Bull Terrier

Lifestyle Needs

Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier

The Bull Terrier is a medium sized, muscly dog who needs firm handling.  He will be loyal and faithful to his family and is usually fine with humans, but may not be friendly to other dogs.  This is a tough, challenging dog with a very macho image who needs an experienced owner.  Ideally he should live in a house with a garden and have twice daily exercise.  His short coat needs grooming occasionally. Average lifespan 7 years.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 14.8% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

  • The Bull Terrier has a nose shape which is not natural for a dog and which through selection has become extreme in some cases.  It would be best to avoid the more extreme type (although breed enthusiasts would probably tell you otherwise)
  • Inverted canine teeth (dental malocclusion)

BVA/KC Health Schemes: www.bva.co.uk/chs

Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disability):  breed mean score 7 (parents should be lower).  Note that very few dogs are hip scored in this breed and the mean score could be lower or higher.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Haemophilia B (Factor 1X deficiency)
  • Bull Terrier Polycistic Kidney Disease

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

  • BAER testing (for deafness)
  • Heart testing (Aortic stenosis; Mitral valve dysplasia)
  • Kidney testing (a urine creatinine ratio in excess of .3 g/g is considered a cause for concern)

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – cause intense itching, often leading to skin damage, infection and discomfort)  High incidence in this breed.
  • Shoulder osteochondrosis
  • Heart disease: Mitral valve dysplasia (heart murmur eventually causing heart failure and death); Aortic stenosis (narrowing of aortic artery which may lead to progressive heart disease)
  • Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap)
  • Hock osteochondrosis (abnormalities of bone and cartilege in hindleg  joint)
  • Cancer:  histiocytoma (cutaneous, benign)
  • Partial seizures (abnormal behaviour such as tail chasing, fear, aggression)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):  www.puppycontract.org.uk

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

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