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Bull Terrier Dog Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More

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Last Updated: November 1, 2023 | 17 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Bull Terrier is a truly memorable-looking dog. His long, egg-shaped head and strong profile make him look very regal. This dog is popular as both a pet and as a show dog. Despite the breed history and reputation as a fighter, this dog is a big softie. He loves his humans and wants to be everywhere they are.

Bull Terriers are sweet, intelligent, and loyal. They often get a bad reputation due to their connection to the Bully dog family. A lot goes into adopting and raising a Bull Terrier, from puppyhood into adulthood. They may need a little more attention and care than some other breeds. Owners should always do their research before bringing home one of these fancy pups.

All dogs will have individual needs, including the Bull Terrier. This guide is to help prospective dog owners learn about the Bull Terrier and is not a substitute for consulting with a professional trainer or veterinarian. Remember, owning a pet is a big responsibility, not something to jump into without the proper research and consideration.

Bull Terrier Breed Overview
    • weight iconWeight50-70+ Pounds
    • height iconHeight21-22+ Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan12-15 Years
    • color iconColorsSolid White, Black, Red, Black Brindle, Red & White, White & Brindle, White Black & Tan, White & Black Brindle, White Black & Tan, White & Fawn, Black & Tan
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Breed History

Dangerous English Bull Terrier
English Bull Terriers can be a stubborn and dominant breed.

The Bull Terrier is a dog breed that originated in 19th century England. They are descendants of an extinct canine breed known as the Old English Bulldog and Old English Terriers. It is highly likely this canine also has some Dalmation, Foxhound, Greyhound, and Spanish Pointer genes mixed in.

This breed was initially created as a fighting dog and for chasing vermin. The breed combined the attitude and drive of the Bulldog with the speed and quickness of the Terrier breed. In the 1860s, the descendants of today’s Bull Terriers were developed. These dogs were not used for fighting. Dogfighting was outlawed in the U.K. around the same time.

An all-white breed known as the Bull Cavalier became popular. Some people still refer to the all-white version this way. By the 1880s, the breed had made its way to the United States and was recognized by the American Kannel Club in 1885. They became a trendy dog breed. President Teddy Roosevelt even owned one, as did World War II General George S. Patton.

At the start of the 20th century, breeders began to mix these dogs with Staffordshire Bull Terriers, leading to the lovable dog we know as the modern Bull Terrier. These intriguing-looking pups are also called the Gentleman’s Companion, Canine Gladiator, Class Clown, Vark Hond, “Kid in a Dog Suit,” and Pig–Dog, among other nicknames.

There is a smaller-sized version of this breed, the Miniature Bull Terrier. This breed is considered a separate breed. However, it is pretty similar, other than being significantly smaller. At times, the bull breed has been included in the group of canines known as Pitbulls due to their genetic connection to Bulldogs.

Temperament

Bull Terrier
The Bull Terrier is fearless and will need a strong leader in the home,

These pups are extremely affectionate, gentle dogs. They particularly love children. These dogs are a much different breed than the fighting dogs of their genetic history. They have been given the nickname the “kid in a dog suit” because they act like kids. They have incredibly playful, energetic personalities. These pups like to be busy and always want to be with their people. Whatever a Bull Terrier’s owner is doing, he wants to be there too. They are called Class Clowns due to their fun, mischievous attitude.

While the Canine Gladiator might be a gentle dog, that does not mean they do not have a big personality. These pups are energy balls, always looking for something fun to do. They can become quite clingy and need early training and socialization to prevent them from becoming jealous or aggressive towards other animals. This is especially important to remember in homes with other pets or when a new pet or puppy is brought into a home that already has a Canine Gladiator.

These pups are athletic, which is why they are called the Canine Gladiator. They have a muscular build and are medium to large-sized. They have a stubborn streak and independent nature but respond well to positive reinforcement and gentle discipline. Despite their past history as fighting dogs trained to be aggressive, this breed is one of the most people-friendly canine breeds we have today.

These dogs are incredibly intelligent and have extroverted personalities. They love to be outside, go on walks, and play with their humans. These pups have an independent streak. They need an owner who is very consistent with training in boundaries. They are quite protective of their humans, as well as their space and toys. While they generally will not be a dog to start a fight, they are not known for walking away. This trait has led to this breed being called the “White Cavalier” by some groups.

Size & Appearance

Bull Terrier White Laying in Field
These Canine Gladiators are a muscular breed with prominent, solid shoulders.

The Bull Terrier is not a small dog. On average, they weigh 50 to 70 pounds as adults and stand 21 to 22 inches tall from paw to shoulder. Males will be slightly larger than females, though size depends on a few factors, including health, genetics, nutrition, and care. To compare, the Miniature Bull Terrier reaches about 25 to 35 pounds and stands about 10 to 14 inches tall.

They have egg-shaped or oval heads. This breed is well known for having a striking facial profile. From a certain angle, the top of their skulls appears flat. They have a curved profile from the top of the school to the tip of the nose, which features prominent nostrils. They have a firm, deep-set lower jaw. This exceptional combination of facial features gives these dogs a look unlike any other canine.

Their ears are tiny and thin and point straight up. These dogs have tiny, triangular, dark-colored, sunken eyes. Their tails are relatively short and carried horizontally. Tails are thicker at the root and then taper to a finer point. The Bull Terrier has an incredibly unusual look that has led to them being very popular in advertising and film.

This canine is quite famous for having a distinctive physical appearance. One famous Bull Terrier was the face of Bud Light beer during the 1980s. That dog’s name was Spuds MacKenzie, who, despite portraying a male, was a female dog whose real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye. Another iconic and very well-known Bull Terrier serves as the mascot for the big Target store chain. This dog is named Bullseye and has served as the company’s mascot since 1999.

Coat & Colors

Brindle Bull Terrier
The colored group encompasses a wide color range with distinctive markings.

Bull Terriers have short, flat coats. When cared for properly, they are shiny, with a thicker texture. These dogs have fur that is not as soft to the touch as some other breeds, and their hair is short and a little tougher.

This breed comes in two color groups. Solid white or colored. The white dogs have no markings on their bodies but may have them on their heads. Some are completely solid white from the tops of their heads to the tips of their tails. This color range includes white, black, brindle, and red. Several color combinations exist, including black bridle, red & white, white & brindle, white, black & tan, white & black brindle, white & fawn, white, black & tan, and several more.

Living Conditions

Bull Terrier on a walk outside
The Bull Terrier is an attention-seeking dog.

He is also a highly active breed with an endless amount of energy. They can get bored and destructive if not kept entertained and given the right amount of exercise. These dogs are excellent breeds for active households. They can be good breeds for homes with children, but due to their large size should be supervised, and should always be supervised with strangers, especially young children they do not know.

This is not a breed that should be left outside alone all day. This is especially true for solid white dogs. They can get sunburned very quickly. These pups do not like to stay home alone inside all day either. This breed really needs someone home who can keep an eye on them all day. Just think about leaving a small child alone and the pure destruction and chaos that ensues after just a few minutes. This holds true for the Bull Terrier. They will literally eat anything and can get themselves into a whole heap of trouble, including gastrointestinal blockages from eating your furniture.

They are a breed that needs to have lots of entertainment and can get quite destructive, anxious, and even destructive if not given enough attention. For those who need to be left alone for more than a couple of hours, looking into doggy daycare, regular dog walking, or coming home and spending your lunch hour with them is a good idea.

These dogs are very stubborn and headstrong. They need owners who are ready to keep them active and have the patience and the cleverness to outsmart them. They should be socialized very early with other animals to help them not become aggressive. This is not a good breed for first-time dog owners due to their stubborn streak.

This pup is not a great dog to keep in a small home or apartment without a yard. They can grow to be fairly large and need room to stretch out and a place to exercise regularly. A Canine Gladiator kept in an apartment will not be a pleased dog.

Training

Bull Terrier Training on leash
Training a Bull Terrier is no small task.

These dogs are clever, determined, and stubborn. This makes for a challenging training situation. They will need to start socialization and obedience training at a young age. Waiting even until they are six months old may be too late. For owners who are unsure or already feel that their pup has the upper hand, consulting a professional trainer sooner rather than later is beneficial to both canines and humans.

This breed can be trained relatively easily with an owner who is consistent, creative, and uses positive reinforcement. They respond quite well to toy-based training and rewards such as treats. Because they were bred as bait and fighting dogs, they do not respond very well to correction-based training. Positive reinforcement and reward-based training work much better.

These dogs must be carefully trained when socializing around people, other dogs, and small animals like cats. With proper socialization that starts early, they will tolerate other people well. They may always be a bit wary of strangers, so it is a good idea to work with a trainer to make sure that behavior does not slip over into aggression.

House training a Bull Terrier can be an intimidating challenge. They are known to be a difficult breed in this particular area of training. It is advisable to talk to your vet or trainer about a house-training program. With this breed, the crate training method is highly effective. It helps teach your puppy the appropriate potty behavior and protects your home and belongings from getting damaged in the process. Take our word for it and avoid finding a messy surprise when you least expect it.

Exercise

Beautiful red and white dog breed mini bull terrier running along the beach against the backdrop of water and looking at the camera close-up
The Bull Terrier is a dog with a lot of energy.

They were bred for high-intensity physical activity, and they truly need exercise every single day. A simple 15-minute walk is not going to be enough for him. It will take some work to expend the energy of this powerful pup. They will need walks and plenty of games and can even use weighted vests and weight pulls to help keep them in tip-top physical shape.

This sweet canine needs at least an hour of sustained physical exercise daily. This can be broken up into two half-hour walks, a walk, and a play session, as well as giving him regular access to outside spaces. Allowing this dog outside for a periodic lap or two around the backyard can be extremely helpful in between exercise sessions.

Bull Terriers, especially puppies, are highly energetic and can get into anything. They can also be described as bouncy and really love high-impact exercise. However, jumping around too much, running on hard surfaces, and even jumping up to catch a frisbee or ball can damage their bones. Try to avoid these high-impact activities until your puppy is fully grown.

Health

A cute tender white English bull terrier is sleeping on a bed under a white knitted blanket
In some cases, these medical concerns will not start until a dog is fully grown and reaches maturity.

The average lifespan of a Bull Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Overall, this dog is known to be a pretty healthy breed. That does not mean that they do not suffer from common canine health concerns or some breed-specific health issues. This breed is known to be prone to the following medical conditions:

  • Deafness runs in white dogs. The all-white variety of this breed can have deafness in one or both ears. This is something usually tested for by breeders. Dogs that are deaf in one ear can live very normal lives with some assistance. Those who are deaf in both ears can be healthy. However, they will need a higher level of care and special training.
  • Spinning is a condition where dogs will obsessively chase their tails. It can start around six months old. In some cases, this can last for hours without stopping. It can be a form of seizure. Medication can help with this problem. Owners should always consult a vet before starting or stopping any treatments.
  • Intestinal blockages can come from the Bull Terrier’s tendency to chew up just about any object in their path. They can often eat things that are not digestible, causing blockages. This can be fatal in severe cases. Prevention is key.
  • Lens luxation is a problem when an eye lens gets dislodged because of ligament deterioration. It can be quite serious, even requiring removal of the eye in some cases.
  • Hereditary nephritis is a kidney disease that involves underdeveloped and malfunctioning kidneys. This is a profoundly severe condition. Many dogs who have it will only live for three or so years. When it is present in older dogs, it can cause kidney failure. Some can also be born with renal dysplasia.
  • Heart issues, including defects and disease, can be found in this breed. If your dog has a heart murmur, make sure to monitor this closely and consult with your vet. Heart murmurs can be indicative of a more severe problem.
  • Skin issues are common for this canine, especially the all-white variety. They often develop skin irritations, rashes, sores, acne, and sunburn. They can have allergies to environmental stimulants that provoke skin conditions. This includes contact dermatitis, inhalant allergies, and reactions to food, mold, plants, etc.

Nutrition

Mini Bull Terrier puppy eats special food from a green bowl
This breed loves food and will happily overeat if left to his own devices.

Nutrition for a Bull Terrier is a vital part of their lifelong health. They need a well-balanced, high-quality diet to avoid becoming obese. This breed needs a diet that has natural calcium. This is especially important when they are young and for lifelong bone health. They also need high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, and healthy fats to fuel their high energy. This pup burns many calories and needs a diet that keeps them satisfied and healthy.

The Bull Terrier will eat a significant amount, depending on size. The larger the dog, the more he will eat. Adults should eat about 2 to 4 and 1/2 cups of food a day. This can be divided into two or three meals. They need about 30 calories per pound of body weight a day. So, a 60-pound Bull Terrier will need about 1,800 calories a day. Activity level and age will also impact the amount they need every day.

Some people may recommend or be curious about a raw food diet for a Bull Terrier. This is a tricky choice and requires a perfect balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Discuss a raw food diet plan with your vet before trying it. A well-balanced kibble will provide complete nutrition.

Grooming & Skincare

Bull Terrier being groomed with blowdryer and brush
Because this canine has such a short coat, they do not need a lot of grooming.

A weekly brushing session with a soft bristle brush or grooming glove is generally enough. They will go through a bigger shedding twice a year. These times will coincide with the change in seasons from spring to summer and fall to winter. In times of heavier shedding, they will need brushing daily or every other day. However, once a week or every 10 days (about one and a half weeks) or so should suffice for most of the year.

This breed does not need to bathe often. They can easily be cleaned off with pet wipes. Dry shampoo keeps them smelling nice and fresh. Even a warm, damp washcloth can do the trick. If you have a stinky dog or one who gets into something messy outside and needs a bath, make sure to be gentle and use canine products only. Do not use human products for bathing your dog. They can be allergic and harmed by many of the ingredients.

Dental hygiene and nail care are two often overlooked areas of grooming. These play a crucial role in your dog’s health and comfort and should not be forgotten. Brushing prevents canine disease and keeps your dog’s breath from smelling terrible. Their teeth should be brushed a few times a week. Start this practice young so that your dog is manageable when you brush his teeth when he is older and bigger.

You should trim your pup’s nails at least once a month, more often if needed. This is a key step because if his nails get too long, they can catch on things and tear off, causing him much pain and injury. He needs shorter nails to keep his feet in decent shape. Talk to your vet and trainer to help if this is a challenging activity for you and your dog. Most grooming services offer this for a nominal fee as well.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Two English Bull Terrier dogs running
Puppy costs will be higher when you first bring your new cuddle buddy home.

The Bull Terrier can be a pricey pup. Expect to pay anywhere from $800 to over $2,000 for a purebred. Championship pedigrees will cost more. The price can be higher depending on the bloodline. Expect to pay anywhere from about $100 to $500 or more a month on care, feeding, entertainment, veterinary visits, etc.

He will need a crate, a bed, blankets, toys, leash, collar, harness, treats, poop bags, and pooper scooper. The list can get long. Expect an initial investment of a few hundred dollars or more to set him up at home. Training and behavior classes, dog walkers, and doggie daycare will add to monthly expenses.

In the first year of his life, veterinary costs will be higher. He will need puppy vaccinations and regular flea, tick, and heartworm treatment. Pet insurance with a wellness add-on is a worthwhile consideration for this breed. Wellness coverage can help offset the cost of routine care, while insurance can assist with expensive vet costs associated with illness and emergencies.

When looking at canine breeders, do your homework to ensure you are purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder. Asking your veterinarian for advice or connecting with breed clubs can be a way to get first-hand recommendations. Responsible breeders will have no problems answering your questions and should let you visit their facility. Transparency is a very good sign that a breeder is responsible and not running a puppy mill. Always ask breeders about the number of litters they produce every year and the size of the litter.

Additionally, inquire about the different breeds of dogs that they raise. Reputable breeders generally will only breed one type of dog in small litters. You may have to wait for a litter to be born for a high-quality, purebred puppy. The Bull Terrier Club of America and the AKC are also good sources of information.

Rescues & Shelters

Bull Terriers often find their way into shelters and rescue groups. This is in part due to the high level of care they need. As we’ve explained, this breed can be quite a handful and requires a lot of attention. They often get adopted without owners realizing how much of a commitment this sweet yet highly energetic puppy will be. Looking for a shelter or rescue group can connect prospective owners with wonderful dogs who need loving homes. You can check with local shelters to see if they have any Bull Terriers in residence and talk to your veterinarian for recommendations on reputable rescue groups.

Below are a few well-known rescue groups:

As Family Pets

The Bull Terrier, or Class Clown, is a fun, energetic, affectionate, clever canine that makes for a wonderful family pet. These dogs can be a bit high maintenance, and even though they are of larger size, they are quite clingy. They do not like to be left alone, so they need a household where someone is going to be home all day. They have an independent, very stubborn streak that can get them into trouble. Training these dogs may be a challenge, and they need an owner committed for the long haul to get them trained and socialized correctly.

These dogs do not do well left outside for extended periods, but they do need a lot of exercise. Like the all-white variety, some will need a little bit of extra attention when it comes to skin and sun care. They do not need a lot of grooming but do require occasional brushing. These dogs get bored quickly, and owners need to readily have a lot of entertainment available for them. This pup’s interesting look draws many people to them. However, this is not a breed for first-time or inexperienced dog owners. These adorable canines need an owner who knows a thing or two about stubborn dogs.

When trained properly and given the appropriate level of attention and exercise, this pup is a lovable, funny, sweet pup who will capture your heart and impress everyone he meets. Remember, bringing a puppy into your home is a fun, exciting experience, but it is also a huge responsibility. These pups will depend on their owners for the rest of their lives to make sure that they are getting everything they need to live healthy, happy, long lives. Be ready to spend some serious cash on keeping this dog happy and healthy. He cannot go out and get a job, so owners need to be aware before they commit that this pup might be a bit of a high-maintenance pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bull Terriers Mean?

These pups are not an inherently mean breed of dogs. Though they were used as fighting dogs hundreds of years ago, today’s breeds are gentle. They are high energy and have the instinct to protect, so they are wary of strangers. These dogs may seem aggressive if they are surprised. However, with proper socialization from a young age, they are generally not mean or ill-tempered.

Are Bull Terriers Hypoallergenic?

Full-sized Bull Terriers are not hypoallergenic. They are a low-shed breed with short hair but are not hypoallergenic canines. However, the Miniature Bull Terrier is a hypoallergenic dog. They have a remarkably low shedding rate and very little dander. These smaller dogs also do not drool or slobber a lot, making them hypoallergenic.

Is a Bull Terrier a Pitbull?

A Bull Terrier is not a Pitbull, though both belong to the Bully dog category. Pit Bull Terriers are terriers, not Bulldogs. Bull Terriers are usually larger than Pitbulls. Bull Terriers originated in England, and Pit Bull Terriers started in the United States. So, when someone refers to a Pitbull, they are most likely not talking about the Bull Terrier. Both dog breeds come with a bit of baggage. They were both once used as fighting dogs and as bull bait. However, both breeds have come a long way and are two of the friendliest, most lovable canines around.

Final Thoughts

The Bull Terrier is an intriguing dog breed with a very special look. Some say they look like cartoon dogs because of their egg-shaped heads, tiny eyes, and very pointy ears. This breed has been around for a long time and was bred over several generations to be a regal-looking, well-tempered companion dog. They are popular both as companions and as show dogs and can be one of the pricier breeds for a purebred.

Welcoming a new pup into your home will bring you hours of laughter, cuddles, and fun. However, this canine is a lot of work and needs an experienced, dedicated owner. They do not like to stay home alone and often get into trouble because they want to chew up anything they can get their mouths on. Bringing home a new puppy is a considerable commitment emotionally, financially, and time-wise. This pooch will require a lot of attention for his entire life, so owners should really do their research and get to know the breed before they decide to bring one home. As pet owners, we never want to put a dog in a situation where they fear poorly or have to be rehomed. We hope our guide has given you a good reference point and background in getting to know the Bull Terrier.

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