Some of you may remember the Bull Terrier that was the face of a famous American lager back in the 1990s. Unlike that simple beer, Bull Terrier care is complicated and requires a lot of attention. While they were originally bred to be vicious fighters, you will find that, with proper care, training, and socialization, they will be very friendly with people, eager to learn new tricks, and always ready for exercise. On this page, you can learn some basics about raising a Bull Terrier.
Bull Terriers have a remarkable range to reach maturity. A typical first year of the Bull Terrier growth rate tends to happen in the puppy stages. When it comes to years 1 through 4, however, it can be uneven. They can reach full adulthood in as short as a year or take as long as nearly four years. Even those that appear to be fully grown in their first year might experience a later growth — physically, mentally or both — later in life. It's best to continue a constant regime of training, socialization, and close observation to make sure your Bull Terrier doesn't experience an unsupervised period of growth after that first year.
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|2 weeks||Eyes open, ears start hearing and yet they will sleep a lot even as they occasionally stagger around|
|3 weeks||Puppy teeth start to appear and barking might start as well as litter mates begin to interact|
|4-6 weeks||Rapid growth and the time for careful human social interaction should begin. Sensitivity increases too, so be sure to not startle the puppies at this point|
|7 weeks||Attempts to run should occur, and this is when the first shots should be done. Weaning begins.|
|8-10 weeks||Puppies may now be separated but only after being weaned (which should be completed by the 8th week). Lots of gentle playtime with humans should be happening, and any activity should also allow for immediate rest if puppy stops playing|
|11 weeks||This is the prime time for the first fear impact (or imprint, or response) period.|
|12-16 weeks||Independence will take root and be exhibited. Growth spurts, some defiance, sexual maturity, adult teeth, and the adult coat will start.|
|4-6 months||Significant growth and the testing of authority will take place greatly, and you will be challenged. Sexual maturity advances rapidly, and this is when the hierarchy becomes essentially concrete. The second fear imprint period begins.|
|8-13 months||Time for spaying or neutering, and the second (and final) fear imprint period should end|
|1-2 years||Maturity may be nearly fully reached at this point|
Bull Terriers are remarkably hardy dogs, but as puppies they are like all dogs: still growing and easily susceptible to injury if prodded to be too active. There should be no exercise prior to 8 weeks. After that, very short walks punctuated by stops during which training and leisure take place are strongly recommended. As the weeks become months, gradually increasing the length of walks until he is at least 1 year old is essential to helping prevent bone fractures and unseen injuries that will crop up later in life. After sexual maturity has been reached, then the heavy exercise may begin. Once that mile marker has been passed, you will need to ratchet up the activity.
Bull Terriers should never be left unrestrained, whether by being inside, in a very secure yard, or on a leash. These dogs run hard, fast, and unexpectedly, and you won't be able to catch them once they burst from the figurative starting gate. If you opt for dog parks, don't do so until he has been properly socialized and trained. This breed is a bit territorial in the best of times, and you don't want them bringing their historical abilities to bear on other dogs.
This is a highly active breed that needs nearly constant movement to burn off all that energy. While they are no longer the fighting dogs of yore, they are still little packages of dynamite that, if left to build up, will explode in unbridled anxiety. This will lead quickly to all sorts of behavior problems that can result in injury to your Bull Terrier, other pets, property, and people. Here are some Bull Terrier exercises that will help keep him healthy and happy:
- Walks: This is a staple, but it is not the only exercise these dogs should partake. At least two walks a day of no less than 30 minutes is recommended.
- Running: If you are a jogger, this can be done in place of walking. It's best to not do this on uneven terrain or where there may be wild animal dangers.
- Swimming: Bull Terriers are not water dogs, but they will enjoy shallow water in which they can remain standing.
- Fetch: This is great fun for Bull Terriers, and they will probably tire you out before they stop!
- English Bull Terrier muscle building: This is not difficult, but it must be done gradually. Using bricks, a harness, and most anything that can slide on the ground with those bricks (or other ballast) on it is fine. Start with one-fourth of his weight and add a pound or two every week. Don't do this, however, until they are at least 1 year old.
Don't forget the mental activity too! If it's raining or you are short on time, hide snacks around the house. Put them in places where they can be smelled but not seen, and let him go. You can also build a simple, low PVC frame (about 4-6 inches high) with a blanket attached as the "bed" and a second blanket into which snacks are folded. This can provide mental and some physical activity as he searches out the snacks. There are also complex agility food puzzles that you can get. You should also use exercise time to continue training and socialization. Control the door when exiting and entering for walks, and be sure to always lead while walking him.
Whereas Bull Terriers require terrific exercise, they make up for all that by being low-maintenance dogs in the shedding and drooling departments.
After a heavy exercise session, there may be a slight bit of drool when they pant or from the water they drink. This should be no problem and should quickly stop. If he drools a lot or continuously, however, it could be one of many issues depending on the color, thickness, and volume of the slobber. It could be merely a burr stuck in the mouth, or it could be as serious as something toxic he ate. It could also be something between that is not too serious but nevertheless requires your attention to resolve the issue at the vet. You will also want to make sure that it's not a diet concern, such as new food or snack, or an infection from plastic or unclean water or food bowls.
A quick brushing every day with a brush such as the Furminator will go a long way to reducing what little they do shed — except for their twice-annual blowout, when the fur will fly thick. This breed has a short coat, but they will shed. If you have a dog whose coat color is different from your furniture, you may find some hair here and there. You should have no problem getting these dogs to sit still for a somewhat harsh wire brush, however, as they will love the attention and sensation! Ultimately, English Bull Terrier shedding is a minor task to deal with.
Bull Terriers are ravenous dogs who can burn off much of what they eat, and they need a lot more food than most dogs for that very energy. Still, these are not dogs who should be allowed to free-feed (meaning that food must not be left out for them all day). It's highly recommended to train them to understand they have a limited time to eat — but not too limited. With Bull Terrier puppy food, 20 minutes three or four times a day is said to be best for this breed. As puppies or adults, if they are neither fat (nor finished after 20 minutes), don't take away the food. Not only might you get growled at or bitten, you might prompt him to wolf down his food. This habit can occur quickly and it can lead to bloat, which is medically known as gastric torsion and can too often be painfully fatal. Bull Terriers grow very quickly until abut 10 months to 1 year of age, and yet there is a wide range of weight they may be at any given age while puppies. It's best to consult your vet if you think your Bull Terrier puppy is overweight.
Below is a basic Bull Terrier feeding guide:
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|8 Weeks||10-12 lbs||Moistened dry||1 cup||3-4 times/day|
|Age||15-21 lbs||Moistened dry||1.5 cups||3-4 times/day|
|Age||28-32 lbs||Moistened dry||1.5 cups||3-4 times/day|
|Age||35-45 lbs||Moistened dry||1.5 cups||2-3 times/day|
|Age||45-55 lbs||Dry/wet||1 cup||2-3 times/day|
|Age||65-75 lbs||Dry/wet||1 cup||2 times/day|
Although Bull Terriers will eat a lot and constantly if allowed, they can burn it off too — provided they are sufficiently active. Lots of strenuous exercise is rarely the case, however, and it is easy to end up quickly with a fat Bull Terrier. While there are no real Bull Terrier food types, you should make sure that there is the right amount of proteins, fats, and carbs for his lifestyle. Active dogs like these need a fair amount of these ingredients, and proteins should be the first three ingredients of any commercial dog food you get. Of course, if you are very active and are wanting an exceptionally muscular Bull Terrier, there are special feeding charts that your breeder and vet can suggest. If you prefer the raw diet (such as the BARF: Bones And Raw Food), you should be aware that too much protein and fat can easily be dished out. You should also know that Bull Terriers have extremely strong jaws and that the "bones" part is not recommended as these dogs can easily break those bones and swallow the splinters. (Most dogs tend to only chew bones.)
Just as there is a wide range of adult English Bull Terrier sizes, so too are there many diets that will vector with what is best for him, what your budget will allow, and what he'll eat. As this breed is not an easy one to own due to the exercise, training, and socialization requirements, it should come as no surprise that it is no less easy to choose among kibble, wet, and raw food diets. Most Bull Terrier breeders and owners will advise you to choose a raw food diet but that care must be taken when doing so. As for the best dog food for Bull Terriers, that is even more complicated yet should not stop you from a careful trial and error to find it.