The Miniature Bull Terriers are sweet-tempered, yet rowdy and clownish, full of fire and determination. These muscular, forceful, vigorous “gladiators” of the dog world do best with active families as they have a high energy level that comes in spurts and bursts. They are commonly described as exuberant with a tendency to play rough. They need frequent, brisk walks, occasional vigorous games of ball and total immersion in the family, i.e. LOTS of human companionship and interactive play sessions for balance and mental health. In other words, they are a time demanding family member. If ignored or left alone too much, they become bored and mischief surely follows. Youngsters who are neglected can be especially rambunctious and destructive. Most Miniature Bull Terriers greet strangers with enthusiastic bounding (often knocking the guest over) and face kissing. This breed is completely unaware of its incredible strength, endurance and athletic agility. However, prey drive and timidity may be present, making early socialization and on-going training a must to develop a stable attitude. A Miniature Bull Terrier prefers to be the only pet in the household, not having to compete with others for attention. They have strong-willed minds of their own that require a confident and consistent owner who maintains the leadership role at all times. At some point, if you do not raise this breed with consistent confidence on your part, he will likely challenge your ability to control his actions. Such dominance attempts must be met with calm assertiveness. Keep training sessions brief but on-going for mental stimulation. Many Miniature Bull Terriers are enthusiastic “talkers” who grunt and mumble to you and to themselves to the point where you may find yourself having a conversation with them. As with any breed, there are numerous pros and cons depending on a household’s individual lifestyle and expectations but it should be evident through research that taking on a Miniature Bull Terrier is a serious proposition and requires a major commitment from you. That being said, sharing your home with one can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. One thing is definitely for certain, living with a Miniature Bull Terrier is guaranteed to be sometimes trying, often chaotic but never boring!!
The history of the Miniature Bull Terrier (MBT)begins in the 18th and 19th centuries. A colourful, fierce, bold and, often time, sad collection of events combined to allow for the creation of the modern day Miniature Bull Terrier. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1991. There are several trustworthy authors who have written about the Bull Terrier and MBT who have most of the same basic bred characteristics. These authors address historical accounts of origin, breeding/whelping and rearing recommendations, as well as training and events that you can enjoy with your dog (see valuable reading list).
Gentlemen and women, alike, grew to love the BT and the smaller Bull Terriers now known as Miniatures, during the latter part of the 19th century in England. The dog moved away from the fighting pits and into the households and show rings of the well-to-do. The attractive qualities of fierceness and boldness were matched with the endearing qualities of a big heart and devotion to the human caregiver that was unabashed.
The Miniature Bull Terrier is not for everyone. Like their larger counterpart, each one is unique. In fact, if a buyer is not set on a show quality dog, but on temperament, the appropriate personality matches can more easily be made between buyer and dog. It has been said “life with a Bull Terrier is sometimes trying, often chaotic, but never dull”. We hope, at this point, you have researched this breed and know, intellectually, that this breed is for you. The dogs are active, stubborn (not stupid) and demanding of interaction. They need a firm, intelligent, consistent disciplinarian. You must train the dog from puppyhood to see you as the boss. If you are not able or desirous of working diligently to train your dog correctly (e.g. puppy classes, obedience, etc), please for the sake of yourself and the dog, find another breed to live with. Mini Bulls love their people and need companionship as well as supervision. They are not to be left alone in the yard or home as a rule. If unsupervised, the dogs should be crated or in a kennel run. Too much time alone may contribute to neurotic, destructive behaviours.
THEY’RE MUCH STRONGER THAN THEY LOOK
Their moderate size is deceptive. Pound for pound, they rank among the most powerful dogs around. If careful groundwork of proper training and socialization isn’t laid down, a Bull Terrier and/or Mini can be a lot more dog than the average family is equipped to deal with!
THEY HAVE AN EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH ENERGY LEVEL
Take a minute to estimate the amount of time you expect to spend exercising your dog then triple it if you are considering this breed. They need at least two long brisk walks a day or several extended play periods (ball chasing or other similar activity). If they don’t get this type of regular, vigorous workout, they may become restless and rowdy or they can substitute destructive activity (such as demolishing the furniture) as a way to work off pent-up steam. Following a full day, they love to curl up for hours next to any family member but someone in the household must be responsible for providing the daily exercise they crave.
THEY ARE STUBBORN AND INDEPENDENT
This is characteristic of most Terrier breeds which were developed to work on their own without much human input. If you are looking for instant obedience and a dog which will hang on your every command, one of the Working or Sporting breeds may be a better choice.
THEY CAN BE UNFRIENDLY TOWARDS OTHER ANIMALS
Sad but true, the breed was originally developed for purposes of dog-fighting and cat/rat killing. Today’s Bull Terriers are far removed from the pits of 19th century England and breeders have been largely successful in their efforts to stamp out aggressive tendencies. Nevertheless, prospective owners should be aware of this heritage and the necessity to nip any sign of an “attitude” in the bud. Once again, this points out the importance of giving your MBT the right sort of training from day one!
OBEDIENCE TRAINING ISN’T AN OPTION….IT’S A MUST!
This may seem contradictory in light of what we have just said, but it really isn’t. The fact that Mini Bull Terriers are so headstrong and dedicated to getting their own way, dictates the need to set strict standards and make very clear, right off the bat, who rules the roost! To quote an expert: “You should be prepared for anything and you must supervise them!” They are extremely affectionate and can make you think you are the only one that really matters but (actually) they live to please themselves. They will strive to please their owners when it benefits them. They have minds of their own and feel it is their place to run the household. They know how to get what they want and will go to great lengths to do so. Spanking accomplishes nothing as they know no pain, tell them how BAD they have been and their ears go back, their tails wag frantically, they crouch down in a submissive position and beg to be forgiven. Be prepared. Ten minutes later they will be right back doing whatever it was that got them in trouble in the first place!
This can be downright discouraging for someone unfamiliar with the breed. It is vital to realize that MBTs don’t easily take “no” for an answer and have to be thoroughly convinced you mean what you say and will follow through consistently on commands. Patience and persistence are key elements in this on-going effort.
The importance of finding the right trainer/training class for your MBT cannot be overestimated! While they require discipline and a firm hand, harsh methods are counter- productive. A reputable breeder, local MBT Club or Veterinarian should be able to provide you with the name of a suitable trainer.
THEY ARE CREATURES OF IMPULSE
Even the most perfectly schooled Mini Bull Terriers are unreliable off leash. The sight of something enticing on the horizon can cause them to forget any previous training, ignore your frantic cries, dash off to investigate and then just keep on going! Coming when called is NOT a breed strong point and they can be long gone in a matter of minutes. Some of the dire consequences: fatal encounters with cars, expensive brushes with the law or a permanently “lost dog”. Mini Bull Terriers should only be turned loose in a securely fenced enclosure. If having a dog run free at your side on your morning jog or lay snoozing in the sun, un-tethered on the front lawn while you wash your car is a priority, a Mini Bull Terrier is not for you.
Mini Bull Terriers have an innate sense of humor, brains, imagination, personality and to those who love them ….beauty. Their appearance, along with their character, is unique in the spectrum of dogs.
The character and personality of the Mini Bull Terrier is very complex. They are very active and are much like a 3-year old child in a dog suit. You must be prepared for anything and you must supervise them. They are playful, clownish, witty, silly, humourous, stubborn, conniving and sometimes even spiteful. They often display all of these characteristics within a ten minute time span.
One of the favourite pastimes of a Mini Bull Terrier is racing around the house at full speed for no apparent reason other than “just because” – They rarely collide with anything on these ”bully runs”. It is almost like they have RADAR. They dodge this and that with great agility. Things are safest when you do not interfere. Trying to stop them is like trying to catch a greased pig (or tank).
Their loyalty can be deceiving. Although they are extremely affectionate and can make you think you are the only one who really matters, they will go off with anyone who has a treat and a friendly voice and they will not even bother to look back. Bullies are much like cats. They will sit on your lap and beg to be petted and scratched. Or…they want nothing to do with you and are off by themselves to do their own thing….all in the same day. Mini Bull Terriers live to please themselves. They will strive to please their owners when it benefits them. They have minds of their own and feel that it is their place to run the household. They know how to get what they want and will go to great lengths to do so.
Bull Terriers can be very spiteful and when prevented from doing something they wish to do, will immediately run off to find one of your most valuable possessions and do their misdeeds. They do not miss a thing and are always in the middle of what is going on. Even while they are sleeping, they aren’t really! They are always listening and every so often a tiny little eye slit opens just to check things out.
Being left alone for long periods of time is totally unacceptable and they will let you know it. They love to chew the cushions of the couch into tiny little pieces and spit them out all over the floor. In about 5-10 minutes they can destroy the entire contents of your house. This is your punishment for leaving them alone!
Spanking them accomplishes nothing as they know no pain. However, tell them in a scornful voice how bad they have been and that you do not love them anymore and their ears go back, their tails wag frantically, they crouch down in a submissive position, their whole body wiggles and they beg to be forgiven. It is very difficult to remain angry with a Bully for very long. They will not let you. They will pester you and follow you around with those pathetic little eyes until you tell them they are forgiven and that everything is all right. Be prepared – ten minutes later they will be right back doing whatever it was that got them in trouble in the first place.
Most MBTs are bright, very busy, strong in body and mind, yet emotionally sensitive and noted for being the comedians of the dog world. They, like all Terriers, are independent and must be convinced positively that working with you is worth their while.
Basic obedience for both puppies (puppy kindergarten) and adults must be seriously considered. Proper training provides not only good manners for your MBT but emotional stability and socialization. Although very loving and friendly with people, MBTs are sensitive to hard corrective training. Because they were originally bred for strong prey behaviours and less pack instincts, they generally respond best to training when motivated with food and toys. The MBT must be handled firmly but with patience and lots of positive reinforcement. Young Mini Bull Terriers can be very rambunctious and must be taught not to jump or nip and grab when playing with small children or elderly people.
Training is best begun early and it is highly recommended that you enroll your young pup in a puppy kindergarten program that emphasizes reward-based training and heavy socialization. (Look for an Association of Pet Dog Trainer’s member’s class in your area). Minis respond well to food and toy rewards, great consistency, and firm guidelines but not to heavy- handed correction. It is difficult if not impossible to force them to do anything. They tend to have short attention spans at any age but are easily engaged with short, upbeat training sessions.
Training is made easier by adequately exercising your Mini and employing good basic dog management, which would include the wise use of baby gates, exercise pens and crates until your dog is mature and educated. Socialization, or exposure to new people, animals and experiences should continue throughout the dog’s life and formal manners training should continue at least through adolescence.
Because Bull Terriers have a very strong urge to chew, it is imperative to provide them with chew toys. Appropriate toys are Nylabones™ and plaque attackers; Kong™ products should only be given to your Bull Terrier while under supervision. Rawhides should not be given to a Mini Bull Terrier nor should any soft toys which could be swallowed or lodged in the throat. It is also essential to keep your MBT out of the garbage or trash where they might discover such things as mat, fish and poultry bones or corn cobs. They will also ingest other “toys” such as socks, chunks of blankets, underwear, various forms of plastic, rubber, metal screening and stones. Any of these items may cause an obstruction in the lower intestine. If you notice symptoms such as depression, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and lack of interest in food, contact your Veterinarian immediately – your MBT may have a blockage!
PROTECT A BULL
Mini Bull Terriers have a strong need for human companionship and should be kept strictly as a housedog – never chained or tethered outdoors. They do not tolerate temperature extremes (heat/cold) for long periods of time. If your dog plays outdoors, off leash, your yard must be fenced or enclosed. Even obedience trained MBTs should not be taken off your property without a leash.
Placing a MBT in a multi-pet household should be evaluated on an individual basis by someone familiar with the breed. With physically strong bodies and powerful mouths, they will defend themselves when faced with a perceived opponent. A confrontation with another animal over food or toys can result in physical damage to one or more of the animals involved.
Every Mini Bull Terrier should have its own crate. Crate training (using intermediate size, airline approved fibreglass or a sturdy wire crate – some Mini Bull Terriers will chew a fibreglass crate) can be extremely useful to a MBT owner and can be a haven for your Bull Terrier. The crate can be comfortable like his wild ancestors, he instinctively seeks the safety and security of a “den”. The fact that we may see the crate as a very limited space or very confining is only a human view. Both puppies and adults can be placed in their crates when their owners are away from home for several hours. They do not mind being placed in a crate for the night (when they haven’t wormed their way into your bed) and you will have peace of mind knowing your dog is safe. If you leave a crate in your house with the door open, and your Mini Bull Terrier is temporarily “missing”, you will probably find him in his crate – RESTING! Crates can also be used to safely transport your dog from place to place in addition to being the best way to housebreak a puppy.
Mini Bull Terriers are often stubborn but seldom stupid and seldom dull. Livening things up and making everyone laugh is their specialty. They seem to understand what you are feeling and will do their best to cheer you up and brighten your day when you are down in the dumps.
In general, they are not good watchdogs because everyone is a friend. They may bark when someone is outside but as soon as your guest or the intruder (whichever it may be) steps inside, he is usually greeted with a slurping tongue, a wildly thumping tail and the antics of a jumping jack.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A complete run-down on the pleasures and pitfalls of Mini Bull Terrier ownership would fill a book. As with any breed, there are numerous pros and cons depending on a household’s individual lifestyle and expectations but it should be evident that taking on a MBT is a serious proposition and requires a major commitment on your part. That being said, sharing your home with one can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. Mini Bull Terriers are intensely people oriented; dote on children and make cheerful, affectionate, amusing pets. However, many people cannot handle such an active dog, Mini Bull Terriers are not for everyone. If you think that this is the breed for you, purchase some books and read up on them. Then go to some local fun matches and all-breed shows so you can see them first hand. Talk to breeders and get to know them. Make sure you deal with a reputable breeder – one who cares about each individual puppy – not the money he makes from a sale. Do not be in a hurry. Be sure to find the right Mini Bull Terrier for you.
Miniature Bull Terriers have been selected and bred largely by responsible caring people who understand the breed and love it dearly. Most breeders try to keep it that way and are very particular when it comes to placing their puppies. You may be subjected to several “interviews” in your quest to find a puppy or to adopt a rescue dog. If you are one of the fortunate ones who gets a chance to give your home to a Mini Bull Terrier, and you can survive the first year, you’ll be hooked for life! Their antics are guaranteed to brighten your day and provide non-stop entertainment. Once you have lived with and loved one, it becomes hard to imagine owning another breed!
PERFORMANCE AND SHOWING FOR CONFORMATION
While there are MBTs who are titled in obedience and tracking, many more are today are excelling on agility courses, in earth-dog tunnels and as therapy dogs. The MBT Club of America has an awards program to honour Minis and their owners who achieve titles in performance sports and to encourage the deep owner/dog relationship that develops with training.
The head of the Bull Terrier is what sets them apart from any other breed. No other breed of dog has this shape head. . A good Mini Bull Terrier head is egg-shaped and void of hollows. There is no stop in front of the eyes as in the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier breeds. The profile arcs down, in varying degrees, from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. The dark little eyes peer out through tiny triangular slits (rounder eyes are not uncommon). The ears stand erect and should never be cropped. Occasionally, a Mini Bull Terrier will have larger ears which, if not taped as a puppy) will not stand up and will fold at the base. Sometimes one ear is affected, sometimes both. They are strong, well-muscled dogs that can stand anywhere from 14” at the withers, can weigh anywhere between 30 and 50 pounds and come in a variety of colours. The whites can have markings anywhere on the head but markings elsewhere are considered a severe fault. Spots on the skin are not considered markings and are not faulted. Only when the colour is in the hair is it considered a marking. The colours can be red, fawn, black and tan, any shade of brindle or any of these colours combined with white markings provided the white comprises less than 50%, of the entire body.