Bull Arab

Recommended for: Hunting, guarding and farm living
Maintenance Level: Medium (Low for health & grooming, high for training & supervision)
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Active, independent, even-tempered, kind
Health Risk:
This breed is in the lower risk category for developing health issues but higher risk for accidents.
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Breed Overview

Also known as the Australian Pig Dog or Aussie Pig Dog, the Bull Arab is a medium-to-large dog of Australian origin that was specifically bred to create the ultimate dog to track, chase and kill wild boars. Bull Arabs were originally created by crossing Bull Terrier, Greyhound and German Shorthaired Pointer, while later lines have been further enhanced by the inclusion Bloodhound and Mastiff.

The Bull Arab is a tough, active dog with an excellent balance of power, speed and endurance. An exceptional hunting dog, it is mainly found in Australia where it is still frequently used as a working dog to hunt wild pigs and other feral animals. Its excellent tracking abilities have also been utilised for Search and Rescue missions.

Bull Arabs are loyal and even-tempered, making them excellent guard dogs and companions. They are friendly towards familiar adults and children and can be valuable members of the family. However, as working dogs, they are designed for an active lifestyle and require plenty of exercise to avoid potential behaviour problems, which entails a long daily walk to keep them happy and well-behaved.

As dominant and potentially aggressive hunters, Bull Arabs are best suited to an assertive and experienced owner. They require plenty of early socialisation and obedience training from a skilled trainer with a strong leadership role. Even so, they will need to be carefully supervised around other animals and strangers.

The breed is characterised by its size, strength, stamina, athleticism and agility. The weight of an adult Bull Arab is around 32 to 42 kg. Their bodies are tall, sturdy and muscular with the adult male typically 63 to 69 cm tall and the female slightly smaller, from 61 to 66 cm in height. The head and muzzle are strong and powerful. They have strong hind legs designed for long bursts of fast running, as well as digging in when they get a hold of their prey.

Most Bull Arabs’ coats are predominantly white or cream with darker patches, but they may also be liver, black, red, buckskin, blue, silver, tan and brindle. Liver-coloured Bull Arabs are highly desirable; these almost always have a liver or red nose. Their eye colour depends on their coat colour. Some lines have docked tails; if not, the tail is long, tapering to a fine point.

Their short, soft and smooth double-coats are low-maintenance, well-suited to the high temperatures of the Australian outback, and resistant to many of the bugs and parasites that are found there. They are average shedders, requiring weekly brushing with a firm bristle brush, and bathing is only required when necessary, making them low maintenance in the grooming department.

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Personality and Temperament

The Bull Arab is very active and energetic breed, and daily outdoor exercise is essential. When kept indoors or confined to an average-size yard, these dogs tend to be somewhat laid-back and inactive, which can lead to an accumulation of pent-up energy. This may manifest in destructive behaviours such as chewing, whining, excessive barking and even destruction of property.

The breed is head-strong, bold and overly confident, so training is essential to keep them out of trouble and owners will need to expend time and resources to maintain and monitor its behaviour. They are high-energy working dogs that require a lot of specific training to curb their extremely strong hunting instincts.

The breed needs to learn critical socialisation skills from its siblings and the mother for the first eight weeks after birth. Thereafter, continued and targeted socialisation and obedience training from an early age are vital to keep their potential aggression in check. Bull Arabs have a strong instinct to hunt and without early training they will pose a danger to other animals including neighbourhood pets and strangers.

Because of their strong hunting instincts, Bull Arabs tend to chase both smaller and larger animals and livestock and can attack and even kill sheep or other medium-sized animals. They also tend to dominate other dogs. Additionally, several attacks on people in several states of Australia have been allegedly attributed to the breed. Therefore, when around strangers, both of the human kind and other animals, a Bull Arab should always be strictly supervised, and it is recommended to always leash or properly secure the breed when outdoors. It is easier to manage a Bull Arab when there are no other pets in the home and no wild animals in the vicinity.

The Bull Arab requires a firm hand to control; owners and trainers should not allow the dog to dominate them. Experience, confidence and patience are also essential qualities when training and managing the breed. The trainer needs to be firm, serious and unintimidated by the dog to gain trust, respect and obedience from the Bull Arab. They may not be suitable pets for first-time dog owners; however, in the hands of expert dog trainers, they can be top-notch search-and-rescue dogs.

If well trained and socialised, Bull Arabs can make excellent family pets, being very kind, loyal and obedient companions, energetic playmates and superb watch dogs. Despite their drive to hunt, they are remarkably even-tempered and calm (when not on the trail of wild boars or wandering sheep) and they can be trained to remain relatively restrained around other animals.

They are a versatile breed, making great companions, excellent watch dogs and have enduring stamina and desire to play. They also like to perform tasks independently, have a busy character and, on the negative side, can be bad-tempered, dominant, stubborn, and overly confident. However, unlike many other breeds of hunting dog, they are generally regarded as a suitable breed for families and are known to be playful and affectionate around children.

Common Bull Arab Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

The Bull Arab is regarded as a healthy breed, and generally requires only routine vaccinations and check-ups to maintain optimal health. Having originated from a combination of three or more dog breeds, the Bull Arab has a large gene pool; therefore, the breed typically experiences very few genetic conditions. However, Bull Arabs may suffer from a few health problems, such as:

  • Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a general term for neurological disorders that bring on sudden and repeated seizures.  A seizure, also known as a ‘fit’, is an abnormal, uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy is characterised by a pattern of repeated seizures over time, often occurring during rest or sleep, either at night or early morning. Most seizures last between 5 and 60 seconds but some may be as long as several minutes. They can occur with or without a loss of consciousness.
    Typically, the animal will stiffen and fall on its side, where it will salivate, chew at its mouth, paddle its limbs, release its bladder or bowels and/or cry out. After a seizure, the animal may appear confused and disoriented, and recovery can take from a few minutes to up to 24 hours.
    Many different underlying diseases and other contributing factors can cause seizures, including genetics, exposure to toxins, trauma, or epilepsy may be ‘ideopathic’, of unknown origin. Younger dogs usually have more severe occurrences of epilepsy than older ones.
    In most cases, epilepsy in dogs cannot be cured. The ultimate goal of treatment is to maintain a seizure-free status without causing intolerable side effects.
  • Primary lens luxation (PLL)This is a disorder that is characterised by weakening or breaking of the supportive ligaments of the lens of the eye, causing the lens to dislocate from its normal position. This disorder is very painful for the dog and, depending on the movement of the lens, it can cause blindness.
    This disorder usually occurs in dogs 3 to 6 years old. For those affected, 6 monthly veterinary check-ups are needed to evaluate and monitor their eye condition.
    Weakness of the lens ligaments is known to be hereditary in the terrier breeds (the Bull Arab is 50% Bull Terrier in origin).
  • Cataracts: This is an opacity or cloudiness in the lenses of the eye, which can be complete or partial. Dogs with more than 60 percent opacity in their lens can have partial blindness or complete loss of vision. Cataracts usually occur in both eyes, with the condition being more common in dogs than in any other species.
    While the condition is often inherited, infections or toxins may cause the formation of cataracts while the puppies are still in utero. Cataracts is a progressive disease and if not treated, can result in blindness. The most suitable mode of treatment is early surgery.
  • Cryptorchidism: This is a condition in which one or both of the dog’s testicles fail to descend to the scrotum and are retained in the abdomen or the inguinal region. The descent of the dog’s testicles to the scrotum usually occurs by two months of age and should be confirmed by your vet during the first puppy examination.
    If left untreated, the disorder can cause testicular torsion, a painful and complicated condition, and can also lead to testicular cancer. Neutering and removal of the retained testicle(s) are recommended as soon as possible.
  • Bloat: Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand. The stomach puts pressure on other organs. It can cause dangerous problems, including respiratory problems and lack of blood flow to the heart and stomach lining. Additionally, the pressure can lead to a rupture.
    Symptoms of bloat may include an enlarged stomach, drooling, walking around, panting, and pained sounds. Excessive drinking, overeating, or exercising your dog immediately after a meal worsen the condition.
    Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex, is a medical and surgical emergency. Even in the mildest cases, which is extremely rare, dogs die without treatment.

Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

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    The Bull Arab originated in Australia in the 1970’s, where it is predominantly a working dog that is used to hunt feral pigs in rural areas. Although a recent breed with a short history, there is never-the-less some debate about its origins.

    One of the more plausible and well accepted theories is that the Bull Arab was developed by a breeder named Mike Hodgens, who was apparently experimenting with finding a better pig and herding dog. Hodgens was looking for a large dog that had strength, speed, agility, good tracking skills, and could be relied upon during hunts.

    It is generally accepted that the Bull Arab is 50% Bull Terrier, selected for its tenacity and bite strength, 25% Greyhound for speed, sight and athleticism, and 25% German Shorthaired Pointer (or possibly English Pointer) for its scenting ability, intelligence and silence whilst hunting. Interestingly, the “Arab” part of the breed’s name came about from the belief by some that instead of Greyhound, the Saluki – one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds and the royal dog of Ancient Egypt was used.

    Hodgens has not confirmed how the breed was produced; he stopped breeding it in the early 1980’s. Thereafter, other breeders stepped in and continued to enhance the breed, making it the top-rated pig-hunting dog in Australia. For example, Queensland breeder Peter Paulsen added 12.5% Bloodhound to sharpen the dog’s scent ability as well as increase its stamina and harden its foot pads; this strain is often called the “Paulsen Bull Arab”.

    The main variations of the Bull Arab now include:

    • The New South Wales (NSW) line, which had English Mastiff bred into them, making them larger, and their tails were docked, in order to deal with the region’s mountain pigs.
    • The Queensland (QLD) line, which had Bloodhound introduced to the bloodline to have a better scent ability. A further split in the QLD variety exists between the Paulsen Bull Arabs and those known as the Fortini Bull Arabs.
    • Those that remain true to the originally produced line, but these appear to be in short supply as they are thought to be inferior to the newer varieties.

    As a result of the crossbreeding of multiple breeds, individual Bull Arab dogs today may have varying dominant characteristics. For instance, one dog might have predominantly inherited the speed and sight of a Greyhound while another might have the power of the Bull Terrier.

    Although the Bull Arab is widely considered to be one of the best hunting breeds in Australia, the breed is not at this time recognised with the Australian National Kennel Council and most global dog associations have yet to recognise the breed officially other than the Dog Registry of America (DRA).

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    Bull Arab Facts!

    • This breed was created to catch wild pigs at close range (less than 1 km) and clear out feral animals from properties in Queensland, Australia.
    • The breed is now well-established as the number 1 pig hunting breed in Australia, both in terms of popularity and notoriety.
    • The breed is known for its stamina, strength, and superior tracking ability and has been used as police dogs and for search and rescue missions in Victoria.
    • The Bull Arab is rarely found outside Australia.
    • The females can birth around seven to nine puppies at a time.
    • The breed is also known as Australian Pig dog or Aussie Pig dog.

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