If you’re a history buff or a fan of Oscar-winning cinema, you’ve probably heard of General Patton: one of the most famous American generals from World War II. In the film and many photos, General Patton is accompanied by a dog, but what breed of dog did General Patton have?
General Patton was a lifelong lover of the Bull Terrier, an old and famous British breed that is less popular now than it once was. In this article, we’ll discuss General Patton’s dogs, including his most famous Bull Terrier, Willie. We’ll also tell you what you need to know about the breed if you, like General Patton, fall in love with a Bull Terrier.
How General Patton Fell for the Bull Terrier
George S. Patton was a career military man who attended West Point. He served as a tank commander and personal aide to a general during the First World War. After World War I, Patton got his first Bull Terrier as a family pet and was quickly smitten with the breed.
The general owned several Bull Terriers throughout his lifetime, and his best-known pet was by his side until Patton’s unexpected death in 1945.
Willie, General Patton’s Last Bull Terrier
During World War II, General Patton commanded successful campaigns in Northern Africa and Italy before being sent to England before the D-Day invasion. In England, the controversial general, beloved by his soldiers but often in conflict with his superiors, decided he wanted a new dog to keep him company.
Willie’s first owner was a British pilot who never returned from a bombing mission over Germany. General Patton got the dog from the pilot’s widow, and the pair quickly became inseparable. Known for his temper and gruffness, Patton was a complete softie when it came to his dog.
General Patton made Willie his own dog tags, threw him a birthday party, and brought the dog along as the Allied army fought across Europe from 1944-1945. Reportedly, Willie once got into a fight with General Eisenhower’s Scottish Terrier.
After Germany surrendered, General Patton remained in the country, where he was killed in a car accident in December 1945. Willie outlived his beloved owner and was sent back to America, where he lived with Patton’s surviving family for 12 years until his death. Life Magazine published a famous photograph of Willie lying quietly beside Patton’s belongings after his death, waiting to go home to the U.S.
What Makes Bull Terriers Special?
Although it was initially bred for dog fighting in 19th century England, the Bull Terrier is full of personality, charm, and playfulness. They are natural clowns that entertain their humans with zany antics, as Willie once did by running off with General Patton’s pistol belt.
Bull Terriers crave human attention and are happiest when they get plenty of it, which is one reason that Willie was constantly by Patton’s side. They are strong dogs that need a lot of exercise as well.
Remember how Willie got into a fight with General Eisenhower’s dog? Bull Terriers and other dogs don’t always mix well, thanks to the Bullies’ dog fighting heritage. If you’re considering a Bull Terrier puppy, be prepared for early and ongoing socialization efforts to keep your dog under control in the presence of other canines.
Bull Terriers aren’t always the easiest breed to train. They’re quite stubborn, strong, and exuberant. Patience and experience are required for success in teaching the dogs. They can make wonderful pets but may not be the best choice for inexperienced dog owners.
General Patton’s Bull Terrier, Willie, brought out the soft side of a man known for verbal outbursts; he was once disciplined for slapping one of his soldiers. It’s fascinating to learn how often dogs played a role in human history, including during one of the great wars of the 20th century. If you think a Bull Terrier may play a role in your future, please do further research on the breed to ensure they are a good fit for your home and lifestyle.
Featured Image Credit: tratong, Shutterstock