1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a English Bull Terrier ?
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
11. Caring for a English Bull Terrier
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a English Bull Terrier
The Bull Terrier is a very distinctive and powerful looking dog that is a real softie at heart loving nothing more than to be part of a family. Although many of them boast having white coats, Bull Terriers come in a lot of other colours which includes brindle. There are no height or weight limits for them, but with this said, their size should always be in keeping with the breed and whether a dog is female or male. Renowned for their fun-loving and courageous natures, Bull Terriers also boast having a bit of a stubborn streak which is why their training has to start early and socialising a puppy is an absolute must.
There is some belief that English Bull Terriers were created by crossing Bull Dogs with other terrier breeds which included the Manchester Terrier. They were originally bred to fight, more notably this involved bull baiting until the sport was outlawed in 1935. Bull Terriers were bred to be strong, fearless and determined, all traits they needed to fight bulls which they often did to the death.
It was not until 1850 that the breed was standardised by James Hincks and he achieved his goal by selectively crossing Bull Terriers with other terrier-type dogs which included the White English Terrier. The result of this endeavours was to be the white dogs we see today.
The first breed club was set up in the UK in 1887 and a year later an official breed standard was established. In 1917, the first of the modern Bull Terrier to be recognised was a dog called "Lord Gladiator". Today, Bull Terriers are among the most popular breeds in the UK both as companion dogs and family pets. Interestingly, Miniature Bull Terriers have been around for as long as their larger counterparts, but were only recognised as a unique breed in their own right by The Kennel Club in 1939.
Height at the withers: Males 50 - 61 cm, Females 50 - 61 cm
Average weight: Males 20 - 29 kg, Females 20 - 29 kg
The Bull Terrier is a well-muscled dog that boasts a very distinctively shaped head that is rather long and which boasts being egg-shaped when viewed from the front. The tops of their heads between their ears is virtually flat and in profile their muzzles curve downwards from the top of a dog's head to the tip of their nose. A Bull Terrier's nostrils are well developed and their lower jaw boasts being strong and deep.
Their eyes are quite narrow and triangular in shape being placed obliquely on a dog's face. Colour-wise, eyes can be either very black or a dark brown with Bull Terrier's having a very distinct "glint" about them. Ears are small, thin and placed neatly close together on a dog’s head and which they carry very upright. The Bull Terrier has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
Their neck is extremely powerful, muscular and long which dogs carry arched and which taper from their shoulders to their heads showing no loose skin whatsoever. Shoulders are muscular, strong without being overloaded and a dog's shoulder blades are flat, wide and close to the chest wall, having a pronounced backward slope to them. Front legs are round with lots of bone which sees the Bull Terrier standing very solidly and squarely on them.
Their body is well rounded with dogs having well sprung ribs, a good depth from their withers to their brisket. Their back is quite short, but very powerful and level only arching over a dog's well-muscled and broad loins. Bellies curve gently upwards which adds to a dog's powerful appearance.
Hindquarters are powerful with dogs boasting strong, well-muscled thighs and second thighs. Feet are compact, round in shape with well arched toes. Their tail is short and set low which dogs carry horizontally. It is thicker at the base, but tapers to the tip.
When it comes to their coat, the Bull Terrier boasts having a flat, short and harsh, yet glossy coat with a softer undercoat that typically grows during the colder winter months. Accepted breed colours include the following:
English Bull Terriers might look a bit ferocious thanks to them being so powerfully built, but in fact, these dogs boast wonderfully kind and friendly natures with the added bonus of them having a really keen sense of humour. They are also intelligent characters and need to be given the right amount of mental stimulation and daily exercise to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs.
They are not the best choice for first-time owners because they need to be well trained from a young age so they understand their place in "the pack" and who to look up to for direction and guidance. If they are not handled firmly yet fairly from a young age, the English Bull Terrier would soon start to show a more dominant side to their characters which is something to be avoided at all costs.
With this said, they are known to be placid and calm by nature although they can have a bit of a stubborn streak in them which is especially true of a dog when they have not received the right amount or sort of training needed from a young enough age. If an English Bull Terrier feels they are being threatened in any way, they will react, but would rarely be the first dog to show any sort of aggressive behaviour toward another dog. With this said, male Bull Terriers might just instigate a fight which is something that owners need to bear in mind when out walking their dog in a public place, but it really does depend on the dog and how well they have been socialised as to how they behave towards other dogs.
They are known to be real "people dogs" and as such English Bull Terriers do not like to be left to their own devices for extended periods of time which is why they are not the best choice of dogs for people who spend a lot of time out of the house. They are, however, a great choice for people who are familiar with this type of dog and where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out.
They are not the best choice for families with young children, but for people with older children, the English Bull Terrier would fit in well to the household becoming a valued and fun member to have around.
The English Bull Terrier is an intelligent character and they are capable of learning things relatively quickly. However, as previously mentioned they do have a bit of a stubborn streak in them which is why they are not the best choice for people who are not familiar with the breed or this type of dog. They do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavy handed training, but they do answer well to positive reinforcement and consistent training from someone they know they can look up to for direction.
English Bull Terriers are generally good around older children who know how to behave around dogs and therefore treat them with the sort of respect they need. However, they are not a good choice for people with young families and where there are toddlers in the household. With this said, any interaction between the kids and a dog should always be well supervised to make sure things stay nice and calm.
Male English Bull Terriers tend to be a little more aggressive towards other dogs than their female counterparts which is why it is so important for them to be well-socialised from a young age which has to involve introducing them to as many new situations, people and dogs as possible once they have been full vaccinated so they mature to be more relaxed when they are around other dogs and animals they may encounter.
Care needs to be taken when English Bull Terriers are around cats, small animals and pets because they might just view them as "fair game" thanks to their high prey drive which could end in a real disaster.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an English Bull Terrier is between 10 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like other breeds with white coats, the English Bull Terrier is prone to deafness, but more breeders are now screening their dogs before using them in a breeding programme which means the number of Bull Terriers with hearing issues is dropping. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Bull Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Thanks to their short, tight coats the English Bull Terrier is low maintenance on the grooming front. Their coats are no-fuss and need very little in the way of grooming although puppies need to be introduced to all the tools needed to keep their coats and skin looking good so they learn to enjoy a grooming session and the one-to-one attention they are given when they are being brushed. It’s particular important to touch and play with a puppy’s paws, their nails, ears and other parts of their body so when it comes to trimming nails, checking ears and doing other things to them, dogs don’t get stressed out.
Older dogs just need to be given the once over with a grooming mitt twice a week to keep their coats shiny and to check their skin for any signs of acne or other conditions the breed is known to suffer from. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
English Bull Terriers are active, energetic characters and as such they need to be given the right amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. The saying a "tired dog is a good dog" is never truer than when describing a Bull Terrier. They need to be given a minimum of two walks a day and be out for anything up to 2 hours. A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a much longer and more interesting walk in the afternoon is a must for these dogs.
They also benefit from being able to run around a back garden as often as they can on a daily basis, but the fencing has to be very secure to keep an English Bull Terrier in because if they find a weak spot, a dog would soon be out and off exploring.
With this said, young Bull Terrier puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs.
If you get an English Bull Terrier puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy an English Bull Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £400 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old English Bull Terrier in northern England would be £49.39 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £103.55 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an English Bull Terrier and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an English Bull Terrier would be between £90 to £160 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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