Understanding the Bull Terrier: Top 7 Facts to Learn

Updated on: Feb 15, 2022
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Understanding the Bull Terrier: Top 7 Facts to Learn

Bull Terriers are an easily recognizable but still quite misunderstood breed for a lot of folks. Used as dog fighting dogs for quite a while because of their high-energy, muscular bodies, and faithful temperament, these dogs quickly became excellent family pets once dog fighting was outlawed.

Despite what you might think because of their history, name, or appearance, Bull Terriers are actually incredibly social, loving, and fun to be around. But are they the right pet for you? Here are the 7 curious things to know about the Bull Terrier.

7 things to consider before buying a Bull Terrier pet

There are near-countless fascinating things to say about the Bull Terrier breed. To keep things concise, however, let’s arrange them from the point of view of what these curious tidbits mean for you as a future bully owner.

1. Bull Terriers share the same troubled history as pit bull breeds

If you’re new to the canine world, some breed names can be confusing – pit bull, bulldog, pit bull terrier, bull terrier – these all sound like different names for the same breed. And there are similarities between them, of course. For example, most of them do share an ancestry with the English Bulldog, hence the “bull” in the name. And, a lot of them were used in dogfighting pits or rings, hence the “pit” in their names.

The Bull Terrier hits both of those checks – it was one of the breeds that were used in fighting rings alongside the pit bull breeds. Just like them, the Bull Terrier is a muscular and energetic breed whose strong loyalty makes it easily manipulated into fighting.

However, just like pit bulls, the Bull Terrier shouldn’t have this dark history held against the breed. And, fortunately, much fewer people hold a stigma against the Bull Terrier the way many people do against pit bulls. That’s great for the breed and very much deserved as these dogs make for wonderful, loving, and gentle family companions.

2. These dogs are pretty large for terriers and are quite muscular too

Given that the Bull Terrier is a mix of bulldogs and terrier breeds, this dog is pretty large compared to most other terriers. That still puts it in the medium-size category, of course, but that’s impressive nevertheless.

The average Bull Terrier is about 21 to 22 inches at the shoulder (53 to 56 cm). This is just a couple of inches shorter than a standard Labrador Retriever. We give this reference as the Bull Terrier tends to be about as heavy as a lab despite being 2 inches or 10 cm shorter. The standard weight you can expect from these dogs is between 50 and 70 pounds (23 to 32 kg). This goes to show how bulky and fit Bull Terriers are, especially compared to another already very fit breed.

3. Bull Terriers are quite the extroverts

Every dog is an individual, of course, but everyone knows that dog breeds often have some temperament characteristics that are common across the whole breed. For the Bull Terriers that’s their outgoing personality.

These dogs love to be with and around their people, and they always want to be the center of attention. The breed can easily be called “the class clown of the canine world”. This means that you’re in for a lot of fun shenanigans if you take a Bull Terrier home.

At the same time, however, this also means that these dogs can be quite mischievous. If you want a calm and easily obedient dog then the Bull Terrier may not be the breed for you. Additionally, their outgoing personality means that they are very susceptible to separation anxiety.

This is not an uncommon condition for pet dog breeds but is especially pronounced for those breeds that get strongly attached to their people. If you need to work away from home and there aren’t going to be any family members home with your dog, you can expect your Bull Terrier to lose its cool after just a couple of hours of alone time.

Of course, there are things that can alleviate this issue – dog walkers, dog sitters, playdates with other dog owners, pet gates at home, interactive toys, lots of physical exercise before you leave for work, and so on. However, the gist of it is that this isn’t the ideal breed for people who work away from home.

4. Their bodies, history, and temperament don’t make them any less loving and gentle with their families

This is a very loving and gentle breed. Once a Bull Terrier recognizes you as its pack, the dog will readily do anything for its people. That, ironically, is what made them effective fighting dogs. As pets, however, this makes the loving and affectionate.

Their mischievous nature can make them a bit disobedient when they are feeling playful but don’t let that fool you into thinking the dog doesn’t love or respect you. Besides, that’s what obedience training is for.

5. Bull Terriers are surprisingly great with kids and other pets but still somewhat wary of strangers

The loving and gentle nature of Bull Terriers makes them a great choice for children, especially above a certain age. Obviously, with toddlers, you’ll need constant supervision as the child may end up pestering and tormenting the dog a little too much.

With children that are old enough to understand they shouldn’t pull the dog’s tail and ears, however, a Bull Terrier can be an excellent pet. In fact, this breed can work wonderfully with other dogs too, as long as you’ve offered adequate socialization when the Bull Terrier was still young.

Other pets can be a bit problematic to live with a Bull Terrier as this breed has the prey drive of any standard terrier breed. Cats can work given enough socialization but supervision is required in the first months if the kitten is still small.

As for strangers, a Bull Terrier can be a bit cautious. These dogs do have a pretty strong protective instinct so they can make great watch or guard dogs if they are not socialized. If you want a regular pet that doesn’t bother your guests you’d do well to socialize your pup with people from an early age.

6. These dogs do need a good bit of exercise but are also easy to look after in apartments

Bull Terriers are muscular dogs and they need to exercise those muscles. Fortunately, they are not that large, and, as an off-shoot of the bulldog, they tend to have more explosive strength rather than endurance. So, a couple of 20-30 minute vigorous walks a day should be enough for this dog.

The rest of the Bull Terrier’s exercise needs can be met at home. There isn’t a need for a yard either as this dog adapts pretty well to apartments, provided that they are spacious enough. Besides, if you do have a yard, you’d need to make that it’s very well fenced. Bull Terriers have very strong prey drives, as we mentioned above, and they also have powerful muscular bodies. Those two facts mean that they are excellent escape artists even with tall fences around them.

7. Bull Terriers have above-average lifespans but there are some health concerns to watch out for

The expected lifespan of a Bull Terrier is up to 14 years on average. This is pretty great and it can be easily exceeded with the right care and a bit of luck. Still, there are some potential health concerns you’ll need to watch out for. These include Deafness , Skin allergies , Lameness , Obesity , Heart defects , Acne , and Kidney failure.

As you can see, Bull Terriers are a categorically unique breed. A cross between the bull-baiting bulldog breed and the rat-chasing terriers, the Bull Terrier’s initial purpose was to be a fighting ring animal. With the banning of this horrific “activity”, however, the Bull Terrier was quickly recognized as a fantastic pet. The breed gathered popularity as a “gentleman’s dog” at the start of the 20th century and eventually became popular as a family pet as well.

Energetic, playful, but also gentle, social, and loving, Bull Terriers are nothing like what you might fear when you hear about their dog fighting history. They are even great with kids and other pets, especially with proper socialization. They do need good obedience training, however, as – like all terriers – they tend to put their all opinions first and foremost.