A Battered Old Bum – A Gentleman’s Chum

If you start making plans now, you will be able to celebrate April 1 in style.

No, not for April Fool’s Day! For International Bull Terrier Day – and doesn’t it seem fitting that the two share the same day?  Everything about a Bull Terrier makes us smile.

The breed nicknamed the “White Cavalier” comes from a striking white coat introduced early on with “dash of Dalmatians,” this according to James Hinks, son of the first James Hicks, a ‘bird and dog dealer’ from Birmingham who laid the foundation for the ‘modern’ Bull Terrier.  The white color, however, didn’t come out of the blue, nor entirely because of the addition of Dalmatian blood.  In 1860, Hicks Sr. had exhibited “Old Madman,” a Bull Terrier who was white, probably made possible by using white English Terriers in its development. Old Madman was described by John Henry Walsh (writing under the pseudonym “Stonehenge”) as a dog bred not for dog fighting, but for competition in the show ring, and that was noteworthy. Old Madman went on to sire another BT named “Madman” born in 1861, and this “Madman” is regarded as the first official white Bull Terrier.

The all-white Bull Terrier seemed to have been favored by not only Hinks, but by the people who bought his white puppies. Colored Bull Terriers weren’t developed until after 1900 when Ted Lyon introduced color into the breed by crossbreeding with Staffordshire Bull Terriers. For a while, breeding of colored bull terriers was limited and regulated, and if a white Bull Terrier puppy had colored ancestors in three closest generations, the breeder/seller had to disclose that information to the buyer.

Some didn’t accept the colored Bull Terriers as equals. According to one source, some fanciers even protested against white Bull Terriers being shown if they come out of brindled parents, but happily, the AKC recognized the Colored Bull Terriers as a separate variety in 1936 which helped still rough waters. Whatever the color, Bull Terriers are among the most comical and mischievous breeds. We like to think of them as board games on four feet.

Our post title comes from a bit of doggerel from the 19th century: “A battered old bum/And made him a dog for a gentleman’s chum,” a verse that many feel encapsulates how the Bull Terrier went from having rough and tumble reputation to being a breed thought suitable as a companion for gentlemen.

Photo of  “Miso,” a tri-color Bull Terrier owned by Carrie Taeu appears here with the kind consent of the photographer, Sara Walter
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