So You Want a Miniature Bull Terrier
“They’re so cute!”
“They’re so funny!”
“They’re so sweet!”
All of these describe the Miniature Bull Terrier. MBTs are playful, clownish dogs who who love their families like no other breed. Sounds like the perfect dog, right?
Minis also are active, especially when they are young. Both MBTs and bull terriers have been described as “3-year-olds in dog suits.” All puppies are “busy” … and many Minis continue to be active and playful as puppies well into their middle age (5 to 6 years). MBTs like to be doing something all the time, so they are good dogs for active families where they will receive lots of companionship and supervision. They also are great pets for older, active retired people who have lots of time to spend with their dog.
How are they to train?
Like most terrier breeds, Mini Bulls are highly intelligent, curious … and independent. Start training your dog early and reinforce that training throughout your dog’s life. Many of our members recommend the clicker training method described in When Pigs Fly by Jane Killion, a trainer of champion Bull Terriers. Click here to learn more about When Pigs Fly.
Can I leave a Mini Bull at home alone?
Not for long. MBTs who are left along for long periods of time or who don’t get enough exercise don’t do well. They become bored, and a smart dog that gets bored gets into trouble. They will chew on and tear apart anything they can get their paws on and may decide that pottying outside is optional. In some cases, separation anxiety triggers nonstop barking or even a form of OCD that makes the dog chase its tail incessantly. If you work long hours every week and then collapse on the couch when you get home, this is not the breed for you.
Are Minis affectionate?
Mini Bulls are extremely loving dogs. The only thing a Mini loves as much as having fun is having a snuggle with its owner.
Because Miniature Bull Terriers become so attached to their owners and their families, however, care must be taken that they are not encouraged to become possessive and jealous. A Mini who thinks his family is threatened — say, during a children’s fight — may intervene.
Your MBT will want to be with you and your family as much as possible. Decide what your rules are (sleeping on the bed or in a crate? allowed under the table at dinner or not?) and reinforce them with constant, firm discipline.
How are they with kids?
They love kids and are great with them — but as with any breed, use common sense. Young Miniature Bull Terriers, like small children, require large amounts of supervision. Minis are pretty tolerant of children’s behavior toward them, but teasing and roughhousing should be discouraged. An MBT is mostly muscle with a big hard head; rough play with a Mini Bull often includes nipping and the occasional headbutt.
They are tireless playmates and will chase balls, follow the children and watch their games for hours.
How are they with other dogs?
Many Miniature Bull Terriers can and do enjoy the company other dogs — with certain exceptions. Unneutered Male MBTs do not, as a rule, get along indefinitely with other male dogs. Inevitably one of the males decides it wants to be the boss, there is a nasty fight, and the two must live completely separated from then on.
A male and female Miniature Bull Terrier can live together quite happily and two females often share the same home. Again, care must be taken to jealousies do not arise. It is not fair to expect an old Miniature Bull Terrier who has enjoyed the full attention of the family to want to share with another dog. This again is very similar to a young child who suddenly finds himself confronted with a baby sibling — some care must be taken to assure the older one that the youngster belongs to the whole family.
What health issues do Minis have?
MBTs are prone to certain genetic health problems. If you are buying a purebred puppy, ask the breeder for the results of health tests performed on both sire and dam and the puppy for heart and kidney issues, deafness, patellas, and primary lens luxation. If the breeder cannot or will not produce the results, find another breeder.
The MBTCA is working hard to promote the health of the breed and ethical breeding practices. Our members must adhere to a Code of Ethics that, among other things, requires health testing of breeding dogs and puppies.
Puppies up to 1 year of age are also susceptible to sudden lameness. This is due to a combination of weight and density of the muscle, rapid growth rate and the character of the breed. Great leaps, sudden changes of direction, or sudden stops at high speeds put a great deal of strain on the immature joints and ligaments of this very muscular breed. The joints are simply not strong enough to resist the torque applied by the weight and musculature of the young dog. So your puppy should not be encouraged to do things that will put too much strain on its joints until it is full mature.
Click here to learn more about MBT health issues.
Do they shed?
Miniature Bull Terriers shed their coats twice a year. The loose hair can be removed by a daily rubdown with a special rubber glove.
How long do they live?
Old age brings on the usual battery of infirmities to which Miniature Bull Terriers are not immune. A Miniature Bull Terrier may well live an active and healthy life until he is 11 or 12, which is about the normal span of this breed.
Miniature Bull Terriers are unique in the spectrum of dogs. They have been carefully selected and bred largely by responsible and caring people who understand the legacy of their chosen breed. They can give tremendous joy or wreck havoc depending on the time and effort spent by their owners to control and develop their special character.
Adapted from text by Kathy Schoeler, MBTCA Corresponding Secretary, 1998