Bull Terriers in Paintings and in Life

A fancier reflects on the love of the bull terrier breed.

By | Posted: Wed Sep 29 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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I don't think there is a group of breeders I admire more than thos e who undertake the daunting task of breeding Bull Terriers.  It is such a hybrid breed, borrowing from such a diverse ancestry, that I do believe the odds of coming up with a top one are more challenging than in any other breed I've known or attempted to breed.

Mix one part Terrier and another Bulldog; add a conservative sprinkling of Dalmatian, Greyhound, Spanish Pointer and Foxhound (and when no one is looking you might even add a dash of Borzoi or Smooth Collie). Then ask the result to produce uniformity. Sure!

And then the head of the breed... the filled-up down-faced head is like no other in purebred dogs. Only the Borzoi's head bears some scant resemblance to that of the Bull Terrier. Can you imagine the genius it must have taken to conceive of such a head, much less to actually breed it?

Add to this the complicating factors of the standard's demands: "In profile it should curve gently downwards from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose." The nose bent "downward at the tip." The underjaw "deep and well defined." Get that to come out with teeth that meet in "a level or scissors bite."

I have to chuckle at those who pass upon Bull Terriers and dismiss an otherwise outstanding example of the breed for front teeth fractionally out of line; makes me believe the individual has his priorities in the wrong place 

Of course, a perfect bite is desired in this like in any other breed, but to dismiss the dog for minor deviations in this respect but gladly forgive bad shoulders or unsound rear quarters? That has never made a lot of sense to me. Misaligned jaws are a serious fault, but minor deviations in incisors would never prevent a dog from using his mouth to full capacity.

So, you get that all to come out right and you've got a good one, right?

Not quite.  There's no self-respecting Bull Terrier man or woman who will tell you a Bullie is head alone. Not by a long shot. If an excellent head is the dog's only virtue, he's a long way from home.

The origin and history of the Bull Terrier must be kept in mind. Regardless of the fact that humanity has thankfully come a long way from the days when we pitted dogs against each other for sport, the Bull Terrier was a fit and formidable fighting dog.  His construction must honor that heritage today.

Correct soundness, balance and proportion allow the breed to maintain its gladiatorial heritage, to be able to take on all comers. A pretty head alone isn't enough to equip the Bull Terrier to do his job. That the breed is no longer thrown into the pit is an established fact. However, neither do many Malamutes you know pull sledges nor Fox Terriers rout the Fox. We're supposed to be breeding dogs that are capable of performance.

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