Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bull Terrier Wins Westminster

A colored bull terrier called Rufus used his head Tuesday night to become America's top dog.

The tan-and-white mix won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club, drawing a rousing ovation from the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.

I am 100% shocked that the judges at Westminster let a bull terrier win Best In Show.

Here’s why…

Many people, including me, have never felt that the AKC thought the bull terrier breeds were “politically correct” enough to let them win a big show like this. We have felt that the AKC has run away from fighting actively against breed bans and unreasonable dog laws. The impression has been that they would rather bury their heads in the sand, and collect dues, than take hard core positions to protect the rights of dog owners. The bull terrier is a former fighting dog, and thus, is a breed that they wouldn’t want to promote. We have also had the impression that they would never allow a Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier win, either, for the same reasons.

I really like bull terriers, and have considered getting one some day. They are fun, highly trainable, athletic family dogs. But, as with all things, there are negatives that many people aren’t aware of.

First, they are former fighting dogs. Meaning, that even though they failed to become the best fighting dog in the pit, it doesn’t mean that they won’t fight other dogs if confronted… because they will. These are tough dogs, but they never had the fighting capability of the pit bull terrier. It is extremely important that you get one from a reputable breeder (now that this dog has won, you can bet that a lot of unscrupulous and money hungry folks out there are going to try to cash in and breed them like flies). The good breeders (and there are some really excellent, responsible bull terrier breeders) won’t just sell you a dog if you come with money. You are going to have to go through some hoops to prove you are a responsible dog owner and know what you are getting into.

Second, these dogs are notorious jumpers. Since these dogs are very friendly, they will jump up on people to greet them… and that big, bony head of theirs has been known to knock people out… seriously… knocking people unconscious! All the bull terrier people will tell you of their encounters with being hit by those heads as they jump up to kiss you. This could be dangerous for the elderly, and for smaller children. They don’t do it to harm you, they do it to greet you or to solicit play… but either way, it can be dangerous!

Third, these dogs are known to be destructive in the home and yard. The bull terrier is a very active, curious, mouthy dog that likes to pick things up in their mouths and chew them. I remember the first time I talked to breeders at a dog show about getting a bull terrier. And I remember the stories they told of destructive chewing. Many said they couldn’t leave their dogs alone in the home unsupervised. And the first dog training call I got for a miniature bull terrier was about destructive chewing. They had a 1 year old male they kept in the laundry room when they were at work. The dog had a doggie door to the back yard. The dog had not only chewed up the walls and doors in the laundry room, it had uprooted every plant in the back yard and drug it in through the doggie door and shredded it.

Fourth, some of these dogs have very high prey drive towards other animals. Thus, some can become cat killers as adults. It is EXTREMELY important to properly socialize a bull terrier as a puppy with a wide variety of domestic animals to help prevent this. When a dog like this is obsessed with killing cats, they focus like a laser beam when they sense one around, and it takes a lot of obedience training to call them off a chase, if you can at all.

Fifth, because it is a white dog, bull terriers are often born deaf. Certain types of white coat are associated with deafness in dogs. You see the same thing with white boxers, Dalmatians and the Dogo Argentino. So, you need to have the puppy tested for deafness before you bring it home. It is no fun getting a dog that is deaf. The training is more difficult and expensive, the dog will be less manageable, and some deaf dogs become aggressive with age because they can't predict when something is about to painfully bump into them.

I like a bull terrier, and still might consider getting one some day. But, I’d most likely get a well adjusted, young adult, say 1 to 2 years of age, through a reputable bull terrier organization, instead of a puppy. I’d want to make sure the dog was well socialized, good with other dogs and kids and adults, a couch potato at home, and a dog that would take to training. If I got a puppy, I’d want a lot of customer references from the breeder so I could check out their line of dogs to see if it was the right one for my lifestyle.

Love the breed, and I’m glad it won. Let’s just hope it doesn’t become a popular breed, because it could end up on some breed ban list some day. It isn’t the dog for everyone.


alison said...

Gee Sam appears to have a lot of antidotes and"heresay" comments from a person that "one day" might own a bully. If you own a bully their little personality trates make them all that much sweeter. Yes mine came become destructive but they are always given items to keep them busy and we spent a lot of time with them so other than occassionally destroying their trampoline beds they do not wreck anything that i don't let them.
They may jump up to gteet you but other breeds so to. I recieved a broken nose from my friends german shepard who was very opoligetic afterwards with big slopppy kisses (the dog not the owner)

Sam Basso said...

Yes, I DO have a lot to say. And I don't see that you have contradicted anything I said in the article. I still like the bull terrier... but let's be a bit honest about them before we sell them as being wonder dogs. They aren't for everyone.