Miniature bull terriers are a unique, enthusiastic breed within the terrier group. They’re comical dogs that live to entertain their owners and get into all sorts of shenanigans.
They’re upbeat dogs that’ll bring joy into any home, but they can be rather chaotic pets. You should be aware of their enthusiastic and energetic personalities before making one part of your family.
Characteristics of Miniature Bull Terriers
Body size. Miniature bull terriers are the smallest bull terrier breed in existence today. The miniature bull terrier size is about the same for males and females.
They can range anywhere from 10 to 14 inches tall at their shoulders. Healthy dogs can weigh anywhere from 18 to 28 pounds. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re concerned that your dog is too far underweight or overweight.
Their manageable size means that miniature bull terriers are more portable than their larger relatives. They can travel with you without too much extra effort or planning on your part.
Body shape. Miniature bull terriers are about as long as they are tall. They’re strong, symmetrical dogs.
They have short backs and broad, rounded chests.
Their heads have a distinct, easily recognizable egg shape. There shouldn’t be too many hollows or indentations on their face, and their foreheads are flat from ear to ear.
Their ears are small, thin, and set close together on the skull. When a dog’s excited, their ears become stiff and upright on their heads.
They have short tails that are set low on their rears. These taper to fine points at the end and are usually carried horizontally.
Lifespan. The miniature bull terrier lifespan is typical for dogs of their size. They live an average of 13 to 15 years. You should be prepared for well over a decade with one of these dogs if you bring a puppy home.
Coats. These dogs have short, flat coats that feel harsh when you touch them. They’re usually glossy and arranged on skin that’s wrinkle-free.
The AKC recognizes 16 different coat colors for the breed including:
- Black, tan, and white
- Fawn and white
- White, black, and brindle
Eyes. Their eyes are dark and sunk deep into their skulls. They look like small triangles that are set close together and far up on the skull, away from the muzzle.
Personality. The miniature bull terrier personality is akin to a class clown. They’re energetic, upbeat dogs that have a sense for both mischief and comedy.
The AKC rates them a five out of five for affection, but they can be willful too.
The miniature bull terrier temperament is courageous, even fearless. They should remain even-keeled in most situations, though, if they get proper training early on in life.
Caring for Miniature Bull Terriers
Grooming. The miniature bull terrier has an easy grooming routine. Give them a good brushing on a weekly basis to keep their coat smooth and shiny. Give them a bath whenever they become too dirty or smelly for your liking.
This breed’s nails can grow quickly, which can make walking difficult or painful. Make sure you trim them on a regular basis. You can use clippers or even try a grinder to avoid splitting any overgrown nails.
You also need to regularly check their ears for dirt and debris. Have your veterinarian check for signs of infection if you start to notice a lot of wax build-up.
Brush their teeth on a daily basis to help prevent dental disease.
Feeding. Make sure that your pet has access to clean water at all times.
Your miniature bull terrier should be fed with high-quality dog food. Try to find a brand that your pet enjoys. Make sure that the nutritional requirements are specific to their stage of life, including puppy and senior-specific foods.
Always consult your veterinarian before choosing to make an at-home blend for your dog. Making your own food can be a time-consuming and complicated process, and you will want to make sure that you’re meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs.
Also, make sure that you know what human foods are safe for your dog to eat before feeding them anything from your kitchen.
Exercise and Mental Stimulation. If you choose to adopt a miniature bull terrier, you’ll need to pay particular attention to their exercise needs.
When they’re puppies, they need to be exercised carefully. They need enough exercise to maintain muscle tone, but not so much that they develop a condition called sudden lameness. You should especially not let puppies jump down from heights or stop suddenly when they’re running.
These actions, along with their weight gain and added muscle density, can put too much pressure on their joints and harm their development. Keep in mind, though, that these are very energetic puppies that tend to be in constant motion. You’ll need to make an effort to keep them calm. Once the dogs are grown, they’ll need regular exercise, like a daily walk.
The AKC also rates them a four out of five for their mental stimulation needs, so make sure to keep them entertained with games and other new activities.
Veterinary visits, medications, and immunizations. Your veterinarian is the best person to determine all of the vaccinations that your pet needs, but all dogs should get a core set.
This includes vaccinations for:
- Canine parvovirus
- Parainfluenza virus
These can begin as early as six weeks of age. There are also non-core vaccinations that you can discuss with your veterinarian.
Dosages for flea and tick medications are based on your dog's weight. You should use them when you need them, depending on the season and your location. Oral and skin-based applications are available from your veterinarian or other distributors.
Many of these medications can be effective against a variety of pests and parasites, so talk to your veterinarian to figure out the best one for you. Heartworm medication is also recommended year-round in all parts of the U.S.
Health Problems to Watch for With Miniature Bull Terriers
Miniature bull terriers are an active breed that has its fair share of health issues.
Examples of common miniature bull terrier health issues include:
- Eye problems. Many different types of eye conditions can affect this breed. Cataracts and glaucoma are two examples. Another is an inherited condition called Primary Lens Luxation (PLL). It can cause your dog’s lens to loosen and create secondary complications. You should have your dog’s eyes examined regularly to detect any of these eye conditions.
- Heart disease. Heart murmurs can be an early sign of heart disease in your pet. With early detection and the proper medications, though, your dog can live for years with heart disease. You should have your veterinarian check them regularly to catch the condition early on.
- Kidney disease. You should have your dog tested annually to look for any problems with their kidney function. Early detection can make treatment easier. A special diet will likely play a role in your dog's treatment plan if they’re diagnosed with kidney problems.
- Laryngeal paralysis. This condition is more common in older dogs. Their vocal cords collapse, which can make it difficult for them to breathe. Look for panting and other signs that your dog isn’t getting enough oxygen. You should bring them to the veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms because treatment could require emergency surgery.
- Tail chasing. Although many dogs enjoy chasing their tails, that behavior can develop into a neurotic disorder in this breed. They can become obsessed with their tails and even injure themselves. You should try to distract your dog whenever this behavior starts. Your veterinarian may even need to prescribe a medication to help.
- Thyroid problems. A common problem is hypothyroidism, a condition where your dog’s body can’t make enough thyroid hormone. Signs can include weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, and behavioral problems. Your veterinarian should screen for this condition on a regular basis. The condition usually manifests after your pet is four years old. Treatment is usually in the form of a pill to replace the hormones.
- Patellar luxation. This is a common cause of lameness in dogs that’s due to problems with your pet’s knee joint. They could be born with this condition or develop the problem from an injury. The treatment will depend on how severe your dog’s condition is but could include surgery.
Special Considerations for Miniature Bull Terriers
Before bringing a miniature bull terrier home, you should keep in mind that they’re only moderately good with young children and other dogs. The AKC rates them a three out of five for both traits.
Although they don’t drool very much, they are a very vocal breed. They’re likely to bark at the slightest provocation.
These dogs are very excitable and need early training and socialization for you to be able to control their willful personalities.
History of Miniature Bull Terriers
Miniature bull terriers were first bred around the 1830s to be fighting dogs. They were bred by crossing bulldogs with the now-extinct white English terrier. This created the category of dogs that were originally known as “bull and terrier” breeds.
They are currently the smallest breed of bull terrier. In fact, the only remaining bull terriers are the standard larger cousins of these minis.
Almost all terriers are great at catching domestic rodents, and miniature bull terriers are no exception. The standard bull terrier is able to burrow into the ground to get game. The smaller size of the miniature bull terrier means that they’re better at above-ground ratting.
The first written record of this breed is in an 1872 piece called The Dogs of British Island. The AKC first categorized these dogs in the miscellaneous class in 1962. It wasn’t until 1991, though, that miniature bull terriers were recognized as being their own breed by the AKC.