Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dog Breed Profile: Bull Terrier

By Ruthie Bently

My heart is stuck on the American Staffordshire Terrier, but if I ever had to pick another breed the Bull Terrier would be right up there. I have a friend who has both a Bull Terrier and a Miniature Bull Terrier, though the Bull Terrier is more of the size I prefer. As their name implies, they are a member of the Terrier group and like most terriers they need a strong alpha owner.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes two colors in the Bull Terrier: white and colored. Colored means any color other than white; brindle is preferred and a predomination of white is a disqualification. Either color is disqualified if they have blue eyes. There is no specific size requirement for the Bull Terrier, though adults usually range between 21 to 22 inches at the withers and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. The AKC describes the Bull Terrier as a dog that “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.” The Bull Terrier has a life expectancy between ten and twelve years.

The English sportsmen of the early 1800s prized the bulldog /terrier crosses known as Bull-and-Terriers, and they were very popular. They appreciated the agility, intensity and the courage that the Bull-and-Terriers exhibited, though there were discrepancies in the dogs produced as some kept the characteristics and size of either the terrier or the bulldog. There was not yet a standardization of one dog breed.

An English dog dealer, James Hinks, is credited with the development of the first Bull Terriers. As formal dog shows were introduced and the demand for show and pet dogs grew, Mr. Hinks developed the Bull Terrier we know today. He crossed his white Bulldog ‘Madman’ and the extinct White English Terrier with the Bull-and-Terriers of the day. These dogs were known as White Cavaliers due to their snow white coats. The dogs Hinks bred were more uniform for their size and body type. Their popularity spread across the Atlantic, and the Bull Terrier Club of America was established in 1897. The colored Bull Terrier came into being after several breeders crossed colored Staffordshire Bull Terriers with their White Cavaliers. The white Bull Terrier was recognized by the AKC in 1885 and the colored Bull Terrier was recognized as an individual variety of Bull Terrier in 1936.

The Bull Terrier is a muscular, sturdily built dog. It is a plucky, fearless, active and loyal little dog that loves its owner and family to distraction. They love children but need to be taught to be careful around small children, as they can become overexcited and may knock them over in their exuberance. Bull Terriers are playful and fun loving; some can be mischievous and most have a sweet disposition.

If left home alone too long they will pine for their owner and can be destructive if not given an outlet for their energy. The Bull Terrier needs daily exercise, and either a long walk or playing ball in the yard will work well. They take well to both agility and obedience. They need to be active and this will keep them mentally as well as physically occupied. Bull Terriers are not known as barkers, so if they begin barking it is a good idea to pay attention because they are trying to tell you something.

As with most terriers this is not a dog for everyone, and I strongly suggest obedience training for a well-behaved dog. I would compare Bull Terriers to a perpetual child in the “terrible twos” stage of life. Not that they are terrible by any means, but you have to keep one step ahead of them.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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