What Was The Bull Terrier Bred For?

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Bull Terrier is one of the most favorable breeds, and people love to bring this dog home. The truth behind these dogs being popular lies in their stages of evolution. In fact, Bull Terriers were not originally bred to be family dogs.

But with time, they evolved after multiple breeding stages. Now, you can consider them as great companions for families! Yes, they are aggressive in nature, and many countries or states have imposed regulations on them.

But still, with appropriate training, a Bull Terrier can be the best companion for the family.

What Was The Bull Terrier Bred For?

Bull Terrier was initially bred to be a fighting dog. It was the story of the 19th Century in England when there was an era of dogfighting and blood sports. In fact, Bull Terrier was bred with a mix of terrier and bulldog to head into the ring of battle.

English terriers, one of the parent ancestors of Bull Terriers, are now extinct! Terriers were very much agile, whereas bulldogs are famous for their brute strength. Hence, Bull Terrier is a mix of power, strength, agility, and flexibility! But, soon, the fights were banned in England and across the globe!

Studio portrait of Bull Terrier dog with white and black coat

Over time, this breed was constantly evolving. And it wasn’t late when people realized the loving side of this dog breed. They are caring, humble, adorable, and are perfect to be family dogs.

Bull Terrier dogs have come across, completing a vast journey of evolution. If you intend to take a glimpse at their journey, then stick to this article till the end. There is more answer to your question, ‘What was the Bull Terrier bred for?’ than you expect!

Bull Terrier’s Evolution From The 1800s To 2021

It is a story that goes 200 years back. It was the 1800s since the Bull Terrier was bred and brought to life! Apart from dog fighting, people brought Bull Terriers life to bait the bulls in a ring.

Also, they fought with the bulls. Bull Terrier went through some excessive amount of selective breeding. As a result, this breed was born with an unnatural head shape and muzzle which is unique but problematic for the dog.

Due to this head type, this breed was prone to suffer from dental malocclusion very frequently.

If you observe the pictures of Bull Terriers from their first-bred year of 1800 till date, you will evidently realize the vibrant difference. When they were first bred, there were different sizes of Bull Terriers. For instance, the big and powerful ones were liable for entering the ring.

And the smaller ones were the choice of families, since the 19th Century. It was a hybrid breeding outcome, which is not accountable to be an authentic breed. It was just a rough outline that indicated the start of several more breeding practices. One of such experimental breeds is the Pitbull.

If you wish to see the pictures of Bull Terriers in 1800, 1900, and 2000, then don’t forget to click on this link!

James Hinks of England did put his efforts into making Bull Terriers a distinct breed for families. Earlier Bull Terriers were the gladiator-kind dogs and were the results of rough-hewn cross-pollination. In this case, few moldings were essential, and James Hinks did the necessary work.

James was an Irish-born and was the son of a shoemaker. He pursued his career inbreeding by raising rabbits and poultry. And he soon found a way to enter the dog market.

Hinks was open to experimenting. In fact, he did the best he can to prepare his own formula for breeding Bull Terriers. As per the records, James used Dalmatians to breed with Bull Terriers to give this breed a solid white coat.

Bull Terrier running outdoors

It was an art back then to be experimental in breeding dogs. It was indeed the sign of a successful dog dealer back in the 19th Century. So, he took his breeding experiments with Bull Terriers to the next level by taking the contribution of Pointer and Greyhound for straightening the legs of Bull Terriers.

The genetic contribution of Bulldogs to Bull Terriers did give them a bowing tendency. James Hinks corrected it with this evolutionary practice on the breed. With this part of evolution, Bull Terriers did lose some of their bull-ness.

They then had a very refined structure. Since then, they possess long fore faces & necks with fewer wrinkles.

Subsequently, this refined breed of Bull Terrier became a member of families. The breed is the same now as that of 2021 and is a happy member of many families. People are now seeing the adorable side of the Bull Terrier breed and have forgotten their ancestor’s past.

A Fighting Dog To A Civilized Member Of Family

James Hinks completely civilized a fighting dog! What James did was softening the rough edges for this breed. He had no intention of changing the characteristics and behavior of this breed. All he wanted was to make this breed look exquisite!

James’s Bull Terrier breed was alert, brave, muscular, active, and energetic. It has the same characteristics as that of the original or initial breed of a Bull Terrier. The only inclusive aspect from his experiments was a gentleman appeal!

A gentleman appeal was all this breed was lacking, to look civilized and be part of families. James believed that this change through natural measures would bring in many admirers for Bull Terriers. Also, James Hinks took his version of Bull Terrier to a dog show at Birmingham in 1862.

The public was shocked to see a milky-white Bull Terrier with a fine coat. James did realize the worth of this breed and concluded that it was a waste of potential at fights. The breed of Bull Terrier in 2021 is still well capable of taking a fight like their ancestors.

Nevertheless, they are now part of families, instead.

There was a concept of Canine Chivalry that gave James’s Bull Terrier the name “White Cavalier.” James Hinks turned around the entire appeal of a Bull Terrier, and now it is ‘A Happy & Loving Family Dog Breed.’

Softening Of Bull Terriers’ Temperament In The 20th Century

The last breed version of Bull Terrier, by James Hinks, had the old temperament of a fighting dog. But over time, when these dogs started to live with families, they diluted their character by themselves. There didn’t need to show their aggressiveness when the people around them are caring & loving.

Soon, Bull Terriers got their name on the list of playful dogs.

Bull Terrier

In some countries or states, Bull Terrier is still on the list of most dangerous dogs. Not just that, but some accidental incidents due to irresponsible owners, forced the authorities to impose regulations on owning this dog.

But, with excellent training and socialization, you will always find Bull Terriers to be humble, polite, and friendly. Since 20th Century, breeders focus more on the unique head of Bull Terriers. Their head type is the reason people compare them to shark heads.

The 20th and 21st-century breeders are now producing Bull Terrier dogs with deep-set triangular eyes and dark coats. It is to ensure that the body coat and face structure complement the head type. 

Soon, all the breeders began to keep the unique head as standard for Bull Terriers. They put their efforts into introducing colors to the Bull Terrier breed. Also, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were developed by further breeding, and they got all the attention from dog lovers.

Overall these years, many prominent personalities took in Bull Terriers as their companion like:

  • President Theodore Roosevelt
  • General George, S. Patton
  • Other military men

The Bull Terriers of the 21st Century prove that James’s formula for a Bull Terrier was proficient to the best extent!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is So Good About Bull Terriers To Make Them Good Family Dogs?

They are affectionate, gentle, and respectful towards their owners and family members. Bull terrier puppies are easy to train and are strong enough to protect the family and property. In addition to that, with obedience training and socialization, you can control the aggressive nature of Bull Terriers.

Apart from that, you can count on them to be the best family dogs.

Are Bull Terriers Smart And Intelligent?

Bull Terriers hold the rank to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They do possess an optimal level of working intelligence. They are not just good at learning commands but are also very much excellent in hunting prospects.

Therefore, you can count on them to have a highly intuitive rate of intelligence. To know more, you can refer to this article that describes the smartness of these dogs in detail.


Knowing just about the origin of Bull Terriers is not a piece of complete information. This entire evolution story tells about what these dogs were before and what they are now. Indeed, they have come a long way.

And, if you desire to bring one to your home, you need to understand their journey and evolution.