Funtastic Bull Terrier

The unique football head, a healthy, clean, exercised, muscled look… known in England as the ‘Gentleman’s Companion’, Bull Terriers are a classically beautiful dog –  a balanced, lively unique terrier!

In 30 years with Bull Terriers, I never fail to be surprised by their loving, sensitive nature and their playful, happy outlook on life. Most are food oriented, but given a Untitled-3 copychoice between playing and eating, most will choose to play.  They will often do a sort of bully dance or bully run… where they buzz around the room and come to a sudden stop.  It’s some explosive expression of joy.  Bull Terriers are full of themselves and delighted with life and like to show it! Some will also walk under plants or tablecloths and seem to go into a light trance.  Sometimes, they don’t react to being called, but if touched, they’ll shake and respond. Life with a Bull Terrier is truly fun.

The unique appearance…
What everyone notices first in Bull Terrier is the oval egg-shaped head and the personality that shines from their eyes. Their smallish, triangular-shaped eyes are dark, bright and brimming with mischievous expression. They have perky smallish ears on top of the head pointing to the sky.
Bull Terriers are a medium-sized dog. They may be white or coloured. The appearance is one of a muscular yet athletic, strong but agile. There is a lot of dog and a lot of personality in this moderately sized package. A compact, short-coated, heavy boned, gladiator of a dog, Bull Terriers exemplify the manner…the ways of a happy playboy.
White Bull Terriers can have markings on their head/in front of the collar. A coloured Bull Terrier without markings or only very small amounts of white on the toes or on the chest is called a ‘solid’.

Sweet temperament…
Most Bull Terriers have loving, sweet natures. As youngsters, they tend to be energetic and playful.  As they mature, they become more sedate, but still love to have a good time and will show bursts of energy.  Like most dogs (and human children), they value routines and learn quickly. They are intelligent, often able to determine how to solve a problem, like how to open a door or to reach food on a counter.  They need direction or they will make decisions on their own.
Bull Terriers want acceptance and want everyone to play with them. They are normally not great watch dogs, unless they perceive an obvious threat to their family. Most have a kind of open hearted approach to life and others, including other dogs. Bull Terriers are living, breathing, loving, soulful creatures, who deserve caring, parental supervision and training. Their nature is to be a family member.  Having a Bull Terrier is like having a three year old child in a fur suit.

Life with Bull Terrier…
Life with a Bull Terrier is never dull. They are impish and curious. Pet parents have to outthink them. They love to travel and get very excited if they think a drive is in the offing. They love time with family.  Muscular and childlike, Bull Terriers are usually perfect companions for children. Most are tolerant and playful. Bull Terriers are great at the companionship and playmate roles, but not all of them would be protective. Do not leave children and dogs together unattended.
It’s ironic, but Bull Terriers rarely start fights. If another dog attacks a Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier will likely be able to make a good stand for himself.

Caring for a Bull Terrier puppy…
Care of a Bull Terrier puppy is very much like any other breed of pup. Don’t let them jump off couches or stairs. They are growing quickly and could injure cruciate ligaments with bad landings. Their diets should be healthy and include a little extra natural calcium through addition of small amounts of yoghurt or broccoli to their meals.  Watch protein levels in food as they are not field dogs. Early socialisation is essential.

Training needs…
A Bull Terrier’s basic outline for life is “If it is not fun, why should we do it”. When pet parents make training activities fun, enjoyable and rewarding, Bull Terriers can learn quickly.

Exercise needs…
Bull Terrier should be given moderate exercise.  Especially as pups, they should not be asked to jog long distances with pet parents. However, Bull Terriers need daily play and exercise through chasing tennis balls and pleasant walks with family. They love the mental stimulation of walks and play too.

Grooming needs…
Grooming is relatively simple. Brushing a Bull Terrier’s coat while watching television is relaxing. Ears should be checked at least weekly and kept clean with a tissue. Clip their nails if/as required. Tooth brushing is recommended daily.  Bathing every month or so with a good quality shampoo is usually all that is really needed.  Overbathing can dry out skin and may not be good for the dog’s health and well being.

While the Bull Terrier is relatively healthy, there are some hereditary issues for which responsible breeders test. The first problem is luxating patella and is easily identified.  Essentially, it is a kneecap that slips out of alignment. Other problems include aortic stenosis and mitral valve dysplasia, which can be serious health and genetic concerns.

Games they play…
Most Bull Terriers love tennis balls. They will run and play until they are exhausted, so their pet parents need to manage playtime. Do not leave them alone with tennis balls and other toys. Leather chew toys tend to be dangerous as they often attempt to swallow them in large pieces. Toys which can safely endure heavy chewing (such as nylabones) are best for Bull Terriers!

Laughing gesture…
Laughter reinforces behaviour in Bull Terriers. They are wonderfully pleased when they make others laugh.  Don’t laugh at bad puppy behaviour no matter how cute…  Laugh and encourage only good behaviour!

(For the past decade, Carolyn Alexander has served as a Director on the Board of NCTA and has been MBBTC Newsletter Editor. For the past sixteen years, Carolyn has also been the AKC Breed Columnist for Bull Terriers. Carolyn and her husband are AKC Judges who have judged around the world. Their Brigadoon Bull Terriers Kennel is world famous for a limited, high-quality, top winning breeding programme. The Alexanders were the first recipients of AKC/BTCA Breeders Cup, also receiving the AKC Silver Bred by Exhibitor medallion in 2008 and are AKC Breeders of Merit.)

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