Bull terriers are active, interested, playful clowns. Like a three-year-old child in a dog suit, they like to be DOING something. They need companionship, supervision, and physical activity. They generally love children, and can tolerate rough play. But they like to play rough, too; and need to be encouraged to be gentle. They can knock little kids down, and it’s up to adults to supervise so this can’t happen. Bullies love to be the center of attention, and are easily trained if a game appealing to their innate sense of fun can be made of the process. A militaristic approach is apt to leave both owner and dog unhappy and frustrated; these dogs have a definite “what’s in it for me” attitude, along with the eternal question: “Is it fun”? If you are seeking a lethargic “rug dog” you can ignore for days and weeks on end, a Bull Terrier is not for you. If it’s an active, fun-loving companion and loyal friend you want, a Bully just might be the answer.
Relationships With Other Animals
If they’ve been properly socialized as puppies, Bullies may get along with other dogs in neutral territory, and are not apt to start a fight. However, Bullies can react aggressively to a show of aggression from another dog. To owners who don’t read canine body language fluently, they can appear “trigger happy.” Like all terriers, both males and females refuse to be pushed around. Bullies may not be inclined to happily accept strange canines in “their” homes and yards, caution and control are always required if strangers come to visit. Males and females often get along, as do females; two males, altered or not, may be inclined to fight. Fights are serious business and must be prevented. Bull Terriers were initially bred to fight other dogs, and while some show no inclination to do so, others can hardly be discouraged. Bull Terriers can live happily with cats, if they understand that the cat is part of the household. It is common for a Bully to learn to love “his” cat, and yet cheerfully wish to murder all others.
Spay/neutering is advisable for the pet, and is a great kindness. Females are less subject to mammary cancer and uterine infection. Pet males never get the chance to mate, and are frustrated by that compelling itch they can not scratch. An intact male will be offensive to other animals and their owners, and very likely to his own owner as well.
Bull Terriers of both sexes are solid, muscular, and very strong. Weights vary from 40 to 75 pounds. They are a lot of dog crammed into a compact package. Ears are naturally erect (never cropped). The short coat is easy to care for by brisk brushing to remove the dead hair. Toenails need to be kept short. Vision and sense of smell are keen, and most Bullies share the terrier lightning fast, trigger sharp reflexes.
Bull Terriers are vital and healthy, if free from genetic diseases. Genetic deafness occurs now and then, and luxating patella (slipping kneecaps) is also a genetic problem, causing lameness and pain for the afflicted. Surgery is sometimes successful. They are prone to heart problems of varying severity, and kidney problems (glomerulonephritis). They are subject to skin allergies, both contact, inhalation, and food. These vary widely in severity and treatability. While they are uncomfortable for the afflicted animal, they are not life-threatening. Old age (double digits) brings the usual infirmities, to which Bull Terriers are not immune – failing organs and senses, arthritis, and so forth.
About Rescue Dogs
Their temperament is Bull Terrier temperament. They’re the same cheerful clowns who love activity and to be doing something,who need to be part of a family. A dog past puppyhood is amenable to training, if you make it fun. Rescue dogs benefit from training, as this part of their lives has often been neglected.
Your rescue, being adult, may have had experiences that are not what a loving owner would choose, and his early socialization may have been neglected. To some extent re-conditioning is possible. These dogs need to be kept safe, to be prevented from doing harm to others while they are learning that others are no threat. They need to know that their new owners like other dogs. Sometimes, retraining isn’t possible, and the new owner has to accept that their dog just doesn’t like other dogs. Obedience training / socialization can be of great help with a rescue, and such training is recommended, so long as it is positive in nature. Bullies really don’t enjoy the militaristic approach.
Great care is suggested in introducing a rescue Bully to cats: these are strong and powerful dogs, fast as lightning. Inherent in the terrier temperament is a strong prey drive, and if a dog hasn’t been taught to accept and love all creatures, they may view kitty as “lunch.”
Any rescue Bully from our group will be spayed or neutered before you get him or her. A large part of the adoption fee you pay covers that expense. Spay/neutering helps avoid physical problems, and helps avoid behavior problems as well. You may not show your Rescue dog in conformation, as the point of that competition is to select the best looking breeding animals. You may, however, show your rescue Bully in obedience, as well as many other performance sports (agility, for example). Spayed/neutered animals are permitted to compete in those venues.
You’ll know how big your rescue Bully is, because he or she will be an adult, and you’ll know if she or she is deaf or not, and if luxating patella is a problem or not. Your rescue will not have died from early renal failure, as more than likely he or she is “too old” for that. If he or she has a heart murmur that was discovered at the time of neutering, that will be disclosed. It is rare, and won’t be something our vets perceived to be a problem that would prevent placing the dog.
If you adopt a dog from our group, you can always contact our Help Desk. That will provide you with knowledgeable advice on a wide range of subjects. We care about the dogs, and we care about you, too. We want you to be happy with your new best friend.