Bull Terrier

English Bull Terrier: Breed History & Origin

The name of the breed suggests that the ancestors of this breed are dogs, which modern cynology classifies into different groups – the Old English White Terrier and the Bulldog. Despite the fact that the modern exterior type of Bull Terrier was formed relatively recently, the breed itself is much older – there are descriptions and images of Bull Terriers dating from the early 19th century. One of the first centers for breeding Bull Terriers was Black Country – an area in Birmingham, where breeding began to breed a hardy, courageous, pain-insensitive, athletic dog that could be successfully used in hunting a large dangerous game or for dog fights.

The appearance of a Bull Terrier did not matter in those days. It was important that the dog could successfully fulfill its main functions – to win dog fights and poison the animal. After the prohibition of dogfighting in 1835, James Hinks began work to teach a breed that would have a unique appearance and character.  White English Terriers, Old-type Bulldogs took part in the breeding. As a result of this breeding, dogs were obtained, the appearance of which could not be called attractive. They had undershot teeth, short blunt muzzles, curved limbs, and compact bodies. It became clear that an influx of blood was needed, which would make the Bull Terrier more elegant and beautiful. In the 50s of the 19th century, Hinks began to use Dalmatians in his work.

This made it possible to get away from the Bulldog type – the dogs acquired longer heads with a characteristic transition from forehead to muzzle, long elegant necks, and more active temperament. Bulldog’s jaws were gone, the Bull Terrier turned into a tireless athlete. Among the breeds that are also the ancestors of modern Bull Terriers are called Greyhounds, Foxhounds, Spanish Pointers.

James Hicks’ Bull Terriers were “gentlemen in white.” It was this color that became the calling card of the breed for many years. A characteristic feature of the breed is its ability to control its aggression, using it exclusively to protect its family.

The first Bull Terrier Club appeared in England in 1887. In America, this happened a little later – in 1895. The first Bull Terrier of the modern type is considered to be a male named Gladiator, born in 1917.

The ban on dogfighting has become the reason for the popularity of Miniature Bull Terriers, which averaged 3.6 kg. This was due to the fact that lovers of dogfighting could quickly hide such a dog in their bosom when the policemen appeared. To obtain these dogs, standard Bull Terriers, Manchesters, and Toy Terriers were used. The abundance of Bull Terriers of various sizes led to the fact that by 1900 three growth varieties were recognized in the breed – toy, heavy and medium. The soreness of the Miniature Bull Terriers has become the reason for their almost complete disappearance. By 1914, Miniature Bull Terriers included dogs weighing up to 5 kg, but they continued to disappear. Over time, the maximum weight for Miniature Bull Terriers was raised to 8 kg. The Miniature Bull Terrier Club was founded in 1938. A year later, enthusiasts achieved recognition of the breed by the English Kennel Club.

The beginning of the 20th century was marked by another important event in the breed – the appearance of colored dogs. Ted Lyon began to receive them by infusing the blood of Staffordshire Terriers. Among the first colored dogs, blue eyes and deafness were common, which caused fierce debate about whether they had a further perspective. It got to the point that white dogs, who had colored parents, were not allowed to participate in exhibitions The first step towards the recognition of colored Bull Terriers was made by the Canadian Kennel Club. In 1939, he recognized this species and colored Bull Terriers began to gradually infiltrate the ranks of their white brethren. In 1942, the AKC identified the colored Bull Terriers as a distinct variety.

Passions around colored dogs could be described in a fascinating book. Under the guise of a struggle for the health and intelligence of a true Bull Terrier, colored dogs, even those who won prestigious exhibitions many times, were denied mating, and experts who liked such dogs and who assigned them high titles were boycotted. However, this did not lead to anything – over time, white and colored Bull Terriers began to be exhibited in the same ring and compared with each other. The quality of white descendants of colored dogs gradually increased and over time it became clear that many of them were superior to pure white breeding dogs.

The turning point was the statement of the famous breeder Raymond Oppenheimer that if he sees a white dog of color origin, which is superior in quality to white dogs, he will use it in his breeding programs. Over time, it happened – its champion Ormandy Dancing Time became a famous producer and ancestor of many champions of the breed.

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