American Bull Terrier Characteristics

Dog white bull terrier breed portrait close-up in profile in the garden on a background

The American bull terrier is a loving breed perfect for family life. They love their families and children so much, however, that they need lots of attention and don’t do well when left alone for long stretches of time. It’s hard to say no to their adorable oval faces, but you’ll need to learn how if you’re going to keep your bull terrier out of trouble. Here are some characteristics of the breed you should know about if you’re considering an adoption.


Size and Lifespan

With a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, bull terriers make excellent companions. Both males and females stand about 18 to 22 inches tall at maturity, with males weighing in a bit heavier than females. Healthy males weigh between 55 and 65 pounds while females weigh between 45 and 55 pounds.


American Bull Terrier Obedience and Training

Bull terriers are smart dogs. Though they are capable of learning and following several commands, they don’t always feel the need to go along with your agenda. It’s best to start training this breed as early as you can so he gets used to doing things the way you want. Prepare yourself for a bit of a stubborn streak, however, and some periodic mischief. First-time dog owners can do well with the breed but may want to consider some obedience classes.


Getting Along

If you’re looking for a good guard dog, the bull terrier is not the one for you. These love bugs are very affectionate with their owners and are just as loving toward strangers. They get along great with children and tolerate cats but need proper socialization at an early age in order to play well with other dogs. If you already have a dog, make sure you don’t adopt a bull terrier unless and until the two dogs have met and decided to be friends.


Exercise Requirements

Playful and energetic, bull terriers need daily walks and some time to romp. A big yard to run in is a plus, as are some children to run with. The breed can adapt to apartment living, but only if they get daily walks and frequent visits to the dog park. Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 program compares the breed to “a 3-year-old in a dog suit,” so expect a fairly high energy level that will find trouble if not properly guided and directed.



Unfortunately, bull terriers are prone to a handful of health problems that can require special care. Always check puppies for deafness and be prepared for the possibility of heart and kidney problems as well as some knee issues. Skin allergies are fairly common in the breed, as well. Not every individual will suffer these maladies, of course, but these are the issues you may encounter as a bull terrier ages.



Short, coarse hair makes grooming a bull terrier easy. A quick brushing every once in awhile and a weekly bath are all this breed typically needs. Bull terriers are naturally clean dogs who don’t produce a strong dog odor and need very little help from their owners to stay clean. Dogs will shed some hair all year long but the bull terrier is a seasonal shedder, losing hair mostly in the spring as winter weather subsides.


Other Considerations

Unlike some breed, bull terriers don’t feel the need to talk often. These dogs will bark when given a reason to but won’t howl all day and annoy your neighbors. They do, however, have a high prey drive and may wander off if distracted by a squirrel or an interesting scent. The best way to curb this wanderlust it to leash your pet at all times or keep him in a securely fenced yard. Periodically, mischief and mayhem will find your American bull terrier. The flip side of this trait is a dog who will always be up for a play session.

If you have a fair amount of free time or a large family full of playmates, an American bull terrier could be the breed for you. Keep in mind, however, that he’ll need quite a bit of attention and, though entertaining with his antics, will find trouble every once in awhile. If you can tolerate a bit of impish behavior now and then, an American bull terrier will make a fun, loyal and loving companion.


  1. Thank you for this detailed article. I’m glad the writer pointed out that even short-haired dogs shed, as folks who want to adopt a dog need to know things like that. I do want to comment that any dog who will “howl all day and annoy your neighbors” is a dog who is outdoors by itself too much.

    One other point (that I think is kind of important here) is that the dog in the lead photo isn’t a Bull Terrier.

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