Golfballs.com

HomeArticlesBreedersFamousPhotosStoreeMail

Back to Famous
"Spuds MacKenzie - The Official Party Animal"

     During the late 1980s, Bud Light spokes dog, Spuds McKenzie, helped popularize his breed, the bull terrier.
     Spuds made his debut in a Bud Light beer commercial during the Super Bowl in 1987. Spuds, who also functioned as senior party consultant for the Anheuser-Busch Company, purveyors of Bud Light beer, was an affable rake with an egg-shaped face and a black circle around one eye. He became a marketing sensation almost faster than you can say, "This Spuds' for you." Nearly every time you turned on a sporting event on the tube, there was Spuds--water skiing, skateboarding, lounging by a pool with a bevy of beautiful women or doing something else that was more glamorous than what you were doing.

Long Live Spuds

    Spuds MacKenzie's popularity wasn't diminished a  drop when some enterprising reporter discovered that the dog who played Spuds in commercials was really a she, a female bull terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye. Budweiser officials were at great pains to conceal that information from the public, even using their coats to shield Spuds from cameras when she answered a call of nature, but eventually word leaked out.

     Although Spuds' gender bending didn't drain his popularity with his following, he wasn't everyone's cup of brew. Some groups took offense at his hail-fellow-well-met endorsement of the high life. In 1989 the Center for Science Science in the Public Interest charged that Anheuser-Busch commercials appealed to people under the legal drinking age. Spuds also brought down the wrath of school officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and as a result his career ended prematurely in 1989.

During the late 1980s, Bud Light spokesdog, Spuds McKenzie, helped popularize his breed, the bull terrier. Bull terriers were developed in mid-19th century England around the time the first recorded dog shows were held there. Developed by James Hinks, the breed, originally known as a bull-and-terrier, was bred for the then-legal 'sport' of pit fighting. A number of different species of dogs contributed genes to the bull terrier's development, creating a dog whose toughness and determination became legend. Eventually two varieties were recognized: standard and miniature. Despite their unprepossessing looks, bull terriers have many attractive virtues. In some ways, Spuds McKenzie captured the best of the bull terrier's personality: the confidence, courage and loyalty, characteristics that far outweigh the bullie's drawbacks for those who understand the breed.

Spuds

Spuds MacKenzie, the original party animal, made his debut in a Bud Light beer commercial during the Super Bowl in 1987. Spuds, who also functioned as senior party consultant for the Anheuser-Busch Company, purveyors of Bud Light beer, was an affable rake with an egg-shaped face and a black circle around one eye. He became a marketing sensation almost faster than you can say, "This Spuds' for you." Nearly every time you turned on a sporting event on the tube, there was Spuds -- water skiing, skateboarding, lounging by a pool with a bevy of beautiful women or doing something else that was more glamorous than what you were doing. His image and likeness appeared on T-shirts, sweaters, mugs, posters and stuffed animals, outfacing those of other popular television creatures of the time, including the redoubtable ALF and mighty Max Headroom.

Whiter Shades of Pale

The omnipopular Spuds MacKenzie was a bull terrier, a breed developed in England during the middle of the 19th century about the time the first recorded dog shows were held there. One of the most prominent exhibitors at that time was James Hinks of Birmingham, who made a comfortable living selling dogs. Among the several breeds for which Hinks was known was the bull-and-terrier. This breed, which is no longer in existence, was the product of an arranged marriage calculated to combine the bulldog's courage, tenacity and high threshold of pain with the now-extinct black-and-tan terrier's lightning speed, agility and unsurpassed ratting instinct. The result was an extremely rugged dog well suited for the "sport" of pit fighting, which was legal and popular in England until the early 1800s and which remained popular even when it was no longer legal.

The bull-and-terrier could best be described as downright ugly. Its legs were bowed, its neck and head were short and thick, its body was low-slung and clumsy looking, and it came in a variety of smutty colors. This was a combination only dog fighters and rat (or badger) hunters could love.

Beneath the bull-and-terrier's clock-stopping appearance, however, lay an exceptional combination of traits, not the least of which was an unfaltering devotion to its owner. James Hinks decided, therefore, to create a bull-and-terrier whose looks would better reflect its noble character.

When Hinks set about this task, he enlisted the aid of the white English terriers in his kennel. These dogs, whiich are also now extinct, were elegant of line, graceful of bearing and straight of leg. Eventually Hinks was able to make smooth the misshapen form of the bull-and-terriers and to establish in its place the more graceful lines of the white English terrier, albeit with more bone and muscularity than the white terrier possessed.

The homely improvements bestowed by the white terrier also extended to color. The new bull- and-terriers were more attractively marked, usually on a white ground color, and before long Hinks and the breeders who assisted him in his mission produced dogs that were substantially white.

Beauty's Only Skin Deep

Fighting-dog purists scoffed at this new look and complained that prettying up the stalwart bull-and-terriers would rob them of their pugnacity, which was their crowning virtue. To prove his critics wrong Hinks sent his female Puss, who weighed but 40 pounds, out to do battle with a 60-pound female of the old-fashioned type in London in 1862. A five-pound note and a case of champagne rode on the outcome of the match. In fewer than 30 minutes Puss dispatched her opponent while suffering no more than a few minor scratches on her own elegant self. According to one writer Puss went off to take a red ribbon in a conformation class at a legitimate dog show later in the day. (Another writer claims that Puss took the top prize that day.)

As time progressed, Hinks and other aficionados of the new bull-and-terrier added a drop of Dalmatian blood here, a dollop of greyhound there, perhaps a few dashes of Spanish pointer, too, and, some say, even foxhound. There is also evidence of a borzoi cross entering the mix along the way, that evidence revealing itself in the convex profile of the bull terrier's head. The final result of Hinks and company's makeover of the old bull-and-terrier was a dog that came to be known simply as the bull terrier, a breed with a unique look that fanciers to this day would call handsome rather than beautiful.

The Big and Small of It

Before he died in 1878 James Hinks had placed his breeding stock in the hands of other fanciers. Ten years after Hinks' death the first breed standard for bull terriers was published by the newly formed Bull Terrier Club in England. The breed caught the fancy of Americans as well, and the bull terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1895.

For a number of reasons that obtained during the bull terrier's development, size has varied so considerably in the breed that a movement eventually began in England to separate bullies into two sizes -- standard and miniature. The AKC recognized the size differential in 1992, and the United Kennel Club, which had recognized the bull terrier in 1948, approved the distinction in 1993. Although the two divisions -- standard and miniature -- are considered separate and distinct breeds, the only desirable difference between them is size. Miniature bull terriers should be 10 to 14 inches at the shoulder. The standard variety, while it doesn't have to fall within a prescribed range of heights beyond 14 inches, should posses substantial bone and substance. As a point of comparison, the standard bull terrier usually stands about 22 inches at the shoulder and weighs fewer than 60 pounds.

No matter what their size, bull terriers come in either white, with minimal head markings allowed, or colored. The colored version is heavily marked with one of a variety of acceptable colors on the head and body. Those differences aside, both standard and miniature bull terriers, white or colored, should have a long, egg-shaped head, erect ears, small, triangular eyes, cobby body, broad chest, well-sprung ribs and short, hard, slick, easy-to-care-for coat.

A Character In Its Own Right

The bull terrier look is undeniably unique but no more unique than the charismatic temperament of this engaging breed. The well-bred bull terrier is confident, courageous, good-natured and loyal to a fault. Most bull terriers have lived down their blatantly aggressive temperaments and will tolerate other dogs briefly, but woe to the dog that even thinks about challenging a bullie to a fight. The breed has lost none of its ability in that department. For this reason a bull terrier should always be exercised on leash or in areas where there are no other dogs or small animals present.
Most dog books will confidently insist at some point that the only thing more enjoyable than owning one of the breed under discussion is owning two. This does not apply to the bull terrier! The bullie needs no other companions besides you and your family. Some bull terriers get on famously with other dogs, but there is no reason to risk awakening the bellicose heritage that exists in even the most placid members of the breed.

Most bull terriers love well-behaved children (although bullies seriously resent being teased) and also do beautifully with the elderly. The bullie who is not accustomed to the young or the elderly, however, should be supervised closely so that accidents do not occur.

It is virtually impossible to describe the playfulness and the unrivaled sense of humor the bull terrier possesses, but a longtime friend of mine who owns bull terriers probably captured it better than anyone I know: "They fall somewhere between Noel Coward and Robin Williams," he said, "with, perhaps, a cement mixer thrown in for good measure."

Long Live Spuds

Spuds MacKenzie's popularity wasn't diminished a drop when some enterprising reporter discovered that the dog who played Spuds in commercials was really a she, a female bull terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye. Budweiser officials were at great pains to conceal that information from the public, even using their coats to shield Spuds from cameras when she answered a call of nature, but eventually word leaked out.

Although Spuds' gender bending didn't drain his popularity with his following, he wasn't everyone's cup of brew. Some groups took offense at his hail-fellow-well-met endorsement of the high life. In 1989 the Center for Science in the Public Interest charged that Anheuser-Busch commercials appealed to people under the legal drinking age. Spuds also brought down the wrath of school officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and as a result his career ended prematurely in 1989.

Spuds, who was six when he was retired to his North Riverside, Illinois, home, died there four years later of kidney failure on or about his birthday, May 31. Before his death he had undergone dialysis for a time.
"The criticism, I remember it," said one marketing official after Spuds' demise. "It really wasn't accurate at all. Most people saw the idea for what it was - a joke, an over-the-top joke. I just wish some people would have a sense of humor."

That's a wish one never has to make regarding the bull terrier.

Who's the Boss?

Its sterling qualities and merry outlook notwithstanding, the bull terrier is not a "home alone" dog. A bull terrier with too much time on its hands may engage in destructive behavior and develop neurotic quirks. Moreover, the bullie's desire for human companionship and its intense devotion to its owner will not prevent it from challenging for the dominant position in the family pack. This kind of behavior must never to be tolerated even during puppyhood when "games" of growling and biting may appear cute. Nipping any of these attempts at dominance in the bud is imperative. It is much easier to convince the little rebel to change its ways than it is to reason with a 50- or 60-pound adult accustomed to deciding things for itself.

Obedience training is highly recommended for the bull terrier and its owner. The latter should understand, however, that a bull terrier considers the repetition of boring exercises -- like sit and stay a nuisance and may well get up and walk away if lessons become too repetitive. Short, frequent sessions work much better in training a bullie.

Health

Bull terriers are, by and large, a healthy breed, but like all pedigreed animals they are plagued by certain maladies. Deafness has been known in the breed from its inception, and although deafness predominately occurs in white puppies, every bullie sold should have been evaluated by the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test. Puppies as young as 5 weeks old can be screened by this technique.

Bullies may also suffer from luxating patella, a dislocation of the small, flat, moveable bone at the front of the knee. Luxating patella is an inherited tendency that can be aggravated by excess weight. This condition can be corrected by surgery. Adults bullies should be tested by a veterinarian and certified free of luxating patella by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals before they are used for breeding.

Two kidney conditions that prospective buyers should be aware of are renal dysplasia and hereditary nephritis. The former causes incomplete kidney development during the first few weeks of life and results in early renal failure. The latter, which can strike anywhere between the ages of 2 and 7 years, results in progressive kidney failure. Both conditions are invariably fatal.

Breeders who have had broad experience with raising bull terriers can help prospective buyers locate the dog that best suits their needs -- as size and temperament exist over a broad spectrum in the breed. An aggressive, extremely large male bull terrier would not be the best choice in the world for anyone who does not have the muscle power to cope properly with such a strong dog. Some bull terriers are much more reticent than others and would be more suitable for a quiet person and a calm household.

Looking for a Shock Absorbing Leash? Get it today at EzyDog.com! Shop now!

Back to Top