings behind the set-on of head constitute a disqualification if one was to show the dog. There is also the recently developed colored variety, in which brindle is the preferred color.

In appearance, the Bull Terrier presents a combination of balanced power, grace, and agility with no hint of coarseness or awkwardness. Pound for pound, he is the strongest of all dogs and possesses the most powerful muzzle of any of the Terriers.

The Bull Terrier was developed in the early eighteen fifties. Carleton Hinks, gives what is probably the most authentic account as to exactly how the breed was developed. Writing for the Bull Terrier Handbook, published about 1927, Carleton Hinks says:

The forefathers of these dogs we know today could truly be called ugly, having short, thick heads with a certain amount of layback, blunt muzzles, thick-set bodies and bow legs, whilst in color they varied from black and tans, brindle reds, fawns, fallows, etc. They were then known as Bull-and-terriers, owing to the fact of their being a cross between a Bulldog and a Terrier, the latter being chiefly the large smooth black and tan Terrier or any Terrier which showed gameness and a nose for rats. These dogs were neither Bulldogs nor Terriers, but mongrels in appearance. However, they served the purpose which they were bred for, i.e., fighting, ratting, badger and bull baiting.

These dogs proved an ideal cross for the work, as the strength, courage and stamina of the Bulldog was united with the intelligence and quickness of the Terrier. The Bulldog appearance was predominant and although they were noted for their gameness and devotion, appearances when it came to looks were deadly against them.

In the earlier days, weights usually ran between ten and 38 pounds, and classes were generally divided as under and above sixteen pounds. Probably the best of the earlier dogs was a dog which was imported to the United States in 1880.

About 1895 cropping was forbidden in England, and the breed received a serious set-back. In seeking to develop erect ears, these were often bred for at the expense of other qualities, and crooked fronts, weak pasterns, and other faults became more prevalent. In the United States where cropping was allowed, the first Bull Terrier with natural erect ears to reach its championship was Blodwen of Voewood, in the twenties.

The dog rapidly developed more along Terrier than Bulldog lines, despite differences of opinion as to what the type should be. Later, however, England began to favor a lower, broader dog, often with a wider skull and shorter muzzle. The United States preferred the Terrier type, these dogs being leggier and having depth of chest rather than breadth, with a head brick-shaped rather than egg shaped.

In England, the breed received somewhat of a setback during the War although it acquired considerable prestige for its achievements. According to Colonel James Y. Baldwin, Commandant of the War Dogs Training Establishment, Bull Terriers ranked third among the most suitable breeds.

The Bull Terrier was originally a sporting dog, bred for fighting, hence the emphasis on strength, agility, and balance. All his senses are unusually keen-his hearing, sight, and sense of smell. His remarkable versatility has made him popular in the cold climate of Canada. In the torrid heat of India; he is being used for herding sheep, for hunting, acting on stage and screen. He has won honors in war work, and placed high in obedience work. As the breed developed, more and more emphasis was laid on disposition and less and less on the desire to fight. In fact, the English standard states, "Full of fire, but of sweet disposition amenable to discipline." As a consequence, today the Bull Terrier is not at all a quarrelsome dog-in fact like men conscious of their physical superiority, he generally seeks to avoid trouble. One unusual by-product of the Bull Terrier's sporting past, and which perhaps explains his capability for affection, is that a dog had to be developed which was unusually strong, fast, thoroughly game, and able to think for himself in an emergency. At the same time he would not lose its head when fighting and bite its master, no matter how badly it might be hurt. This latter characteristic makes the breed unusually reliable with children, whose often unmerciful mauling would cause a less friendly dog to snap. When the Bull Terrier's patience is tried beyond bounds, his reaction is to get up and move.

The most notable mental characteristics of the Bull Terrier are desire for human companionship, longing for affection, unusual intelligence, and an apparent sense of humor. His sensitive spirit requires that he should be led rather than forced, praised when he does right rather than scolded when he does wrong.

With so great a wealth of loveable friendliness inherent in a properly-bred Bull Terrier, it is a pity that in many quarters he should have such an undeserved reputation for being quarrelsome and vicious. This is in no small part due to some newspaper writers who are apt to call any short-haired mongrel in trouble a Bull Terrier.

The Bull Terrier should not be confused with what is popularly called the "American Bull Terrier" or "Pit Bull," which is the dog sometimes used for fighting in this country today. These dogs have a shorter, squarer head, with more stop, and are of a mixed type. These fights, though illegal, are held under recognized rules and officiated over by regular judges. After a pit dog wins three fights he becomes a "champion."

In General appearance this breed is that of a symmetrical animal, an embodiment of agility, grace, strength and determination. Their coat should be dense, short, flat, and stiff to the touch and with fine gloss with the skin fitting tightly. Their gait is springy and swinging without roll or pace. Weight will vary from twenty-five to sixty pounds.

Additional information on the Bull Terrier can be found at the website for the American Kennel Club.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


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