There are physical health issues that can and do affect Bull Terriers, this list is not complete but its a main list of issues (applicable in Australia).  This doesn't also mean that the diseases are running rampant throughout the breed  NOR does it mean that your Bull Terrier will or wont get these problems either.  As breeders all we can do is test for these 5 issues of our breeding stock.

Heart - Patella - Nephritis (Kidney Disease) - PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) - Deafness

There are tests that can be done for these diseases.

Heart - The vet will listen manually and you can have the heart ultrasounded with a doppler.  There are several different heart diseases that a dog can get. 

Patella - The vet will manually manipulate the patella (knee cap) to see how much it moves and if it luxates (moves/slips) out of the groove.  Therefore a Luxating patella is one that does slip out of its grove.  The mode of inheritance is not fully known, therefore all we can do is test our breeding stock.  Traumatic injuries can and do occur to Bull Terriers as well.  Generally speaking a dog with true hereditary luxating patella tends to have a shallow groove where the knee sits in.

Nephritis - The best test for this disease is the UPC - urine protein creatinine - it is more effective than the blood test.  This disease is also thought of being a dominant disease, meaning one parent must have the gene to pass it on. 

PKD - this is detected as fluid filled cysts in the kidney by an ultrasound.  This is a disease that was found in Australia but we have heard of cases around the world.  This disease is believed to be dominant.  This means if you breed from non-affected stock your puppy should NOT have it.  Despite it being dominant most breeders still do a once off test to make sure,,,,,you never know when a disease will mutate.

Deafness - most test them manually by observing the puppy and making noises.  Not all states/countries have the BAER machine which tests for deafness in both ears.  My state South Australia does NOT have the machine nor do we have a Veterinary University either.

If your Bull Terrier is diagnosed with any of the above problems please contact your Breeder.

SKIN DISORDERS - there are skin disorders that can and do occur in Bull Terriers. 

I will stress with this issue, that sometimes short term medication will NOT eliminate the problem that could be more established than realized.  The best thing to do when you have a skin problem is to do scrapings and test for what the problem is and at the same time to follow through with another test - culture and sensitivity test.  This last test will check what bacteria we're dealing with (if any) and they will tell us what are the correct antibiotics to fight the infection.  The test cost more but it is very helpful in working out the right medication - and lets face it medication can sometimes cost way too much and imagine using the wrong stuff?  If you find the problem is reoccurring perhaps you need to treat your dog for longer period ie 2 months of treatment - especially if the problem is deep set in the dog.  We did this with Mystic and her owners no longer have a problem with pyoderma on her hocks.  The skin has also healed as well.

You can also use natural methods to heal skin disorders that are not infected with bacteria - coal tar shampoo is great for easing redness of skin etc.  But I still recommend a skin scraping - just to be sure you know what you are dealing with.  MOST Importantly - let the breeder what is going on with the dog and let them know of any test outcome that you have.

Don't forget to contact your breeder if you have any problems.


To see your bully chasing his tail or simply spinning around might be funny to watch.  But this serious problem can lead to your dogs death.  For some bullies, chasing their tail or spinning started out as fun past time.  Their owners laughed and even encouraged the dog to do the "trick" and lo and behold their dog no longer does it on command but it does it all the time.  Sometimes you can get the dog to stop and go back to being "normal" .  But what happens when the dog no longer pays any attention to you but is in a world of their own and spins and spins. 

Owners can in-avertedly create tail chasing/spinning in their pets BUT we do have a more serious dark side to this problem.  Compulsive Tail Chasing, when the dog doesn't listen to you to stop.  I am out of my depth here with this issue so will bring your attention to the following site.


There are drugs that one can use to help treat dogs who spin or chase their tails.  One of the drugs I know - Clomicalm (which is a human antidepressant but marketed for dogs under the Clomicalm name) has been a good drug to help dogs with spinning/tail chasing, obsessive compulsive disorders and anxiety issues.  Others have been Prozac and even Valium.  But discuss this with your vet and if your not happy with the vets advice (some vets have said straight out to euthanize before doing that ask to see an animal behaviorist).   The sooner you jump onto the problem with treatment and behavior modification, the more chance of a positive outcome for your family pet.  If your vet doesn't have enough knowledge on the issue then please direct them to the above site. 

But please if your dog is a spinner or tail chase please go to that site for more in-depth information.  Your vet should be able to refer you to an animal behaviorist if you require one.  Please if your dear bully is a compulsive spinner/tail chaser do not breed with them.  Also do contact your breeder to let them know what is going on with your bully.


If your Bull Terrier exhibits any problems, its always best to contact the breeder of your puppy FIRST.  They have every right to know what is going on.  When certain problems arise the breeder will want to do an elimination program ie work out what patterns have changed and how you have handled the problem etc.

I have helped other breeders from interstate when their dogs were exhibiting aggression towards their owners.  The visits revealed the owners - well and truly loved their dogs and did all the right things -BUT  they also did wrong things which allowed the dog to elevate their pecking order to alpha.  No one is to blame as such but all it is - is a matter of correcting their errors - that is the Human ones.

Remember a dog is a pack animal and it needs a leader.  Most dogs can sleep on the bed with their ALPHA (thats you) and not have any dominance issues.  But if your dog does have a dominance issue then the WORST place for them to be is on the bed with alpha.  Sort the issue out first before allowing them back onto the bed.  The bed is an earnt position not an expected position.  The dog must earn their place to sleep on the bed, especially alpha dogs (who can be both dog or bitch).  So if your dog is exhibiting signs of aggression towards you or anyone in the family take these steps;

1.  Do not allow them to sleep on the bed with you or any of the children.  Do not allow them on the couch either.  Its time to bring them down a peg or two by removing them from their elevated position.  Alphas are only allowed here.  That for the time being will mean just the family and visitors.

2.  Do NOT feed them before you eat your dinner.  Have them watch you eat your dinner first and no tidbits from the table, they are not alpha you are.  They will be fed last.  Don't forget to ignore them too, ignore any noise of "pity me I'm hungry" that they may do.  Reprimand if they start to jump on the table.  If the dog doesn't listen, remove the dog from the room or the house.  After you have finished eating, don't feed them straight away, make them wait for their meal say half an hour, then feed them.

3.    When walking in the door, alpha walks in first after a walk or if going into the house via the back door, your dog must always wait for you before they barge through.

Once the dog has realized that its pecking order is not that high then you may if you wish to reintroduce them back to the couch and bed.  But don't forget to remove them every so often.  Remember its earnt, not expected.  Hopefully you would have sorted out the aggression dominance issue.

Keep in mind not all dogs will have a dominance issue by sleeping on the bed, most Bull Terriers thrive on it and LOVE IT.  This exercise is for those owners whose Bull Terriers have shown aggression towards its people, whether that been through a growl or a snap.

Don't forget to contact your breeder for any help and advice as well.

For further information or advice please visit this link.

Canine Caretaker - Training and Consulting


The best investment apart from your Bull Terrier is a dog crate.  People sometimes think its cruel to have a dog crated but in reality, the dogs love them as they are like their own den.  I recommend purchasing a dog crate for the home and for traveling in the car where your dog can be kept safe from harm.  Accidents can and do happen, but a dog in its crate is much safer then one bouncing around.  It has occurred to others - their Bull Terriers have leapt out of windows from a moving vehicle.  So far the cases I've heard the worst has had a broken leg.  They are lucky alas their pocket wasn't I did hear $4000 was the sum they paid.

A crate is like your dogs own special place where he will feel safe and relaxed.  Most often they'll curl up and go to sleep in there quite happily.  Also if flying interstate you can take your crate with you and have your dogs own safety haven where ever you might be.

Keep in mind when having parties at home, you can safely put the dog away in a room in their crate away from everyone and the loud noise.

The best way to introduce them to a crate is by leaving the door open and have some food and toys in there.  Lock them up for short periods and open the door up.  That way they'll feel quite relaxed and are used to being in the crate and being locked up for a longer period will not be an issue.

Remember to provide them with bedding, water and toilet them throughout the day.  We at Trahern Kennels use wire (metal) crates generally for older dogs.  We also have used the smaller plastic crates for young puppies when traveling.  We don't have here those nice big plastic Vari Kennels, we tend to see them only overseas.


When you need advice, to let us know when something has gone wrong.  You contact your breeder when your vet is unable to help you out.  When you feel it is important to get their advice or to simply share things with them about your puppy.  If any of the above problems have expressed themselves PLEASE contact the breeder.  They really need to know how the rest of the pups they've bred are going along.  We need to know what problems have cropped up within our breeding program or else we will never know what needs correcting and fixing.  Some things we can fix, others we can't but most importantly we need to know if something has gone wrong.

On a lighter note and MOST IMPORTANTLY please don't hesitate to send us photos - we do enjoy seeing how the puppy has turned out.




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