The pint sized version of the Bull Terrier, the Miniature Bull Terrier like its larger sibling was developed during the middle of the 19th century, in a time when the difference between the two breeds was only determined by the individuals dog's weight. Like the full sized version, the Miniature Bull Terrier was considered to be an excellent pest exterminator and had the added bonus of being able to chase its quarry into its den. In his 1872 work, The Dogs of the British Island, John Henry Walsh writes ”The bull terrier is a capital vermin dog, and, if small enough, " goes to ground " well at fox or badger ; but is too severe in his attack, his tendency being to kill rather than bolt his fox.” The tendency to breed smaller and smaller Bull Terriers created a problem, however, and by the middle of the 20th century the Miniature Bull Terrier had become so small and fine that it looked more like a Chihuahua than a Bull Terrier. This problem was corrected during the 1970’s when a height standard was developed for the breed. Today the Miniature Bull Terrier (or Mini as it is sometimes called) is a popular house pet and show dog renowned for its energetic and playful disposition with its human family.
Descended from dogs known to be fierce gladiators in the fighting arena, the Miniature Bull Terrier has a long and dignified past. Although the breed has a much more gentle temperament now than it was originally bred for, these dogs were once used quite successfully as competitive fighters and ratters in the gaming pits. Over the course of their history, the Miniature Bull Terrier would go from being a fierce competitor to being a superb watchdog and a faithful companion. But to truly understand the Miniature Bull Terrier’s history, an exploration into the history of its predecessor, the Bull Terrier is necessary as the two breeds were seen as a singular breed for many years.
Early Bull Terrier breeds ranged in size from tiny toy dogs, to the standard, full-sized dogs that are present today. Toy Bull Terriers were shown in England until about 1914. The toy version did not gain much popularity at that time, however, as there was no consistency to their breed type. The toy Bull Terrier suffered much the same fate as many breeds produced by extreme miniaturization. Congenital deformities, dwarfing distortions, and numerous health issues plagued these little Bull Terriers and eventually the toy version disappeared. Fanciers of the breed instead began to concentrate their breeding efforts on producing a small, but not tiny version of the standard Bull Terrier type. Exact in every way to the Bull Terrier, differing only in size. This was therefore, the genesis of the Miniature Bull Terrier breed.
The Miniature Bull Terrier would not suffer the same difficulties as the toy version, and thus became more popular than the tiny ones had been. It closely resembled the standard Bull Terrier, but was a more manageable size. Both the standard sized Bull Terrier and the Miniature Bull Terrier’s development are both credited to Hinks for his original breeding efforts which produced the signature white color, unusual egg-shaped head, and gameness that the breed is known for.
In 1938, Colonel Glyn founded the Miniature Bull Terrier Club in England, and in 1939 the English Kennel Club recognized the Miniature Bull Terrier as its own unique breed. In 1963, the Miniature Bull Terrier became eligible to show with the AKC in the Miscellaneous Group. The Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America (MBTCA) was established in 1966; it would go on to become the parent club to the breed with the AKC. In 1991, the Miniature Bull Terrier was fully accepted into the AKC’s Terrier Group. The Miniature Bull Terrier is currently ranked 130th out of 167 breeds on the AKC’s 2010 most popular dog breeds list.
Both the Bull Terrier and the Miniature Bull Terrier breeds continued to increase in popularity as the years passed. Both versions of the breed have even appeared as characters in books, movies, and cartoons; and were used in several American advertising campaigns, such as portraying Spud McKenzie in the Budweiser Beer commercials in the late 1980’s, and most recently as “Bullseye” the dog mascot for the retail chain Target.
The Miniature Bull Terrier resembles its predecessor, the Bull Terrier, exactly in both shape and appearance differing only in the size of the dog. The Miniature version of the Bull Terrier breed stands just 10 to 14 inches at the withers and should be square and strong. There is no specific weight requirement other than it being proportionate to the height of the dog, and is generally 20 to 34 lbs. A symmetrical structure should be present and the Miniature Bull Terrier should appear strong and determined.
The head and skull of the Miniature Bull Terrier alike is a signature feature of the breed. The head is egg-shaped or oval throughout, possessing no noticeable curves or indentations. The appearance of the head should suggest fullness to the facial structure. The skull should curve slightly toward the nose, with a visibly longer space between the nose and eyes than there is between eyes and the top of the head. There is no stop and the black nose should tip forward at the end and be possessing of strong nostrils; with a tight jaw displaying a level or scissors bite. A flat forehead separates, ever so slightly, small and erect ears. Set high on the Miniature Bull Terrier's head and deep into the face, the eager eyes are piercingly dark and triangular in shape. The eyes express intelligence and an intense devotion to its master. The Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier breeds are the only dogs known to have triangular shaped eyes.
The arched neck is narrow at the top and widens slightly into broad and flat shoulders. Both the neck and shoulders are strong and muscular. The well-built shoulder blades should give way to straight and largely boned forelegs. The Bull Terrier’s back is short, arching faintly at the loin. The body is round with well sprung and deep ribs, and a chest that is wide and profound. The tummy should tuck up elegantly. Hindquarters are solid and powerful, with extremely muscular thighs and well bent stifle joints, with short and straight pasterns. The tail of the Miniature Bull Terrier is short and straight, set high and level with the back, it is thick at the base and tapers to a point. The feet are well arched, compact, and round for both front and back paws.
The Miniature Bull Terriersports a very short and tight fitting coat of harsh, but shiny hair. The breed may display a solid white coat or other solid colors, or may be spotted, with any color combination being permitted.
The modern day Miniature Bull Terrier is simply a tiny version of its larger sibling the Bull Terrier. Many people find the Miniature Bull Terrier easier to manage than the larger breed. Both the Bull Terrier and the Miniature Bull Terrier breeds are active and loving; real clowns who enjoy being comical and that greatly adore being around people. The Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier breeds are fun loving; they make excellent family companions for those maintaining an active lifestyle. The Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier is known for “bully runs”, where the dog will tear through the house and yard for no apparent reason. This behavior is good for some laughs, as the breeds’ impetuous goofiness can be very entertaining. This type of behavior also displays the Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier’s desire to be the center of attention.
The Miniature Bull Terrier will become much attached to its owner and family, and will want to be included in all activities. The breed greatly enjoys spending time with human companions and an active and lively breed of dog that loves to play, especially to play rough. A Miniature Bull Terrier can be a tough playmate and may knock over small children. As such, the Miniature Bull Terrier is not recommended as a companion to fragile people, like young children, the elderly, or the infirm.
Fearless, loyal, and a bit scrappy; the Miniature Bull Terrier may protect its owner in a dangerous situation, but the breed was not specifically developed to be a guard dog. This is not to say that the breed is in anyway cowardly as the Miniature Bull Terrier breed is known for being exceedingly courageous, as would be expected from dogs possessing such a heritage. The breed has a natural guard dog instinct; however, absent a threat the Miniature Bull Terrier is generally good with strangers, however they can become fairly protective of their people and territory.
The breed does possess a strong prey drive, and will often chase smaller animals; therefore a Miniature Bull Terrier should always be kept on a leash when being walked or in a fenced yard when playing. Miniature Bull Terriers are not recommended for households with other animals, because of this natural inclination toward chasing prey. This breed can easily cause injury or death to other pets like cats, rabbits, and hamsters due to their smaller size. The breed does have a tendency to be aggressive toward other dogs because of their early development, and therefore it is recommended that a Miniature Bull Terrier be the only pet in a household. An unaltered male Miniature Bull Terrier may not behave well toward other male dogs, even in a brief encounter while walking; owners should keep adequate distance between their Miniature Bull Terrier and other dogs they encounter on the street.
For the Miniature Bull Terrier, early socialization is paramount to the proper development of the dog’s temperament and a pleasing personality. Early exposure to new people, places, things, and experiences will help the dog develop into a well-adjusted adult. Even with early socialization and a pleasant temperament, the Miniature Bull Terrier should never be fully trusted with other animals; close supervision is always a must for these breeds. Some Miniature Bull Terriers may get along with cats or dogs they were raised with, but may still be completely intolerant of other dogs they don’t know. Introducing new dogs to a Miniature Bull Terrier is unwise and friends that visit should be encouraged to leave their pets home.
The Miniature Bull Terrier is an intelligent breed and the dog will often display a mind of its own. They are independent thinkers and can be difficult to train. The breed does however; respond well to consistent and firm training, supervision, and correction. Training for a Miniature Bull Terrier should begin early in the dog’s life, and should be performed in a calm and assertive manner. The breed will not respond to harsh treatment or discipline. Pack leadership must be displayed by the owner constantly and consistently, as the Miniature Bull Terrier is clever and will test the limits to see what kind of naughty behaviors it will be allowed to get away with. Miniature Bull Terriers and Miniature Miniature Bull Terriers can be self-governing and stubborn; the breeds are not a recommended pet for first-time dog owners or those owners with a meek personality.
Training a Miniature Bull Terrier can be a very long process; therefore patience on the part of the owner is needed when working with this breed. The Miniature Bull Terrier has a relatively short attention span, so training sessions should not be excessively long and should include a variety of activities in order to retain the dog’s interest. When the Miniature Bull Terrier begins to lose interest in the lesson, which they are regularly known to do, a treat may be used to reestablish the dog’s attention and focus on the lesson. Even a well trained Miniature Bull Terrier may still try to test the boundaries of poor behavior from time to time; strong leadership, consistent correction, and constant supervision is required to keep control of the Miniature Bull Terrier’s strong temperament.
The breed is lively and will require vigorous exercise to stay happy and healthy. Even with this large exercise requirement, the Miniature Bull Terrier can still thrive in a small home or apartment, just as well as in a large home provided its exercise needs are met. The Miniature Bull Terrier is a robust breed; happiest when engaged in lots of stimulating activity. The requirement for activity and exercise for the Miniature Bull Terrier can be adequately met through a combination of activities that include long walks, hiking, running, chasing a ball, and playing outdoors. If your Miniature Bull Terrier is not getting enough exercise, it will be sure to let you know, as the breed is known for engaging in destructive behaviors when bored. Miniature Bull Terriers are notorious for chewing and digging, and therefore sufficient exercise is an absolute must for this breed.
The Miniature Bull Terrier is also known to suffer from separation anxiety. Those considering adding a Miniature Bull Terrier to their household should make positively sure that they have enough time to spend with the dog; those who work away from home for long periods of time should perhaps consider a different dog for a pet. When left alone for extended periods of time, the Miniature Bull Terrier may become destructive or display neurotic and obsessive compulsive habits, like chasing its tail. As the Miniature Bull Terrier does best when it is the sole pet of a household, getting another dog to keep your dog from feeling lonely when you are away will not solve the problem. Some Miniature Bull Terriers need to be crated when left alone, in order to prevent destructive behaviors and in some cases this will prove ineffective as members of the breed have been known to injure themselves chewing or busting through even the strongest of crates.
Although the Miniature Bull Terrier is a tiny version of the larger Bull Terrier, there is nothing tiny about the breed’s personality. Both versions are loyal, intense, persistent, sometimes pushy, and constantly active; but always loving. They are tireless playmates and their unpredictable craziness and silly antics can provide a lifetime of laughs and fun.
The Bull Terrier’s short haired coat requires minimal grooming to keep the dog healthy and attractive. A weekly brushing will suffice, as well as a quick rubbing with a towel or chamois to make the coat shine. The dog can be wiped clean with a cloth when dirty, but regular bathing is not harmful to the Bull Terrier’s skin or coat so this can be included in its monthly grooming if desired.
As with all dog breeds, regular attention should be paid to the care and maintenance of the Bull Terrier’s teeth, eyes, ears, and nails. Regular grooming of these areas will help detect health problems early on or prevent them altogether.
The Miniature Bull Terrier has a hearty life expectancy of 11 to 14 years and there is documentation of Miniature Bull Terriers that have lived into a 17th or even an 18th year. Being purebred dogs, the Miniature Bull Terrier does have several health concerns that are specific to them. Some tests and certifications of health that have been recommended for the Miniature Bull Terrier include an OFA certificate, CERF certificate, BAER certificate, and heart and kidney tests. Also, deafness is found in approximately 20% of all white dogs and 1.3% of colored members of the Miniature Bull Terrier breed, and therefore should be checked for.
A further concern for the health of these breeds is sun protection. Many Miniature Bull Terriers can be either all white or colored, but all possess light skin and short and sparse hair, therefore they can become sunburned easily. Sunscreen may be used to prevent sunburn and any further complications if cancer develops from excessive sun exposure.
The following is list of health concerns associated with the Miniature Bull Terrier breed: