Bull Terrier Oil Painting
April is National Pet Month, so rather fittingly we’ve picked this Bull Terrier oil painting (FA.00552) as our object of the month.
This nineteenth century portrait painting is thought to be the only known image of the now extinct breed, Dudley Terrier.
The painting was bequeathed to Shropshire Museums in 1990 by Miss Phillips. It was thought to feature a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. However, its likely identity as a Dudley Terrier was suggested through the Art UK website in 2016.
Dudley Terriers, also known as the Dudley Dog or Dudley Bulldog, were created in the Black Country region in ninetieth century as fighting dogs. They are named, as you might have guessed, after the town of Dudley.
As you can see in the painting, the Dudley Terrier was a short-coated dog with reddish tan colouration and a red nose, but they didn’t always have the white markings on their chest and feet. A descendant of the old Irish Bulldog, it is taller and leaner than a standard Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Their average height was around 50 centimetres and they had a muscular, athletic build. This combined with its tenacious personality made it very popular as a fighting dog.
In 1835 the Cruelty to Animals Act outlawed dog fighting but the practice continued for many years afterwards because the law was not enforced. This meant that Bull and Terrier breeds flourished. However, the law was eventually enforced, and these breeds of dog lost popularity. Some, such as the Dudley Dog, disappeared completely.
Though now extinct, the Dudley Terrier’s bloodline lives on in breeds like the Irish Staffordshire Bullterrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Though a largely forgotten breed, its name is remembered in the term ‘Dudley Nose’, which is commonly used to describe a pink or pale coloured nose on a dog.
Animals can be found in lots of paintings around Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. Explore all the spaces in the museum and see how many you can spot!
Object of the Month is on display in the Visitor Information Centre and features on our social media feeds: