Bull sports are a modern sporting discipline. The disciplines are tailored to the bull & terrier types of breed, which include English Bull Terrier, The Miniature Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier.
The Czech Bull Breeds Cup 2015 covers these 5 disciplines:
Weight Pull – towing a load. The dog is put in a special towing harness and has to pull a cart, to which burdens are added. The winning dog is the one to tow the biggest load, or by conversion takes the greatest load for its body weight over a given distance within a certain time limit.
Weight Pull Sprint – towing a load in the fastest time. The dog tows the load along the given course – usually 50-100m, with a load weight of 200 kg.
Wall Climbing. The winning dog is the one to climb highest up a wall, biting into a bait and hanging on, for at least 5s.
High Jump. The dog jumps up at a bait and has to hang on to it for at least 5s to count as a valid attempt. The winning dog is the one to jump the highest, typically around 2 metres.
Monkey Track. This is about overcoming barriers as in agility trials, except that the dog is tethered to the handler and has to overcome the obstacles in the shortest possible time without any mistakes.
Bull sports covers yet more disciplines:
Long jump. The dog jumps off a launchpad onto sand, going after a bait lure. Some dogs can leap 7-8 metres.
High time – endurance suspension. The dog leaps up to bite on a bait and the winner is the one that hangs on the longest.
Tug of war – a discipline where two dogs compete pulling on a tag bait. The winner is the dog that wins against the most competitors.
Triathlon – consists of running, swimming and running at the wheel. Track lengths vary, usually up to 10 km. Each dog and its handler are joined with a pull cord. The fastest pair wins.
A-frame – a contest over a special A-shaped obstacle. The dog’s task is to jump over the obstacle for one minute there and back again. The dog that manages the most jumps is the winner.
Treadmill Race – the dog runs on a treadmill with a distance meter. The winner is the dog that covers the longest distance in two minutes.
All the bull sports disciplines are very demanding physically. Training has to be well phased, the demands made have to go up gradually and the canine athlete has to be well prepared for outstanding performance. A high quality, balanced diet is an essential part of the training process. Daniel Žďárský has for some years now been relying on Fitmin performance, because that way he keeps his dogs on top form for most of the year. In the sporting break he feeds them Fitmin maintenance. For variety he feeds his protégés FFL dog menu Meat Mix 427g, as he puts it, so they can enjoy a good steak. Pregnant females and puppies are fed Fitmin puppy and Fitmin milk. Daniel Žďárský likes the Fitmin range for medium sized dog breeds, allowing him to make up the feed mix to best suit the current condition and demands made on the dog.
If you think of the sports performance of the dogs, clearly it takes more than just prime physical condition for a dog to get on the winner rostrum. For a dog to be a winner it needs something that extra something. It’s what is known as being a “Game” dog. Game dogs have an innate quality and the dog either does or does not have it. It is a feisty eagerness to “fight” not to give up and go on through exhaustion and pain, pursuing the goal to the last breath. Why these breeds have it is best understood if we consider a bit of history. In the past these breeds were used for fighting. The dogs fought with small animals such as rats, with large animals such as bulls, or most commonly in dog fights with one another.
In the pit, which was about 8 feet square (2.5 x 2,5m) each dog had his corner, there with the dog handlers and a referee. On his command the dogs were set on one another. The loser was the dog that could not or would not go on fighting. This was established in the so-called “scratch”, when the dogs were caught, brought back to their corner and after being sponged down they were released once more. The dog had to cross the pit and once again attack its opponent. If it did not, it lost the fight. If neither dog “conceded” fight, its handler had to decide whether to give in, if their dog was injured or not able to go on. So, it was not always the better fighter that won, but the dog that had more “heart”, more Game. Those were the dogs most valued for breeding.
From the above it’s clear that no specific qualities were being selected in bull dog breeding. People nowadays wrongly, and mostly without any knowledge, speak of bull breeds as “fighting” dogs in the sense of being aggressive towards people. This is just a big misconception. It was always needed, even in the days of dogfights, that the handler could withdraw the dog away from his opponent and have him under control even when most excited. There was never any question of the dog being allowed to attack the handler or referee. If that were to happen, the dog would be immediately disqualified, sometimes for good. There was never anything desirable about being aggression toward humans, and any such dog was not fit for breeding and could end up being put down, even. The historical records show that many successful champions lived with the family, and were very friendly to adults and children alike.
Understanding and looking after the needs of these “all heart” dogs, enough action to feed their gameness, consistent and affectionate handling makes these breeds great domestic companions. Bull breeds are devoted to people, they love their master and his family. Being too hard on them can break their spirit, though. Daniel Žďárský is very well aware of these facts and brings up and trains his protégés with positive motivation. His approach to training is an example to others who own these breeds, and he does what he can to show the general public what they really are like. Affectionate, friendly towards people, canine athletes with real heart and great partners for life.