Trained for rat-catching and fighting, the agile Bull Terrier has an interesting breeding past. When first introduced, the Bull Terrier was considered a bit of a rogue and vagabond. Careful breeding has resulted in an alert and intrepid fighter. It’s recounted that a dog named Jacko established a record by killing a thousand rats in just over an hour an a half, finishing off sixty rats in three minutes on another occasion.
Bred from a cross between a Bulldog and a Terrier, breeders were looking for an animal that was capable of more than unearthing a fox or killing rats. What they bred for, what they wanted, was a dog with a fearless fighting spirit and the stamina to win fights against other dogs in the ring. The results: a determined vermin killer with a fearless heart, so proficient in the ring that wagers could be made with confidence in a win.
Considered at one time as neither a true Terrier nor a true Bulldog but as a mongrel, the Bull Terrier was highly valued for his determination, if not for his appearance. Known as a “man’s dog”, the Bull Terrier sported short legs, a broad, blunt muzzle and a fawn colored coat. Popular among the students of Oxford and Cambridge, early modifications included cropping the ears close to the head as a measure of protection during fights.
A strain of pure white was introduced into the line in the 1860’s by James Hinks, a breeder in Birmingham, and the Bulldog element was slowly reduced, resulting in the elegant Bull Terrier of today. If all other points are good, classes of dog are usually divided into those above and below 16 lbs. However, a Bull Terrier can weigh anywhere between 10 and 38 lbs.
The Kennel Club offers this description of a Bull Terrier:
- The head should be long, flat and wide between the ears, tapering to the nose without cheek muscles. A slight indentation appearing down the face without a stop between the eyes.
- Jaws are long and powerful, with open nostrils and a large black nose.
- Almond shaped eyes, very black and small.
- Teeth should meet exactly, and be regular in shape.
- Illegal in many places, ear cropping is not acceptable to the Kennel Club. Ears should be semi-erect.
- Nicely set into the shoulders without any loose skin, the neck should be long and slightly arched.
- The ribs should be well-rounded, chest wide and deep with strong, muscular shoulders that slant.
- The contour of the dog should be in proportion with the back which should appear short and muscular.
- Perfectly straight legs, strong at the pastern joint, and long and muscular hind legs, the dog should also have straight, strong hocks with well-developed muscles.
- The feet should not look like those of a rabbit, but more like those of a cat.
The Bull Terrier has a sweet disposition, and is amenable to discipline. Considered the clown of the canine race, he is a very friendly dog who thrives on affection.