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Bull Terrier: Characteristics, History, Care and Bull Terrier Education

Balanced, playful and close to humans; the description of the Bull Terrier breed standard does not seem to fit the image of the bull terrier...

Balanced, playful and close to humans; the description of the Bull Terrier breed standard does not seem to fit the image of the bull terrier as a war machine that many people have of the bull terrier. It is time to put an end to the stereotypes about this race.

Bull Terrier Article Contents

  • Bull Terrier Features
  • Bull Terrier Appearance
  • Bull Terrier History
  • Bull Terrier Breeding and health
  • Bull Terrier Feeding the bull terrier
  • Bull Terrier Care and education

Bull Terrier Features

Bull Terrier Features

Bull terriers still have a bad reputation. They are considered aggressive, brawling and always ready to bite. No wonder they are on the list of dangerous dog breeds in many countries around the world. Their possession is therefore subject to authorization or even prohibited.

But if you take the time to really take an interest in this breed, you'll get a completely different view of it: bull terriers are extremely human-loving and affectionate. They maintain very close contact with their owners and love to be cuddled and stroked. The FCI standard no. 11 describes Bull Terriers as "especially gentle with people", although obstinate. Like many other breeds, Bull Terriers tend to be dominant. Because of their intelligence and self-confidence, they are sometimes critical of their master's orders, and like to be stubborn about tasks they feel are unnecessary. It is therefore all the more important to start training a terrier dog as early as possible and to get him used to the rules of man from an early age. With consistent training and complete socialization, the bull terrier can be trained to become a highly disciplined and balanced companion dog. His playful and lively nature is particularly evident when he is in contact with children, but the youngest should not play with him unsupervised. Children must first learn to deal with the bull terrier's fiery temperament and fighting games.

The bull terrier is as close to his family as he is suspicious of strangers. However, thanks to its balanced personality, it does not attack people without reason. He is fundamentally pacifist and does not see aggression as a solution, although he would certainly not hesitate to courageously and bravely defend his family in situations of grave danger. Aggressive people are not fit to own a bull terrier. A terrier dog that feels aggressed will develop dangerous territorial behavior, especially if it has little education and socialization. Early socialization and rigorous education are essential not only for a peaceful coexistence between man and dog, but also between your dog and others.

Bull Terrier Appearance

Bull Terrier Appearance

With its ovoid head, crooked nose and slit eyes, the bull terrier does not correspond exactly to the usual ideal of beauty for dogs. But it is probably precisely these features that lovers appreciate in their terriers. The crooked head is nowadays simply part of the breed's image. His "Roman nose" comes from Raymond Oppenheimer and his Ormandy kennel. His small, fine and close together ears are rigidly erect.

Overall, the appearance of the bull terrier has changed considerably over the course of its history. Not only the head, but also the size and colors of the breed have undergone changes in the standard. In the beginning, there were still terrier dogs of different sizes. Today, bull terriers with a shoulder height of less than 35.5 cm belong to the independent breed of "mini bull terriers" (FCI standard number 359). The height at the withers of the "large model" is generally between 40 and 55 cm. A peculiarity of this breed, however, is that in the breed standard no restrictions of size or weight are specified, as is the case with other breeds of dogs. The only requirement in this respect is that the size must be in harmony with the weight. This muscular and well built dog must have a balanced body. Suppleness and speed have characterized the bull terrier since the beginning of its history.

While the English breed was originally bred only in pure white, the British Kennel Club has also recognized the colored bull terrier since 1933. These were created by crossing Staffordshire bull terriers at the beginning of the 20th century. Whereas in the beginning the breeding's were separated from each other, since 1950 crossbreeding of white dogs with colored breeding dogs has been allowed. Today bull terriers exist in black, brindle, red, fawn brown and tricolor. The corresponding color must be predominant. But patches on the head are accepted. The color blue is not permitted.

The slightly glossy coat of the bull terrier is short, smooth and hard to the touch. Some dogs have a soft undercoat which keeps them warm in winter.

Bull Terrier History

Bull Terrier Care and education
The bull terrier breed was created by a cross between the White English Terrier, which disappeared around 1880, an old type of English bulldog and the Dalmatian. Preference is given to dogs which combine these three breeds perfectly. Nevertheless, there are still today bull terriers which resemble more strongly one of their three ancestors, especially physically. These terriers are divided into three categories: the Dalmatian type (rather slender, a little lighter and more elegant), the bulldog type (rather short on legs, heavier and a little clumsier) and the terrier type.

Targeted breeding of the bull terrier breed began around 1850 with the animal dealer James Hinks of Birmingham, England. Since there are no herd books or other records from the early years, the exact breeding history of the breed's creator is unknown. It is assumed that he saw the bull terrier more as a companion dog than as a fighting dog, a sort of "fashion accessory" for the wealthy gentleman of the emerging middle class. What is certain is that brave and fast dogs were also used to bait badgers and kill rats. For example, a brindle bull terrier called a "Pinscher" is said to have killed 500 rats in just 36 minutes and 26.5 seconds in 1865. However, the bull terrier made a name for itself mainly as a fighting dog in the famous animal fights of the 18th and 19th centuries. The English nobility and people loved the thrill of dog fights, and hoped that the fights would bring them a lot of money. The fast, muscular bull terriers proved to be extremely intrepid, aggressive and biting and offered the spectators an often brutal spectacle. 

When this kind of cruel popular entertainment was banned in England in 1835, the image of the bull terrier as a ruthless fighting dog was already so ingrained in people's heads that it still cannot be rid of them today. However, the breed was already considered peaceful and obedient at the time. Thus, even reports of the famous fighting dogs of the time say that bull terriers were anything but aggressive outside the bullring. Although statistics show that the bite frequency of the bull terrier is comparable to that of a dachshund, terriers are on the list of dangerous dog breeds today. There are many reasons for this, but they are less to be found in the nature of the bull terrier than in the responsibility of breeders and dubious owners who want to compensate for their lack of self-confidence by having a fighting dog at their side.

Bull Terrier Breeding and health

In order to improve the reputation of the former fighting dog, proximity to humans is nowadays a major criterion in the choice of breeding dogs. Even in the breed standard, it is expressly emphasized that bull terriers are particularly friendly to people, despite their obstinacy. Dogs which do not pass this character test, i.e. which are aggressive or unstable, should be excluded from breeding.

If you are considering buying a bull terrier puppy, you should certainly contact a reputable breeder. This is the only way to ensure that the young dog is truly purebred and meets the requirements of the standard, and thus avoid "unpleasant surprises". Take your time, not only to choose a puppy, but especially to choose the right breeder. Don't be afraid to ask the breeder a lot of questions, in order to inform yourself extensively about the breeding conditions and the state of health of the dogs. The breeder must prove that he has a long experience in breeding bull terriers and that he is a member of an association. A conscientious breeder who is concerned about the well-being of his dogs will be happy to inform you and to introduce you to the kennel, the mother and her certifications.

As bull terriers are subject to umbilical hernias, deafness (in white dogs), tumors, cardiovascular disease, kidney and joint diseases, the breeder must have carried out complete health tests for these diseases. Not only should the puppies themselves be considered in assessing their health status, but parents and siblings should also be evaluated. Healthy bull terrier puppies, which are not genetically predisposed to disease, are considered to be quite robust, and generally reach the age of about 10 years. Apart from the necessary vaccinations and checks, visits to the vet are rather rare for these dogs.

Bull Terrier Feeding the bull terrier

In addition to hereditary predispositions, poor nutrition is often the cause of illness. For example, too high a protein content in food can have a negative effect on the skin. White Bull Terriers in particular, which tend to have more frequent skin problems, require a balanced diet that is rather low in protein. A lower protein content also protects the body, and especially the kidneys, from the bull terrier. For terrier dogs whose family has a history of kidney disease, poor nutrition can have serious consequences.

Because the bull terrier gains weight easily, food portions should not be too large. The food he eats should also be low in fat and easy to digest. To cover the nutritional needs of the Bull Terrier, daily meals should consist of approximately 60% meat (preferably fresh) and 40% vegetables, fruit and cereals (rice). To find out more about your bull terrier's needs, which may vary according to sex, weight, age and activity level, contact your breeder or veterinarian.

Bull Terrier Care and education

The care of the bull terrier is simple and requires little time. Its short, shiny coat only needs to be brushed once a week. If you also regularly trim the claws and clean the eyes and ears, your bull terrier is already well cared for.

The education of this breed, however, requires more availability and experience.

Owners of a bull terrier need to have confidence in themselves. Indeed, the stigma surrounding this breed, which is classified as dangerous, often leads to a number of difficulties. In addition to the restrictions on keeping, breeding and importing the bull terrier, owners are often confronted with prejudice and hostility from others. Bulldog owners will probably have to get used to the looks, the reactions of frightened people, or the difficulties in their search for accommodation. Before buying a bullpen, ask yourself if you are able to deal with such reactions.

A bull terrier is certainly not suitable for insecure and inexperienced people. Not only will others take advantage of your insecurities, but your bull terrier itself will do the same. Their strong character means that these dogs will quickly try to lead if you are not firm with them. Even bull terrier puppies are surprisingly powerful and can develop dangerous behavior in the wrong hands. The bull terrier by nature has a strong protective instinct, and enough courage to show it in case of danger. Therefore, they absolutely need a consistent education that starts very early, to be balanced and disciplined, and to have confidence in their master and his orders. Well trained and socialized early enough, the bull terrier is a very pleasant, self-confident companion dog, but extremely sensitive, loyal and friendly to humans. In order to direct your dog's energy towards the right activities, dog sports such as agility are perfectly suited.
  • Finally, the athletic bull terrier needs not only enough exercise and activity, but also a lot of attention.
  • If you manage to overcome all the difficulties of raising a bull terrier, and if you know how to keep your dog busy, you can help to gradually improve the image of this particular breed.

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