happy white english bull terrier lies on the lawn near the house. pets life. beautiful setting sun.

Bull Terrier: The Powerful Terrier

History of the Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier puppy
Weight: 50-70 pounds; Height: 21-22 inches; Lifespan: 12-13 years; Country: United Kingdom

Dog fighting and bullbaiting were once considered top forms of entertainment in Europe. The owners of these fighting dogs were constantly breeding various strains to create ever-better and more powerful dogs. The old English Terrier and the Bulldog were crossed in the early 1800s.

The Spanish Pointer was eventually introduced to the mix to give the animal greater size. A dog known as the “Bull and Terrier” was the result.

The outcome was a robust, quick, and tenacious canine that completely dominated the pits. Due to their link with “lower society,” these Bull and Terrier dogs gained popularity at fighting exhibitions but were never loved as popular for family pets.



James Hinks combined Dalmations with the Bull Terrier (BT) sometime in the 1860s. After dogfighting was outlawed, fans of the Bull and Terrier began to use them in competition with other dogs for show and aesthetic appeal. As a result, a breed of all-white canines was developed and named the Bull Terrier.

The all-white BTs enjoyed great success in the ring and quickly gained the interest of many people. They soon became a style statement for men searching for a handsome, rough, and manly dog to accompany them.



Recognition By The AKC

The Bull Terrier’s characteristic head shape began to develop via extra breeding. The all-white strain was crossed with Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the early 1900s to add various colors.

Ted Lyon and others introduced other colors in the early 20th century using Staffordshire Bull Terriers since the all-white breed had medical issues. In 1936, the AKC acknowledged white and colored Bull Terriers as a distinct breed.  Although brindle is the favored color (besides white), different hues are acceptable.



The Bull Terrier Club of America is the official AKC Parent Club for the breed.  The AKC recognized Bull Terriers in 1885, and they have been American favorites ever since.  The BT is part of the Terrier Group.  In 2021, the breed was 61st in AKC’s most popular breeds.


Bull TerrierAssertive, funny, and energetic are good words to describe the Bull Terrier’s personality and demeanor. These dogs are thought to have very high amounts of activity and be slightly naughty, like cats.

The BT can be difficult to train since they can be headstrong and want to do things their way. But remember that despite their reputation as rough guys, BTs are affectionate and family-oriented.  The BT started as a ferocious fighting dog but now is an amiable family pet.

These dogs can be trained to be outstanding watchdogs with the fighting capacity to defend their family should a physical confrontation be necessary, though, with enough time and the appropriate mindset.


When viewed from the front, the Bull Terrier’s head is described as having an “egg shape” because the top of the skull is practically flat. The profile softly bends downward from the top of the skull to the tip of the nose, which is dark and curved downward with well-developed nostrils.

Its lower jaw is powerful and deep. Small, black, and deep-set describe the distinctive triangular eyes.  Bull Terriers are the only dog breed with triangular eyes. The shoulders are large and muscular, and the body is round and full. A horizontal carry is used for the tail. They come in white, red, fawn, black, brindle, or a mix of these colors.

Caring For A Bull Terrier

 Bull TerrierThe short, flat, rough, and shiny coat of the Bull Terrier requires little upkeep. You should regularly check and clean its ears. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or hound glove to remove dirt and loose hair will keep the dog looking his best. Its nails also need attention since long nails can make the dog uncomfortable and make it difficult to walk or run.

Bull Terriers benefit from regular, moderate activity stimulating their bodies and minds, such as strolls with the family. The breed was created to be a gentleman’s companion and for sport, and it is solid and agile.

Participating in canine sports, including obedience, tracking, agility, and ability tests for coursing, is a fun method to manage the BT’s energy.

This dog can tolerate moderate heat and cold, making it suited for daytime outside living, but it should spend the night indoors with the family.

Healthcare Concerns

A healthy BT can live for 12 to 15 years on average. More than 20% of pure white Bull Terriers and 1.3% of colored Bull Terriers are deaf, which is frequently challenging to detect early on. Skin allergies are a common occurrence in Bull Terriers.

Flea, mosquito, and mite bites, among others, can cause a generalized allergic reaction that manifests as hives, redness, and itching. Patellar luxation is occasionally observed. However, the Bull Terrier seldom has it.

Famous Owners of BTs

Many famous people owned Bull Terriers. The Bull Terrier Pete was one of several dogs that President Theodore Roosevelt had. Pete garnered a lot of press because he bit a navy clerk and chased and bit the French ambassador.

Willie Patton, a Bull Terrier
Gen. Patton’s Bull Terrier Willie ca. 1944

General George S. Patton owned Willie, a Bull Terrier. Willie had once belonged to a deceased RAF pilot. Patton purchased the dog in England in 1944. When Willie fought with Dwight D. Eisenhower’s dog, Patton apologized and said that Willie would be confined to quarters because he was outranked.

This episode was included in the movie “Patton” starring George C. Scott.  In the movie, General Patton was humiliated when Wille, showing that “discretion is the better part of valor” (a line from a Shakespeare play), backed away from the fight.

BTs have also starred in movies and as mascots. Old Bodger, the oldest of the three animals, was portrayed by a female BT named Muffy in the 1963 film The Incredible Journey, based on Sheila Burnford’s book.

A bull terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye played the role of Spuds MacKenzie, a fictional character used for an advertising campaign promoting Bud Light beer in the late 1980s.

The current mascot of Target Corporation is Bullseye, a Miniature Bull Terrier who was formerly known as Spot.



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