What is a Bull Terrier

The Bull and Terrier Family Tree By BTCA 1996, Updated by Amber Lowe 2003
Complied by Cythnia Morse, Kevin Welch, & Wendy Clark

The Breeds illustrated here were developed over a century ago by dog breeders interested in perpetuating the desirable physical and personality traits of the old fashioned English Bulldog and various small terriers of the time. As you can see, each of the Bull & Terrier Breeds has some traits in common with it’s cousins, but there are also some very definite differences as well. To help you understand these subtle differences, we have described each breed briefly.

The old fashioned bulldog was crossed with several types of small, smooth-coated terriers.


American Pit Bull Terrier – This medium sized (40 lbs approx.) breed has the physique of an athlete; in fact, many Pit Bulls are prize winners in canine weight pulling competitions. Originally bred in the 19th century for dog fighting, this endearing breed can today claim an ardent following of breeders and pet owners who love their dogs and train them to be good canine citizens. The Pit Bull comes in a variety of colors and his ears may be cropped or left to fold naturally. He is a robust, intelligent fellow who makes an excellent pet when treated with kindness and responsibility. This breed was developed in North America.

Boston Terrier– This is a small breed weighing an average of 17 lbs. Nicknamed the “Boston Gentleman”, this breed excells both as a family pet and a companion for the elderly. Its coat is short and usually a very dark black-brindle with a white blase, collar and feet. The ears are sometimes cropped but show dogs usually have naturally upright ears. The typical Boston Terrier has the “pushed in” face of his Bulldog ancestors. This breed was developed in the United States.


Bull Terriers – The 19th century dog breeder who developed the White Bull Terrier wanted to create a “better fighting dog”, but for the most part, his creation was a flop as a fighter. Instead, the breed’s shining white coat earned it the admiration of the gentry of the day and the White Bull Terrier became a fashionable pet. Later, a colored variety of Bull Terrier was developed. This Colored Bull Terrier should not be confused with the Staffordshires or the Pit Bull, for he is every inch a Bull Terrier! Today, White and Colored Bull Terriers are bred for the show ring and the “living room couch.” The comedian of the Bull and Terrier family, the Bull Terrier is quite the unique in appearance. No other breed of dog has the exotic, “Roman Nose” profile or the tiny triangular eyes of the Bull Terrier. The White Bull Terrier is ideally all white as the body, but sometimes has colored head marks. The Colored Bull Terrier comes in several colors, with red, brindle, black-brindle, or tri color being the most common. His average weight is 45 to 55 lbs, but may vary considerably. Bull Terrier’s ears are never cropped and most stand up naturally, although an occassional Bull Terrier will have one or both ears flopping, primarily due to immaturity or injury. Bull Terriers are of English origin.


American Staffordshire Terrier – Slightly larger than most of his cousins (50 – 60 lbs approx), the American Staffordshire is a handsome dog. Although he, too, has roots in the fighting pits of the 19th century, for the past 50 years or more, he has been developed solely as a show dog and family pet. This breed has proven its ability in obedience work and weight-pulling competition as well. “Am Staffs” come in a variety of colors, but red, brindle, and fawn with or without white markings are the most common colors. Ears are usually cropped for the show ring, but many pets have natural, uncropped ears. This breed was developed in North America.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier – Developed by 19th century English miners, this rather rare breed snares the unforunate dog fighting roots of the American Pit Bull Terrier. He is a small (30 lbs approx.), but sturdy fellow of lovable disposition. He comes in a variety of colors and his ears are never cropped. Like all of the Bull and Terrier Breeds, “Staffords” love children and will tolerate a great deal of rough play. This breed was developed in England.