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Bull Terrier

 Photo of Bull Terrier
Photo: courtesy of Chris & Bernadette Mellor

Bull Terrier Books

Group: Terrier - Breed Standard


The now extinct breeds Old English Bulldog and Old English Terrier were crossed to form a new breed of dog called the Bull and Terrier. It is also known that Dalmatian comes into their genetics, and this can be seen by looking on the stomach area, where dark, spotted pigment can be seen on the skin. Around 1860, the Bull and Terrier breed split into two branches, the pure white Bull Terrier and the coloured forms that lived on for another seventy years in the dog fighting pits until they finally were recognized as a legitimate dog breed called the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Pedigrees of Bull Terriers date from the period during which the English Stud books were first written (circa 1874-6). Although the breed was developed from fighting dogs, the Bull Terrier was intended to be a showdog and companion.


Bull Terriers are thick-set and muscular with a short, dense coat. Acceptable colours are white, any colour other than white, or any colour with white markings (although Blue and liver highly undesirable).

This terrier's most distinctive feature is its head, described as 'egg shaped' when viewed from the front, almost flat at the top, with a Roman muzzle sloping evenly down to the end of the nose with no stop. The unique triangular eyes are small, dark, and closely set. The body is full and round, while the shoulders are robust and muscular and the tail is carried horizontally. It walks with a jaunty gait, and is popularly known as the 'gladiator of the canine race'.

There are neither weight nor height limits, but there should be the impression of maximum substance for size of dog consistent with quality and sex.


Bull Terriers are generally friendly dogs. Their physical strength is matched by their intelligence, and both body and mind need to be kept active. They can be obstinate and are not ideal dogs for the first-time owner. As a breed they are generally placid but it has to be remembered that they were originally bred as fighting dogs therefore they will react if challenged but they will not normally make the first move.(It is a misconception that they were bred for fighting. Dog fighting was common at the time, but they were bred to be companions. Also they were bred for comformation to create a dog that was pleasing to the eye.) They are very affectionate dogs and love company so it is not a good idea to leave them alone for long periods of time as with their strong jaws they can cause lots of damage if bored. Bull Terriers are one of the better breeds of dogs to have around children, but like all pets a watchful eye is always needed.

Breed Health

Bull Terriers are generally free of disabling genetic diseases. All puppies should be checked for deafness, as this sometimes occurs (most commonly in pure white dogs) and is difficult to notice, especially in a relatively young puppy. A common problem to many Bull Terriers is a tendency to develop skin allergies. Insect bites, such as fleas, and sometimes mosquitoes and mites, can produce a generalized allergic response of hives, rash, and itching. This condition can be stopped by keeping the dog free of contact from these insects, but this is definitely a consideration in climates or circumstances where exposure to these insects is inevitable. Their lifespan is somewhere between 10 and 14 years, although they can live longer.

Common Ailments: Deafness, Umbilical Hernia and Acne. Bull Terriers can also suffer from Obsessive complusive behavior, such as tail chasing, self mutilation, and obsessive licking.

Breed Care

Having a short single coat they are easy to keep clean, requiring a brush about once a week just to remove loose and dead hairs.


The Bull Terrier requires a fair amount of exercise, but overworking the dog at a young age will cause strained muscles. Older dogs do require exercise, but in small doses, whereas younger ones will be happy to play for hours on end.


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