Often described as clownish and mischievous, the spirited Bull Terrier can be a wonderful family companion if provided with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Its egg-shaped head is likely the most distinctive feature of the breed—its unusual appearance has earned the Bull Terrier top-dog status when it comes to film and advertisements. Though friendly and lovable, the Bull Terrier can be tenacious and is known to push boundaries and bend rules. Consistent training can help create a well-behaved companion, but owners must have a sense of humor to fully appreciate this goofy breed.
The Bull Terrier is also known as the English Bull Terrier, White Cavalier, and Bully.
Bull Terriers have a short coat that grows flat to the body. The fur has a tough feel and glossy sheen. The coat comes in pure white or colored, which can be any color along with white markings. A white Bully may have markings on their head only.
Average Height: 21-22 inches
Average Weight: 50-70 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Bull Terrier has a compact, muscular frame. They have broad shoulders, a thick neck, big-boned legs, and a rounded body. When in motion, the Bully's gait is free-flowing and powerful with a merry spring. They have a distinctive oval-shaped head, a broad muzzle, and thin ears that stand erect when engaged. Their dark eyes are curious and intelligent.
Bull Terriers are descendants of the bull-and-terrier breeds, which were crosses between bulldogs and terriers used in dog fighting in the early 1800s in Europe. These dogs were crossed with other breeds, including Spanish Pointers, to create a larger, more agile dog. This new combination dominated as a pit dog until the sport was banned in England.
When their fighting days were through, Bullys became popular as companions for dapper English gents, who would walk around town with the breed as an accessory. The dog's charm earned them the nickname 'The White Cavalier.' Before long they were popular across the Atlantic in the US, and the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
AKC Breed Category
Training is of utmost importance with a Bully, to let their wonderful qualities shine and to manage traits that would be hard to live with. Though the Bull Terrier's ancestors were bred to be fearsome in a fight, when properly socialized, today's Bully is sweet-natured and silly. They must spend time with people, other dogs, and small animals early in life so they learn aggressive behavior is unacceptable. Bullys have a tendency to resource guard and defend their dog bowl or feeder, and early training is critical so this doesn't become a problem behavior. Finally, train them to be well mannered on a leash or they will drag you around for every walk.
Are Bull Terriers Good with Kids? Bullys are best matched with families with older kids who have experience managing a stubborn dog. Young children may not recognize the warning signs of a frustrated dog, and Bull Terriers will bite if treated roughly. Children should also be warned to keep their distance from a Bull Terrier who is eating or enjoying his favorite dog toy or treat.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Bull Terriers Good with Other Pets? Bull Terriers can be aggressive with other animals, including cats, small animals, and dogs. They may be socialized to be tolerant of other animals, but they should never be left alone with them. Bullys do better with dogs of the opposite sex.
Bull Terriers are very protective of their people, their food and toys, and their territory.
Are Bull Terriers Good Guard Dogs? Bull Terriers are excellent guard dogs. Their muscular frame and loud bark will intimidate would-be intruders. They will also become aggressive, if they feel anyone is threatening themselves or their family. The Bully's aggressive side will come out if necessary, but this trait should never be encouraged.
Bull Terriers are high-energy dogs and need a lot of exercise to ensure excess energy doesn't result in unwanted and destructive behaviors.
- Require an abundance of daily exercise.
- Will turn to destructive behaviors, like chewing their dog bed, to combat boredom.
- Prone to separation anxiety.
- Stubborn and difficult to train.
- Firm, patient training is important to avoid dominance and aggression issues.
Bullys belong indoors with their families. They are not ideal apartment dogs unless they are taken outside to exercise frequently. The Bull Terrier's coat is not very protective against the elements and the breed is prone to separation anxiety when left alone. Their coats shed, but not excessively, so fur around the house is manageable. Early training will help your Bull Terrier become an easygoing housemate.
Bull Terriers should be outside playing and exercising for several hours a day. Their coats are not very protective against the cold, so they shouldn't be left outside when it's chilly. During the winter they'll welcome a dog jacket for all outdoor excursions.
To keep the peace around the house and to prevent the destruction of furniture, Bullys need an hour or two of vigorous exercise every day.
These energetic dogs have the stamina for hours of play and agility training sessions.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: With their stocky build, Bullys are not long distance runners, but they'll gladly run with you for a half mile at a time in between playing catch.
- Hiking Miles: Bull Terriers can hike long distances. Before you hit the trailhead, make sure he is well trained so he doesn't drag you off the path or chase animals.
Bull Terriers require approximately 2 to 4 cups of high-quality dry dog food each day over two meals. Adequate amounts can vary significantly based on your dog's size, age, and activity level, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your Bully.
Bull Terriers get bored quickly when alone, and they are notorious for chewing up furniture and digging up the garden. They also are prone to separation anxiety. It's preferable for someone to stay with your Bully all day and take him out for regular exercise. If you must leave this breed alone for an hour or two, it's best if they are crate trained so as to minimize damage.
Health and Grooming
This gentleman's dog is a naturally neat fellow. You need to brush him only once or twice a week, and he can go up to three months between baths. Gently clean his ears with a dog-friendly cleanser every week or two and clip his toenails about once each month to avoid snags and cracks.
Common Health Issues
Bull Terriers may present a number of health concerns—some serious—including:
- Deafness, especially in white Bullys
- Hereditary nephritis—an early onset kidney disease found in Bull Terriers
- Heart disease
- Patellar luxation
- Skin ailments, especially in the white variety
- Compulsive behaviors, including spinning, which is obsessive tail chasing
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Bull Terrier by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Bull Terriers are intelligent and learn quickly—the question is whether they want to. It's important to train and socialize Bullys with patience and ample rewards.
The energetic Bull Terrier benefits from learning new skills and lifelong training, and his family is rewarded with a busy, well-behaved dog. Bullys will excel at advanced obedience training, agility training, and dog sports, such as flyball.
Sporting Dog Training
While all terriers have hunting in their blood, Bullys are not well known for their prowess as sporting dogs.
No. Bull Terriers are not heavy shedders, but they do shed and are a source of pet dander, which is the cause of most pet-related allergies.
Because Bull Terriers are a variety of Pit Bull, some local ordinances include them on dog breed bans, restrictions, and muzzle requirements. Breed Specific Laws (BSLs) are highly controversial and in recent years several states have banned the passage of such legislation. Calling your local animal control office is the best way to find out if Bull Terriers are banned or restricted in your community.
Bull Terriers are terrible swimmers, because of their short legs and heavy torsos. Your Bully may like the water, but should stick to wading in only paw deep and only when supervised.