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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
A Miniature Bull Terrier is similar to the bigger Bull Terrier in all respects except size. He's got just as much energy and spunk, and he excels at canine performance sports (once you've convinced him it's worthwhile). He's active and cheerful with kids and his exuberance is infectious.
Because of his fun-loving, mischievous personality, the Miniature Bull Terrier is sometimes referred to as “the kid in a dog suit.”
As his name suggests, he is a Bull Terrier in miniature, standing 10 to 14 inches and weighing 25 to 33 pounds. The Mini Bull Terrier has just as much energy and gumption as his big brother, so don’t think he won’t be as much work.
The Miniature Bull Terrier is a curious and energetic dog who is as bull-headed as his name might suggest. He is an independent thinker with an endless desire to be digging, barking and investigating. If that behavior would drive you batty, the Miniature Bull Terrier is not for you. But if you have an excess of energy and curiosity, not to mention a great sense of humor, keep reading.
If you want a dog you can do things with, the Mini Bull Terrier is your man, er, dog. He excels at all kinds of organized and informal canine activities. He loves to hike and can be an excellent agility and obedience dog, if you can figure out how to motivate him.
A Miniature Bull Terrier needs firm, fair and consistent training from a young age so he'll understand the boundaries necessary for living with people. As long as he gets plenty of exercise and stimulation for his quick mind, he's perfectly capable of understanding that outside is for digging — in a specified area — and the living room sofa is for watching TV with you after the two of you have worn each other out.
Miniature Bull Terriers are active and cheerful playmates for kids, although they are too rambunctious for toddlers. They can get along with other dogs their size or bigger, but toy dogs and
cats are likely to set off their prey drive. They will chase and kill them if given the chance. Confine him to your yard with a solid fence. An underground electronic fence will not deter the Mini Bull Terrier if he sees something he wants to chase.
When he’s not re-landscaping your yard or chasing the neighbor’s
cat, the Miniature Bull Terrier is likely to be playing with his favorite squeaky toy or entertaining you by performing tricks. After wearing himself out with all this activity, he’ll curl up by you on the sofa while you watch TV.
The Miniature Bull Terrier has a smooth coat that needs a minimum of grooming – just a quick brushing once a week to keep shedding under control. Other than that, keep his ears clean, his nails trimmed and his teeth brushed. He's definitely meant to be a no-fuss dog.
Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Miniature
Bull Terrier needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Miniature Bull Terrier who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
The family tree of the
Bulldog is massive with many branches. One of those branches holds the bull-and-terrier breeds, the various results of 18
th-century crosses between
bulldogs and terriers. Those crosses were made with the intent of producing a dog with the strength and tenacity of the
bulldog and the intensity, alertness, agility and “game” nature of the terrier.
These dogs had an arched back, bent legs and an undershot jaw, all features that were reminiscent of the breed’s bulldog heritage. The earliest Bull Terriers came in a variety of sizes. Some were as small as four to seven pounds and were considered toy breeds. One well-known line of white toy
bull terriers came from Coverwood Kennels and were known as Coverwood Terriers. Others were medium-size at 15 pounds and some ranged up to 45 to 60 pounds, close to the size of the modern Bull Terrier.
A George Earl painting depicts Nelson, a Miniature Bull Terrier born in 1866 who was a famous show dog between 1868 and 1872. Nelson, who weighed less than 16 pounds, was the first English Bull Terrier champion. He looks more like modern Bull Terriers than those seen in earlier artwork, an example of the evolution that was occurring in Bull Terriers at the time.
James Hinks of Birmingham, England, was a well-known breeder of Bull Terriers in the 1860s, and it was he who started them on the road to the more refined look they have today: the longer head and the more symmetrical body that was predominantly or completely white. To create them he used existing bull-and-terriers, his white Bulldog Madman, and white English Terriers, which are now extinct.
Cavaliers, they became fashionable accessories for gentlemen about town and could be soon sitting alongside them as they drove their carriages through the park. A rhyme of the time tells the story of the breed succinctly, saying that Hinks “Found a Bull Terrier a tattered old bum; Made him a dog for a gentleman’s chum.”
The fad spread to the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1885, and the Bull Terrier Club of America was founded in 1897. Miniature Bull Terriers were exhibited until the start of World War I, but breeders found it difficult to maintain the proper look in such a small dog. The smallest dogs tended to have heads that looked more like apples than eggs, and their eyes bulged out instead of being sunken. England’s Kennel Club disavowed them in 1918, and it wasn’t until 1938 that a new club for Miniature Bull Terriers was formed in England. The dogs regained Kennel Club recognition in 1939.
In the United States, Miniature Bull Terriers were admitted to the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class in 1963 but didn’t receive full acceptance as a breed until 1991. Not as popular as his big brother, the Miniature Bull Terrier ranks 130th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
Life with a Miniature Bull Terrier is never dull. He is fearless, clownish, playful and busy. This is a dog who is always seeking out something interesting to do. If you don’t channel that interest in life productively, toward earthdog trials, therapy dog work, agility or other stimulating activities, well, you’ll probably be sorry. If you do, however, you’ll find yourself with an endlessly fun-loving and entertaining companion.
The Miniature Bull Terrier is a people dog, plain and simple. He's happiest when he's with his family so he’s a terrible choice for an outdoor dog. However, that isn't to say he wants to lie adoringly at your feet. He'd much rather you got up and came outside with him, and went on a short stroll of, say, 10 miles.
Those excursions might be a lot more fun if he weren’t an infamous leash-tugger with a tendency to go chasing after every dog,
cat and squirrel he sees. Be prepared to train him to listen to you – something he'll have a hard time seeing the value of much of the time.
Training isn't optional with this breed, unless the idea of a dog dragging you all over the neighborhood and ignoring every word you say in your own house appeals to you. This is an active, smart, stubborn dog who needs a firm, consistent leader if he is to become a civilized member of the family. Train your Miniature Bull Terrier from puppyhood on, with an emphasis on consistency, and you'll have a well-behaved, well-socialized canine family member.
Miniature Bull Terriers can be protective, especially if they think their family is in danger, so be sure to socialize them around strangers and don’t encourage aggressive or guarding behavior. They can also be protective of their own space, toys, and food. This behavior must be caught early and corrected consistently, as it can lead to serious behavior problems.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him to puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, so you can start building a strong working relationship, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and
parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. Invite people to your home as well so he becomes accustomed to visitors.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Miniature Bull Terrier, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Mini Bull Terriers are generally healthy, but conditions that may be seen in the breed include deafness, eye problems such as entropion and lens luxation, and kidney disease. At a minimum, ask breeders to show evidence that both a puppy’s parents have an OFA BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) hearing clearance and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that eyes are healthy.
The Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Mini Bull Terrier to achieve CHIC certification, he must have cardiac, hearing, and kidney clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), plus an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC’s website to see if a breeder’s dogs have these certifications.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs vet checked is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Mini Bull Terrier at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of diet and exercise to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
Grooming the Miniature Bull Terrier is a cinch. Though the breed is naturally clean with little doggie odor, a bath every three months (or when he’s dirty) in a mild shampoo for dogs is a good idea. Brush his sleek coat with a natural bristle brush or rubber hound mitt once a week. Use coat conditioner/polish to brighten the sheen.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, and brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Introduce grooming to the Bull Terrier when he is very young so he learns to accept the handling and fuss patiently.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the
dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Miniature Bull Terrier and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the
Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the MBTCA’s
code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of an Miniature Bull Terrier puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Miniature Bull Terrier might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the
dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show
dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Petfinder.com can have you searching for a Miniature Bull Terrier in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Miniature
Bull Terriers available on Petfinder across the country).
AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Miniature Bull Terrier. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Miniature Bull Terriers love all Miniature Bull Terriers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The
Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Miniature Bull Terrier rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Miniature Bull Terrier home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Miniature Bull Terrier, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an
Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Miniature Bull Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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