How To Breed Bull Terriers – Background, Health, Litter Management, etc.

how to breed bull terriers

Wondering how to breed Bull Terriers? In this guide, you’ll learn why you need to focus on socializing them from a young age, why first time dog owners don’t go well with Bull Terriers, and how to ensure you breed a healthy dog.

As a Bull Terrier breeder, you’ll need to decide whether you want to breed family dogs, or guard dogs for security or the military. You’ll need to invest money and time into the process, but the payout and satisfaction is more than worth the effort.

Background of the Bull Terrier

The Bull Terrier is a purebred dog breed with a loaded history. The breed has come to life thanks to being a cross from Bull-type and Terrier-type breeds in the previous century.

Bull and Terriers

In the early 19th century, breeders began to breed Old English Bulldogs with Old English Terriers. The idea was to create a breed that would be as sturdy as the Bulldog and agile like a terrier. The byproduct of these dogs gave birth to a breed called Bull and Terriers. A fierce dog breed that fought with intelligence and strength in combat. These new terriers were raised for blood sports, which were rampant during those older times. Bull Terriers back then were also used as a way to control vermin.

However, Bull and Terrier breeders failed to preserve this beautiful and high-value breed. Despite these dogs being recognized for their many talents, their gene pool was diluted slowly, and the breed was on the brink of extinction.

Hinks Terrier

In the 1890’s is when a man called James Hinks stepped in. Thanks to him, we still have Bull Terriers around. Mr. Hinks taught us how to breed Bull Terriers the right way. He wanted to improve how the breed looked, so he crossbred his Bull and Terrier with an English White Terrier. Now with this dog, he entered a dog show held in Chelsea and the rest is history. The new cross-breed was known as the Hinks Terrier, and its popularity grew from there!

Newer sub-breeds were created using the Hinks Terrier as a primary breed. While James Hinks wanted his dogs white, others experimented a little with colors. This experimentation was essential because all-white Bull Terrier breeding was starting to lead to health issues due to repeated inbreeding.

Over time, colored sub-breeds became more and more accepted. Red, Modern Colored, Brindle & White and even Miniature Bull Terriers are breeds that most families own as pets. Even the AKC started accepting Bull Terriers in various colors gradually.

James Hinks, the father of the breed, with two of his Bull Terriers
James Hinks, the father of the breed, with two of his Bull Terriers

Popularity

The Bull Terrier ranks 57th out of 193 dog breeds on the latest AKC breed popularity ranking. It is definitely not one of the most populars breeds in North America but it has its devoted following.

Breeding Bull Terriers guarantees a lot of success. They are extremely family friendly and can live with big families in complete harmony. These agile and active dogs are bursting with energy and make fantastic pets for families with children.

Unique Appearance

His egg-shaped head, or the shark head as it is popularly known, is one of the most defining features of the Bull Terrier. The top of their scalp appears almost flat, profiling slightly towards the nose. They have small triangular eyes, which is their second most defining characteristic.

Bull Terriers generally have a stout and strong, muscular body. While Hinks wanted all-white Terriers, a lot of Bull Terriers and Miniature Bull Terriers are found in shades of brown, auburn, fawn, brindle and black.

While some may believe that these unique features were evolutionary in a Bull Terrier, that’s far from the truth. These distinctive features are man-made. Breeding Bull Terriers was an evolving process, where many dogs were added to the mix to add a look of elegance, including Dalmatians, Collies, and Borzois. The recognizable features of the Bull Terrier and the Miniature Bull Terrier are all thanks to that mixed bag.

Temperament of Bull Terriers

The Bull Terrier doesn’t just have a strong physique but a strong head too. They can be very stubborn if not tamed early on. Bull Terriers are the result of years of crossbreeding—so obviously, they have a mixed bag of genes, which makes them slightly unpredictable at times.

Apart from being great at wearing the kids out, Bull Terriers can also act as very able protectors for the children. They can guard homes and are very well suited for military and security work.

However, Terriers tend to be stubborn and strong-headed, and if they’re not well-trained, they can become anti-social. If kept isolated, they tend to attack other animals and cannot cohabitate with other pet dogs if not trained to do so from the beginning. Also bear in mind that Bull Terriers, being the result of years of outcrossing, have a slightly unpredictable temperament. But what makes them popular with families is the fact that they are easily trained and very obedient.

So, if you’re a breeder dealing in Bull Terriers, make sure that you can check the ancestral legacy of the dog and see how well-trained the parents of the litter were. From a young age, try and have them professionally trained to become family dogs. If dealt with in a proper manner, Bull Terriers can truly excel as family pets as well as working dogs – they’re super versatile.

Stubbornness

Bull Terriers are obedient and intelligent. They will not just blindly follow orders. This trait makes them useful as they have that decision-making brain, but it can also be threatening. If not trained right, their intelligence can soon turn to stubbornness.

Bull Terriers can become prone to refusing orders and displaying aggression when things don’t go the intended or expected way. This is what turns a playful and friendly dog into an angry and aggressive one.

A first-time dog owner cannot handle the unpredictability of a Bull Terrier and will eventually end up with a frustrated and irritable dog in the house. As a breed, Bull Terriers need to go to families who are used to having a dog around.

As a breeder, it is your responsibility to make sure that your Bull Terriers are placed in the right kind of families. If they’re given the right environment, they can really flourish. Their stubbornness can be used smartly and productively. With enough activity and exercise and a large amount of patience, a Bull Terrier can turn into a brilliant working family dog.

Bad Reputation

Any breed can show signs of aggression. The most tender looking dogs can also display signs of aggression when put through testing times and similarly, the fiercest of dogs may display patience in a trying situation. Scientific research published by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior confirmed this. Researchers conducted a study on a group of dog breeds that had been listed as aggressive.

When put through situations that tested their patience, only 5% of dogs were found to behave aggressively. The same study was then carried out on Golden Retrievers, a breed known for its calm and subdued nature. Almost 40% of the dogs in this study showed signs of aggression. As a result of this study, the ban on listed dog breeds was lifted.

The conclusion to this is clearly that no behavior is breed-specific. It all comes down to the training that they receive. In the case of Bull Terriers, the mixed gene pool only contributes to their unpredictability.

The Bull Terrier gets its bad reputation from its unusual appearance. For the general audience, their face looks rather threatening and somewhat scary. Otherwise, the Bull Terrier is the perfect combination of family and guard dog. It is loving, tender, dependable, and intelligent. If the Bull Terrier’s intelligence is harnessed well, it can make for a fantastic companion. However, lack of exercise and socialization can make him an irritable and anti-social dog.

Miniature Bull Terriers vs. Standard Bull Terriers

Unlike other dog breeds, where the miniature versions are created after the standard ones, Miniature Bull Terriers were created well before the standard Bull Terrier was first created. The other difference between the Miniature Bull Terrier and a standard Bull Terrier is obviously, the size.

The Miniature Bull Terrier is a mix of the now extinct English Terrier, English Bulldog, and Dalmatian. Back then, the Miniatures were simply called, Bull Terriers. It was years later when some breeders wanted bigger dogs that the existing breed was mated with Spanish Pointers to successfully create the larger version.

The AKC accepts Miniature Bull Terriers that are up to 14 inches in height. While for standard Bull Terriers the upper height limit is 21-22 inches. There are no specific weight restrictions, as long as the weight is in proportionate to the dog’s height.

In terms of looks, there is very little difference. The prominence of the head and eyes hold true in Miniature Bull Terriers too. However, they have a softer and more playful face than their larger version. Their coat is short and glossy just like the standard Bull Terrier, however, they look more like Spitz due to their small size.

bull terrier colors
There’s a variety of accepted colors for Bull Terriers.

Even though the AKC has not attributed any weight specifications to this breed, they tend to weigh no more than 15 kg.

Breeding Miniature Bull Terriers is now very popular amongst breeders as they can fetch a high price. If the dog you have bred belongs to a grand genetic lineage, you might just fetch more than you think.

Interbreeding

Interbreeding is the term used when a Miniature Bull Terrier mates with a standard-sized Bull Terrier.

Most breeders do this to save their Miniature Bull Terriers from an inherited genetic disease called primary lens luxation, which essentially means bulging of the eye. In this disorder, the eye pops out from the socket and becomes disoriented, making the dog’s appearance and eyesight both go awry.

Interbreeding can help prevent this condition as the standard Bull Terrier does not carry the gene that causes this luxation. Mixing the gene pool ensures that the miniature litter does not face the same issues. However, interbreeding of Bull Terriers can only be done for a limited number of times.

Health Concerns While Breeding Bull Terriers

A healthy Bull Terrier can fetch a lifespan of around 11 to 14 years. Miniature Bull Terriers tend to live longer than the standard-sized Bull Terriers. Active dogs often live longer.

Bull Terriers are prone to eye disorders, like primary lens luxation. This is a major problem in the breed overall. Minor health complications like kidney disease, heart function problems, and allergies are also seen in Bull Terriers.

Deafness

Hearing loss or difficulty in hearing is known to affect almost 18% of Bull Terriers across the world. These hearing issues could either be unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both the ears).

Unilateral deafness in Bull Terriers is pretty manageable, assuming that a certified vet regularly checks up on the dog. In order to confirm whether the pups in your litter or the pup you are taking home has healthy hearing, it’s crucial to have performed the BAER Test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) on the puppies. This test determines whether a puppy is deaf, and if it is, to what degree. The BAER Test must be performed before a puppy turns five weeks old.

Skin Reactions

Bull Terriers are prone to skin conditions more than other dog breeds are. Their immunity system is wired in such a way that even a small mosquito bite or a flea bite can have them itching all over. They may also develop a rash and show symptoms of widespread inflammation.

Any unusual development on the dog’s skin should be reported immediately before it gets worse, otherwise, it can be extremely painful for them. Usually, a vet will suggest topical treatment, depending on how bad the reaction is. In severe cases, the vet may prescribe a topical immunosuppressant too.

Whatever you do, never use any human medication on your Bull Terrier! The products prescribed by your vet are specially formulated to suit the Terrier’s sensitive skin.

Acrodermatitis

A good breeder will always recognize the early signs of acrodermatitis in Bull Terriers. Acrodermatitis is a fatal disease, which results in an early death for the Bull Terrier. It causes the dog’s skin to thicken and sore blisters begin to erupt everywhere on the body.

Slowly, the body organs start to slow down and growth of the dog is stumped. Blisters, pustules, and lesions are very common in this disease. You may even notice nasal discharge, deformed nails, and splayed legs. As well as these symptoms, other health issues arise alongside acrodermatitis such as diarrhea and bacterial infections.

This is a hereditary disease and you can prevent any future pain by doing a simple DNA test on the puppies and determining which ones are prone to acrodermatitis.

Patellar Luxation

The kneecap or the patella is a thick skeletal organ that protects the knee joints from constant wear and tear. However, for Bull Terriers, and even the Miniature Bull Terrier, the patella can be a curse.

A Bull Terrier has very high chances of suffering from patellar luxation—this is when the kneecap has fallen out. A slight misalignment of the limbs at birth or later trauma is what causes this excruciatingly painful disease. If your dog is limping or having trouble walking, take them to a vet immediately.

Browsing the web will show you threads of affected Bully owners.

Autosomal Dominant Diseases

A simple urine test early on in life will determine if your dog is prone to kidney diseases or not. Bull Terriers are genetically prone to kidney disease and some Bull Terriers may have an underdeveloped kidney too. This defunct kidney stops blood from being purified, thus resulting in an influx of toxic in the whole body.

In some cases, dogs also show signs of polycystic kidneys, which eventually leads to rapid kidney failure which can be fatal for the Bull Terrier.

Another autosomal dominant disease common amongst Bull Terriers is the Bull Terrier Hereditary Nephritis (BTHN). As the name suggests, it is a hereditary disease and dogs that are affected by it can experience acute renal failure at any stage in their lives.

Other Diseases

Bull Terriers are prone to different types of heart disease, which can be controlled with a well-balanced diet. Heart diseases should not be taken lightly. They can cause instant and sudden death as they directly affect the blood circulation, which can cause the blood supply to the heart to be blocked.

As well as heart diseases, the breed has a disposition towards hip dysplasia and thyroid just like most other dog breeds.

How To Breed Bull Terriers

Bull Terriers are strong and muscular dogs. They are very low maintenance and despite certain health issues, they’re usually very healthy. Breeding and grooming Bull Terriers isn’t a complicated task but good training and regular health check-ups are essential for them from a very young age. They’re relatively easy-going and don’t have too many hang-ups as compared to certain other breeds.

Litter Size

The average litter size for all Bull Terriers is around five puppies per litter. A Miniature Bull Terrier can have up to nine puppies in a single litter but commonly have around 4 puppies per litter. However, these numbers varies greatly, depending on certain factors.

The litter size in a Bull Terrier heavily depends upon how healthy the female dog is and her age must also be taken into a consideration. A young and healthy female Bull Terrier with a sturdy and good-sized uterine canal size can give birth to as many as 12 Bull Terriers.

A lot also depends on the male Bull Terrier. Apart from his age and health, the number of times he has been mated is also an important factor in determining the litter size in standard Bull Terriers. The more mature and proven he is, the more eggs he can fertilize in one go.

Birthing Difficulties

Bull Terriers do not have any physical birthing problems as such. However, when compared to other dogs, you might notice that the mother Bull Terrier tends to be more anxious. They can be a little scramble-brained at this time, so it is essential that you look after her very well and pay attention to her behavioral changes.

Some breeders even suggest that a pregnant Bull Terrier should be taken to the vet more frequently than other dogs. You’ll need to stay updated on her scans and consultations. Most importantly, Bull Terrier mothers need their temperature checked frequently. This is because of how anxious they get, causing their body temperature to fluctuate a little.

Bull Terriers are one of those dog breeds that may need a C-section if the mother gets too nervous, so keep an eye out for signs of that.

Pricing

Family pets are sold as low as possible while working dogs fetch much higher prices and margins. As is the case with most dog breeds, an adult dog that has been professionally trained and is well socialised with dogs and people, will always fetch a higher price.

Bull Terriers and Miniature Bull Terriers usually fetch a higher price than most dogs, in fact, they’re one of the most expensive dog breeds. Puppies that belong to a grand bloodline can fetch up to $1,600. Adult Bull Terriers that have been professionally trained and have excellent ancestral legacy can even go up to $5,000.

However, you must be practical when pricing your litter. Calculate the price based on the following factors:

  1. The lineage of both the sire and the dam of the litter
  2. Blood reports and health condition of the puppies
  3. Whether you have paid a handsome amount for a prize stud
  4. If you’ve spent money into training the puppies with a professional
  5. If you have personally ensured that they get the appropriate amount and duration of physical activity
  6. How developed their social skills are and their socialization program
  7. Any other efforts you may have put into the puppies or dogs

Justify your prices first and then charge them. For an accidental litter, there is only so much money you can charge, as no previous effort may have gone into preparing and justifying for the ideal litter.

Clientele

As far as clientele is concerned, you will need to look for people who have been around dogs before. A Bull Terrier is not an ideal first dog for new owners.

Bull Terriers were initially bred to be fighting dogs. Owing to their mixed gene pools and their evolution over a period of time, they have now gained repute as excellent family and guard dogs.

They are mainly adopted as working dogs for a specific task like playing with the kids or guarding the house. So as the breeder, you must ensure that the litter is well trained. Hire a professional dog trainer if you need to. Bull Terriers need special attention because they tend to be more stubborn and aggressive than other dogs. They need to be trained to become more sociable and family-friendly.

They also make for good military and security dogs, so as a breeder you could look into that area as well. To breed Bull Terriers that excel at such military causes, try picking bloodlines that have previously been watchdogs and guard dogs. It will help immensely.

Questions about Bull Terriers

Bull Terrier breeders and owners are often scouring the web to find answers to their questions. The breed has a bad reputation and fanciers are always unsure whether or not Bull Terriers are good for them. Or worse, if they are good enough for a Bull Terrier.

Here are some commonly asked questions about Bull Terriers and answers we hope will help you.

How much exercise do Bull Terriers need?

Bull Terriers need to exercise a lot. They are very sprightly and extremely active, especially when they are younger. Bull Terrier puppies and Miniature Bull Terriers require an adequate amount of playing and running around to burn off their energy. They require a lot more attention than most other dog breeds.

A lot of dog owners who have Bull Terriers try to add in some creativity to the dog’s activity. Those who don’t have an expanse of garden area to run around set up mazes within their homes. It’s an excellent way of harnessing all that energy and keeping their minds occupied. If you have kids, then you’re sorted. The Bull Terrier and the kids will keep each other busy throughout the day.

Strong and muscular in built, Bull Terriers will get frustrated if they are cooped up or made to stay indoors without any activity. So make sure you get them plenty of games and exercise

What are the grooming needs of Bull Terriers?

Bull Terriers are very low maintenance as far as grooming is concerned. They have short hair that doesn’t require lots of trimming. Their nails are usually never overgrown because of how much activity they indulge in.

Weekly brushing and regular baths can keep a Bull Terrier looking as tidy as a whistle. However, you must remember that Bull Terriers are not hypoallergenic. So they shed heavily, especially during spring and fall. During this time, they may require more brushing, even twice a day sometimes.

Bull Terriers are born with pretty strong teeth, so a weekly round of brushing teeth would keep them healthy too.

Are Bull Terrier Dogs good with children?

Bull Terriers are fantastic with children. Their high-octane energy levels match those of children so they can play together and keep each other busy. Bull Terriers are also very protective of their adoptive family. So you sleep safe knowing that your child will come to no harm. They are also very intuitive and intelligent.

A Bull Terrier requires a lot of training and socialization to be sociable with people though. So get your dog professionally trained as soon as possible. Once trained, they are super loyal and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Do Bull Terriers make good guard dogs?

Bull Terriers make for excellent guard dogs. And if your Bull Terrier is from a lineage of security or watchdogs, that’s a huge bonus. Bull Terriers are extremely protective and always alert. Their intelligence and intuitiveness is what makes them great as watchdogs or security dogs for your home.

Moreover, they’re also very friendly and sociable and do not attack without good reason. A Bull Terrier is a highly moldable dog when trained right. You can utilize their smartness and stubbornness towards making them great family and home watchdogs.

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