Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Temperament: Affectionate, Courageous, Independent, Lively, Loyal

Size: Medium

Life span: 14

Weight: 17 kg

Breed Group: Terrier Dogs

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Overview

The Bull Terrier is a medium-sized muscular dog with a short coat that belongs to the Terrier group, originally used to hunt rats, badgers, otters and foxes among others. It has a characteristically down faced, egg-shaped head that distinguishes it from most terriers. Viewed from the side, the head curves gently downwards from the centre of the skull to the black nose. The teeth form a regular and complete scissors bite. The eyes are triangular and narrow, placed obliquely on the head with a piercing wink and either black in colour or dark brown. It has thin, stiffly erect ears that point straight upward. The head is supported by a very muscular neck. It has a well-rounded body with the rib area lower to the ground than the belly, a broad chest, straight forelegs, muscular hind legs and round, compact feet. The tail is set on low and carried horizontally, thick at the root and tapers to a fine point. The coat is short, flat and course, fitting tightly around the dog’s body. It comes in pure white, brindle, black, red, fawn and tricolour. Males are between 53-56 cm in height from withers while females are 53-56 cm in height. Dogs weigh 25-29 kg while bitches weigh 20-25 kg.

History & Origin

The “Bull and Terrier” was developed in Victorian England during the early 19th century from a mix of the extinct Old English Bulldog and Old English Terrier. Its original use was to help in the task of vermin control but also found its way into the popular sport of badger baiting and dog fighting. This mixture of the bulldog and terriers were prized winners of the sport, so a lot of breeders began to breed bulldogs with terriers to produce more winning lines. Despite this, no one ever attempted to preserve the breed and create a standard because performance was more valued than aesthetic. Then in the 1860s,  Birmingham breeder James Hinks started breeding the Bull and Terrier with his prized white Old English Bulldog, English White Terrier and the Dalmatian to produce a dog with more balance of substance and aesthetic. One of the litter was a white female named “Puss” who is regarded as the earliest example of the modern-day breed. Test breeding continued on to refine the Bull Terrier even more, using crosses of Greyhound, Spanish Pointer and Fox Hound to name a few plus perhaps the Borzoi or Smooth Coated Collie to reduce the stop. It was only in 1917 that the true modern Bull Terrier (with no stop) appeared as we know it today which was named “Lord Gladiator”. It was also in the early 1900s that coloured Bull Terriers were introduced using a mix of Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Temperament

The Bull Terrier can be a bit stubborn but particularly good with people. It has an even temperament and loves its family and adores children. It loves to be cuddled and it loves to play and watch over children. It is generally friendly with other dogs but it has a tendency to be territorial with other dogs. It is described as a brave, spirited and fun-loving breed which makes it a wonderful addition to the family. It shares the same level of temperament with that of the Golden Retriever, according to a study conducted in 2008 by the Institute for Animal Welfare and Behaviour in Hanover, Germany.

Training

The breed has a stubborn streak and is not suitable for a first-time or inexperienced dog owner, but early socialisation can correct this issue. Letting a puppy Bull Terrier meet as many people and good-tempered dogs as possible will make him a well-balanced dog when he becomes an adult. Train a puppy to a lead at an early age. A gentle training with positive reinforcement is the best for this breed.

Grooming

This breed has a short flat coat that sheds all year long. Weekly grooming is not required but check the ears regularly and cleaning them as necessary to avoid ear infections. Use a hypo-allergenic shampoo when bathing the dog to prevent the onset of allergies caused by skin sensitivity to chemicals. Use hydrating spray in between baths to control flaking and dander particularly during summer.

Health

There are few hereditary health issues associated with the Bull Terrier. Among these few include deafness, which has been with the breed since its inception; kidney failure which may appear in the dog’s adult life that causes death; varying degrees of heart diseases such as mitral valve insufficiency and heart attacks. Canine patellar luxation is also an issue as well as certain skin allergies.

Exercise

Daily long walks of about 1.5 to 2 km is sufficient exercise for the Bull Terrier. A large fenced yard is also an ideal exercise ground for the breed. If you live near the beach, the Bull Terrier can also get exercise by swimming or simply running along the shoreline. Dog parks are also great places to exercise the Bull Terrier.

Children and other pets

Being a lovable and playful breed, it is generally good with older children, but it can prove too strong for a little child. The Bull Terrier can sometimes get excited and do the bull run (known as “freaking” or “hucklebutting” in the US) where it literally runs in full speed and bounces off the wall then continuing on to run at full speed again. As with other pets, it can sometimes display dominance over other dogs but proper and early socialisation can curtail this behaviour.

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