Your Guide to Bull Terrier Coat Colours


As an animal welfare worker, Jana worked with Bull Terriers. She had a boarding home for the breed and currently owns a perky specimen.

Bull Terriers Are Classified by Coat Colour

A Bull Terrier is classified as either "White" or "Coloured." This may seem odd at first. Why are there only two groups when “Coloured” consists of many beautiful and distinct shades? The answer is in the breed's history, which reaches back to the 1800s when the first breed standard was defined. The early breeders agreed unanimously that the most desirable trait—more than any other—was the dog's flawless porcelain coat. For a long time, this “rule” was law. Eventually, fans of "Coloureds" grew in number and influence. Even so, "White" maintains a category of its own.

White Bull Terriers

"White" dogs once faced their own brand of prejudice. Any blemish (basically just a dot or other colour) would cause the animal to be banned from the show ring. It was not until much later that "Whites" were allowed to have markings. However, these were limited to the head (think pirate eye patch or black ears). Even today, to be considered a "White," a dog's entire neck and body must be porcelain.

A common misconception that still floats around is that the "White" is linked to albinism. It is easy to see why some might think so—the pink ears, muzzle and eyelids. These traits are responsible for its slang name “pig dog.” However, an albino will have a reddish reflection in the eyes and pink nostrils. A true "White" sports dark eyes and the nose will also be black. Blue-eyed puppies have been known to be born, but they are not acceptable for showing or breeding, and with good reason as they are usually completely deaf.

Speaking of which, White Bull Terriers risk more of the breed's health problems. Deafness is perhaps one of the longest in its history, traceable back to their main ancestor in the 1800s, the extinct English White Terrier. Coloured dogs can suffer from this handicap, usually in one ear. But the white dogs tend to be deaf more often and sometimes in both ears. Since their skin has less pigmentation, or none at all, their risk of skin cancer is also higher.

If you happen to own a "White" with a smidgen of colour, you also need to know what these dogs are called. This is especially important if you want to register your puppy for future showing and breeding.

White and Red Coat Colouring

The Different Types of White Coat Varieties

  • White: This is your pure white dog. The only colour allowed is the black nose.
  • White and black brindle: Head markings are black with light coloured streaks.
  • White and brindle: Head markings are brownish with dark streaks.
  • White and red: An eye patch or ear will be red.
  • White and red smut: This variety is pretty much the same as a normal white and red. However, “smut” means the animal has a darker face, almost like the muzzle was dusted with charcoal.
  • White, black and tan: Head markings are tan but with a touch of black.
  • White and fawn: Head markings are pure fawn.
  • White and fawn smut: Same as above, but with the dark muzzle.

The Gorgeous Red

The Four Reds

There is something special about the "Red." The rich rust presents as a clean and attractive arrangement. Usually, the majority of the body is red, with white stockings, tail, chest and muzzle stripe. Some have black marks above the eyes or folding under the chin. This is a highly popular coat colour, perhaps second only to the "White."

  • Red: Most of the dog's body will be red but its paws, chest and chin might be white.
  • Red and white: If there is more white, such as leg socks, a white chest that wraps around the neck and connects to a white face mask, then the dog will fall into this category.
  • Red smut: The same as the full red, just with a darker muzzle.
  • Red smut and white: If the red smut also has a lot more white, or equal to the red, then it will be a red smut and white.

Fawn-Coloured Bull Terriers

Often seen as "Red's" neglected little sister, "Fawn" dogs have their share of supporters and haters. Technically a kind of red, the coat is more sandy or light tan and is also available in the now-familiar variations.

  • Fawn: There are little to no white markings.
  • Fawn and white: Once the legs, neck, chest and face carry white, it is no longer a solid Fawn.
  • Fawn smut: Since the coat is light, the smut muzzle reflects more strongly in the Fawn, giving it quite an attractive look. However, white markings should be limited.
  • Fawn smut and white: A lot of white will place your Fawn smut in this division.

Classic Brindle Coat Colour

The Striped Beauties

A brindle Bull Terrier has the kind of beauty and presence that turns heads. Somehow, the breed's build and personality suits being stripey wonders and few will disagree. Here are the different kinds.

  • Brindle: This will be a dog with a dark coat, usually brown, lined with a darker shade. There may be some white but not too much.
  • Brindle and white: The same as above but with white on the usual areas; chest, legs and face.
  • Black brindle: Kind of the reverse of the normal brindle, the animal will have a black coat with lighter lines.
  • Black brindle and white: A black brindle with large amounts of white.

The Tricolour Coat

Last but not least, let's welcome dogs with three colours. There are two kinds, but both have black, tan and white coats.

  • Black and tan: Even though you might register your puppy as a black and tan, it will show a small amount of white; a toe, the paws or chin. The black will be the colour that dominates the majority of the coat. Tan can show up on the cheeks, legs and chest, appearing in a similar fashion to the tan markings of the Dobermann Pincher.
  • Black tan and white: Perhaps the “official” tri coloured Bull Terrier, the animal's black coat will have large white areas (muzzle, chest, neck and legs). Tan will appear in the same places as with the normal black and tan dogs.

How to Polish That Coat

It doesn't matter what colour your Bull Terrier is, their coat is easy to care for. This short-haired breed enjoys low-maintenance grooming and the dogs normally love the attention. Brushing is also necessary once in a while since Bull Terriers tend to shed. How many times a dog is bathed is up to the owner, but over-washing is not a good idea. Scrub to suit the dog's show schedule or to remove the smell from the dead rat your bullie rubbed its entire body against. Too many baths strip the coat of its natural oils, which is the secret ingredient to that seal-skin shine. When the coat is allowed to produce enough oil, a good combing will spread it all over, and your dog will develop that sought-after healthy glitter.

Questions & Answers

Question: If I were to breed two whites (both with brindle head markings), how likely are they to produce deaf puppies? The female's mother is a brindle and her father's coat is fawn and white. The male's father is a brindle and his mother is a white Bull Terrier.

Answer: There is good and bad news. The good news is that should you hope for brindle puppies, the chances are very good. The bad news is that predicting deafness in dogs is very hard. Congenital deafness is not fully understood, not even by researchers. One can perform a hearing test called the BAER test to determine a puppy's level of hearing, but of course, by then the litter has already been born. Scientists have figured out that deafness in some breeds are linked to coat genetics. In Bull Terriers, those that are most affected are the pure white dogs.

Caution must be taken when there is any suspicion of deafness in a bloodline. Unfortunately, there is no solid way to predict how normal or abnormal a future litter's hearing will be. The only way to give them a fighting chance is to breed from parents with normal hearing. Even better, make sure that all the grandparents have normal hearing as well.

Question: If a white Bull Terrier is mated to a tri-color, what colors can you expect?

Answer: The tri-color parent brings a simple deal to the table. He or she can deliver the offspring of any color. The greatest influence on a tri-color's puppies is the coat genetics of the other parent (the tri's mate). In this case, we are working with a white Bull Terrier. This is where things get a little bit more complex. Despite looking less complicated than a tri-color, white bullies carry additional genes for brindle, fawn, red and black/tan. When a breeder desires a certain result, they must know the history and genetics of the white dog to understand the “hidden” colors. To be sure, a vet can determine the animal's genotype, which can better help predict the color of future litters.

Here's a rough guide of what you can expect.

1. White carrying Red/Fawn – depending on the mate, can produce: white, red and white, brindle and white, tri-color, black brindle and white

2. White carrying Brindle – depending on the mate, can produce: white, brindle and white, red and white, black brindle and white, black brindle, tri-color with white

3. White carrying Black and Tan – depending on the mate, can produce: full white, all color coats

4. White carrying Black Brindle – depending on the mate, can produce: full white, all color coats

At the end of the day, to breed colors accurately, one must know the dogs' genotypes, the coat colors of their ancestors and also record their puppies' colors. This tightens the owner's grasp on an individual dog's ability to produce certain coats.

Question: Is the price of a bred dog influenced by the animal's coat color?

Answer: This is the breeder's decision, but often coat color does play a part in a puppy's price. For instance, many breeders will ask more for a colored puppy than a white one. Other breeders ask the same fee for each puppy from a specific litter, even when they are different colors and have white littermates. Of course, very sought after colors are more likely to hike the price. Red Bull Terriers with good markings can fetch more than usual.

Question: When breeding a pair of black and white Bull Terriers, what colors can you expect the puppies to be?

Answer: It depends on how much color the coat carries. If the "black and white" means that the dogs are predominantly black, with large white markings (neckband, entire chest, feet, thick blaze), then you can expect a mixed brood. About 50 percent could resemble the parents, 25 percent could be born pure white, and 25 percent could be born as solid blacks (although the latter could have limited white markings).

However, if the "black and white" refers to dogs that are predominantly black with small amounts of white, perhaps a dash on the feet or chest, then the entire litter could resemble the parents.

Question: When breeding a pair of black brindle Bull Terriers, what colours can you expect the puppies to be?

Answer: With two black brindle Bull Terriers, you can pretty much expect the entire litter to inherit the same colour. However, genetics can always throw you a surprise, so rather put your chances between 50 and 100 percent. In other words, if there are 6 puppies, expect 3 to 6 to be born as black brindles.

Question: What is the color classification of a white Bull Terrier with a spotted black nose and a black eye?

Answer: The dog is considered a white Bull Terrier. The amount of black is too limited for inclusion in a coat classification. In this case, they are considered markings. To narrow it down, one could describe this dog as a white Bull Terrier with a black eye patch and a spotty nose (also sometimes called a Dudley's nose).

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

Clayton Evans on June 09, 2020:

I have a 10 month old female that is chocolate black with very little white, her nickname is laces out, because she has a thin white streak like the laces of a football down the center of her face and tiger stripes markings not brindle on all four legs, what color classification would she be considered ?

Amani on January 06, 2019:

I have a brown, light brown, and white.

Jana Louise Smit (author) from South Africa on September 06, 2018:

Hi Steve, I'll be honest, this is the first I hear of this colour on a BT. I know that it does exist with Staffies, though. Perhaps the one you saw was a cross but it's not impossible that it was a rare coloured BT. I hope so, it sounds lovely.

Steve Stubbs on September 02, 2018:

What about the blue/grey type coats as seen on numerous Staffordshire bull terriers? I saw a Bull terrier, which looked like a pure Bull terrier in Devon several years ago with a lovely blue coat & almost gold coloured eyes. Is this colour frowned upon or perhaps the dog was a cross that looked more Bull terrier than Staffie?


Bull Terrier Dog Breed

By: Chewy Editorial Published: September 1, 2016

Bull Terrier Dog Breed

The distinctive shape of the Bull Terrier’s egg-like head and robust body makes this breed one of the most recognized in the world. Playful and entertaining, this breed is a family favorite.

Bull Terrier Physical Characteristics

Resembling a cavalier gladiator, the Bull Terrier is a good-looking but tough dog. Its immense and powerful jaws are only matched by its unusual head shape and keen expression. But it is actually the Bull Terrier’s low center of gravity (it is longer than it is tall) and muscle mass that made this breed so formidable as a dog fighter.

The Bull Terrier can be all white or colored.

The Bull Terrier also has a short, flat coat and an easy, smooth gait. Its skin, meanwhile, is taut.

Bull Terrier Personality and Temperament

Activity Level

The Bull Terrier is a playful, comical and exuberant. It is also an affectionate, sweet-natured and devoted pet.

Things to Consider

The breed can be mischievous or even aggressive to small animals and other dogs. To avoid behavioral problems with the Bull Terrier, provide it mental and physical exercise daily.

Bull Terrier Care

Ideal Living Conditions

It can remain outdoors in temperate weather, but does best as a house-dog and when given easy access to the yard.

Special Requirements

Being an active dog, the Bull Terrier loves to run, but should only be allowed to do so in a secure place. Minimal coat care is needed.

Bull Terrier Health

The Bull Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 11 to 14 years, may suffer from patellar luxation. It is also prone to minor health problems like heart complication, allergies and compulsive behavior, and more serious conditions such as kidney failure and deafness. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run cardiac, thyroid, hearing and urine protein:urine creatinine ratio (which quantifies the urine’s protein loss) tests on the dog.

Bull Terrier History and Background

The Bull and Terrier, a pit dog, was originally produced in the early 1800s by crossing the old English Terrier and the Bulldog. At the time, patrons of dog fighting and bull baiting – two established forms of entertainment in Europe – were always trying to perfect the fighting dog breeds. The early Bull Terriers ranged in size and color – some featuring terrier-like features, while others exuded the Bulldog heritage.

Eventually, interbreeding other breeds such as the Spanish Pointer produced a strong, tenacious, and agile dog that ruled the pits. Even still, the vast majority of popularity was bestowed upon the English exhibition dogs. When dog fighting became illegal in Britain, many began producing strains of Bull Terriers that would win competitions more for their looks and less for their bite.

Over the years, it has been the white strain that has been the most famous Bull Terrier variety, both as a pet and show dog. So popular, in fact, that many Bull Terriers are featured in advertising campaigns and movies for their comical expression and nature.


American Bull Terrier – Is This Dog Right For You?

American Bull Terrier breeds and mixes are probably among the most recognizable silhouettes in the canine world.

At times, this can seem like a mixed blessing as everyone knows what kind of dog you have! But are they correct?

In fact, it turns out they may be wrong—no less than five breeds of bull terrier are currently found in the US, including

But if they all look similar, what makes them different from each other? In what ways are they the same?

And how can you tell the difference, particularly if you would like to welcome one into your home?

Let’s start with a brief overview of each one and then we’ll compare and contrast these five similar breeds.

American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier is the dog most people think of when the words “Pit Bull” enter their minds.

At first glance, the American Pit Bull terrier is compact, stocky, and very well-defined.

Their distinct features include a large blocky head and floppy ears (though they can be pointed as well).

Of the five bull terrier breeds, this the only one not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

However, they are recognized as a separate breed by the United Kennel Club (UKC).

While these dogs have a history of and reputation for aggression, proper training and care can work wonders.

With the right kind of training, these dogs can live happy, productive, and healthy lives with their owners.

American Staffordshire Terrier

Moving on to an accredited (by both the AKC and the UKC) and less negative name, the American Staffordshire Terrier is next on our list.

In appearance, they are almost the same as the American Pit Bull Terrier but are often smaller in size.

Because they can be registered, there are slightly fewer options for things in terms of their coat and eye color.

And they are also considered a purebred, which has implications on their breeding.

To round off this summary, the American Staffordshire Terrier shares the same general temperament and training requirements of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

This includes firm and consistent training, both for your dog and the people around you, and the public at large.

Bull Terrier

If the title “a gentleman’s dog” were ever awarded in dogdom, the Bull Terrier would be on the shortlist.

Originally a mix of several breeds (one of which is now extinct), the Bull Terrier was bred as a gentleman’s companion and still lives up to this today.

The classic color of the Bull Terrier is white, although several other coat colors may be found, including pied, red, brindle, and brown.

In addition, their triangle ears, football-shaped head, and stocky build end in curved toes.

Bull Terriers are naturally exuberant and eager to please everyone about them. Playful is their default setting, which makes training a bit easier.

At the end of the day, a Bull Terrier really is a fun dog.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Sometimes, similar breeds almost seem like the same breed. This is the especially the case with the Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Many differences simply boil down to the individual dog and the name itself.

These dogs, while stocky, instantly give the impression that they are a powerhouse of energy.

Although they have blocky lines and a sloped back, they are very playful and need an outlet for their innate drive to do something—anything!

But as soon as they’ve had enough exercise, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are more than happy to lie down at your feel for a long cozy evening.

Ideally suited for families with older children and active older folks, these dogs want to love and be loved.

You can find the Staffordshire Bull Terrier wherever their people are.

Miniature Bull Terrier

Finally, we come to the Miniature Bull Terrier. Are you interested in all the aspects of a Bull Terrier but in a smaller package?

The Miniature Bull Terrier is living proof that good things can come in small packages.

Once classified under the same breed as the Bull Terrier, the size of this dog is the only thing that’s different.

However, the smaller size does come with some interesting quirks.

One of the most visible/amusing traits is a habit of chasing their own tails around and around and around!

Other than that, there’s really not much else to say about the Miniature Bull Terrier.

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Other than they have the classic bull terrier face and build without the size, which can help ease some of the negative public perceptions these dog breeds have been bridled with.


History of the Brindle Bull Terrier

The heavy boned Bull Terrier got its name from its use in the pastime of bull-baiting, which was popular from the 1300s–1800s in the U.K.

In the 1830s, blood sports with animals were outlawed.

Underground dog fighting became the sport of choice.

Participants crossed Bulldogs, considered too slow to be entertaining, with faster, fiery terriers.

Dalmatians and some other breeds were also added to the cross.

Eventually pit fighting was banned, and Bull Terriers became fashionable pets for young men.

Breeders started refining them to be better upscale companion dogs.

The brindle color likely came from the early 1900s, when Bull Terriers were back-crossed with brindle Staffordshires.

You can find brindle Pitbull Terriers, and other dog breeds that often show brindle coloring include:

  • Akitas
  • Boxers
  • Boston Terriers
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis
  • Dachshunds
  • Mastiffs
  • Chihuahuas
  • Greyhounds
  • Whippets


Bull Terrier Dog Breed Information

  • --> Life Span*
  • 11 to 12 years
  • --> Getting a puppy home*
  • Expensive *
  • Popularity
  • Bull Terriers are one of the most controversial dogs in the canine world. Originally developed as a fighting dog, the Bull Terrier moved from being a fashionable companion for gentlemen to a family companion and a popular show dog. Popularly nicknamed “kid in a dog suit”, a Bull Terrier is an active and friendly dog with a comical expression due to its egg shaped head. Canine behaviourists and breeders across the world agree to the fact that Bull Terriers have a larger than life personality which makes them intelligent, innovative and at the same time extremely loyal.It was in the early 1980’s that the Budweiser ads made the Bull terriers so popular. The showstopper of the ad was Spuds Mackenzie whose shy grin and a comical expression made the world notice this unique breed. In many countries and cities across the world, there is a restriction on or ban on ownership of Bull Terriers. If you are a proud owner of this majestic breed or if you are planning to get a Bull Terrier as a family pet, you are making an exciting decision, but you will have to ensure that your ownership of a Bull Terrier is compliant with the laws of your city. We bring to you all the aspects that you will have to keep in mind before getting a Bull Terrier so that you are able to provide an environment that develops a healthy dog and a long lasting companionship.

    Historically, Bull terriers were called gladiators simply because of their prowess in the dog fighting ring. They have been known to be a cross between an English Bulldog and a now extinct English terrier, which gives them their unique look. In the 1860s, James Hinks set about creating an all white dog that would become a fashionable companion for gentlemen. Nicknamed as the White Cavalier due to their courage in the dog fighting ring and a friendly disposition towards other people, they became more popular as family pets.It was in 1885 that the first Bull Terrier was registered with the American Kennel Club. It was later in 1897 that a Bull Terrier Club of America was formed. In present times Miniature Bull Terriers hold the 61st rank in popularity among the breeds and varieties registered by the American Kennel Club.

    Unique Aspects

    One of the most unique features of a Bull Terrier is its unique comical egg shaped head and triangular eyes. Their high energy and excitement levels have given them the nickname of “a kid in a suit”.

    Fun Trivia

    Bull Terrier has a reputation that precedes their name. So there are a lot of people who believe that they are aggressive breeds that can harm humans but the aggressive streak is slowly being bred out of them and they are turning to be fun and homely dogs. There has been turn around seen in the movies as well.

    Movie character

    Bull Terrier has been known for their comical looks and this has given them a place in some of the famous movies as well. This includes It’s a Dog’s life, Incredible Journey, Babe- Pig in the city and Space Buddies. In addition to this there is the face of Target Holdings in the United States.

    Celebrity Bull Terrier owners

    Bull Terriers caught the fancy of Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth’s daughter and she kept not one but two Bull terriers as pets. Other celebrities that keep a Bull Terrier include Diana Kobzanova, a supermodel. The famous designer Marc Jacobs and even George Smith Patton was a proud owner of a Bull Terrier.


Watch the video: Do English Bull Terriers make good guard dogs


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