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Bull Terrier

Other names: English Bull Terrier, Standard Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier
Puppy

 A compact, muscular and energetic dog, the Bull Terrier isn’t dangerous, contrary to popular belief. This dog may be overly excitable at times, but remains an adorable, happy and extremely loyal dog. Modern breeding practices have softened the breed’s aggressive side. The Bull Terrier will need an experienced, active and available owner who can provide this big ball of energy with everything it needs.

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Key facts about the Bull Terrier

  • Life expectancy : Between 10 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Very short
  • Price : Between £860 and £1170

Physical characteristics of the Bull Terrier

Adult size

Female dog Between 14 and 20 in
Male dog Between 14 and 20 in

Miniature Bull Terrier

Female
Less than 14 inches

Male
Less than 14 inches

Weight

Female dog Between 44 and 88 lb
Male dog Between 44 and 88 lb

Coat colour

Usually completely white, the Bull Terrier’s coat can also sport black markings or brindle. Fawn brindle and fawn tri colour also exist. Blue and brown Bull Terriers do not adhere to the breed’s official standards.

Type of coat

The coat is very short, even smooth.

The Bull Terrier’s coat is shiny, flat and hard to the touch. A soft undercoat appears during the winter.

Eye colour

Either brown or black, the eyes should always be very dark. Blue-eyed subjects are not recognised by the breed’s official standards.

Description

It’s difficult to mistake this dog for anything other than a Bull Terrier, thanks to its unique egg-shaped head. This profile, known as the “Roman nose”, is one of a kind. The Bull Terrier’s physique is almost gladiator-like: robust, compact and muscular.

Varieties

Standard Bull Terrier

Miniature Bull Terrier

Temperament

Affectionate

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Despite its fiery personality and bad (and incorrect) reputation as an aggressive dog, this terrier is very attached to members of its social group and constantly needs attention from them. The Bull Terrier is forever seeking strokes and other signs of affection from its loved-ones, even strangers.

Playful

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The Bull Terrier adores spending time and playing with members of its social group. Its abundant energy levels require physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis, which playtime can help to fulfill. 

However, make sure that your dog is taught self-control at a very young age, so that playtime can be brought to a halt without the animal getting frustrated.

Calm

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Terriers definitely aren’t known for their calmness, and the Bull Terrier is far from the exception to this rule. A real ball of energy, it’s necessary to dedicate a lot of time and effort to this dog to keep it happy.

Intelligent

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This sturdy pup can cooperate, but prefers to avoid having to obey commands. This in itself is a remarkable sign of intelligence, even if this particular example doesn’t benefit the owner.

Hunter

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While this dog wasn’t initially bred to hunt, it is still fairly skilled in this area. However, it still isn’t suited to being trained as a hunting dog.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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This muscular dog can sometimes try to scare people off, especially strangers, but most of the time is affectionate towards everyone. The Bull Terrier’s abundant energy means that it can often jump up at new people - people can find this a bit frightening, but it is usually a friendly greeting rather than a sign of aggression.

Independent

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This pup is a real family dog - it does not value autonomy. Bull Terriers will never appreciate alone time, instead wanting to spend the most amount of time possible with members of their social group.

For these reasons, Bull Terriers can rapidly become overly attached to their owners. It is therefore important that the Bull Terrier puppy is trained to get used to separation and distance from its owners, in order to avoid the development of separation anxiety in its adult life.

Behaviour of the Bull Terrier

Tolerates solitude

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This terrier is far from an introvert; it therefore requires the constant presence of its owners to feel reassured. The Bull Terrier should never be isolated, and should instead always be included in family life.

Easy to train / obedience

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Training Bull Terriers can be tricky as they’re naturally quite stubborn. Their unwavering energy also means that it can prove hard for them to concentrate. Training sessions should therefore be short, but regularly repeated until they obey the command.

Your Bull Terrier should receive basic training as young as possible to avoid picking up bad habits.

You will need a firm hand to train this dog while being careful not to show aggression, so as not to elicit the temper of this fighting dog. Kindness, patience, coherence and regularity are the keys to successfully training a Bull Terrier.

Barking

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This dog is anything but discrete. Bull Terriers know how to remind people that they’re there, in order to stay the centre of attention. If they don’t get the outcome they want, they can resort to barking to get the attention they craves.

Tendency to run away

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While they’re utterly devoted to their social group, they are capable of running away in an attempt to exert their excess energy if they don’t receive the daily stimulation they need.

If your Bull Terrier does run away, it is important to note that it’s probably in a very fragile emotional state, since the idea of being alone is its worst nightmare.

Destructive

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If a Bull Terrier spends too much time alone, isn’t stimulated enough, finds itself bored, or is anxious at the idea of being left alone, it might become destructive as a means to moderate its frustration.

Greedy / Gluttony

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The greedy nature of this dog can definitely be advantageous as a motivation during training. However, make sure he doesn’t over-eat.

Guard dog

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This terrier is a great guard dog - even though it can be friendly towards strangers, a Bull Terrier will most certainly know the difference between friends and foes.

While it’s a misconception, the sheer fact that many people are afraid of the Bull Terrier makes it an effective guard dog, without it even having to do anything.

First dog

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This square-nosed dog is truly unique, there isn’t another breed like it in the world. This can be appealing to many people, but a dog’s physical characteristics alone should not drive the choice of breed you adopt. 

First-time owners are likely to rapidly fall behind in terms of the energy and attention this demanding dog requires. It will need an experienced owner who is aware of the breed’s temperament to properly look after it.

Lifestyle

Bull Terrier in a flat

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Urban life in a flat can work for this dog, but only if it is walked at least twice a day, for an hour at a time. 

An indoorsy life doesn’t bother Bull Terriers, as long as their owners are frequently in the house too. 

The same goes for a house with a garden - if a Bull Terrier spends his days alone, even in a garden, it will quickly become very unhappy.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The Bull Terrier is a muscular dog that needs a huge amount of exercise to maintain its powerful stature and use up its excess energy. 

A Bull Terrier should be walked multiple times a day, whether it lives in a flat, house, town or countryside. Quick walks around the block or ventures into the garden won’t be enough to keep it satisfied.

Bull Terriers are very well suited to many sports (agility, flyball, nose work, etc.) that can simultaneously strengthen their training, their bond with their owner, and also satisfy their needs for stimulation.

Travelling / easy to transport

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The Bull Terrier’s medium size allows it to accompany its owners on trips under certain circumstances. 

However, the common misconception that this dog is dangerous and violent doesn’t always make it so easy. 

Early training and socialisation is necessary to make sure outings and travels run as smoothly as possible.

Compatibility

Bull Terrier and cats

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Cohabitation with a feline can prove very difficult for this dog. However, it is possible, as long as your dog has been around the cat from a very young age.

Even if a Bull Terrier manages to get on well with the cat it lives with, it may still hunt other cats that it would see as prey.

Bull Terrier and dogs

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Like all terriers, the English Bull Terrier can be very aggressive towards other dogs. However, modern breeding processes have softened this negative characteristic. 

Consequently, if well socialised, the Bull Terrier can befriend any animal. However, it will always retain a slight aggressive quality towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex and breed.

Moreover, cohabitation can often cause many problems, since this dog can be quite exclusive in nature and naturally likes to be the centre of attention. Therefore, conflicts between two males of similar temperaments can easily occur. 

This pet’s unstoppable energy can also make for unpredictable encounters with other dogs - its enthusiasm isn’t always very well received. Therefore, it’s important to find your Bull Terrier playmates that are balanced, tolerant and patient.

Bull Terrier and children

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This dog loves children, to the point where it can get carried away. Bull Terriers’ excessive excitement can make living with children, especially those that are very young, slightly challenging.

However, with early training and strict rules, this dog’s excitement can be subdued. 

Make sure you don’t leave a Bull Terrier unattended while playing with children, as it doesn’t always know its own strength.

Bull Terrier and the elderly

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The fiery temperament of this dog makes it quite incompatible with inactive people. A Bull Terrier requires a dynamic and active master to be completely fulfilled.

Price

The price of a Bull Terrier depends on its origins, age and sex. You should budget between £860 and £1165 for a dog registered with the KC.

Concerning your monthly budget, you should set aside around £40-£50, which will cover a premium-quality diet, as well as classic annual treatments such as vaccinations, deworming and anti-parasite treatments.

Grooming

This dog’s smooth coat makes it very low-maintenance; however, grooming should still be regular.

You should use adapted products to wash your dog, as the Bull Terrier has sensitive skin and is thus prone to allergies. 

Eyes and ears should also be frequently monitored and cleaned. 

This dog also needs to get used to the filing and cutting of its claws. Since the dewclaw doesn’t touch the ground and therefore isn’t naturally filed down, it should be trimmed regularly.

Hair loss

A weekly brush will be necessary to get rid of the minimal (but still present) dead hair.

Nutrition of the Bull Terrier

Prone to obesity thanks to its inherent greediness, this terrier’s diet should be properly adapted to the individual, and rationed. Overfeeding can have important consequences, especially during your dog’s development. 

Dry food is perhaps the easiest and most economical solution to feed this dog. However, if you favour homemade produce, you should provide your dog with vitamin and mineral supplements, especially during puppyhood.

A daily meal, preferably given in the evening, should be enough for this active dog. However, meals should be proportionate with with your dog’s level of physical activity, age and health.

Health of the Bull Terrier

Life expectancy

Their lifespan is around 12 years.

Strong / robust

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This muscular dog is very resilient, and has quite a high life expectancy, but is known to suffer from some health problems all the same.

Withstand heat

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This terrier deals well with heat, but can easily sunburn. You may have to apply an adapted sun cream to the parts of its body that does not have hair.

Withstand cold

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In winter, this dog develops an undercoat that provides it with a certain resilience to cold climates, but not enough to be left outside.

Tendency to put on weight

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This dog has a very large appetite. Therefore, if it isn’t provided with a healthy, rationed diet, it can easily put on weight and lose its muscular frame.

Common illnesses

  • Skin disorders (allergies, pyoderma)
  • Epilepsy
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • Kidney problems
  • Deafness
  • Cardiac problems
  • Dislocation of the kneecaps
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Bull Terrier Lethal Acrodermatitis du Bull Terrier (fatal genetic metabolic disorder)

Good to know

The standard Bull Terrier and its miniature counterpart are not to be confused. They are considered as two completely different breeds and have differing official standards. Nevertheless, their size is their only differentiating factor, as they are the same behaviourally. 

The Miniature Bull Terrier should not be more than 14 inches tall, and the standard breed no more than 20 inches.

Origins and history

The Bull Terrier originated from the Manchester Terrier and English White Terrier, the latter no longer existing. The Bull Terrier’s famous white coat was the only colour accepted by the breed’s official standards for a very long time, and it is still extremely common. James Hink, considered as the ‘father’ of the breed, added Dalmatians into the Bull Terrier’s bloodlines to create the dog we know today. His work was continued by his children Fred and James as well as his grandson Carleton, son of James Jr., who started breeding under the “Brum” name, the most famous in the world. It was he who created the “Roman nose” for the first time for his champion Lord Gladiator, who then passed this trait down to his descendants.

Names

Good names for a Bull Terrier: Cash, Joy, Mario, Rome

Find out more dog name ideas here