English Bull Terriers: Proof that God, and perhaps the English, have a sense of humor

White Bull Terrier

I know that as long as I live with Gracie, I’ll never be able to say, “Well, now I’ve seen it all.” Bull Terriers have a personality that means they’re always finding new ways of interacting with the world. Both their comical expressions and their penchant for antics show me that God at least, must have a sense of humor.

For those of you not yet familiar with the breed, Bull Terriers were deliberately bred by an Englishman, James Hinks, to be a gentleman’s companion. Either Mr. Hinks failed to communicate this adequately to the breed, or he actually believed a gentleman required a companion with a strong sense of humor. Bull Terriers are notorious goofballs, commonly compared to clowns and three year olds in dog suits. Bull Terriers don’t seem to care about Sir Issac Newton’s observation, “For every action their is an opposite and equal reaction.”

Hinks originally bred for the white Bully. And note here – properly speaking, this is the “Bully” and a Staffordshire terrier is a “Staffy” — people who are not particularly familiar with either often confuse the two. The Bull Terrier is sillier than the Staffordshire.

Bull Terriers are either White, or Colored; colors include brindle, red and white, and tri-colored (black, red, white.) Brindle is the most common color but there are many coat variations that occur even amongst brindle Bullies.

Brindle Bull Terriers

Bull Terriers generally love children. Gracie adores my nephews; when they were all younger we had to watch them closely as they would all get too excited playing together and eventually someone would get knocked over. Although not a very large dog – Gracie is just 39 pounds of muscle and bone – this is a very powerful breed. Power and excitement mean that Bullies are often too much dog for very young children, unless there is constant supervision and separation when the excitement level gets too high. A mature Bull Terrier however, is a fantastic companion for kids, as they will tolerate all kinds of playing yet protect the child with their life.

“Why you should never
leave a child alone with a Bull Terrier”

I love this photo, that has been making the rounds for awhile now; this is a White Bull Terrier who is getting a little temporary tattoo work from a friend. Like I said, the breed will put up with a lot of kinds of play. I don’t recommend leaving any young child alone with a dog because freak accidents can always happen; I am just as confident allowing Gracie to play with my nephews as any dog I’ve ever lived with and trained. I know she is more devoted to them than some past canine family members.

This breed however, as I always say, seriously not for everyone.

People who like a quiet, predictable routine will find that a Bull Terrier likes to mix things up too often.

This is also a breed that seems to be wanting to try everything once.

Tri-colored Bull Terrier

The other morning for example I was cleaning in the kitchen when I heard something in the next door dining room. I walked in, in time to catch Gracie standing on the table. She’d never thought to try this before and we had a little talk about how this was a big “NO” and not to be tried again. But hey – how does a girl know until she tries? That’s her attitude about most things.

My Dad isn’t one of Gracie’s biggest fans — but how did he really know he didn’t love her until she leaned up and licked his ear?

How did she know rubber couldn’t be digested until she swallowed it?

How did she know she couldn’t run off the end of her leash until she tried to?

How did she know the big Wolfhound at the kennel wasn’t a playing type of dog until she offered to play?

And isn’t the whole wide world a potential best friend?
(Except for my brother, who she really, really doesn’t like – probably due to his very deep, booming voice which causes her to bark every time she hears it.)

Wow – 4 Bullies sitting still at once!

Then there are the behaviors that are routine.

Great devotion, often displayed by allowing as little body space between dog and person as possible. Laying on top of or next to people is a cherished activity.

Zooming. Sometimes around a room, sometimes in and out of a room, sometimes at great force into the furniture.

Smiling. This is a very happy breed.

Red and White Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers can be very good with other animals; like all terriers, they do best if they are raised with other animals and trained to respect other animals. Gracie has learned to live with cats and a pet rabbit; her sister who was not raised with other animals had a strong prey drive and wanted to kill the rabbit. She is now living in a happy home as an only animal.


White Bull Terriers may have black markings on their heads


For those who like adventure, training, a little unpredictable activity every day, a little bit of a challenge sometimes, someone to supervise your every activity, a playmate who also likes to curl up and sleep with you, ride in the car with you, walk, run, jog with you – this might be a breed worth considering. IF you are a somewhat flexible person. I can’t imagine an inflexible person being happy with a Bull Terrier and vice verse.

I also welcome other people’s experiences, stories, and pictures of Bull Terriers they’ve met or lived with. If you’re having trouble posting, or if you have a picture you would like to share, send it to me at


Gracie multi-taksing again:
chewing carpet corners while playing with “approved” toys

Katie, Rehomed through Bully Rescue

Bull Terrier rescue has been fantastic in my experience. They work hard at both assessing the individual dog and giving the dog a head start on training, before sending them into a new home. Each state basically has their own Bull Terrier rescue representative; contact me if you have trouble finding contact information for your nearest breed rescue representative.

Smiling Brindle Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier approx. 1915

One of General Patton’s Bull Terriers, circa 1945

Willie, after Patton’s death

Modern Bull Terrier

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