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Are Bull Terriers Dangerous?

Are Bull Terriers Dangerous?

Bull Terriers are not dagerous. Powerful, agile, and weighing up to 70 pounds, the Bull Terrier is a force to be reckoned with. They have a poor reputation, but they are beautiful, gentle dogs that love people and make loyal pets. Bull Terriers are no more dangerous than any other breed of dog.

Unfortunately, the Bull Terrier gets a bad rap. This is thanks, in part, to movies depicting these dogs as aggressive guard dogs, and the favorite pets of gangsters and criminals. But it’s also a lot to do with their unusual appearance.

Movies and shows where you’ll find a Bull Terrier:

  • Toy Story (1995)
  • Frankenweenie (2012)
  • Frankenweenie (1984)
  • Patton (1970)
  • It’s a Dog’s Life (1955)
  • The Incredible Journey (1963)
  • Next Friday (2000)
  • Oliver Twist (2007–2008)
  • Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
  • Baxter (1989)
  • Black Sheep Squadron (1976–1978)
  • Keen Eddie (2003–2004)

Not Your Average Terrier

We tend to think of a terrier as a short, energetic little plaything, maybe a little scrappy and wiry and great at keeping old ladies happy. But bull terriers don’t fit this description at all. Instead, while many of them are short and energetic, they’re also strong, muscular, incredibly powerful and fiercely loyal.

Related: Are Bull Terrier Good Family Dogs?

We tend to think of the English Bull Terrier when we hear the term, but there are no fewer than five different breeds of Bull Terrier in the USA. These include:

  • The Bull Terrier
  • The Miniature Bull Terrier
  • The American Pit Bull Terrier
  • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • The American Staffordshire Terrier

In this article, we’re looking at the Bull Terrier, the iconic, English ‘gentleman’s dog’, but realistically, all of the features of this breed apply across the board, as we explore their temperament, build, energy levels and most appropriate type of owner.

Looks are Definitely Deceiving!

When looking for a dog, a lot of people have a certain breed in their minds. They want a cuddly, soft golden retriever, or a lovable, squashed-nose pug. Very rarely will they consider the ‘shark-nosed’ Bull Terrier, whose very name seems to suggest danger.

But they’re truly missing out by passing over these gorgeous dogs. Bull Terriers love to play, and to please their owners. They are sheer entertainers, and their one goal in life is to make their owners fall in love with them a little bit more each day. And they tend to succeed.

…But Their Strength is No Joke

You’ll have heard the phrase plenty of times: ‘there’s no such thing as a bad dog. Only bad owners.’ And this is never truer than in the case of the Bull Terrier.

Because, as we mentioned earlier, they’ve been associated for so long with aggressive movie characters and rough personalities that we’ve had a tendency over the years to put those qualities onto the dogs themselves, and not leave them with the owners, where they belong.

That being said, though, it doesn’t mean that the Bull Terrier is the perfect pet for everybody. They’re not suited to every owner, especially if that owner is experienced and has never owned a dog before.

Bull Terriers pack a huge punch into their small bodies. They have very little body fat when on the correct diet, and they have large necks and shoulders, so when standing they look like stocky little soldiers.

While they may be small, they’re incredibly strong. For that reason alone, they should be raised by an owner who’s strong enough to handle them. Their small size shouldn’t deceive anyone – they’ll happily pull even a relatively strong adult human male with ease if given the chance.

Their Bite Strength is Impressive

Bull Terriers were bred as fighting dogs, unfortunately. A couple of hundred years ago, English gentlemen with far too much time on their hands and a cruel streak decided that pitching strong dogs against each other and watching them fight to the death, while betting huge amounts of money on them to do so, was some kind of sport.

It means that this naturally placid and lovable dog was specifically bred to have an incredibly strong bite so that it could do maximum damage in the ring. Even today, sadly, dog fighting still continues, and the Bull Terrier’s strong bite is prized among illegal fighting dog owners.

The Bull Terrier has a bite force of up to 270 psi, or pounds per square inch. If you’re wondering how much that is, it’s about half that of a lion. A Bull Terrier’s bite force is actually pretty close to that of a wolf, which measures in at around 400 psi.

So, it’s clear that the Bull Terrier can do some serious damage if it bites.

It’s not got the largest bite force in the canine world, though. The Bull Terrier might have a stronger bite force than a Doberman and even a German Shepherd, but it would have a long way to go to beat the Kangal, a Turkish breed with a bite force of a whopping 743 psi! That’s some serious bite.

…But the ‘Locking Jaw’ Rumour is a Myth

You might have heard that the reason a Bull Terrier’s bite is so dangerous is that once they bite down hard enough, their jaw locks, and it’s impossible to break the lock unless you pull the dog’s legs apart, or even have someone put their finger somewhere up the dog that they’d rather not.

Brindle bull terrier chasing an orange ball on the grass

But Bull Terriers don’t have jaws that lock. In fact, no animal on the planet has a locking jaw. Sure, plenty of animals, from dogs to crocodiles, will bite something or someone with a huge amount of force and then hold on for dear life. But this isn’t because their jaws have locked. It’s basically because they don’t want to let go.

Dogs, and especially Bull Terriers, whether that’s American Pit Bulls, English Bull Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, have forceful bites that can do a lot of damage, but most often they’ll hold on until they either let go because they want to, or because they’re forced to.

Do Bull Terriers Bite?

All dogs have the ability to bite and as we’ve discussed, some dogs can cause much more damage than others when it comes to the kind of bites they inflict. But Bull Terriers are no more likely to bite anyone than any other kind of dog.

This means that the reason they should be owned by someone who knows what they’re doing, who also spends plenty of time training them, is not because they bite a lot, but because their bites can be lethal.

It means that for most people, it’s not worth the risk of allowing dogs with such deadly bites near small children. Now, no child should ever be left unattended with a dog, no matter how loyal a family pet it might be. Dogs can bite for all kinds of reasons, but they’re more likely to bite when they’re scared, and see no other option.

Children (and some adults) are prone to irritating, frustrating, and even hurting dogs and the only way a dog can communicate its need to get away can be to bite. It doesn’t mean they’re an aggressive dog, but all it takes is one instance for a child to be left with life-changing injuries.

Training is Key

So, now we know that the Bull Terrier is a fabulous dog who’s no more prone to aggression or biting than a Labrador. It’s a dog that’s known for being a huge softy, and great as a family pet.

But all dogs should be trained from being a puppy. Training is key to getting a dog to co-operate with and trust its owner implicitly. It’s a way for owner and pet to bond and understand what’s expected of each other. And not only that, but it provides mental stimulation for your dog.

Now, Bull Terriers don’t rate all that high on the intelligence scale, but they still have the capacity to understand some simple commands that owners should master. They’ll soon understand with the right training that the owner is in charge, and that good behavior is rewarded.

Bull Terriers are known for having a stubborn streak, and coupled with their immense power, it can be a force that’s hard to calm down. Early training, with positive reinforcement, will make your job much easier. A dog that’s well trained will give back all the love and loyalty you could possibly imagine, and so much more.

Bull Terriers aren’t known for needing long walks, but they should still get plenty of regular exercise to keep them stimulated and physically fit. They have a tendency to put on weight if they’re not given the right diet and don’t get the right amount of exercise, so it’s vital to get this balance right so as not to put strain on their joints.

Loyal, not Frightening!

You could go a long way before finding a more wonderful dog than a Bull Terrier. As long as you’re prepared for its strength and stubborn streak, you’ll have many years of devoted loyalty from this wonderful dog.

With the right training, which must begin as soon as you get your puppy home, your Bull Terrier will add character, personality and hilarity to your home. And nobody will be quicker to defend their favorite person: you!


Stephanie is a writer for She is a dog lover at heart and loves teaching and learning about terriers.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I’ve had 5 bull terriers and it seems that what’s most on their mind is “What’s next? And I hope it’s
    fun. “

  2. I couldn’t agree more,
    Our English Bull terrier is a devoted family pet.
    If we encounter another dog whilst out walking he will instinctively lay flat in a non threatening way to demonstrate his kind nature and friendship.

  3. What an excellent article about the Bull Terrier. Well done for such an accurate and fair appraisal of this wonderful dog. It’s a cracker

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