Bull Terrier

A Complete Breed Guide for Bull Terrier Dogs

Last Updated 14 SEPTEMBER 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Chelsi Kuebler


Facts about the Bull Terrier



Best Toys for Bull Terriers

Diet and Nutrition

Health Problems

Related Breeds

Further Reading

Facts about the Bull Terrier

Breed size: Place of origin: Intelligence:
Miniature and Standard England Medium
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Terrier Medium to High Mini: 11 - 15kg; Standard: 20 - 33kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
11 - 14 years Low Mini: 25 - 33cm; Standard: 45 - 60 cm
Drool factor: Coat length: Colours:
Low Short White or white with coloured markings are most common. Occasionally see coloured (red, fawn, brindle, black) with or without white markings
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Activity needs:
Moderate Low Moderate

What sort of coat does a Bull Terrier have?

Bull Terriers have a smooth, short coat and are considered to be a moderate shedding breed. In terms of grooming, Bull Terriers really only need to be brushed once every week or two, and bathed once every 3-4 weeks. Bull Terriers are usually white with coloured markings in red, fawn, black, or brindle. They sometimes are mostly coloured with white markings.

Is a Bull Terrier a good dog?

Bull Terriers can be great dogs if well-trained. They are smart but can be very stubborn, so will need obedience training from early-on. They can also be highly family-orientated and protective, and are known for being great guard dogs. Because of this, socialising them as soon as possible with other dogs and people is incredibly important. They can be very goofy and love attention, but be careful - if they don't get enough exercise and attention they can become destructive.

How long do Bull Terriers live for?

On average, Bull Terriers live between 11-14 years of age.

How big do Bull Terriers grow?

Bull Terriers come in a miniature or a standard size. Male miniatures stand at 27-33 cm at the shoulders and weigh 12-15 kg. Female miniatures stand at 25-30cm and weigh 11-14kg. Male standards stand at 50-60cm and weigh 25-33kg. Female standards stand at 45-55cm and weigh 20-25kg.

How much does a Bull Terrier cost?

A Bull Terrier puppy may cost between $1000 - 4000. On top of this, it's important to budget for veterinary bills, pet insurance, a good quality diet and regular flea and worming medication. Check out our New Puppy Shopping List for more information!

Do Bull Terriers bark much?

Bull Terriers are not known to bark much. They generally only bark to alert or notify their owner of something - this goes back to them being good guard dogs.

How do I know which Bull Terrier breeder to choose?

Bull Terriers are a robust breed when bred well, but if inbred can develop several health issues. Therefore, it's important to choose a reputable breeder to decrease the risk of health or temperament problems down the line. Ideally, breeders should conduct genetic testing on their breeding lines to rule out risk for diseases such as Polycystic Kidney Disease. For a full checklist of questions to ask when choosing a breeder, read our vet article How to Find a Good Breeder.

Bull Terrier History

The Bull Terrier dog was originally bred in early 19th century England by crossing the (now extinct) Old English Bulldog with the Manchester Terrier. Their purpose was to hunt rodents and other pests. They were also used as fighting dogs. However, when pit fighting was banned in England, people started using the Bull Terrier as a fashion pet breed. Because of this they bred it to be more sociable, sweeter, and more tolerant of children. The Bull Terrier is known for its stout muscular stature, elongated muzzle, and small eyes.

Bull Terrier Personality

Bull Terriers are known for being goofy dogs with big personalities. They are very loyal to their families and can be very playful. Because of their guard-dog nature, they can take a little while to warm up to strangers. Bull Terriers are better suited for experienced dog owners because they can be quite stubborn and will require obedience training to manage their strength. If not properly trained, they will easily knock you over out of sheer excitement to see you!

The best way to keep Bull Terriers happy is to keep them adequately exercised, provide them with lots of love and affection, train them well, and ensure they are socialised with other dogs and people from a young age.

Best Toys for Bull Terriers

The below toys are great for Bull Terriers because they are durable and promote exercise and brain activity!

Kong Wubba Weaves Rope Dog Toy

The twisted knotted rope provides a long-lasting chewing experience to promote clean teeth and gums. The long tails are ideal for tug of war and stimulate your dogs instinct to thrash and pull. A fun squeaker adds to the experience, encouraging your dog to play.

Chuckit Classic Long

They're designed to lob your dog's ball further than ever before, tiring out your dog rather than you during a game of fetch. These long, sturdy launchers are also handy for scooping up your dogs ball once its been returned, saving your back from any aches as well as your hands from slobber.

Rogz Treat Dispense Tumbler

Satiate your dogs appetite and slow down fast eaters while keeping them entertained with a Rogz Tumbler Treat Dispenser. These bright, colourful spheres are made from food-grade, highly resistant ABS and feature three adjustable release rates for various levels of learning and feeding.

Tasty Bone Wild Venison Antler

Made from 100% virgin nylon, this bone is longer lasting and safer than a real bone. Infused with food grade venison for real, delicious flavour, this chew will excite and entertain your dog and promote strong and healthy teeth at the same time.

Bull Terrier Diet and Nutrition

Bull Terrier Puppies

Because standard Bull Terriers are medium-large breed dogs it is important that they are given a premium, complete and balanced diet as puppies to meet the needs of a growing young dog. Therefore it is recommended to feed them premium puppy food specifically formulated for medium breed dogs. These formulas are designed with an adapted energy, calcium and phosphorus content to promote controlled bone growth and help prevent the development of some developmental bone and joint issues.

Bringing your new Bull Terrier puppy home

The arrival of a new puppy in the home is an exciting time although it can be a little overwhelming for your new pup. Socialisation in the first 12 weeks of a puppy's life is crucial to ensure they become a confident and well-behaved adult. Exposing them in a positive way to new people, animals, environments, sounds and situations will help to prevent fear and anxiety in later life. We recommend puppy preschools as a great way to introduce these new things in a safe way.

These first few weeks will also involve organising your puppy's vaccinations, parasite control, toilet training and crate training. Bull Terrier puppies need lots of exercise to help them deal with their large amounts of energy! Obedience training is incredibly important to help them learn basic commands and not to jump up on people. For detailed tips and advice in these areas and more, take a look through our New Puppy Guide. Our Puppy Training Guide will give you the information you need to combat any undesirable behaviours like digging and chewing.

Best Food for Bull Terrier Puppies

Our Vet Squad recommends the following premium diets for Bull Terrier puppies as they provide all the essential nutrients to ensure your pup will thrive. Premium diets contain consistent, highly digestible ingredients and often contain additional beneficial ingredients such as omega fatty acids and antioxidants for skin, coat and immune health.

Royal Canin Medium Puppy

This premium dry dog food is formulated from highly digestible proteins and optimal levels of dietary fibre to help support healthy digestion. It is fortified with nutrients to support bone and joint health, as well as an adapted protein content and l-carnitine for healthy muscle development.

Eukanuba Medium Breed Puppy

Eukanuba Puppy Medium Breed is a complete and fully balanced dry diet for medium breed puppies. This formula is easily digested and contains precisely balanced levels of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals to promote healthy growth and development.

Purina Pro Plan Medium Puppy

This premium dry puppy food is made from high quality ingredients, including real chicken as the #1 ingredient, and contains all the essential nutrition your medium breed puppy needs to grow and develop. It is fortified with colostrum for enhanced immunity and protection from common intestinal upsets, and has crunchy kibble formulated to help support daily dental care.

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Best foods for Adult Bull Terriers

As a medium breed, Bull Terriers are more prone to developing arthritis and joint issues than smaller breed dogs. They are also prone to skin issues. Therefore it is recommended to feed them diets specifically formulated for medium adult dogs with or without skin sensitivities.

Advance Medium Terrier

This super premium, Australian-made, dry dog food is complete and balanced to support the health and wellbeing of your medium sized terrier. Infused with green lipped mussel powder, it promotes healthy joints and a strong skin barrier to reduce the occurrence of allergy flare ups.

Royal Canin Medium Dermacomfort

This premium quality dry dog food is a reduced allergen formula to minimise the risk of triggering any existing food allergies. It is also fortified with nutrients to support and nourish the natural barrier function of the skin including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids such as GLA, EPA and DHA.

Hills Science Diet Sensitive Skin and Stomach

This high quality dry food is formulated with high quality protein and a gentle fibre blend to promote optimal nutrient absorption, easy digestion and healthy bowel function. It is also fortified with an exclusive blend of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients to support healthy skin and a shiny coat, making it an ideal choice for dogs with dry, itchy, flaky and sensitive skin.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach

This premium dry dog food is made from high quality ingredients and contains all the essential nutrition your adult dog with skin or digestive sensitivities needs. It is formulated using carefully selected alternate protein sources, tuna and salmon, and contains no wheat, soy corn, chicken or beef to help reduce the risk of an adverse food reaction.

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Bull Terrier Health Problems

Because Bull Terriers are purebred, they are more prone to adverse health conditions than mixed breed dogs. It is important if you choose to own a Bull Terrier that you are aware of their potential health risks and how you can address them.

Skin Problems

Bull Terriers are often at the vet for skin problems. They are especially prone to allergic skin disease and mostly white dogs are easily sunburned.

Skin Allergies

Allergic skin disease such as atopic dermatitis and contact allergies do seem to be more common in Bull Terriers. Atopic dermatitis is a sort of generalised allergy caused by items in the environment such as pollen, dust mites or grasses. It usually results in itching, hair loss and red, inflamed skin. Often affected dogs may lick their paws excessively and have recurrent ear infections.

Contact allergies can cause similar symptoms in dogs however the reaction is limited to areas where the dog has come into direct contact with the allergen (usually plants). Diagnosis of allergic skin disease in dogs can take some time as the underlying cause needs to be discovered, usually through a process of elimination. Management involves reducing or eliminating the allergen from the environment if possible, alongside potentially desensitisation and medication, dietary changes and topical therapies to manage symptoms.


Sunburn is easily combated by using a doggy sunscreen, restricting outdoor access during peak UV radiation periods, and using a dog sun suit if your Bully will be exposed to the sun for any length of time.


Deafness is obviously a little difficult to diagnose but can be assumed for dogs that are unresponsive to calls and unaware when their owners get home from work. It isn't life-threatening unless they get out and can't hear oncoming traffic. It is important to be a diligent pet owner with Bull Terriers and give them extra care and attention if they are deaf.

Heart Defects

Heart defects can include leaky heart valves or narrowed valves that don't allow the normal passage of blood through the heart. This can result in heart murmurs or irregular heart beats. In order to investigate this, an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) is recommended. Symptoms to look for include coughing, breathing difficulty, exercise intolerance, lethargy, and fainting.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

This inherited disease, also known as PKD, causes pockets of fluid to form in the kidneys. This can block their flow and function and result in symptoms such as vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, and excessive thirst. PKD can be diagnosed with bloodwork and an abdominal ultrasound. Dogs with PKD can still live relatively long lives if the disease is managed. Treatment often includes a special diet and medications to aid kidney function.


Entropion occurs when one or more of the eyelids are rolled inwards, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. This can result in pain, conjunctivitis, redness, and discharge. If noticed early on, sometimes all that is needed is a tacking suture to hold the eyelid in normal position as the puppy grows. However, if the suture can't be done or is unsuccessful, surgery is necessary.

Luxating Patellas

This is a fancy way of saying Bull Terriers have mobile kneecaps. If severe enough, the kneecap can abruptly slide in and out of the groove it is supposed to sit in. This can result in leg pain and stiffness. If it is affecting normal mobility, surgery is often recommended.

Related Breeds

American Staffordshire Terrier

The Amercian Staffordshire Terrier ("Am Staff") was bred from Pit Bull Terrier roots, and shares many of the energetic traits of the English Staffy. They are a medium to large sized, muscular dog.


People-orientated and friendly, the Bulldog is a medium sized dog. They have only moderate exercise requirements and can be well-suited to apartment living. Due to their brachycephalic features, Bulldogs are at risk of heat stroke and do best in temperate climates.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier ("Staffy") is a very popular breed of dog known for their energetic personalities and big smiles. They are a medium sized breed, highly social, and best suited for a home with a fenced-in yard they can run around in.

Further Reading

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