Bull Terrier

White Bull Terrier

Close-up portrait of White Bull Terrier Dog Looking side on isolated black background, profile view

White Bull Terrier

Harmonious, playful, and people-loving? This description from the breed standard certainly won't match most people’s idea of a Bull Terrier. Yet the grizzled fighting dog stereotype is far from accurate. Read on to learn more about this characterful breed!

Characteristics

A bad reputation still sticks to Bull Terriers. Indeed many see them as aggressive, with a tendency to bite and they are often included on dangerous dog breed lists. Ownership is often subject to approval or even banned outright.

Yet take a closer look and a completely different picture emerges.

A typical example of the breed LOVES people and affection. In fact, they forge very close bonds with their owner and can't get enough physical contact.

The FCI pedigree dog standard describes them as “very good with people”. (Although stubbornness is another common trait!)

However, as with many other dog breeds, Bull Terriers have dominant tendencies.

High intelligence and self-confidence can sometimes lead them to be critical of commands.  In other words, if they deem something pointless, they may well dig their paws in!

That's why an early start on training your pup is essential. It's best they get used to the owner's ground rules while they are still puppies.

With consistent training and lots of socialisation, Bull Terriers are usually very obedient. You'll find they can make wonderful family dogs.

Children and other dogs

The breed can make great playmates for older children who know how to handle lively dogs. Nonetheless, with younger children, supervision is necessary, as is the case for any breed of dog.

As friendly as the Bull Terrier is to its family, it can be suspicious of strangers. Still, thanks to its stable character, it does not attack humans for no reason.

A pacifist at heart, these dogs do not see aggression as a solution. But you can rely on one to defend its humans in a genuinely dangerous situation.

What about their attitude to other dogs? Intolerance can soon turn into dangerous territorial behaviour. Early socialisation and consistent training are essential if you are to keep your furkid on the straight and narrow.

Appearance

With its egg-shaped head, crooked nose, and slit-eyes, the Bull Terrier has a bit of a marmite appeal. Fans of the breed can't get enough of those quirky looks.

Its downward sloping head is part of the present-day image of the breed. The so-called “Roman nose” came about in the 1950s thanks to British breeder Raymond Oppenheimer.  In addition, ears should be small, upright and close together.

The Bull Terrier's appearance has evolved over the course of its breeding history. For instance, not only the head but the size and colour have undergone changes in the breed standard.

In the early days of the breed, there was a lot of size variation. But nowadays dogs less than 35.5cm high belong to the Miniature Bull Terrier breed.

Most modern examples of the breed will reach between 40 and 55cm in height. However, there are no height or weight limits in the breed standard, so long as the dog is in proportion.

Bullies are well-known for being muscular little powerhouses, but mobility and speed are also important traits.

From 1933, the British Kennel Club began to recognize coloured examples of the Bull Terrier. Most new colours were a result of crossing Bullies with Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Modern can come with black, blotched, red, fawn and tricolour fur. Spots on the head are fine but blue fur is not allowed.

The Bull Terrier's shiny fur is short, flat and hard to the touch. Some dogs will grow a soft undercoat in winter for added warmth.

History of the Bull Terrier

So how did the breed originate in the first place? Early examples came from the crossing of three breeds: old-style English Bulldogs, Dalmatians, and the now-extinct White English Terrier. 

So-called “all-rounders” that combined all three of the original breeds were ideal. But there are still dogs around today that resemble only one of the three ancestors. 

These Bull Terriers fall into three groups. Dalmatian group dogs are long-legged, lighter, and more elegant. Examples from the Bulldog group are shorter-legged, heavier, and plumper. The final group is the Terrier group.

Systematic breeding started around 1850. James Hinks, a British animal trader from Birmingham saw the Bull Terrier as a companion rather than a fighting dog. A kind of “fashionable accessory” for well-to-do gentlemen.

These brave and fast dogs often took part in badger-baiting and rat-killing. In 1865, a blotched Bullie called Pinscher is said to have killed 500 rats in 36 minutes and 26.5 seconds! 

Many owners did use their Bull Terriers in the dogfighting rings. Quick and muscular, Bullies proved themselves to be utterly fearless in combat. Even after the banning of this cruel sport, the image of them as merciless fighting dogs stuck.

This reputation still tarnishes the breed. Even though statistically you are as likely to be bitten by a Dachshund! Irresponsible breeders and owners who fail to train or socialise their dogs perpetuate the problem.

Health and Breeding

Lovers of the breed are doing a great job turning around its ill-deserved reputation.  Friendliness to humans is now vital when choosing suitable animals for breeding. 

If you are planning to add a Bull Terrier to your family you can do your part as well. Buy from a Kennel Club registered and reputable breeder. This way you'll know your new pal has been bred to have a lovely nature, true to the breed standard.

Look for a breeder that has long-term experience in keeping Bullies.  A conscientious breeder will be happy to answer all your questions. They should also be happy to show you the breeding site, the mother of the litter, and their certification.

Like many pedigrees, they can suffer from a range of inherited health issues. These include umbilical hernias, deafness, tumours, cardiovascular, renal, and joint diseases.

A breeder should carry out comprehensive health tests on the parents and the puppies. Healthy puppies should live a long happy life of around 10 years.

Nutrition for a Bull Terrier

White Bull Terriers are prone to skin problems and need a natural, well-balanced diet. Lower protein content may also be recommended by your vet to protect the kidneys. 

Portions shouldn't be too big, because Bull Terriers are quick to gain weight. Make sure their diet is low-fat and easy to digest.

Care and Housing

Grooming Bull Terriers is easy!  The short, flat fur only needs a thorough brushing once a week. Regularly cutting the claws and cleaning the eyes and ears is also important.

Training and housing this pedigree breed requires much more effort and experience.

Number 1 on the list of qualities needed by a Bull Terrier owner is self-confidence. The stigma attached to this dangerous dog breed can sadly bring some difficulties. 

There are limitations on keeping, breeding, and importing Bull Terriers. But owners also often have to contend with the prejudice and hostility of other people.

Before purchasing a Bull Terrier, you should consider whether you can handle such reactions. The breed is definitely not for uncertain or inexperienced dog owners. 

Your Bull Terrier itself will take advantage of any uncertainty it sees in you. The breed's strong character means it is quick to assume a dominant role if the owner doesn't take charge. Even puppies can develop dangerous behaviour patterns in the wrong hands. 

But, well-trained, well-socialised Bull Terriers can make gorgeous family dogs. Though assertive, they are sensitive, loyal, and friendly to their loved ones. 

Dog sports such as agility are great for steering your dog's pent-up energy in the right direction. After all, these athletic Brits need enough activity – and attention too.

Do you think you have what it takes to manage a Bull Terriers' specific needs and to train and keep it occupied? If so, you’ll be doing important work in helping improve the image of this unfairly labeled breed.

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Harmonious, playful, and people-loving? This description from the breed standard certainly won't match most people’s idea of a Bull Terrier. Yet the grizzled fighting dog stereotype is far from accurate. Read on to learn more about this characterful breed!