Temperament:Class ClownRambunctiousEnergizer Bunny
Bull Terriers are best for experienced and highly active pet parents with older kids who live in large homes with yards. Bull Terriers like to be the stars of the show, so they do best as a one-pet act.
Bull Terrier Traits
What makes the Bull Terrier a Bull Terrier? Let's find out how they stack up.
Bull Terrier Temperament
The fiery-but-loveable Bull Terrier breed has an unmistakably larger-than-life personality. However, they can quickly turn destructive without consistent training and lots of attention, so make sure you keep an eye on them—and your furniture.
For this four-legged companion, boredom is especially lethal. Although they are independent, strong-willed free thinkers, don’t leave them to their own devices for long.
Always up for a good time, this clown in a dog suit takes a back seat to no one and can be aggressive with other dogs in the family. Early socialization to family pets is recommended, and wait for kids to get a little older before bringing a Bull Terrier dog home. (Unless you have a cat. Bull Terriers refuse to share the stage with a cat.) They need a confident pup parent who has experience with dogs to help them remember they’re not directing this show. If you’re not confident in your abilities or haven’t had much experience with dogs before, a Bull Terrier puppy may not be the best match for you.
But for the right family, Bull Terrier dogs make the most loyal of companions and the most tireless of playmates. You’ll never be lonely again as they drag you out of the house for so many walks. They need lots of daily exercise and have loads of love to give their families. They are not wallflowers, so they like to meet new people and add them to the “troupe,” whether they’re chasing a friend in the park or greeting visitors at home. Just make sure you make the proper introductions; Bull Terriers are not as friendly as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
You’ll also appreciate their intelligence and agility. That fumbling, bumbling act they put on is just for appearances’ sake to get a laugh out of you.
How to Care for a Bull Terrier
Good news! Bull Terriers are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, thanks to their short coats that don’t shed very much. Think of it as the balance for all the time you’ll spend bonding through training and exercising.
Bull Terrier Health
Bull Terriers have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. Like any other breed, Bull Terriers can be susceptible to a range of health issues. It’s important you’re aware of potential health problems, so you can help your pup live their healthiest life possible.
- Deafness: Is your dog ignoring you or playing hard to get? It could be something more serious, like deafness. It’s extremely common for Bull Terriers to be hard of hearing in one or both ears. So, make sure you get a copy of the puppy’s Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test, which measures how your dog’s brain processes sound, before you bring your puppy home. If you’ve adopted your pup, check with your vet to get your pup tested.
Spinning: Watching your Bull Terrier chase their tail out of boredom can be cute for a bit, but it can be alarming if it continues for too long. Spinning for long periods could become an obsessive behavior, or it could be a sign of seizure or other illness, so check with your vet. Some medications that can be used to treat compulsive spinning or
obsessive tail chasing include fluoxetine, phenobarbital or clomipramine.
- Hereditary Nephritis: Hereditary nephritis is a kidney disease that usually develops in Bull Terriers at a young age, although sometimes they are born with it. They can live anywhere between three to eight years before their kidneys eventually fail. There is no current treatment for it, but you can test your dog annually through a test that measures protein levels in their urine.
- Heart Disease: Bull Terriers can be prone to heart murmurs and other defects in heart structure and function. Sometimes they can outgrow them, whereas other times, medication or surgery may be required. Ask your vet for guidance as well as an echocardiogram to help diagnose a problem.
- Skin Problems: Even though your Bull Terrier is low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, they can be prone to allergies and develop rashes to things like detergent, dust or mildew. While soft, clean bedding and an additive-free diet can help relieve irritated skin, your pup may need to be treated long-term with steroids or antibiotics.
- Lens Luxation: Bull Terriers can be prone to losing their sight when the ligaments holding their eye in place deteriorate, causing lens dislocation. Depending on the severity, it may be treated with medication or surgery.
Bull Terrier History
The history of the Bull Terrier begins in the early 1800s in Britain where they were bred to take part in ferocious blood sports. These sporting dogs provided hours of gruesome (and illegal) entertainment in the basements of watering holes as onlookers would bet on the outcome.
While the “sport” originally began with Bulldogs, they were seen as too slow and awkward to pull their weight, so they were bred with the now-extinct white English Terrier to produce more energetic fighters. Once dog-fighting rings fell out of fashion, the Bull Terrier’s evolution continued as breeders started refining these so-called gladiators to create a better-looking companion for upper-class gentlemen.
The modern Bull Terrier came to be in the early 1860s by a man named James Hinks and was later recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Bull Terriers are not afraid of the limelight. One of the most famous Bull Terriers is Bullseye, the mascot for the Target department store, and author John Steinbeck and President Woodrow Wilson both
had them as pets. Today, this clownish dog ranks 62nd in popularity among all the breeds registered by the AKC.
Are you looking to add a Bull Terrier as a pet? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. What’s the average Bull Terrier price? Expect to spend anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 for a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may even come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to Bull Terrier rescue organizations or your local animal shelter to adopt one.
Are Bull Terriers hypoallergenic?
No, Bull Terriers are not hypoallergenic. Although they don’t shed as much as other breeds and produce less allergy-inducing dander, they are not recognized as a hypoallergenic breed by the AKC.
Are Bull Terriers aggressive or dangerous?
You may think that Bull Terriers are aggressive or dangerous, but they are generally not aggressive toward people, especially when socialized and trained properly. They can, however, be aggressive toward other dogs and cats, so Bull Terriers do best in a home where they’re the only pet.
What were Bull Terriers bred for?
Bull Terriers were originally bred to take part in dog fighting rings in England. When those were outlawed, they were later bred to become companions for upper-class gentlemen.
Are Bull Terriers good with kids?
Bull Terriers are good with older, active kids. Because they are strong, active dogs who don’t always know their own strength, they tend to be too rough to play with small kids and babies.
What are the most popular Bull Terrier names?
Some of the most popular Bull Terrier names are Amber, Aubrey, Bandit, Biscuit, Copper, Vito, Rusty, Shadow, Spike, Grover, Sheffield, Wyatt and Wolf. Get more dog names here.
What are the most common Bull Terrier mixes?
The most common Bull Terrier mixes are:
- Bull Terrier-Pit mix (Bull Terrier-Pitbull)
- Bull Terrier-Chihuahua mix (Bullhuahua Terrier)
- Bull Terrier-Labrador mix (Bull Terrier Labrador)
- Bull Terrier-German Shepherd mix (Bull Terrier German Shepherd)
- Bull Terrier-Boxer mix (English Bulldog Terrier)
- Bull Terrier-Corgi mix (Bull Terrier Corgi)
- Bull Terrier-Husky mix (Bull Terrier Husky)
Bull Terriers make loyal, loving companions for active families and experienced pup parents. They require a lot of exercise, training and attention and should never be left on their own for long periods. Although they can be stubborn and strong-willed, they’ll do anything for a laugh and provide hours of entertainment to those who are up for the adventure.
Expert input provided by licensed veterinarian Dr. Travis McDermott of Durango Animal Hospital, and Los Angeles-based certified dog behaviorist and trainer Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, founder of Fun Paw Care.