10 things you need to know about the English bull terrier before you buy one

10 things you need to know about the English bull terrier before you buy one

Breed Facts

The English bull terrier is one of Britain’s favourite breeds and like the English bulldog, an unofficial symbol for all things British and the source of a lot of national pride for many people.

English bull terriers have a very distinctive appearance that is once seen never forgotten, and which can make them look quite imposing to the uninitiated too – but in fact, this is a dog breed that is very loving, gentle and affectionate as a rule, and that would much rather make friends and get some attention than get into a fight!

Dogs of the breed have very honest personalities too, and they are a breed that are easy to read, and generally clear about what they are feeling. This no-nonsense personality to match their no-nonsense appearance means that every year, a huge number of people fall for the breed and consider choosing an English bull terrier as a pet, and this of course means finding out more about them before committing to a purchase.

With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the English bull terrier before you buy one, to get you started with your research. Read on to learn more.

English bull terriers have a very unusual head shape

The English bull terrier is a very distinctive looking breed, with a very typical “bully” build which is heavily muscled, but with a unique convex head. This means a head across which the dome curves outwards not inwards, and which is often referred to as a shark head or egg-shaped head within the breed.

They combine many traits of both terrier breeds and bull breeds

The English bull terrier combines many of the core traits associated with both bull breeds and terrier breeds, being an independent streak, courage, a propensity to stubbornness, an honest personality, great strength, and a high prey drive.

All of their traits have their advantages and disadvantages, and need to be properly understood by their owners in order to get the best out of their dogs, as well as to keep them under control.

English bull terriers are quite costly to buy and keep

The English bull terrier is quite an expensive breed to buy, and at the time of writing (August 2019) the average asking price for English bull terriers for sale on Pets4Homes was £1,164 for pedigree dogs of the breed, and £859 for non-pedigrees.

This means that even non-pedigree specimens cost more than pedigrees of many other similarly sized breeds, and so they’re quite costly to buy in the first instance.

Additionally, English bull terriers can be costly to keep, as they have fairly large appetites and can also be expensive to insure.

The breed has a high level of deafness in its gene pool – particularly in white English bull terriers

Across the English bull terrier breed as a whole, there’s quite a high incidence rate of hereditary deafness – 1.3% in coloured dogs of the breed, but even more in white English bull terriers, where the rate jumps right up to over 20%, or one in five white dogs.

This is something all prospective English bull terrier buyers should be aware of, and check carefully when visiting litters. Health testing for deafness is strongly advised for English bull terrier breeders, so ask any breeder you might be considering buying from about their health testing protocols and results before making a purchase.

Their health in general can be complex

English bull terrier health as a whole is considered to be complex, and the breed has a number of other health challenges as well as potential deafness. The average lifespan of the English bull terrier is around 10-12 years, and as well as deafness testing, English bull terrier breed clubs also advise their members to undertake a number of other pre-breeding tests on their parent stock too.

Once more, investigate these in detail and talk to breeders at length before you make a decision on a purchase.

The English bull terrier is not one of the smartest dog breeds!

The English bull terrier falls right down in 124th place out of 138 different dog breeds on the Coren scale of canine intelligence, which places them in the very lowest group of all.

This means that training an English bull terrier is apt to take longer than for most breeds, and that they can usually only learn and retain a handful of commands and may be fairly patchy in their execution of them.

They are confident and can be dominant if poorly managed

The English bull terrier is a confident breed, and they’re not dogs that are easy to shake up or frighten. However, this confidence can manifest as dominance if not appropriately controlled and managed, and their need consistent handling, a good routine, and a fair leader that can win and keep the dog’s respect.

They tend to be highly personable and loving when correctly socialised

In the wrong hands, English bull terriers can be unreliable, dominant and even aggressive if they don’t get their way or feel that someone is taking liberties, but with the appropriate care and management and proper socialisation, they are gentle, personable dogs that love people.

They are notably nice with children that respect them (once more, assuming proper socialisation and supervision) and have calm, kind natures and are very affectionate.

They’re not a hugely high energy breed

The English bull terrier is, like many muscular bull breeds, not the liveliest of dogs. They can and will be playful at times like all dogs, but their exercise requirements are not too hard to meet, even by owners that are not super-fit or overly keen on long daily walks!

The English bull terrier needs at least two half-hour walks per day in order to thrive, but they are not likely to run you off your feet keeping up with them.

They are a versatile choice of pet for many different types of owners, but need an experienced handler

Because they’re not overly lively, are quite personable, don’t need masses of brushing and grooming and tend to get on well with everyone when properly managed and socialised, the English bull terrier is a good choice of dog for quite a range of different types of owners.

However, they do need an owner who is confident in handling such a breed, and that has the experience and know-how to keep them under control, happy and well behaved, as well as being able to spot and head off signs of potential dominance in the dog too.

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