The Bull Terrier dog breed was developed specifically for pit-fighting, though they originated from stocks used as vermin hunters. Known for their tenacity and spunk, these dogs are often referred to as ‘Gladiators’ among the pit fighting breeds. Today they are popular as show dogs and family dogs, and make good companions for those with an active lifestyle.
Bull Terriers were developed from Terriers and Bulldogs with the intention of producing a breed capable of both fighting ability and tenacity. It was during the time when bull baiting and pit fighting were considered great sports. Those who were involved in these blood sports were always trying to improve the performance of their dogs by interbreeding with dogs of desirable characteristics such as strength, stamina, fighting ability and the right attitude to fight to the very end.
In the early 19th century, the English Terrier and the Bulldog were interbred to form a dog then called Bull and Terrier or Half and Half. Later it was bred with Spanish Pointer with the intention of developing a larger-sized dog. The resultant dog became very popular on its reputation of strength combined with agility and tenacity that helped it to become a consistent winner in the pits. But they did not catch the fancy of the gentry as these fighting dogs were associated with ‘coarse folks’ who mainly indulged in these blood sports.
It was after the abolition of pit-fighting that the Bull and Terrier dogs became noticed in the dog shows. In the 1860s, they were interbred with Dalmatians in an attempt by James Hinks to develop an all-white breed, which was referred to as Bull Terriers. They became popular with people who considered these rugged-looking and easily recognizable dogs to be good companions.
With further breeding, these dogs came to possess the characteristic shape of the head that has now become the trademark of the Bull Terrier Breed. Initially all these dogs were white coated because that was what James Hinks desired but all-white dogs had certain medical problems associated with their coat color. Crossing with other dogs, particularly the Staffordshire Bull Terriers, brought in other color much against the wishes of the fans of the original breed. But after AKC officially recognized this breed in 1936, the bi-colored and brindle coats became breed standards.
The Bull Terrier breed typically measures 20-22 inches at the withers and weighs up to 85 pounds. There is a miniature version of Bull Terriers too. The egg-shaped head of this breed sets it apart from other breeds of this size. The long body is rounded and muscular; the tail, which is usually held in a horizontal position, is thin and short. The coat is very short, but it is dense. It can be solid white or bi-colored with tan, fawn or black in combination with white. The Brindle pattern is favored too.
The Bull Terrier dog breed is known for its assertive and independent nature. They are high-energy dogs, and their exuberance is quite entertaining. Bull Terriers are devoted to their family including children and other pets, but early socialization is necessary, particularly to ensure that they get along with other animals.
They can be very stubborn and independent, and often a challenge to train, especially for inexperienced owners. However they can be trained to become well mannered watch dogs capable of physical aggression if a need arises. Their ability to pitch a fight and win it at the cost of its aggressor shouldn’t be overlooked. It is important that they understand and obey the command to ‘stay’.
Grooming and exercise
Bull Terriers are easy to groom as their short coat needs nothing more than a light brushing once every week to get rid of loose hair.
Given their history, Bull Terriers are not for sitting idle. They need not only their quota of daily exercise, but games and other activities to stimulate them both mentally and physically.
These dogs can withstand a medium range of heat and cold when left outdoors, but it is preferable only during the day and with adequate shade. They should spend the night indoors at all seasons.
Common health issues of Bull Terrier dog breed
Bull Terrier dog breed has a number of health issues such as deafness and kidney disorders. They are prone to heart problems, obsessive compulsive disorder and allergies. Patellar luxation can occur, but rarely seen in this breed. The average life expectancy of this breed is 12 to 15 years.