Spuds MacKenzie, Bud Light’s iconic “Original Party Animal” was a Bull Terrier. Many adults in the 80s will remember this pop culture phenom, a super chill dog who drinks beer, parties all day, and is constantly chased by women everywhere he shows up.
The Bull Terrier breed, stocky, muscle-bound, independent, and possibly a little stubborn, was a perfect foil for the hyper-masculine everyman image Anheuser-Busch hoped to promote. Spuds was photo-ready and intensely memorable with his pointy ears, big black splotch over his left eye, Hawaiian shirt, and Wayfarer sunglasses. He even had an entourage of female fans that followed him everywhere he went both on and off camera, called the “Spudettes.”
If you are curious to learn more about Spuds MacKenzie and Bull Terriers, keep reading!
The Secret History of Spuds MacKenzie
Interestingly enough, Spuds had a secret his human caretakers carefully guarded against the press. In a 1987 People magazine article, the writers sensationally reported that Spuds was a female Bull Terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye, and it was true! She was called “Evie” for short by her owners, Jackie and Stanley Oles, who lived at home with Evie in Illinois.
The Oles had originally tried to turn Evie into a show dog but had failed to win any substantial prizes. Evie was so mellow and relaxed that her owners had to use a yo-yo in the show ring to help her to perk up and strut her stuff for the judges. This is somewhat unusual for the Bull Terrier, as they are known to be quite energetic and rambunctious dogs that love to play. They adore being around people and want to be included in all human activities going on around them. This calmer personality did make Evie a great contender for photoshoots and videos because she patiently went along with the fuss being made all around her as “Spuds.”
The Bull Terrier’s Unique Look
Perhaps the greatest attraction of Bull Terriers is their uniquely shaped head, often described as an egg head by fans. Their profile creates a smooth arc from the back of their head to the very tip of their noses which slant inwards and further emphasize this oval, egg-like appearance.
Moreover, Bull Terriers are the only dogs with triangular eyes, which are smallish and set deep in their face, giving them a cool look as if they were cheekily appraising you. The front of their face is broad and almost flat, giving them a comical and animated appearance. So much narrative and expression can be read into their distinctive faces that it is not surprising they have such lasting star power. Terriers come in many colors, white, red, fawn, black, and brindle, and of course, are quite well known for their striking and bold spots.
Bull Terriers are densely built and have muscular shoulders and a notably funny ‘muscle-man’ walk that brings delight to those around them. Their tails stick out horizontally from their bodies, giving them the appearance of slightly leaning forward. They are of medium size coming in at just under two feet and can weigh anywhere from 35 to 75 pounds. They have a smaller cousin almost identical in appearance, the Miniature Bull Terrier, which is more similar to the size of a Jack Russell Terrier.
The Origins of the Bull Terrier
Bull Terriers were originally bred in England during the 19th century. They were produced from a cross between an old English terrier and the bulldog. It is also said that they also have a mix of the extinct English White Terrier, Dalmatian, Spanish Pointer, Whippet, Borzoi, and Rough Collie in their breeding history, which explains how they got some of their more notable characteristics, such as their spots, and their somewhat more elegant bearing and egg-shaped heads. They were originally bred for fighting in the hopes of combining the toughness of the bulldog with the speed and agility of the terrier.
Despite their roots as fighting dogs, they are known to be very people-friendly and have an even temper. They are known to get along well with children and are great companions as they have an endless thirst for play and interaction. It is recommended, though, to have them in families with older children as they can be a bit physically strong when bouncing around in the vicinity of toddlers. They need clear and firm discipline as they can be stubborn and headstrong, and therefore, they should be paired with experienced dog owners.
A Full Life with a Bull Terrier
The expected lifespan for a Bull Terrier is between 10–15 years, comparable to other medium size breeds. In a twist of history as Spuds’ ad campaign wound down the press, the media started reporting fantastical stories of his death that he had disappeared in a plane crash or a limo accident or while surfing. In reality, part of the myth that fueled Spuds’ rise to fame was the idea that he was a kind of avatar for the ultimate cool-guy, party animal. His character was crafted so that he became almost human and certainly not just a mere dog. He was even interviewed by David Letterman.
His advertising executives made sure he always traveled with his entourage of Spudettes, booked into fancy hotels, and rode in limos every time he was out in public to hype his media image and send a wink to his fans. As Spuds became less visible, the media wouldn’t let go of the Original Party Animal so easily. The rumors were eventually debunked in a series of articles, and Spuds (a.k.a. Evie) lived out the rest of her life at home in Illinois, passing away at the age of 10 after a well-earned retirement of sleepy afternoons and extra dog treats.
Spuds MacKenzie is perhaps the most famous beer-drinking Bull Terrier in recent history, but he is not the only one of his breed in the spotlight. Other famous Bull Terriers include Bullseye, the official mascot of Target Corporation. Bullseye cleverly makes a play on Spuds’ infamous black spot by sporting a painting of the Target bullseye logo over her right eye. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs’ brown and white Bull Terrier Neville shows up in many shoots wearing clothes from the designer’s eponymous fashion line. Singer and songwriter Taylor Swift has an ultra-cute and loyal Bull Terrier who sticks firmly by her side.
There are even famous historical Bull Terriers, like those owned by World War II General George S. Patton and former President Theodore Roosevelt. The loyal, fun-loving, and comical Bull Terrier has found a place in many people’s hearts, and famous or not, it makes a great ‘party animal’ to have at home.