The public personna of the eccentric and affectionate Bull Terrier walks an often misguided line between fact and fiction. This makes the responsibility of owners and breeders more important than ever. Those considering becoming either, must take the time to find out the facts, evaluate their lifestyle and their strength of character (read about psychology of raising a Bull Terrier HERE). The decision to get a dog of any breed should never be made on impulse. The choice to get a Bull Terrier may be a challenging one, but well informed, quite possibly one of the most rewarding choices you may ever make.
“If you get your Bull Terrier be prepared to find that your life will never be the same again and that no other breed of dog can compare.” – The Bull Terrier Club (UK)
Some advice for those considering bringing a Bull Terrier into their lives…
Take everything you read on the internet with a pinch of salt. Instead, find your local Bull Terrier club. They’re a great resource to inform and support those passionate and committed to responsible Bull Terrier ownership at all levels. Whether you’re looking for a pet or a show dog, a club’s collective knowledge and years of first hand experience can help advise you of all the advantages, and inevitable challenges, of owning a breed with such an indomitable character, physical strength, mental dexterity and unique appearance.
While the majority of breeders are honest and responsible, there are always a few in any breed that may not have your best interests, or those of the Bull Terrier, at heart. This is where specific breed clubs like The Bull Terrier Club, in your local area, can offer you unbiased, well informed assistance and put you in touch with other experienced bully owners who can offer invaluable advice and experience. A kennel club recognised Bull Terrier club can put you in contact with reputable registered breeders and provide you with all the pertinent information you will need to make sure you are getting a healthy puppy, sound in body and mind.
There are many advantages to buying your puppy from kennel club registered Bull Terrier breeder. Not just for your own peace of mind, but for the posterity of the breed. Buying from a registered breeder who can provide health test certification for parents and puppies will not necessarily see you pay more for your puppy, quite often the contrary, and in most cases will cost you less in the long run (financially and emotionally). If you buy a registered puppy you should receive your official ownership papers and pedigree from the Kennel Club in your country within 2-3 weeks of taking ownership of your dog.
For those seasoned dog owners out there, please also consider the many wonderful ‘rescued’ Bull Terriers of all ages in need of a loving home, through no fault of their own (often simply surrendered due to relocation or relationship separations). To give a rescue dog a second chance at a healthy, happy life is extremely rewarding – there’s nothing quite like the bond formed with a dog who knows you’ve saved their life. Search for Bull Terrier Rescue in your area, or contact your nearest RSPCA as they may be able to pass on contact details for the local BT Rescue association.
The breed as a whole is physically sound and relatively free from serious health concerns. Bullies are however more prone to dietary and skin sensitivities than other breeds and do best on a ‘real food’ diet free of grain, soy and dairy (check out Lulu’s Menu and Hotspots Be Gone! for more on diet and skin). Like all purebreeds there are a handful hereditary health issues that you need to be aware are associated with the Bull Terrier. One of the first questions to ask any breeder is “Are your dogs health tested?”. If clean veterinary test results can not be supplied for both parents for the following hereditary conditions then strike them off your potential breeder list. Any responsible breeder will only breed from animals tested and certified free of Luxating Patella, Heart Disease, Hereditary Nephritis, Polycystic Kidney Disease and Deafness. More information about these these issues and the tests that can be done to screen for them can be found HERE (courtesy of The Bull Terrier Club, UK).
It’s important to remember that this is a breed that was established for the primary purpose of companionship and developed as such, in temperament and character, for over 150 years. The modern legacy of which is a dog that requires companionship as much as he excels at providing it. Bull Terriers thrive with consistent company and, conversely, languish when left alone for long periods. As a breed prone to separation anxiety and associated negative behaviours, they are ideally suited to those who are self employed, work or parent from home, work part time, or in an work environment that is safe for pets. This isn’t to say that a loving and responsible owner who works 9-5 can’t provide a safe and positive home for a Bull Terrier – it may just take more of a concerted effort to set up your home environment to minimise separation anxiety, along with a staunch commitment to training and working through any challenges that may arise as the result of prolonged alone-time.
Read A BEAUTIFUL BULLY MIND for more about the Bull Terrier’s unique character and lifestyle requirements.
Lix North | Artist, Illustrator, Photographer. Owned by The Lulu Bully.