Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers are mischievous, playful and endearing large-size dogs who are devoted to their family. They are strong, stubborn and independent dogs who are best handled by an experienced owner.
Recommended forFamilies with older children (requires an experienced handler)
Breed ClassificationTerrier group
Other namesBT
Lifespan10-14 years
TemperamentStubborn, loyal, independent, mischievous
Tendency to barkMedium
Maintenance LevelMedium
Health RiskHigh probability of health issues during its lifetime, hence it is one of the more expensive breeds to insure.

Insuring a Bull Terrier?

Get award-winning cover with more benefits and up to 80% of eligible vet bills reimbursed. Find out about your cover options.

Get a quick quote

Insuring a Bull Terrier?

Get award-winning cover with more benefits and up to 80% of eligible vet bills reimbursed. Find out about your cover options.

Get a quick quote

Breed history of Bull Terriers

A Bulldog-terrier cross called the Bull-and-Terrier was developed originally to hunt and kill vermin but was also engaged in dog fighting, where dogs mauled each other in indoor pits. The breed was a mix of the stout and muscular Old English Bulldog (now extinct) and the speedy and agile Manchester Terrier. The result was a fighter with the power of a Bulldog and the animation and fiery spirit of the terrier.

When pit fighting was banned in England in the mid 1800’s, the Bull Terrier became a fashionable companion for well-heeled young gentlemen of the time. Breeders further developed the breed to refine its looks and sweeten its nature, to make it more suited to its new role.

The modern Bull Terrier was first introduced at the Birmingham Show in May 1862. James Hinks was the owner and dealer and is widely considered to be the original breeder of the modern Bull Terrier. Hinks’s dogs were white, but by the early 20th century coloured Bull Terriers were seen. After its introduction in England, the breed quickly gained popularity and in 1887 the Bull Terrier Club was formed.

With the role of the Bull Terrier changing from hunter and fighter to companion dog, the breed was further developed to improve its temperament towards children.

Physical description of Bull Terriers

The Bull Terrier has a stout and muscular dog that reflects its agility and power.

It has a a very distinctive face, a unique, elongated head, erect, pointed ears and small, triangular-shaped eyes.

The Bull Terrier’s short, glossy coat comes in two types: either plain white, or any other colour, including the brindle striping pictured here, either solid or with white markings.

Weight range22 to 33 kg
Height range51 to 61 cm
Colourswhite or any other colour, either solid or with white markings
Coat lengthShort

Protect your loved ones

Sign up to get your first 2 months free and start saving on eligible vet bills!
Get a quick quote
Read more reviews

Bull Terrier personality and temperament

A popular companion for adults and families alike, the modern Bull Terrier is very loyal to its family, playful and good-natured. They will warm up to strangers after a brief friendly encounter or two.

The Bull Terrier is a stubborn, inquisitive, bold, independent and adventurous dog. The breed doesn’t need a lot of attention to remain happy, but they do require regular human contact and enjoy being inside the house. They, tend to suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for an extended period of time and may develop behavioural problems as a result.

Bull Terriers are very focused on their owners, thriving on body contact and interaction. Boisterous and energetic, they love a good play and can easily get overexcited; keeping a lid on their emotions isn’t a Bull Terrier’s strength. They might knock you over from sheer excitement or bark loudly and hysterically, but they don’t mean any harm – it’s just their way of showing their love for you.

There are four key aspects to the Bull Terrier’s happiness: early socialisation with dogs and people, firm but loving training, sufficient exercise, and lots of quality time with its favourite humans. If these needs are met, there is no more loyal, lovable, and entertaining companion.

Although the Bull Terrier’s original role was a fighter, today the dog has been developed over time to be a companion animal. Unfortunately, the breed is sometimes reputed to be dangerous or aggressive, largely because a number of attacks and behavioural issues that have been reported in other terrier sub-breeds, such as Pit-Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers.

Bull terrier dog breed Bow Wow Meow

Bull Terriers with kids and other pets

The modern Bull Terrier is known to show great affection and fondness to children. However, if a BT hasn’t had much contact with children from a young age it may not be very tolerant towards them.

It’s best to have a Bull Terrier in a family with older kids, though; their independent nature, high level of energy and physical strength can be difficult for younger children to manage. Supervision of young children with Bull Terriers is essential.

Bull Terriers are not recommended with other dogs of the same sex, as they may sometimes show aggression towards other animals, especially male BT’s towards other males. They tend to get along better with other dogs of the opposite sex, so a male will often get on with a female but not with another male.

If raised together from puppyhood, they can coexist with cats and other animals.

Bull Terrier training and exercise

Bull Terriers benefit from moderate daily exercise that provides physical and mental stimulation, such as long walks with the family. With their great strength and agility,  participation in canine sports such as agility, obedience, tracking, carting and coursing is a fun and enjoyable way to channel their energy.

The Bull Terrier is very trainable but a firm hand and clear communication are essential. To maintain authority, good consistent discipline is a must, but be aware, with their independent nature, stubbornness and good self-esteem, their owner’s commands may often be disregarded.

Bull Terriers are more likely to cooperate if they consider the activity to be fun rather than work. They learn best through play and thrive on positive reinforcement with food, toys or cuddles as rewards.

If trained in a positive manner with patience and humour, there is no limit to what Bull Terriers can learn to do. They can excel at a variety of dog sports as well as in roles such as bomb detection, search-and-rescue and as service and therapy dogs.


Energy levelHigh
Exercise requirementsHigh

Get 2 months free for your puppy!

Congrats on your new bundle of joy

To ensure your precious fur baby is covered from the start, we'd like to offer you 2 months free pet insurance in your first year2.
Get a quick quote

Bull Terrier feeding and nutrition

The Bull Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food that is appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and level of activity.

According to the AKC, Bull Terriers need a good diet that includes natural calcium, such as broccoli or plain yoghurt, especially when they are youngsters going through periods of rapid growth and bone development.

Bull Terriers are often quite food possessive and may show aggression towards other pets or humans who approach their meal. It’s best to leave them be to eat.

Treats can be an important aid in training a Bull Terrier, but some are prone to getting overweight, so watch your BT’s calorie consumption and weight level. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

Bull Terrier Lying Down Bull Terrier Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance

Bull Terrier care and grooming

Easy to groom and care for, the Bull Terrier’s short, flat, harsh, and glossy coat requires minimal maintenance. A weekly brushing with a soft brush or glove will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking its best.

BT’s can be prone to skin allergies, and if living outdoors, it’s recommended to give them a wash at least once a week.

Health issues for Bull Terriers

  • Patella luxation affects Bull Terriers quite often and is in simple terms a disorder that causes the dislocation of the kneecap.
  • Heart defects are quite common in Bull Terriers and can include cardiac valves that leak or valves that are too narrow to transport blood in the required amount. These defects can result in heart murmurs or irregular heartbeats. Symptoms to look out for include: coughing, lethargic behaviour, excessive weight loss or weight gain and distressed breathing. See a vet for assistance if you are observing any of these signs.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) affects both the Bull Terrier and the Miniature Bull Terrier. It’s a condition that is inherited and symptoms can start to show at a young age. PKD causes cysts of fluid to form in the kidneys, obstructing them from functioning properly. Look for symptoms such as poor appetite, vomiting, drinking excessively, dry or pale gums and lethargic behaviour.
  • Deafness occurs in Bull Terriers and can be detected from as early as four weeks of age. If you believe your Bull Terrier is suffering from a loss of hearing, your vet can perform some tests to determine the situation.

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

Pet Talk

Jam packed with news, tips and advice on how to provide the best possible care for your Bow Wow or Meow!

Bull Terrier facts!

  • United States General George S. Patton had a soft spot for Bull Terriers—they followed him to most grim of World War Two battlefields. His most famous was named Willie, short for William the Conqueror.
  • Target in the United States has used a Bull Terrier in a number of advertising campaigns, increasing the popularity of the breed with families.
  • Famous Bullies include General George Patton’s Willy; Rufus, the 2006 Westminster winner; and Bullseye, the Target mascot.

Get a quote


10% discount for multiple pets

Free engraved pet ID tag on sign up3

Customer Satisfaction

21 day cooling off
Life-long cover4
GapOnly® & easy claims


National Bull Terrier Council Australia: http://www.nbtca.com/

Bull Terrier Club of South Australia Inc: http://www.btcsainc.com/

Bull Terrier Club of WA Inc: http://www.btcwa.asn.au/

ACT Bull Terrier Club Inc: http://www.actbtc.com/

NSW & QLD Bull Terrier Rescue: http://www.australianbullterriers.com/

Victorian Bull Terrier Rescue: http://www.vbtrinc.com/

We're here to help you be a better pet parent

Download our free Rescue Dog guide

Choosing to rescue a dog means giving an animal a second chance in life. This comprehensive guide, developed by professional trainers, aims to help make the transition to life in your home as successful as possible for your dog and your family.
Download guide