If you’re considering a Bull Terrier as a pet, you may be wondering,
“Are Bull Terriers Aggressive?”
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no.
Rather, IT DEPENDS on the history of the dog and the capabilities of the owner.
I’ve worked with many Bull Terriers over the years and have found that they require a great deal of early socialization and training.
Without it, there is the possibility of aggression, not only towards other dogs but also towards strangers.
While Bull Terriers can make great pets when appropriately trained, they can also be very:
- Strong (and strong-willed)
- Possessive and jealous
As such, Bull Terriers are not recommended for first-time pet owners.
They require a strong-willed, dominant owner who can take on the “leader of the pack” role, and who can dedicate plenty of time to proper training and socialization.
But today, I want to give you a little more insight into the world of the Bull Terrier.
We will cover topics such as:
- Bull Terrier’s Temperament
- Reasons Why Bull Terriers Bite?
- What is Rage Syndrome in Dogs?
- Ways to Train a Bull Terrier not to bite
- Will a Bull Terrier protect its owner?
So let’s get started:
Bull Terrier Temperament:
Don’t let the fact that the Bull Terrier can become aggressive, scare you too much.
Every dog can become aggressive in certain circumstances, and the Bull Terrier is no different.
But when they are properly trained, this breed makes an excellent family pet and companion.
A Bull Terrier that has been appropriately raised as a puppy will grow to be friendly, happy, and always up for a good time.
Many people describe their Bull Terriers as silly, often comparing them to the family clown.
In other words, they are excellent entertainment, and will always keep their families laughing.
The Bull Terrier loves nothing more to be with their family, though they enjoy their playtime too.
The Bull Terrier is playful, charming and mischievous.
The Bull Terrier has plenty of energy and often exudes it in short bursts.
They are sweet, loving, and affectionate, and desire your companionship just as much as you desire theirs.
Why Do Bull Terriers Bite?
So if Bull Terriers have such fun-loving, silly, outgoing personalities, then why do they bite?
Here’s the truth, a well-tempered Bull Terrier isn’t just going to bite someone out of nowhere.
Generally, if your Terrier is showing aggression, there is a reason for it.
In most cases, it’s because they feel threatened or provoked.
Like any breed of dog who feels this way, aggression is likely to follow.
With that being said, there are other reasons that a Bull Terrier may become aggressive as well.
In most cases, Bull Terriers will display aggression in the form of growling before they actually attack.
Keep in mind that this is not out of the norm for a Bull Terrier, especially before a puppy has been properly trained and socialized.
But either way, this behavior is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with promptly.
The younger you break the behavior, the easier it will be for you as your dog grows (we will talk more about how to prevent the behavior later).
But why do Bull Terriers become so aggressive in the first place?
Here are the reasons:
- Spending too much time alone
Though Bull Terriers do have loving and outgoing temperaments, they also have a lot of pent up energy, stress, and anxiety, especially as puppies.
Because Bull Terriers need so much affection and companionship from their owners, they can become extremely stressed out or anxious when their owners leave, say for work, or a day of golf.
When they spend too much time alone, they can develop aggressive tendencies.
This is just one of the many reasons that Bull Terriers are not recommended for everyone – because they require a great deal of time and affection to develop into well-mannered adults.
- Not getting enough exercise
Similarly, Bull Terriers are very energetic.
If they are not getting enough exercise, this energy can build up, and again, can result in undesirable bursts of aggression.
Bull Terriers require plenty of outdoor time and play, as well as mental stimulation.
When their mental and physical stimulation needs are not met, the result can be more than just aggression.
- Lack of stimulation
A lack of stimulation can also lead Bull Terriers to develop other OCD behaviors like excessive barking, nervousness, tail chasing, and other destructive actions.
So to sum it up, Bull Terriers will not become aggressive without a reason, but they do require a lot of time, patience, and training from their owners.
If you can give them that, you should be able to curb their behaviors quite quickly.
Otherwise, If all of the above are the not reasons for this aggression, it might be a disorder called “rage syndrome”.
Rage Syndrome In Dogs Explained:
Rage Syndrome, or sudden onset aggression in dogs, is a rare behavior problem but can be quite dangerous when present.
Some breeds of dog are more prone to Rage Syndrome than others.
The more appropriate term for Rage Syndrome is “Idiopathic aggression,” which relates to a condition that has no known cause.
As mentioned previously, the condition can be very serious, often leading to aggression in the form of biting or attacking without warning.
The worst part about this condition is that, unlike most aggressive behaviors in dogs, it’s unlikely that you will be able to break this aggression, regardless of how hard you work.
Rage Syndrome can be an extremely frustrating and scary behavior in dogs, and can even become heartbreaking to deal with.
You may be dealing with a dog that has Rage Syndrome if:
- They become aggressive without warning or trigger
- Their aggressive outbursts are intense and explosive
- You begin to notice the aggression between 1-3 years of age
- Your dog looks dazed or confused before an aggressive attack
The sad news is that idiopathic aggression is extremely difficult to treat.
Because there is no known cause for the aggression, any treatment that is applied is generally unsuccessful.
The condition can become challenging to manage, and sadly, most dogs with the condition are euthanized for the safety of the humans around them.
Now here’s the good news –
it’s unlikely that your Bull Terrier has idiopathic aggression because it’s extremely rare.
Chances are if your dog is having angry outbursts, there is some apparent cause behind them, and they can be tamed with some form of therapy or treatment.
If you have tried everything and are convinced that your dog is suffering from Rage Syndrome, a trip to the veterinary behaviorist may be in order.
How To Train A Bull Terrier Not To Bite:
Let me reiterate, that if your Bull Terrier is acting aggressively, it’s highly unlikely that they are suffering from Rage Syndrome.
Yes, it is possible, but chances are slim, and there is most likely a different underlying cause.
Again here’s the good news,
as a whole, Bull Terriers are very well tempered and easy to train dogs.
Because they are so intelligent and receptive to training, biting, and aggressive behavior can be curbed.
With that being said, you’ll want to control the behavior as soon as you notice the onset.
The sooner you can train your Bull Terrier against aggression, the better results you will have.
Bull Terrier puppies are particularly responsive to training, so their behavior is easiest to curb and can be done in only a few weeks.
An older Bull Terrier, however, who has displayed this aggressive for some time, will take longer to break off the habit.
There are a few different ways that you can train a Bull Terrier to more gentle.
- The first method is through Negative Consequences.
This consequence can be anything from a firm “NO” and disapproval from the owner, to a spray of water in the face, to a deterrence collar.
The idea here is that when aggressive behavior is in action, it is responded to with a negative consequence.
With this method, however, it is essential that you stay calm and use gentle methods of deterrence.
Hitting your dog, or using methods that will terrify them will only lead to further aggression and hinder your progress.
- The second method for deterring aggressive behavior in Bull Terriers is through positive reinforcement and by providing them with their daily needs.
As I mentioned earlier, Bull Terriers require plenty of mental stimulation and exercise.
Take them to the park, throw a tennis ball, take them for a long walk – the more things you do with your dog, the more pent up energy they can release, and the less likely they will be to show aggressive behaviors.
Also, make sure you reward good behaviors. When your dog engages in gentle play, reward them with a treat. If they start getting rough, turn your back until they calm down.
The more your dog associates gentle play with positive feedback, the more motivated they will be to remain relaxed and calm.
Are Bull Terriers Protective Of Their Owners?
Bull Terriers, like many breeds of dog, can be very protective of their family, especially when strangers are around. (image source)
Though the Bull Terrier is unlikely to bite, they may do so if they feel provoked, or if they feel that their family or territory is in danger.
If threatened, the Bull Terrier can bite, regardless of whether they are free of behavioral problems or have been trained not to bite.
In summary, the Bull Terrier is an overall well-mannered and even-tempered dog.
With that being said, some things can bring about aggressive behaviors.
Bull Terriers that suffer from rage syndrome or Bull Terriers that have been improperly socialized or trained can become aggressive, and may bite without warning.
With proper training, this behavior can be curbed, but it is vital to stop it as soon as it becomes evident.
Bull Terriers are not a “dangerous” breed of dog, but do require a strong, dominant, patient owner that can prevent aggression before it begins – they are not for first-time dog owners.
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