ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Bull Terrier is a dog breed often compared with a 3 year old child in the body of a dog. This is because it is very cheerful, active and easily attaches to its adoptive family. These dogs love people unconditionally, are friendly and very funny too. Even if they are medium sized, they love to sit in their owners’ laps and greet them with a lot of enthusiasm. Despite having these features, the Bull Terrier is a strong type of dog, one that can be quite stubborn when it wants to be.

Its body is muscular, specific to all Terrier dogs and because of its past, this dog breed is classified as potentially dangerous in a few countries. These quadrupeds were bred in Britain, where they were used for dog fights.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group: Terriers
Height: Generally 1 foot, 9 inches to 1 foot, 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 35 to 75 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 15 years

Bull Terriers are known as “gladiators” because their descendants were fighting dogs, but which have become very popular pets over the years. The first notes about this dog breed are present in the English Stud Book, from the 1870s. Even if it was initially bred to fight, the Bull Terrier is mostly a competitive companion dog. There is also a smaller version of the Bull Terrier, called Miniature Bull Terrier. Both are easy to recognize thanks to their distinctive look.

The bite of a Bull Terrier is extremely powerful. It is known to stubbornly not unclench its teeth when it grabs a prey. This dog breed is definitely not recommended for people who are not experienced in raising dogs. The Bull Terrier’s personality is shaped for fighting, thus they have a tendency to become solitary and highly territorial. So, socialization should begin early and with caution. Animals or strangers that violate these dogs’ territory might be in danger.

The Bull Terrier is highly suspicious and it never has full confidence in the actions of strangers. In its attempt to protect its family, it might resort to acts of enormous gravity. However, considering this dog’s bite strength, agility and dedication, it makes an exceptional guard dog with highly developed smell and hearing senses.

Main Highlights
  • The Bull Terrier was originally created in the early 1800s, when hunting bulls was considered a sport. Back then, breeders wanted to create a dog ideal for hunting bulls, which was strong, fearless and courageous.
  • At first, when the white Bull Terrier was created, it used to be known as the White Cavalier. White continues to be the most common color of this dog breed, although other color varieties can occur.
  • Bull Terriers can live in small spaces, such as an apartment if it can exercise sufficiently. Also, it copes well in a small yard with a fence and regular walks.
  • Due to their really short coat, they feel best indoors when the temperatures drop. They don’t do very well if they are exposed to low temperatures.
  • They are temperamental, so not recommended for newly dog owners, but only for experienced ones.
  • The Bull Terrier is a medium sized dog with a compact body, strong muscles, well built, vigorous, lively and agile.
  • Its head is shaped like an egg. It is long, slightly curved from the forehead to the nose. As for its eyes, they are shaped like a triangle, fact which makes this dog breed the only recognized one with triangular shaped eyes.
  • In case they get bored, Bull Terriers will begin to destroy things that are in their way just to get attention.
  • Even if dog fights are illegal and these dogs are no longer used as fighting dogs, there still are a worryingly high number of people who use them for the same purposes.
  • The Bull Terrier was declared dangerous in some countries. Their laws impose some restrictions in the growth of this dog breed.
  • It is an excellent rat hunter; therefore people let it run freely around warehouses and farms in order to catch them.
Breed History

For many centuries in a row, Europeans used to love watching fights between dogs or between dogs and bulls as a way to relax. In order to satisfy the audience, dog owners were constantly trying to create the perfect fighting dog. Around the year 1835, a cross between a Bulldog and an English Terrier resulted in a fighting dog with a special feature called “Bull and Terrier”. Later on, it was mated with a Spanish Pointer, fact which added the much needed height to their stature.

The Bull and Terrier was already tenacious, strong, agile and able to dominate other dogs in battle. As soon as dog fights were forbidden, some dog breeders have reinvented their business by turning their attention to canine exhibitions. Thus, they no longer sought to have a fighting dog, but a dog with a nice and pleasant physical aspect. In the 1860s, James Hinks crossed the Bull and Terrier with an English White Terrier and with a Dalmatian. The result was the Bull Terrier that we know now.

Predominantly white, this new dog breed managed to gather a lot of fans in a short period of time. Bull Terriers soon became companion dogs for young gentlemen who were proudly taking them for walks. Their purpose was to emanate masculinity, strength, toughness and determination. Also called the “White Cavalier”, this dog breed received this name because it was first trying to defend itself in case of battle. If their opponent wasn’t quitting, they were forced to attack as well. It is said that they never start a fight.

The Bull Terrier dog breed has been constantly improved over time, which has brought an evolution of its features and especially of its distinctive head. At the beginning of the1900s, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was crossbred with the Bull Terrier, fact that determined the occurrence of various colors in their coats.

It was only in 1936 when the colored copies of Bull Terrier were accepted as part of the standard features.  Therefore, at the moment, they are available in both full white and in other different colors with white spots. Their comical nature and their facial expressions made them famous in various movies and commercials.

Size

Bull Terriers are medium sized dogs that are 21 to 22 inches high. As for their weight, there is a slight difference between males and female copies. Males are 10 to 20 pounds heavier than females, weighting 60 to 70 pounds on average.

Personality and Character

As already mentioned, the Bull Terrier is a 3 year old child in the body of a dog because it is extremely friendly, playful and adorable. These dogs love to be hugged and that is exactly why they like to sit in their owners’ laps, hoping they will get at least one hug. When they are petted, they growl in a very distinctive way, sound which determined numerous people to find them irresistible. However, despite of all that cuteness, they also have a stubborn side.

Bull Terriers are dogs with an independent thinking. They are very energetic and hyperactive, requiring sustained exercise every single day. Such dog shouldn’t get bored because it has the tendency to chew on things until it destroys them. Its bite is so strong that it can shred a bulletproof vest to pieces.

Bull Terrier loves children, but it has a tough playing style that can easily hurt a kid. Pursuing a ball or playing other games with its owner is one of this dog breed’s favorite activities. It is a canine specimen that responds very well to laughter. It actually tries to make its owner happy by doing various tricks for him or her.

Bull Terriers are so energetic that they run throughout the house or yard, bypassing walls at the last moment and being as fast as possible. They might sometimes hit the walls, but this doesn’t stop them from getting up and keep running. In addition, they have the bad habit of running towards their owners, looking like they won’t stop. Many owners get scared and want to get out of their way, but that is a mistake. They will skillfully avoid them before reaching them.

The Bull Terrier is a dog that will never be on the second place regardless of confrontation. This dog is very ambitious, friendly and it will always be happy to see its master, play and exercise. A dog belonging to this breed that is shy and stays away from people might suffer from emotional problems or have gaps in the socializing chapter.

Health and Potential Problems

The Bull Terrier is a relatively healthy dog, but like any other dog breed it can have different health problems. These dogs’ health problems occur most often during adulthood, without presenting any signs during their first years of life. It is therefore recommended for people who want to purchase a Bull Terrier to pick a dog resulted from a male and a female that were older than 3 years at the moment of conception.

  • Hereditary nephritis. The most serious disease that affects this dog breed is hereditary nephritis. It is a severe kidney disease that develops early in life. In most cases, dogs with this disease don’t live more than 3 years. This disease is caused by a kidneys defect or underdeveloped kidneys that are unable to properly filter all the substances from the body, resulting in high levels of protein in the urine. In order to diagnose a dog, annual tests are recommended starting with the age of 18 months. If the test is positive, that dog should not be mated.
  • Renal dysplasia. This is another condition that can affect Bull Terrier dogs. It is a congenital disease that affects the ability of the dog’s kidneys to function properly because they are not fully developed.
  • Deafness in one or both ears is a common condition especially in case of White Bull Terriers. Colored dogs are only prone to deafness in one ear. Those dogs that cannot hear with one ear can live a normal life, but the deaf need special training and treatment techniques.
  • Cardiac problems. These are not insignificant for Bull Terriers either. Defects in the structure and function of a dog’s heart can cause death. A cardiac ultrasound can help the veterinarian detect these diseases and think of a treatment that ranges from drugs to surgery.
  • Dislocation of the lens. This is a disease that affects mainly dogs from the Terrier group. It is an eye problem that can be treated with medication and, if necessary, surgically.
  • Skin diseases. These are very common, especially in White Bull Terriers because they are more sensitive. Owners have to look for skin irritations or signs of pain constantly. This problem can be caused by allergies to different chemicals or allergens in the air and pollen, dust or mold. Preventing would be best because otherwise the treatment consists in antibiotics and steroids.
  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior. Dogs with this disease often chaise their own tails or mutilate themselves. It starts around the age of 6 months and it may be caused by boredom, situation which can be quickly changed with more exercise and games.
Care Features

The Bull Terrier is an athletic dog that enjoys regular exercise that is time consuming. These dogs can handle a program with fewer exercises, but they are likely to gain weight. Therefore, it would be better to find a balance between its diet and its exercise schedule.

A Bull Terrier needs stimulation and a play mate because otherwise it is rather lazy. Daily walks are mandatory for bonding and for ensuring minimum exercise. When walking a Bull Terrier, it must be kept on a leash at all times in order to control it better and avoid an eventual chase.

These dogs are ideal partners for jogging and hiking. They like to run and play with children so much that they would do that for hours if they were given this opportunity. Exercising is very complicated for a Bull Terrier because it simply wants to be with its family no matter what happens.

Without appropriate effort for a longer period of time, these dogs may develop problematic behaviors. They might eat and destroy objects in the house, bark loudly in order to show discontent. Before leaving a Bull Terrier alone in the house or in the yard, make sure to get it tired and leave a few toys for it to play with.

Training a Bull Terrier is essential in order to ensure it is well educated and knows how to behave in and out of the house. These dogs need to regularly interact and socialize with other dogs and people to reduce the risk of becoming aggressive or very possessive with their family. Since they are dominant dogs, they need firm and consistent training, applied in a positive and loving way. Understanding that people have control is important for this dog; otherwise it will develop bad habits if it believes it is in control.

The Bull Terrier is a very intelligent dog that learns whom it should listen, ignore or respond less to. Usually, one person has to do the training and the other ones must apply it. This dog’s tendency would be not to listen unless the person who trained it tells it to. Among the first commands it should learn is to sit. Moreover, it should not be exposed to any kind of wrestling games because those entice its aggressive side. Submission training is absolutely necessary for this dog breed.

Feeding Schedule

Although many people say that Bull Terriers can be fed once per day, it is recommended to divide its daily portion in 2 meals. After eating, these dogs should be left alone to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. As a general rule, a dog should eat the equivalent of 3% of its weight per day.

As far as nutrition goes, it needs beef, fish, poultry, lamb and vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, zucchini, spinach, as well as eggs, goat milk or dry food with high protein content. It goes without saying that its water bowl should be kept full and fresh.

These dogs are crazy about food, so their food bowls should not be filled and left at their discretion because they tend to gain weight. They are not demanding when it comes to food, but their owners should find a diversified and balanced diet for them that also contains vitamins and minerals. Just as any other canine specimens, they may be sensitive to certain foods.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat of a Bull Terrier is very short, soft and has a rough texture. Regardless of color, it should shine naturally. Among the colors of such dog’s coat are pure white, red, striped with or without white markings on its head, stomach and legs or tri-color with black, red and white.

In order to have a neat and clean coat at all times, this dog should be brushed weekly with a special brush or glove. Daily brushing is only needed when they shed, namely twice per year. The Bull Terrier does not require frequent baths; it can be washed with a dry shampoo or a piece of cloth.

The ears and eyes of a Bull Terrier must be checked for any sign of irritation or spots to eliminate the risk of hearing or sight problems. Although it is not a dog breed prone to eye or ear infections, it is better to check them regularly to ensure everything is okay.

In addition, its nails may end up growing too long, fact which may cause difficulty in movement, lameness and sensitivity in the legs. Therefore, it is better to keep the nail length under control. Nail care keeps a dog’s feet in a good condition and protects people from scratches. Dental care is also important

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Bull Terrier is doing quite well with other animals, but it is aggressive with other dogs of the same sex and with a few other non-canine pets. This applies in case of socialized dogs that were introduced to other animals when they were young. If they didn’t have canine company, they might behave very aggressively during adulthood. When it comes to non-canine pets, such as hamsters, rabbits or mice, the Bull Terrier will not accept them on its territory.

It loves children with all its heart and is energetic and robust enough to be a wonderful companion for children of all ages. Young children will need some time to get used to playing with the energetic and affectionate mode of a Bull Terrier. Teasing is a problem for this type of dog, so children should learn not to engage in any type of game that can be misinterpreted as a teaser.

During the past, the Bull Terrier was a ferocious dog used in various types of fights, but things have changed nowadays. Dog breeders tried to make it more sociable, playful and a good companion since the dog fights were prohibited. Even so, this type of dog may be stubborn and aggressive with other dogs. Only an experienced dog owner should adopt such a dog because the new ones cannot be firm enough in order to dominate it.

Moreover, it needs a very active owner or family because otherwise it might gain too much weight, get bored and end up behaving in undesired ways. In conclusion, make sure you have what it takes to raise such a dog and think of what it has to offer afterwards. Taking care and feeding a Bull Terrier does not require too much time or money, but its personality traits need some serious polishing from the person it considers its main owner.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Sarah Blayne

    My Mom has a 2 year old Bull Terrier that’s quite destructive. The dog started exhibiting this behavior at around 4-5 months? Any suggestions on how we can train him? He chews on everything!

    • John Walton

      Your mom can restart the socialization process, as well as a review of the dog’s daily routine must be re-evaluated. Its high energy can be addressed by improving exercise routines on a daily basis where the energy can be consumed on walking or tricks. In addition to this, your dog can be stressed as well. Let us know what other things does your dog manifest.

  • Lorrie Simmons

    I have diverse information about the bull terrier and would like to get some first hand information about the breed. Are these dogs more of hounds or guard dogs? Do they relate well with children in the family?

    • Bull Terriers were actually bred as companion dogs, and won’t be known as a «kid in a dog suit» for nothing. They are very friendly, loving, and loves to hang around their pet parents as well as children. Their unique look is also worth noting because it stands out among other Terriers.

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