- Lifespan: 12-16 years
- Group: AKC Non-Sporting
- Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
- Temperament: Independent, energetic, affectionate
Bull Terrier Basics
Whenever you hear the word “Bull,” you probably imagine a frightening thing indeed. Who can blame you? Bulls can be scary – people run away from them as a sport in Pamplona, Spain. Bullfrogs are big, giant versions of frogs that we associate with big, loud noises. But what about the Bull Terrier? Do they live up to the Bull name or are they closer in temperament to that other popular domestic animal, the cat?
Well, take one good look at the Bull Terrier and you’ll probably find out why it’s more terrier than bulldog. The rough name can be a little misleading, but as it turns out Bull Terriers can make loyal, energetic, and even fun pets that the entire family can enjoy – or can work as a great companion even if you’re the only member of your household. But does that mean a Bull Terrier is right for your own domestic situation, whatever it is? Let’s take a closer look at this unique terrier and find out what really makes its clock tick.
Bull Terriers can make loyal, energetic, and fun pets that the entire family can enjoy.
One look at the Bull Terrier will let you know that the breed really don’t come from such a nasty pedigree of dogs as the name might suggest. Bull Terriers look, well, a little weird. They have larger heads and smooth faces – a quality often enjoyed by the pet owners in the United Kingdom. In North America, we have to trace their origins to really understand their appeal.
Okay, so Bull Terriers do indeed trace some of their lineage to the classic Bulldog breeding, but as it turns out, the dog awakening during the 19th century really changed the direction that Bull Terriers were going. Developed and bred to be anti-rodent machines (for lack of a better term) Bull Terriers broke off from traditional Bulldogs and other similar breeds to establish an identity all their own. In other words, they grew qualities that make them a terrier – a light and sporty dog – rather than a Bulldog.
And what of this bullish pedigree? It’s not as scary as you might think. Early mixes from the Old English Bulldog, a now-extinct breed, and Manchester Terriers yielded to a genetic influence from English White Terriers (also an extinct breed). With that kind of pedigree, there’s a good case you could make that modern day Bull Terriers are actually torch-carriers for a number of older breeds that don’t exist today. While Bull Terriers don’t have a deep history all their own – at least in terms of chronological measurement – its genetics do contain a much larger part of dog history, particularly in England.
Food / Diet
Bull Terriers enjoy a good cut of meat just as much as any other dog. Classic dog treats and nutrition from the store will suit these terriers just fine, but it’s worth the effort to try a little experimentation to find a regular diet that your dog really enjoys.
Bull Terriers again go against the grain of what their name suggests with their temperament – they’re much more light-natured than the stubborn Bulldogs can be. They’re often described as fun and energetic and their behavior will probably bear a resemblance to a number of other terriers. If you’ve worked with terriers before, the behavior of the Bull Terrier won’t be a major challenge for you.
How does this apply to the world of Bull Terrier training? Well, they’re highly responsive and love a good, active workout.
They’re often described as fun and energetic.
A male Bull Terrier can see a big weight range, so don’t be concerned if you think your Bull Terrier is a little too small or big. Typically they can weigh in the 40-80 pound range for males, though obviously finding some sort of happy medium will be best for these dogs.
Temperament / Behavior
Bull Terriers behave like classic terriers and aren’t a major challenge to handle if you’ve worked with terriers before. They can be independent and energetic, which means they like to play by themselves often when they’re let out in the open. This means you’ll want to keep good track of your Bull Terrier in social situations, particularly as it’s growing up.
Common Health Problems
Many dogs have certain propensities toward health problems, and Bull Terriers are no different, showing an inclination toward skin conditions and allergies. This can often be a good thing because it presents a problem that can be spotted, but it’s important to make sure that you take your Bull Terrier for regular checkups anyway.
Bull Terriers have a long and healthy life expectancy, sometimes living up to 16 years. So if you do find a Bull Terrier for your family expect to develop a long-term bond with it. Also remember that Bull Terriers really do represent long-term commitments as any dog would, but in the case of Bull Terriers this commitment can be even more pronounced.
Like many terriers, Bull Terriers have a high tolerance for very active exercise. They enjoy plenty of free territory to move around, so if you have a yard or a large amount of space near your apartment you’ll want to make frequent and even daily use of it.
Bull Terriers have a high tolerance for very active exercise.
The American Kennel Club describes Bull Terriers as playful and clownish. Hardly the “Bull” type, wouldn’t you say?
Bull Terriers come with a short coat that has a minimal need for upkeep. Focus more on exercise – the Bull Terriers will need that much more than attention to their coat.
Bull Terrier puppies should be inspected for deafness just like all other puppies. Thanks to its short coat you won’t have to worry about coat issues as they grow. Don’t over exercise puppies but do give them an outlet for their energy.
Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock