The Bull Terrier's stocky, muscular physique, athletic prowess and bold disposition give this breed the label "gladiator of the the canine race," and the miniature version is no exception. Weighing in at around 20 pounds, standing around 14 inches tall and with the breed's distinctive "egg-shaped" head, the Miniature Bull Terrier is a lot of dog in a compact package. Hailing from the United Kingdom, the ancestral "Bull-and-Terrier" first drew recognition in 1938 as a pit fighter. Today's Mini Bull has retained some of its ancestors' courage, but proper socialization draws out his clownish, outgoing, lovable personality.
Since Miniature Bull Terriers are predisposed to allergies, which show up as hot spots on the skin, breeders recommend feeding an unprocessed grain-free diet, including a balance of protein, fat and animal-based carbohydrates. A diet of raw animal and plant foods, similar to what the canine's ancestor, the wolf, ate in the wild, meets the nutritional needs of the Mini Bull Terrier well. Raw muscle meat and certain organs keep his body toned while providing the energy he needs for his active lifestyle. Devoid of grains, the raw diet minimizes or prevents allergies and nourishes the skin and coat. Miniature Bull Terriers are prone to obesity and thus need portion control; don't free-feed this breed, but have specific set mealtimes each day.
Mini Bulls tend to react negatively to harsh commands. Use positive-reinforcement techniques that use operant conditioning as the primary basis for training. When your Mini sits and waits for his dinner, reward him with praise and his bowl of food. If your Mini performs somersaults in place (or spins in circles, as some Minis will do) as you prepare his meal, wait for him to calm down before serving it. This teaches him that desired behavior--sitting and waiting--brings good things, while undesirable behavior has no reward. This works better than harshly correcting him and yelling "No!" Your intelligent and interested Mini Bull will repeat behaviors that reward him, and he'll stay focused on training that resembles a "game" as opposed to activities that could result in yelling if he does something wrong. Nothing demonstrates leadership more effectively than following through on commands. If your Mini doesn't sit after you've given him the "sit" command several times, don't give in and feed him. Delay his dinner and wait for him to sit and wait before putting down the bowl.
This high-spirited, intelligent breed needs plenty of room and opportunity to expend his energy. Play games that include running, romping and retrieving with your Mini Bull. At minimum, provide one or two 30- to 45-minute walks daily in addition to your playtime. Add training sessions to teach commands such as "heel" and "come when called" to your daily exercise routine to stimulate your Mini mentally. Breeders assert that without daily vigorous exercise, Miniature Bull Terriers tend to vent their pent-up energy in destructive behaviors like chewing.
Mini Bulls need people. Since they tend to bond with one or two family members, it's important to provide a wide social circle for your Mini Bull so he doesn't become overprotective of the family. Introduce your Miniature Bull Terrier to various people, places and things, especially during his critical development period of 12 to 16 weeks--this is the time when your puppy needs exposure to other dogs, people of all ages and places outside your home. While the Mini Bull may not welcome the friendship of every dog he meets, he does enjoy playtime with other dogs, early socialization increases his acceptance of other friendly dogs. Protecting his owner comes naturally to the Mini Bull. Teach your dog to distinguish between friendly strangers and real threats by exposing him to myriad positive experiences to build healthy confidence. Avoid prolonged separation and isolation from his family, friends and canine playmates. Long-term isolation in a backyard or crate creates boredom and tension in the intelligent Mini and sets the foundation for destructive behavior and fearful aggression due to a lack of exposure to varied people and situations.
Mini Bull Terriers have powerful jaws. They can chew and swallow objects more easily than other dogs of similar size. Provide only hard rubber toys for retrieve games, and only use toys that are in good condition. Prevent your Mini Bull from chewing small toys or soft rubber or any plastic toys; the breed's powerful jaws can shred such toys in short order, and this can pose serious health risks, such as choking and internal blockages. Rawhide chews should be avoided for the same reasons; as rawhide is chewed, it softens and can break into easily swallowed pieces. The Bull Terrier Club of Canada recommends large Nylabone toys to avoid choking hazards.
Find a Good Breeder
The Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America provides some excellent resources to help you locate a healthy Mini Bull, as well as plenty of information on the breed. When researching the breed and looking to add a Mini to your family, make the MBT Club your first stop (see Resources below). Look for breeders who can provide pedigree papers and health-testing results of the sire and dam. Avoid breeders who do not keep the sire and dam, or at least the dam, of the puppies on their premises for you to meet.
By Tina Boyle
The Bull Terrier Club of Canada: The Healthy Bull Terrier
Dog Adoption and Training Guide: Miniature Bull Terrier
Proux Kennels: Critical periods for puppies
The Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America
About the Author
Tina Boyle has been writing since 2000. Trained as a journalist, she has traveled to over 150 US cities. She specializes in travel, culture, pets, business and social networking and regularly publishes in newspapers, magazines and on Web sites. She received a Bachelor of Arts in writing from the College of Santa Fe.