Miniature Bull Terrier

Miniature Bull Terrier

Energetic and playful Miniature Bull Terriers are people-loving dogs with a mischievous side. They’re similar to their cousin, the standard Bull Terrier, in most everything but size. Though they’re small, they have a courageous heart, and plenty of stubbornness—which can be a challenge for first-time dog owners or soft trainers. The Mini Bull Terrier needs plenty of exercise and attention, and won’t do well in a home where she’s expected to spend much time alone. Mini Bulls love to show off their speed and agility with random ‘Bully Runs’—a high-speed tear through the house that you’re not likely to stop—so keep the racetrack clear and cheer her on. After the energy has been worked off, you can expect a snuggler. Loving Mini Bull Terriers are affectionate with family, and friendly with strangers.


Other Names

The Miniature Bull Terrier is also known as Mini Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Mini Bull, MBT, and Mini.

Physical Description

Coat

Miniature Bull Terriers have a short, smooth, easy-care coat that may be white, or white and another color. The skin is close-fitting.


Height

Average Height: 10-14 inches


Weight

Average Weight: 20-35 pounds

Breed Standard & History

A strong, symmetrical build is a must for the Miniature Bull Terrier. A long, deep head appears full and egg-shaped, with a flat forehead. A keen, determined expression radiates from triangular, dark, sunken eyes. The black nose bends downward at the tip. Tight skin covers the long, tapered, muscular neck. A broad chest and strong shoulders appear muscular but not heavy. Perfectly straight forelegs and muscular thighs present a solid stance. The body is covered in tight-fitting skin and a short, flat coat that is harsh to the touch. The coat may be pure white, or any color with or without white. The Miniature Bull Terry possesses a fiery, courageous, but amenable temperament. – AKC Breed Standards


The Miniature Bull Terrier is a smaller version of the Bull Terrier, a pit fighting dog developed in the 19th century. The Bull Terrier was a result of crossing bulldog and terrier types to create a ratting and fighting dog. Dalmatian and other breeds were included in the development to achieve a white coat. Though blood sports were banned in the 1830s, development of the breed continued. The Bull Terrier was favored as a means of vermin control, and fanciers worked to develop the breed’s most recognizable features: an egg-shaped head, all-white coat, and gentlemanly nature.


Development for a miniature-sized Bull Terrier began in the early 20th century, but both health and breed appearance were at risk as a result of breeding for excessively small puppies. A minimum height restriction was established in the 1970s to prevent breeding toy-sized Bull Terriers. The Miniature Bull Terrier was further developed as a feisty, but friendly, companion who has won hearts.


The American Kennel Club recognized the Miniature Bull Terrier in 1991.


AKC Breed Category

Terrier Group

Personality

General Temperament

The loving Mini Bull Terrier is playful and cuddly with family, but can be stubborn at times. They are spunky and energetic with an easygoing nature, and are always happy to make new friends. They may become possessive of family members and can become jealous if attention is taken away from them. MBTs are lively, goofy companions who never miss a thing.


Family Life

Are Miniature Bull Terriers Good with Kids? While Mini Bull Terriers are playful with children, they play rough. Nipping, head-butting, and bounding around at top speed with no regard for obstacles are favorite Mini Bull activities, so bigger children may be a better match than babies. Because they can be possessive of their family members, horseplay between children may be misinterpreted and the valiant Mini Bull Terrier may attempt to ‘rescue’ her family member from the situation. This may result in a dog bite or injury. Dogs and children should never be left unsupervised.


Are Miniature Bull Terriers Good with Other Pets? Miniature Bull Terriers do best as an only animal, but they may be able to live with a dog of the same sex if introduced properly. Spats may arise at the dog park or on walks, so early and continued socialization is necessary to minimize these dominant behaviors. Cats, rodents, and other small animals aren't ideal companions for the MBT as their high prey drive means they are likely to chase—and injure or kill—smaller animals.


Protective

Known for their courage and willingness to challenge intruders, Mini Bull Terriers make admirable watchdogs, but their small size means they’re better off leaving guard dog duty for the bigger dogs. The Miniature Bull Terrier will usually bark to alert you if someone approaches the home, but is quiet otherwise.


Energy Levels

Mini Bull Terriers have plenty of energy, and they want to use it. They need plenty of physical and mental exercise to burn through their abundance of energy.


Specific Concerns

  • Commonly suffer from separation anxiety
  • Can become obsessive-compulsive if not given enough attention
  • Likely to challenge other dogs for dominance—regardless of size
  • May be too rambunctious for small children
  • Stubborn and may be difficult to train
  • Chewing, digging, and barking are common MBT behaviors
  • Not an ideal first dog

Requirements

Indoor

With plenty of exercise and attention, the Mini Bull Terrier can adjust to most living situations, including apartments. They can be calm and cuddly indoors, but without proper exercise and attention, may become destructive. They aren’t known for their gracefulness, so put the breakables as high as you can or risk the clumsy Mini Bull knocking them over—likely during a Bully Run.


Outdoor

Time outside is important for high-energy Mini Bull Terriers, but they should be contained in a fenced area for safety—they’re likely to wander, and may chase or start spats with neighborhood animals. MBTs are not suitable as outdoor-only dogs, and should be accompanied during their trips outside.


Exercise

Miniature Bull Terriers require at least a half hour of exercise per day, but closer to an hour is better. Exercise may include walks, jogs, and play—as well as mental stimulation. Without enough exercise, undesirable, destructive, or difficult behaviors are more likely to arise.


Endurance

High-energy Mini Bull Terriers enjoy an active lifestyle and have the stamina to keep up on many adventures, as long as they're given the opportunity to take breaks as necessary.


Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: Full-grown Miniature Bull Terriers may be able to jog about three miles, but the breed is built for sprinting rather than distance running. Strenuous exercise should wait until the dog’s bones and joints are finished growing. Too much exercise can damage a growing puppy, so wait until a puppy reaches 12 to 18 months to run longer distances.
  • Hiking Miles: Hiking is an activity that many Mini Bull Terriers enjoy, but due to their impulsive nature and tendency to chase, they should be kept on a leash for excursions. A full day on the trail may be no problem for this hardy breed.


Food

Food-motivated Miniature Bull Terriers respond well to treats during training. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food to feed an MBT is 1 to 2 cups per day, based on average weight and activity level. The breed is at risk for bloat, so food should be split between two or three meals and activity should be limited for an hour after meals. They have a tendency to overeat, so free feeding is not recommended.


Mini Bull Terriers sometimes guard their food in response to other pets and people. To prevent resource guarding, all pets in the household may need their own space to eat. Any instances of resource guarding should be discussed with a behaviorist before it escalates. Children should never be allowed to touch or remove food from any dog while it is eating.


Alone Time

Time alone is not easy for the social Miniature Bull Terrier. The breed may suffer from separation anxiety, and can exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors without enough attention. Crate training may be necessary, but Mini Bulls have been known to break out of their crates—or injure themselves trying. A home where people are usually around, or bringing the dog along, is ideal for this breed. If a Mini Bull Terrier must stay home alone, offer plenty of attention and exercise while you are home, and leave her in a secure, dog-proofed area with plenty of mentally stimulating toys.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

11-14 years


Grooming

Minimal grooming is necessary to keep the MBT’s short, glossy coat healthy. Though Mini Bull Terriers shed heavier seasonally, a quick daily brush and baths once a month or so are all that is necessary. A mild shampoo will help prevent skin irritation. Because their eyes tend to get harmless crusty buildup, a daily wipe across the eyes with a warm, damp cloth may be necessary. If the eyes become swollen or red, or the discharge is smelly, seek medical attention. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail.


Common Health Issues

While generally healthy dogs, Mini Bull Terriers may have breed-specific health concerns, including:


  • Luxating patellas
  • Kidney disorders
  • Eye disease and irritation
  • Heart disease
  • Skin irritation and allergies
  • Deafness

You can minimize serious health concerns in a Miniature Bull Terrier by purchasing her from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.

Trainability

Basics

Positive reinforcement, plenty of treats, and a sense of humor are key to earning good behavior from the Miniature Bull Terrier. Though intelligent, MBTs are stubborn—it takes patience, but with time the Mini Bull Terrier can pick up basic obedience. You'll need to make it worth their time—games are their favorite way to learn, and boring, repetitive lessons will be ignored completely. Socialization and good manners should be a priority for this spunky breed.


Advanced Training

This self-interested breed isn’t eager to please, but is happy to play. If you make advanced training fun, the MBT will enjoy the chance to learn. Harsh correction or boring lessons will get you nowhere. Many Mini Bull Terriers enjoy having a job to do—agility or Earthdog trials may be a good way to burn the Mini Bull’s energy, and rally obedience can be a relaxed way to show off a MBT’s skills. Canine Good Citizen certification is held by many Mini Bulls.


Miniature Bull Terriers are eligible to compete for the Hildie Versatility Award through the Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America. This competition judges MBTs on their versatility and awards earned throughout a variety of categories including sports, citizenship, obedience, Earthdog, tracking, and more.


Sporting Dog Training

Though the Miniature Bull Terrier isn’t a modern sporting dog, they may be able to put their history as a vermin hunter to use in Earthdogging or barn hunt trials. Some Mini Bulls excel at nosework and tracking.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Miniature Bull Terriers.

Explore Other Breeds

The Miniature Bull Terrier is considered a hypoallergenic dog as they shed less than many other dogs. The Standard Bull Terrier is not considered hypoallergenic. Though no dog truly possesses zero risk of stimulating a reaction in allergic individuals, the Mini Bull Terrier is less likely to trigger allergies than other breeds.

Some Mini Bull Terriers suffer from obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as tail chasing, excessive licking, or displaying an intense attachment to specific objects. These behaviors and others may arise if an MBT is left home alone for too long, or if they are not getting enough exercise and attention. If a Mini Bull Terrier is showing signs of obsessive-compulsive behaviors, consult a veterinarian or behaviorist for management advice and assistance.


Mild neurological behaviors such as tail chasing, pacing, and spinning can be discouraged through distraction, but more frequent or severe behaviors may be a sign of a bigger problem. In extreme cases, seizure-like episodes referred to as Sudden Onset Aggression (SOA) may occur in sleeping Bull Terriers—they may wake suddenly and attempt to bite or lunge until they reach full consciousness. SOA can’t be managed through training, as these dogs aren’t aware of their behavior during the episodes, but special considerations—including crating the dog during sleep and never disturbing them—may help manage the condition. Consult your dog’s veterinarian if you suspect she has SOA.

Ghost walking or trancing is a habit some dog breeds display, and Bull Terriers lead the pack as the best known for the behavior. While dogs are trancing, they begin to creep slowly while allowing an object to touch their back or head gently. They aren’t usually quick to respond while they’re in their trance. While nobody is sure what triggers these ghost walking episodes, there may be a tactile element—the feel of a plant or tablecloth against their head or back feels so good they want to savor it. There doesn’t seem to be a neurological disorder or any concern for other behaviors popping up—but it sure does seem to make them happy.