Bull Terrier

By Dr Eloise Bright 8 Min Read

Bullies as they are affectionately known are strong, loyal dogs that are ideal for experienced owners.

Bull Terriers are closely related to Staffordshire Bull Terriers and were originally bred for fighting bulls. Nowadays they make great family pets if socialised well. They are an active, stubborn and intelligent dog who needs lots of training and exercise.


I love long walks, activity and just want a family that will give me the attention I crave. I can live equally well in a family with older children or in a house with another dog. I do like to chase cats though, so watch me around smaller creatures that I can chase.


Lifespan 9-12 years
Weight 22-38 kg
Height (at shoulder) 45-55 cm



Playful – Life is just a game to your average Bull Terrier. They love chase, ball-games and playing with other dogs. As they get older they can become a little lazy, but if kept at a healthy weight will often stay playful into middle age.

Stubborn/strong willed – Bull Terriers are known to be a little stubborn at times. They can be easily trained if motivated and only positive training methods are used, but they do need lots of training to keep them busy

Intelligent – These intelligent dogs are very trainable and need at least 1-2 hours a day of exercise and training when young and continuing on into adult-hood. Without mental stimulation and training they become easily bored and sometimes destructive.


Exercise Requirements High – 1-2 hours per day
Training Requirements High – 1-2 hours per day
Apartment Friendly? No


Bull Terriers are athletic, busy dogs who need lots of exercise and training so they don’t develop behaviour problems. They do need strict ground rules and an experienced owner who will socialise them and ensure they are confident companions.


Trips to the Groomer No- easy care at home
Tick Friendly? Yes
Hypoallergenic No
Brushing Low – Little to now brushing
Hair fall Moderate Shed- will drop some hair, but not excessive
Coat Type Short


Bull Terriers are low maintenance in the grooming department, having a short coat. They do shed, but the hairs are fairly short and they are not considered an excessive shedder.


Good With Kids Poor –may not be good with kids (dog dependent)
Good With Other Small Pets Low – Strong prey drive, best kept separate from other smaller species
Sociability Medium – Can live alone or with others.


In some cases Bull Terriers can fit in well with a family with children and cats, particularly if they have been well socialised and accustomed to them as pups. In general they are better suited to families with teenagers or adult families. Generally they should be kept away from smaller species, as they may be inclined to chase due to their high prey drive.


Overall Expenses (Annual) Medium – $1500-$2000
Veterinary Expenses (Annual) Medium – $200-$500
Food Expenses (Weekly) Medium – $15-$20


Bull Terriers are generally robust dogs with minimal health problems. They are however a larger breed so their food, medications and parasite prevention needs have a moderate cost.



Ear problems/skin disease – Bull Terriers can be prone to allergies, skin infections (particularly in those skin folds), ear infections and anal gland problems, often the whole package occurs due to an allergic condition called atopic dermatitis. Pet insurance is recommended, as even though allergies are not life-threatening they can be costly to diagnose and treat.

Deafness – In many white dogs congenital deafness is common. While this is often more a problem for the owner, rather than the dog, it is something to be aware of.

Heart Disease – There are several types of heart problems the Bull Terrier can get. Some are congenital, but more commonly they can get mitral valve endocardiosis which leads to a murmur and if it progresses to coughing and exercise intolerance.


For Bull Terriers who lick their feet, itch, get frequent ear infections and drag their bottoms along the ground, it is worthwhile discussing treatment for skin allergies with your vet.

Your vet can show you how to monitor your Bull Terrier’s resting respiratory rate if your dog develops a murmur. This can be an early sign of heart failure in dogs.

Dogs who are deaf can be difficult to detect as puppies without advanced diagnostic testing. If your dog is pure white, this condition is more common. Dogs will cope fine with hearing problems, so long as sign language is used for training and off-leash time is only permitted in confined areas.


Dogs in the Bulldog family were historically used for bull-baiting. This barbaric sport, popular in England up until the early 1800’s involved tethering a bull, blowing pepper up its nose so it bucked around, then encouraging one dog at a time to attempt to pin the bull down by the nose. Bull baiting was actually thought at the time to improve the quality of the meat, so was very popular and was only banned with the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835.

The Bull Terrier was historically known as the ‘White Cavelier’, being bred to defend his human family, but not instigate fights. The original Bull Terrier was bred to be pure white, but over time more colours have been introduced, due to the association between the white coat colour and deafness.

Bull Terriers are one of the breeds which had cropped ears, which was outlawed in 1895. Early pictures of Bull Terriers have distinctive, upright and clipped ears to reduce injuries during fights.

American President Teddy Roosevelt had a pet Bull Terrier called Pete who caused a stir when he bit the pants off the French Ambassador. Roosevelt is said to have brushed off previous incidents such as nipping at members of cabinet, saying it was ‘the nature of the breed’. After the altercation with the Ambassador however, Pete was sent to stay at the Roosevelt family home.



Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.

The ASPCA often has Bull Terriers for adoption; just do an advanced search on their adoption page.


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Dr Eloise is a Clinical Lead at Love That Pet and one of our resident pet care experts. She also curates the select range of vet recommended and approved products which feature on our site.
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