Bull Terrier facts for kids
|Country of origin||England|
The Bull Terrier's most recognizable feature is its head, described as 'egg-shaped' when viewed from the front; the top of the skull is almost flat. The profile curves gently downwards from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose, which is black and bent downwards at the tip, with well developed nostrils. The under-jaw is deep and strong. The unique triangular eyes are small, dark, and deep-set. Bull Terriers are the only dogs that have triangular eyes. The body is full and round, with strong, muscular shoulders. The tail is carried horizontally. They are either white, red, fawn, black, brindle, or a combination of these.
Bull Terriers can be both independent and stubborn and for this reason are not considered suitable for an inexperienced dog owner. A Bull Terrier has an even temperament and is amenable to discipline. Although obstinate, they are particularly good with people. Early socialisation will ensure that the dog will get along with other dogs and animals. Their personality is described as courageous, full of spirit, with a fun-loving attitude, a children-loving dog and a perfect family member. A 2008 study in Germany showed that Bull Terriers have no significant temperament difference from Golden retrievers in overall temperament researches.
All puppies should be checked for deafness, which occurs in 20.4% of pure white Bull Terriers and 1.3% of colored Bull Terriers and is difficult to notice, especially in a relatively young puppy. Many Bull Terriers have a tendency to develop skin allergies. Insect bites, such as those from fleas, and sometimes mosquitoes and mites, can produce a generalised allergic response of hives, rash, and itching. This problem can be stopped by keeping the dog free of contact from these insects, but this is definitely a consideration in climates or circumstances where exposure to these insects is inevitable. A UK breed survey puts their median lifespan at 10 years and their mean at 9 years (1 s.f., RSE = 13.87% 2 d. p.), with a good number of dogs living to 10–15 years.
At the start of the 19th century the "Bull and Terrier" breeds were developed to satisfy the needs for vermin control and animal-based blood sports. The Bull and Terriers were based on the Old English Bulldog (now extinct) and Old English Terriers with possible other terriers. This new breed combined the speed and dexterity of lightly built terriers with the dour tenacity of the Bulldog, which was a poor performer in most combat situations, having been bred almost exclusively for fighting bulls and bears tied to a post. Many breeders began to breed bulldogs with terriers, arguing that such a mixture enhances the quality of fighting. Despite the fact that a cross between a bulldog and a terrier was of high value, very little or nothing was done to preserve the breed in its original form. Due to the lack of breed standards—breeding was for performance, not appearance—the "Bull and Terrier" eventually divided into the ancestors of "Bull Terriers" and "Staffordshire Bull Terriers", both smaller and easier to handle than the progenitor.
In the mid-19th century James Hinks started breeding Bull and Terriers with "English White Terriers" (now extinct), looking for a cleaner appearance with better legs and nicer head. In 1862, Hinks entered a dam called "Puss" sired by his white Bulldog called "Madman" into the Bull Terrier Class at the dog show held at the Cremorne Gardens in Chelsea. Originally known as the "Hinks Breed" and "The White Cavalier", these dogs did not yet have the now-familiar "egg face", but kept the stop in the skull profile. The dog was immediately popular and breeding continued, using Dalmatian, Spanish Pointer, and Whippet to increase elegance and agility; and Borzoi and Rough Collie to reduce the stop. Hinks wanted his dogs white, and bred specifically for this. The first modern Bull Terrier is now recognised as "Lord Gladiator", from 1917, being the first dog with no stop at all.
Due to medical problems associated with all-white breeding, Ted Lyon among others began introducing colour, using Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the early 20th century. Coloured Bull Terriers were recognised as a separate variety (at least by the AKC) in 1936. Brindle is the preferred colour, but other colours are welcome.
Along with conformation, specific behaviour traits were sought. The epithet "White cavalier", harking back to an age of chivalry, was bestowed on a breed which while never seeking to start a fight was well able to finish one, while socialising well with its "pack", including children and pups. Hinks himself had always aimed at a "gentleman's companion" dog rather than a pit-fighter—though Bullies were often entered in the pits, with some success.
In popular culture
- General George S. Patton owned a Bull Terrier named Willie, and a portrayal of him is featured in the 1970 movie Patton.
- In Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1838), Bill Sikes' dog "Bullseye" is a Bull Terrier.
- In the TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep Major Gregory Boyington, played Robert Conrad, owns a Bull Terrier named "Meatball" which also serves as the squadron mascot for VMF-214.
- The New Yorker cartoonist George Booth drew what he "thought looked like a mean dog", and after a fan asked if it represented "an English Bull Terrier", he researched the breed's appearance and made his further versions of it a mainstay of his cartoons.
- The short film Frankenweenie (1984) and its full-length remake Frankenweenie (2012), both directed by Tim Burton, feature a Bull Terrier named "Sparky".
- From 1987 to 1989, Budweiser's beer commercials featured a female Bull Terrier named "Spuds MacKenzie".
- The book The Incredible Journey by author Sheila Burnford features a Bull Terrier named "Bodger", as well as in the 1963 film.
- The 1993 Nickelodeon cartoon Rocko's Modern Life features a bull terrier named "Spunky", who is Rocko's pet dog.
- The 1995 film Toy Story features a mean Bull Terrier named "Scud".
- In Babe: Pig in the City, one of the two savage dogs who chases Babe is a Bull Terrier, but he later becomes friends with him after he saves him from drowning in the canal.
- Target's mascot, named "Bullseye", is a Bull Terrier.
- Chico was Joker's pet dog in the film Next Friday.
- Rocky Top's Sundance Kid won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show in 2006. The first colored Bull Terrier to do so.
- Ken Greenhill's 1977 novel Hell Hound recounts the story of a sociopathic Bull Terrier named Baxter, whose desire for a dominant master drives him to murder. The novel was adapted to the cult French horror film Baxter in 1989.
- The album cover for Working Class Dog by singer Rick Springfield is of his own pet Bull Terrier named Ronnie.
- Famed hockey coach and commentator Don Cherry was given a Bull Terrier by Boston Bruins players in the 1970s, and has continually owned dogs with the same name ever since. Blue and her successors have become synonymous with Cherry, and have made frequent appearances on his merchandise and programming.
- Cherry once owned a team in the Ontario Hockey League, the Mississauga IceDogs, now known as the Niagara IceDogs. Their mascot, Bones, is a Bull Terrier inspired by Blue.
- Chris Van Allsburg, writer of books such as Jumanji and The Polar Express, includes a Bull Terrier named "Fritz" in each book he writes.
- The mascot for Hiram College is a Bull Terrier.
- "Grimm" from the syndicated comic strip Mother Goose and Grimm is a yellow, cartoon Bull Terrier.
- A formerly abandoned deaf Bull Terrier named "Patsy Ann", from 1929-1942, would greet new ships coming into the harbor in Juneau, Alaska. She was dubbed the "Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska" in 1934. A statue in Juneau was erected in her honor in 1992.
- Nancy Drew has a pet Bull Terrier named Togo in the Nancy Drew mystery stories by Carolyn Keene.
Bull Terrier Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.