Is the Bull Terrier the right breed of dog for you?When you first encounter a Bull Terrier you could be forgiven for being slightly intimidated by his 'gladiatorial' appearance. That strong, muscular build, combined with an egg-shaped head gives the impression of immense bull-like power, but appearances can be deceiving. Because the Bull Terrier is really a canine Peter Pan, brimming with affection for his family, and readily displaying a friendly, playful temperament.
The Bullies' origins lie in the bear and bull baiting pits of 17th century England. They were developed from the English Bulldog, whose owners were seeking a dog that retained the power and tenacity of the Bulldog, but was far more agile; hence the introduction of Old English Terrier lines, and the Black and Tan Terrier-thereby creating the 'Bull and Terrier'.
It was Birmingham based James Hink who began the development of the Bull Terrier in the 1850's by crossing his white Bulldog known as 'Madman', with Bull and Terriers, and English White Terriers. Matings with a number of other breeds were progressively introduced until around 1917 the dog 'Lord Gladiator' was introduced to the dog world and became the forerunner of the modern day Bull Terrier.
The American Kennel Club recognised the Bullies in 1885 and classified them in to the Terrier Group. This breed is robust, full-bodied, with a roman nose, short pricked ears, set off by dark, deeply set, uniquely triangular shaped eyes. They stand around 20-24 inches at the shoulder and weigh in at 48-75lbs. The coat is short, coarse, and either solid white, or coloured. The Bull Terriers' movement is particularly distinctive; described as a 'jaunty gait'.
This isn't an everyman dog, and probably not for the first time owner. They can thrive in apartments, but the owner needs to be aware that they are naturally active, inquisitive dogs, and consequently need good quality, on and off the lead, vigorous daily exercise.
Training is an absolute must for these dogs. They are powerful, and frequently willful and stubborn, they need to understand from the start that you're in charge, and not them. Once you have established that, then you'll find the Bullie to be a really obedient, intelligent, and well-mannered companion. So, puppy socialisation classes are a must-do, and if needed, further obedience training.
Feeding isn't a problem with these dogs, they are unfussy, but if allowed to be- very greedy. Therefore you need to make sure that your Bullie doesn't start to pile on the pounds. Grooming is an easy weekly task; just a good stiff brushing to remove any dead hairs that may have accumulated.
This is a relatively healthy breed. The main problems to be aware of are: dislocation of the kneecaps, some types of skin allergies, and a susceptibility towards zinc deficiency.
If you're looking for a dog that isn't the run of the mill type, that is amiable, smart, spirited, very affectionate, and an excellent addition to any family. But, also has a background that requires understanding, and a definite need for early training; then perhaps the Bull Terrier is the right breed of dog for you.