Choosing a Bull Terrier

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The bull terrier comes in two separate varieties: white and colored. Developed by crossing a bulldog with a terrier, this dog is tenacious and once excelled in dog fights. Thankfully, this gory sport became illegal and the bull terrier became a loving and comical member of the family.

History and Origin

Around 1835 in Great Britain, dog fanciers wanted to develop the "Ultimate Fighting Dog." To accomplish this, the English bulldog was crossed with the now extinct English terrier. This resulted in a dog referred to as the "bull and terrier" and was a strong compact little fighter weighing around 30 pounds. Eventually, the Spanish pointer was added to increase the dog's size.

Originally, the breed was often brindle in color. In 1860, a dog fancier thought that a pure white bull terrier would be a thing of beauty. He was correct and the white bull terrier quickly gained popularity. Due to his white coat and courageous personality, the white bull terrier is known to this day as the "White Cavalier." However, white bull terriers are more likely to be born deaf.

In 1936, it was determined that white bull terrier and colored bull terrier should be considered separate varieties of the same breed, which means they are shown separately in the United States. Colored bull terrier can be any color other than white. If white is present, it must not dominate. The bull terrier is recognized by the American Kennel Club in the terrier group.

Appearance and Size

The bull terrier is an impressive dog. Strong and muscular, this breed's most unique attribute is the shape of his head. When looked at from the side, the head is egg-shaped. The eyes are narrow and dark and the ears are small and close together. The neck, shoulders and rest of the body are muscular with a deep chest. The tail is short and usually carried horizontally. The hair coat of the bull terrier is short and flat and can be various different colors including white, red, fawn or brindle. The only colors not encouraged are blue and liver.

There is no height and weight standard for the bull terrier but most stand 21 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh 50 to 70 pounds.


Bull terriers have a unique personality. They are friendly and pleasant dogs with a wonderful sense of humor. The breed is outgoing but can be dominant. As a strong and sometimes independent dog, he is not the best choice for the first time dog owner.

Home and Family Relations

The bull terrier is a courageous dog with the heart of a lion. This breed is a loving and wonderful companion that adapts well to almost any environment. The bull terrier can be somewhat distrustful of other dogs and strangers. For this reason, bull terrier owners should use caution when introducing their dog to a new animal or person. This breed adores older children but may not be as patient with the antics of very young children.


Training the bull terrier requires a firm hand and may be frustrating since this breed tends to have a mind of his own. Obedience is a must in this strong, active breed. Early socialization is crucial to prevent dominance issues.


The bull terrier has a short, fine coat, which means he does not need much grooming.

Special Care

The bull terrier does not require much special care if living in warm climates. The bull terrier is not too happy living in cold and damp areas. The white bull terrier does need some special consideration in the sun since they are prone to sunburn.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the bull terrier is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Ectropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes eversion of the eyelid margin. It most commonly affects the lower central eyelid.
  • Mast cell tumors are malignant tumors than can occur in the skin or within the body.
  • Tail spinning is a behavioral abnormality in which the dog continuously spins or chases his tail.
  • Sunburn can occur when sensitive skin is exposed to the sun's rays for a prolonged amount of time.

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