Recommended for: Families with older children (requires an experienced handler)
Maintenance level: Medium
Lifespan: 10-14 years
Temperament: Stubborn, loyal
Health Risk: High probability of health issues during its lifetime, hence it is one of the more expensive breeds to insure.
BULL TERRIER OVERVIEW
The Bull Terrier is a stout and muscular dog, stubborn and independent in nature and very loyal to its owner. They belong to the terrier family and were bred in the mid-1800s to hunt vermin and other small game in a variety of hunting activities and blood sports.
Bull Terriers as we know them are bred from the now extinct Old English Bulldog and the Manchester Terrier. The breed was developed to meet the needs of vermin hunters—mixing the speed and agility of the small terrier with the muscular stout build of the bulldog. The mix was intended to produce a capable fighting dog.
Although the Bull Terrier’s original role was quite violent, like many breeds today the dog has been developed over time to be a companion animal—now showing great affection and a fondness of children. The Bull Terrier is still a strong and independent animal, however, and is best handled by an experienced owner.
The Bull Terrier, regardless of its history, is not a dangerous dog. In fact, Bull Terriers enjoy a great deal of popularity all over the world and have found many good homes across Australia. The Stafford type is the smallest of the Bull Terriers and considered to be the most even-tempered and friendly of the family.
It’s best to have a Bull Terrier in a family with older kids, though. The independent nature and strength of the breed can mean difficult management for younger children. Aggression towards other dogs is also known to be a factor with the Bull Terrier. As always this is best prevented with early socialising and good consistent discipline.
Bull Terriers enjoy being inside the house and don’t need much attention to remain content and happy. They are prone to skin allergies, however, and if your Bull Terrier is living outdoors, it’s best to give them a wash at least once a week.
Bull Terriers usually measure between 51 to61 cm and should way somewhere between 20 to 33 kgs. They generally live to between 10 and 14 years of age.
BULL TERRIER HISTORY
The Bull Terrier was first introduced at the Birmingham Show in May 1862. James Hinks was the owner and dealer and is widely considered to be the original breeder of the modern Bull Terrier. The breed was a mix of the now extinct Old English Bulldog and the Manchester Terrier. After its introduction in England the breed quickly gained popularity and in 1887 the Bull Terrier Club was formed.
The breed was developed originally to hunt and kill vermin but was also engaged in blood sports like dog fighting.
The breed became popular in America following its introduction to Europe and Bull Terriers were formally recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1895. It was only in 1992 that the American Kennel Club recognised a second breed, the Miniature Bull Terrier.
Into the 20th Century the role of the Bull Terrier changed from hunter and fighter to companion dog. The breed was developed to improve temperament towards children and today’s Bull Terriers are energetic, friendly, very loyal and eager to play.
Their distinctive face, muscular build and short glossy coat has seen the breed featured in a number of films, television programs, advertising and other popular media.
BULL TERRIER TEMPERAMENT
The Bull Terrier is an energetic, boisterous and independent dog. A popular companion for adults and families alike, the modern Bull Terrier is good with children, very loyal to its family, playful and good-natured.
Unfortunately, the Bull Terrier is often looked up with suspicion because of a number of attacks and behavioural problems that have actually been the fault of other terrier sub-breeds. Pit-Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and the like are usually the instigators of such reported aggressions.
The Bull Terrier is generally an inquisitive, bold and adventurous dog. They are very loyal to their family and will warm up to strangers after a brief friendly encounter or two. The Bull Terrier will sometimes show aggression towards other animals, especially other dogs, but this can be avoided by socialising them often as a puppy.
The breed doesn’t need a lot of attention, but they are very loyal animals and do require regular human contact, the odd bath to avoid skin allergies and a walk at least once a day. Bull Terriers, like many breeds, tend to suffer separation anxiety if left alone for an extended period of time and may develop behavioural problems as a result.
The Bull Terrier is very trainable but a firm hand is required and good clear communication must be maintained. Their independent nature means that often an owner’s commands may be disregarded. To maintain authority, good consistent discipline is a must.
While the modern Bull Terrier has a good reputation with children, it is suggested that young kids be supervised during interactions. Their high level of energy and strong build can be overwhelming for smaller children.
COMMON BULL TERRIER DISEASES AND CONDITIONS – SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT & PICTURES
- Patella luxation
Affects Bull Terriers quite often and is simply a disorder that causes the dislocation of the kneecap.
- Heart Defects and Heart Disease
Heart defects in Bull Terriers are also quite common and can include cardiac valves that leak or valves that are too narrow to transport blood in the required amount. These defects can result in heart murmurs or irregular heartbeats.
Symptoms to look out for include: coughing, lethargic behaviour, excessive weight loss or weight gain and distressed breathing. See a vet for assistance if you are observing any of these signs.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
PKD affects both the Bull Terrier and the Miniature Bull Terrier. It’s a condition that is inherited and symptoms can start to show at a young age.
Polycystic Kidney Disease causes cysts of fluid to form in the kidneys, obstructing them from functioning properly.
Look for symptoms like: poor appetite, vomiting, drinking excessively, dry or pale gums and lethargic behaviour.
Deafness, like any breed, occurs in Bull Terriers and can be detected from as early as four weeks of age. If you believe your Bull Terrier is suffering from a loss of hearing, your vet can perform some tests to determine the situation.
INTERESTING BULL TERRIER FACTS
United States General George S. Patton had a soft spot for Bull Terriers—they followed him to most grim of World War Two battlefields. His most famous was named Willie, short for William the Conqueror.
Bull Terriers won’t bark unless there is good reason to do so. They are very loyal dogs and will bark at strangers but, once introduced by the owner, Bull Terriers will accept anybody as a friend and companion.
If a Bull Terrier hasn’t had much contact with children from a young age they may not be very tolerant towards them. Supervision of young children with Bull Terriers is essential.
Target in the United States has used a Bull Terrier in a number of advertising campaigns, increasing the popularity of the breed with families.
Bull Terriers are often stubborn; this is a common hallmark of the independent-natured hunting breeds. If your dog is trying to take charge, it’s because they are challenging you for dominance. Good discipline is required in this case.
Bull Terriers are often quite food possessive and may show aggression towards other pets or humans who approach their meal. It’s best to leave them be to eat.
The Bull Terrier Club: http://www.thebullterrierclub.org/
National Bull Terrier Council (Australia) (NBTCA): http://www.nbtca.com/
Bull Terrier Pet Insurance Quote
Getting pet insurance for your Bull Terrier will help ensure you can always afford the best vet care for them. Bow Wow Meow offers a range of flexible pet insurance options including cover for accidental injury, illness and routine care.
Wondering how much it would cost to insure your Bull Terrier if you got one? It’s quick and easy to get a quote.
(Note: dogs must be over 8 weeks old to take out insurance, so please enter a birth date to reflect this when getting an indicative quote.)