Do you REALLY Want a Bull Terrier?
The Bull Terrier's distinctive appearance and comic personality are unique in the Canine World. Budweiser's Party Dog, "Spuds McKenzie," focused worldwide attention on the breed and sparked an interest that continues to this day. They make wonderful pets, as thousands of owners will swear to, but because they're so different from the average dog, they are not for everybody!
The following are a few things to consider as you try to decide whether a Bull Terrier is right for you:
They're much stronger than they look.
Their moderate size is deceptive. Pound for pound, they rank among the most powerful dogs around. If careful groundwork of proper training and socialization isn't laid down, a Bull Terrier can be a lot more dog than the average family is equipped to deal with!
They have an exceptionally high energy level.
Take a minute to estimate the amount of time you expect to spend exercising your dog . . . then triple it if you're considering a Bull Terrier!
BTs need at least two long, brisk walks a day or several extended play periods (chasing a ball/other similar activity).
If they don't get this type of regular, vigorous exercise, they may become restless and rowdy or they can substitute destructive activity (such as demolishing the furniture) as a way to work off pent-up steam.
This is not to say they aren't suitable for invalids, the disabled or senior citizens, since they're also confirmed "Couch Potatoes." They love to curl up for hours, next to any family member. But the household must be responsible for providing the daily exercise they crave.
They are stubborn and independent.
This is a characteristic of most terrier breeds developed to work on their own without much human input. If you're looking for instant obedience and a dog which will hang on your everycommand, one of the Working or Sporting breeds may be a better choice.
Obedience training isn't an option . . . it's a must.
This may seem contradictory in light of what we've just said but it really isn't. The fact that Bull Terriers are so headstrong and dedicated to getting their own way dictates the need to set strict standards and make very clear, right off the bat, who rules the roost.
To quote an expert:
"You should be prepared for anything and you must supervise them! They are extremely affectionate and can make you think you are the only one that really matters . . . but (actually) they live to please themselves. They will strive to please their owners when it benefits them.
They have minds of their own and feel it is their place to run the household. They know how to get what they want and will go to great lengths to do so. Spanking accomplishes nothing as they know no pain . . . tell them how BAD they have been and their ears go back, their tails wag frantically, they crouch down in a submissive position, and beg to be forgiven . . . be prepared . . . ten minutes later they'll be right back doing whatever it was that got them in trouble in the first place!"
This can be downright discouraging for someone unfamiliar with the breed. It is vital to realize that BTs don't easily take "no" for an answer and have to be thoroughly convinced you mean what you say and will follow through consistently on commands. Patience and persistence are key elements in this ongoing effort. Making a "Canine Good Citizen" of a Bull Terrier involves much more time and dedication than the casual dog owner wants to devote to a family pet.
The importance of finding the right trainer/ training class for your BT cannot be overestimated! While BTs require discipline and a firm hand, harsh methods are counterproductive. A reputable breeder or local Bull Terrier Club should be able to provide you with the name of a suitable trainer.
Some Bull Terriers love to dig
They can create sizable excavations, particularly in the spring, when the ground is soft and wet.
If you let your Bull Terrier observe while you garden, they may attempt to "help" in ways that will not please you!
They are creatures of impulse.
Even the most perfectly schooled Bull Terriers are unreliable off leash. The sight of something enticing on the horizon can cause them to forget any previous training, ignore your frantic cries, dash off to investigate and then just keep on going! Coming when called is NOT a breed strong point, and they can be long gone in a matter of minutes.
Some of the dire consequences: fatal encounters with cars, expensive brushes with the law, or a permanently "lost dog."
Bull Terriers, should only be turned loose in a securely fenced enclosure. If having a dog run free at your side on your morning jog or lay snoozing in the sun, untethered, on the front lawn while you wash the car is a priority, a Bull Terrier is not for you!
They can be unfriendly towards other animals.
Sad but true, the breed was originally developed for purposes of dogfighting and cat/rat-killing.
Today's Bull Terriers are far removed from the pits of 19th century England and breeders have been largely successful in their efforts to stamp out aggressive tendencies.
Prospective owners should be aware of this heritage and the necessity to nip any sign of an "attitude" in the bud.
For example, it can seem cute when your tiny puppy goes for the big Rottweiler next-door. But when he/she morphs into a powerful 40-70 pound adult which can't get along with neighboring pets you've got a lawsuit waiting to happen. Once again, this points up the importance of giving your BT the right sort of training from Day One.
The Bottom Line
A complete run-down on the pleasures and pitfalls of Bull Terrier ownership would fill a book. As with any breed there are numerous pros and cons depending on a household's individual lifestyle and expectations, but it should be evident that taking on a B.T. is a serious proposition and requires a major commitment on your part.
That being said, sharing your home with a Bull Terrier can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. BTs are intensely people-oriented, dote on children and make cheerful, affectionate, amusing pets.
Their antics to brighten your day and provide nonstop entertainment. Once you've lived with and loved one, it becomes hard to imagine owning another breed!
The Bull Terrier Club of Metro Detroit occasionally, has adult Bull Terriers available for adoption. These BTs have either been rescued from a shelter or are unwanted by their former owners.
If you are interested in giving a home to one of these "orphans," please visit our Rescue Page.
Potential adopters must fill out a detailed Application Form giving, full details of the home offered. If we have a dog which seems suited to your family, a Committee member will schedule an appointment to visit your home and discuss the dog and your responsibilities in detail.
If the adoption is approved by the Committee, a donation which defrays expenses of neutering, health care and boarding is required prior to placement.
Some of this information reprinted courtesy of the Ft. Dearborn Bull Terrier Club.