As an animal welfare worker, Jana worked with bull terriers. She had a boarding home for the breed and currently owns a perky specimen.
Bull Terriers Are Gladiator Clowns
The Bull Terrier owns several pet references, such as the "gladiator of the dog world" or "a toddler in a dog suit." Both capture the diverse nature of the breed. Sure, bullies can be fearsome and tough. On the flip side, these clowns are almost child-like when looking for a snuggle. What follows is a short list of amusing, mesmerizing and even alarming things that Bull Terriers are known for.
1. They Have OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is not just for humans. In the dog world, this diagnosis is known as CCD, or Canine Compulsive Disorder. One particular obsessive trait is called spinning. This happens when a dog chases its own tail. If the animal stops after the first few turns, it is usually received by people with humour, however, the owners of extreme spinners find nothing funny about it. The dog can chase its tail for hours and behave as if the owner is not even there (despite talking or touching). Even when injuring themselves, pain is not a deterrent and bullies will continue to spin. Many breeds spin, too, but bullies are more likely to hunt their own tails.
Other obsessive behaviours include excessive barking and walking up and down often with something in the mouth. CCD in this breed ranges from mild to severe, while some dogs will not exhibit any symptoms of this condition in their lifetime. The University of Helsinki performed a study on several breeds with CCD and found individual dogs were more likely to develop the condition if neglected as a puppy or taken away from the mother too early.
2. They Talk to Themselves
An amusing and amazingly endearing thing some Bull Terriers do is to hold a conversation. True, they cannot discuss the latest news (that would just be freaky), but they can get vocal. This is not a barking-sort-of-vocal. They "talk" to themselves, mumbling or grunting away. At other times, they'll engage their owners in this manner. You just have to type "talking Bull Terrier" into the YouTube search bar to experience an avalanche of bullies talking up a storm.
Going in Slow Motion
3. Sometimes, They Trance
Trancing, otherwise known as ghost or weed walking, is unique to Bull Terriers. Again, not every member of the breed will do this. What is it? It is perhaps the most mesmerizing behaviour any dog lover can hope to see. The condition is not fully understood but suspected to have neurological roots.
All right, enough with the science jabber—here it is! For a bullie to ghost walk, he or she needs a trigger. This is usually a touch to the back, neck and head, however, the touch mentioned here is not the owner stroking those areas. Nay. For some reason, when bullies walk underneath the tablecloth, low hanging laundry and even a bush, they will go into a trance-like state. They walk in slow motion and appear to faze out, however, the dog is not entirely lost to the world. Some owners have reported that their bullies responded to their voices with a slight tail wag or turn of the head. After a while, they snap out of it completely and show no side effects. The condition is as harmless as it is mysterious.
4. They Exhibit Subconcious Aggression
This is perhaps the most tragic and unusual behaviour of the breed. SOA stands for Sudden Onset Aggression and it is also known as Rage Syndrome. As serious as it is, the condition is rare. In Bull Terriers, the most prevalent form is "waking SOA" during which the dog explodes in an uncontrollable fit of anger the moment it wakes up. This scary condition is not a behavioural problem. In other words, dogs with SOA are normally sweet-tempered and loving. They may even be therapy dogs and those with good citizen certificates.
SOA cannot be trained out of an afflicted animal; the dog is unaware of the episode afterwards. For this reason, experts suspect it could be seizure-related. The true cause behind SOA stays, sadly, unknown and there's no cure.
Ownership of an SOA dog calls for adaptation and watchfulness when pets go to sleep. The best is to secure them in a pen or room. For some people, dealing with an SOA bullie is too much and they get passed around or euthanized. Other owners deal with the situation in a sterling way and find ways to work with the difficulties that accompany a special needs pet.
5. Sometimes, They Hucklebutt
"Freaking," "high five," "the zoomies"—this is bullie owner jargon for what is generally agreed upon as "hucklebutting." As opposed to SOA, a dog shows a sudden burst of joy and does so with full awareness. They tuck in their butts and take off at full speed, throw figure eights, fall flat on their tummies before speeding away again, throw circles and zip around the house or garden. For a few minutes, it kind of looks like your pet has lost its mind. Indeed, some hucklebutters crash into furniture or human legs. This behaviour is not so strange if one considers that Bull Terriers love fun and is a high energy breed. What's better than running around like crazy because you adore being a bullie?
6. They Pretend to Be Dumb
For every bucket of love the Bull Terrier bestows so plentifully upon its family, it keeps a bucket of strong will for itself. This means that they can be very obstinate and love getting their own way. These smart dogs often deal with human demands in an amazingly crafty manner by pretending to be thick. Even the simplest reprimand or command (and one they reacted correctly to on previous occasion), will seem to confound them. To think that Bull Terriers are stupid is a big mistake. They are exceptionally intelligent, independent and capable of sizing up different situations. It is not unusual for them to devise plans to get what they want, even if it means pretending to have a lower I.Q. when they disagree with their human.
Bull Terriers Are Unique, Individualistic Freaks
Pointy ears, bullet noses and tank-like bodies . . . they may look alike, but bullies are not clones. Their unique characters and quirks spawn wonderful individuals. My own girl, when she gets excited, snorts loudly. If you didn't know that there was a dog behind you, one would think a horse was standing there. She fixates for hours on a wall frequented by lizards. They push her OCD button beautifully. When I walk and she's behind me, this clown loves stepping on my heels. I broke a sandal that way. Six other dogs share our house and often, the sight of one mixed-breed female, sends the bullie off hucklebutting.
Breed Stereotypes: Fit to Fight Prejudice
Bull Terriers have been bred to develop themselves, hence the strong will. While the Bull Terrier is not the perfect dog for everyone, the breed doesn't deserve the prejudice still floating in dog parks, obedience class and even from neighbours. A hard-to-die view insists that bullies are uniformly vicious and one-dimensional. Sure, some display aggression but this is dog behaviour. Like a Dobermann, Labrador Retriever, or Yorkie, a Bull Terrier can get crabby when ill, left unsocialized or provoked. In the end, it may be the amazing stuff bullies do that finally earn them the recognition they deserve.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit
Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on January 17, 2019:
Hi Lyne. Thanks for commenting. What you say is very true - this is an amazing breed but not for everyone. They are highly active, need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Bullies often have a high prey drive that people cannot deal with. However, they do make affectionate and funny pets! Mine even gets along with cats.
Lyne on January 13, 2019:
So true,my husband and I are up to are fourth Bull terrier,3 standard and 1 mini.we love the breed and would not have another breed of dog,but I have to say I'm a dog groomer of 40 years experience and to all my customers I always say they are not for everyone.And in all my bullies they look alike but have a bit something different.In the end we loved them all and still miss them each of one.