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  • Temperament: Playful, Charming, Mischievous
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 57 of 192
  • Height: 21-22 inches
  • Weight: 50-70 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-13 years
  • Group: Terrier Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Bull Terrier standing sideways facing forward
Bull Terrier standing facing forward
Bull Terrier standing sideways outdoors facing left
Bull Terrier puppy standing sideways facing left
Bull Terrier brown and white coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bull Terrier must be strongly built, muscular, symmetrical and active, with a keen determined and intelligent expression, full of fire but of sweet disposition and amenable to discipline.

HEAD

Should be long, strong and deep right to the end of the muzzle, but not coarse. Full face it should be oval in outline and be filled completely up giving the impression of fullness with a surface devoid of hollows or indentations, i.e., egg shaped. In profile it should curve gently downwards from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose. The forehead should be flat across from ear to ear. The distance from the tip of the nose to the eyes should be perceptibly greater than that from the eyes to the top of the skull. The underjaw should be deep and well defined.

LEGS

Should be big boned but not to the point of coarseness; the forelegs should be of moderate length, perfectly straight, and the dog must stand firmly upon them. The elbows must turn neither in nor out, and the pasterns should be strong and upright. The hind legs should be parallel viewed from behind. The thighs very muscular with hocks well let down. Hind pasterns short and upright. The stifle joint should be well bent with a well-developed second thigh.

COAT

Should be short, flat, harsh to the touch and with a fine gloss. The dog’s skin should fit tightly.

BODY

Should be well rounded with marked spring of rib, the back should be short and strong. The back ribs deep. Slightly arched over the loin. The shoulders should be strong and muscular but without heaviness. The shoulder blades should be wide and flat and there should be a very pronounced backward slope from the bottom edge of the blade to the top edge. Behind the shoulders there should be no slackness or dip at the withers. The underline from the brisket to the belly should form a graceful upward curve.

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Bull Terrier

About the Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers are robust, big-boned terriers who move with a jaunty stride suggesting agility and power. The breed’s hallmark is a long, egg-shaped head with erect and pointed ears, and small, triangular eyes that glisten with good humor. Coats come in two types: white; and any other color (including an attractive brindle striping), either solid or with white markings. A well-made BT is the picture of muscular determination and balance. There are four keys to BT happiness: early socialization with dogs and people; firm but loving training; ample exercise; and lots of quality time with his adored humans. If these requirements are met, there is no more loyal, lovable, and entertaining companion. This is the ultimate “personality breed.”

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Bull Terrier

Find a Puppy: Bull Terrier

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Bull Terrier Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Bull Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Bull Terriers need a good diet that includes natural calcium, especially when they are youngsters. One expert breeder gives the dogs a little yogurt or whole milk in the morning and in the evening before bed. She also recommends adding some naturally high-calcium food like broccoli to their diet when they are going through periods of rapid growth and bone development.

Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

 

GROOMING

The Bull Terrier’s short, flat, harsh, and glossy coat requires minimal maintenance. A weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or a hound glove will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. The ears should be regularly inspected and cleaned if needed. The nails should be trimmed often, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Bull Terriers benefit from daily, moderate exercise that provides good mental and physical stimulation, such as nice, long walks with the family. The breed was developed for sport as well as to be a gentleman’s companion and possesses great strength and agility. Participation in canine sports such as obedience, tracking, agility, and coursing ability tests is an enjoyable way to channel the BT’s energy.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Owners should remember that the breed exhibits the tenacity and courage of the Bulldog but is also a member of the Terrier Group. This is an independent free-thinker with a higher commitment to “fun and games” than to a work ethic. Bull Terriers operate on the principle that if it is fun, they will do it. If not, why bother? Make training fun, and they will excel. Positive reinforcement with food or toys is an excellent place to start. Bull Terriers can excel at a variety of dog sports (including agility, flyball, freestyle, weight pull, and carting) as well as in roles such as bomb detection, search-and-rescue and as service, assistance, health-alert, and therapy dogs. There is no limit to what Bull Terriers can do if trained in a positive manner with patience and humor.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Owners of potential sires and dams being bred should show proof of testing for kidney and heart issues, and pups should be tested for hearing before leaving the breeder. Dedicated breeders communicate with each other regularly and work together for breed health and the preservation of the breed’s best qualities. Bull Terriers from good breeders who health-test usually become healthy, happy, family members.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Cardiac Exam
  • Kidney-urine Analysis
  • Patella Evaluation
  • BAER Testing

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier

History

It is an irony that some of the AKC’s most amiable breeds began their careers as ferocious gladiators in blood sports. Such is the case of the Bull Terrier.

The pastime of bull-baiting, in which Bulldogs were turned lose on a staked bull as spectators bet on the outcome, was popular in Britain beginning in the 13th century. By the more enlightened 1830s, blood sports with animals were outlawed. This didn’t stop those with a taste for such gruesome spectacles. They simply went underground to evade the law. Bull-baiting was, of course, too conspicuous an activity to continue illegally. Instead, the blood sport of choice became dogfighting, with dogs mauling other dogs in indoor pits, often in the cellars of taverns.

Bulldogs proved too slow and plodding to provide much entertainment in these gruesome affairs. Thus began the process of crossing Bulldogs with terriers to produce fighters with the power of a Bulldog and the animation and fiery spirit of terriers. Among the breeds created in this way was the Bull Terrier.

Before long, the law caught up with pit fighting and this, too, was banned in Britain. Happily, the suddenly unemployed Bull Terrier became fashionable among young gentlemen of the mid-1800s. Breeders set to work on refining the breed’s looks and sweetening its temperament, better to play the role of an upper-crust companion dog.

“Hinks found a Bull Terrier a battered old bum/And made him a dog for a gentleman’s chum.” So goes an old bit of doggerel. It was in the early 1860s that Englishman James Hinks took an old fighting breed, a Bulldog-terrier cross called the Bull-and-Terrier, and refined and standardized it as the modern Bull Terrier. Hinks’s dogs were white, but by the early 20th century colored specimens were seen. BTs came to the AKC in 1885 and have been American favorites ever since. Famous Bullies include General George Patton’s Willy; Rufus, the 2006 Westminster winner; and Bullseye, the Target mascot.

Did You Know?

Bulldog-terrier crosses, of various sizes and colors, became popular as sporting dogs in the early 1800s.
In the early 1900's Bull Terriers were back crossed with brindle Staffordshires to produce a colored variety.
The Bull Terrier loves games with a ball or other toys and all sorts of outdoor activities.
In developing the Bull Terrier early records indicate that James Hinks employed existing Bulldog-Terrier crosses, his own white Bulldog Madman and the now extinct white English Terrier.
Their coat is short and glossy and requires very little grooming.
Bull Terriers do not bark unless there is a good reason. When a Bull Terrier is barking, pay attention.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bull Terrier must be strongly built, muscular, symmetrical and active, with a keen determined and intelligent expression, full of fire but of sweet disposition and amenable to discipline.

HEAD

Should be long, strong and deep right to the end of the muzzle, but not coarse. Full face it should be oval in outline and be filled completely up giving the impression of fullness with a surface devoid of hollows or indentations, i.e., egg shaped. In profile it should curve gently downwards from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose. The forehead should be flat across from ear to ear. The distance from the tip of the nose to the eyes should be perceptibly greater than that from the eyes to the top of the skull. The underjaw should be deep and well defined.

LEGS

Should be big boned but not to the point of coarseness; the forelegs should be of moderate length, perfectly straight, and the dog must stand firmly upon them. The elbows must turn neither in nor out, and the pasterns should be strong and upright. The hind legs should be parallel viewed from behind. The thighs very muscular with hocks well let down. Hind pasterns short and upright. The stifle joint should be well bent with a well-developed second thigh.

COAT

Should be short, flat, harsh to the touch and with a fine gloss. The dog’s skin should fit tightly.

BODY

Should be well rounded with marked spring of rib, the back should be short and strong. The back ribs deep. Slightly arched over the loin. The shoulders should be strong and muscular but without heaviness. The shoulder blades should be wide and flat and there should be a very pronounced backward slope from the bottom edge of the blade to the top edge. Behind the shoulders there should be no slackness or dip at the withers. The underline from the brisket to the belly should form a graceful upward curve.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
BLACK BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 279
BLACK BRINDLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 021
BLACK TAN & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 030
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
BRINDLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 059
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
RED & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 146
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199
WHITE & BLACK BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 328
WHITE & BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 203
WHITE & RED Check Mark For Standard Color 214
WHITE BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 219
FAWN 082
FAWN & WHITE 086
FAWN SMUT 324
FAWN SMUT & WHITE 325
RED SMUT 322
RED SMUT & WHITE 323
WHITE & FAWN 207
WHITE & FAWN SMUT 327
WHITE & RED SMUT 326