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Miniature Bull Terrier

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Miniature Bull Terrier is a medium sized purebred from the United Kingdom and is also called a Mini Bull Terrier or English Miniature Bull Terrier. It was bred originally to be a competitive ratter, this was a sport in gambling pits that people would place bets in in the mid to late 19th century. The Mini Bull really is all of the energy and character of the Bull Terrier but in a smaller package. It is a great companion and also does well in show events like obedience and agility.

The Miniature Bull Terrier at A Glance
Name Miniature Bull Terrier
Other names Mini Bull Terrier, English Miniature Bull Terrier
Nicknames Mini Bull
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Medium
Average weight 25 to 33 pounds
Average height 10 to 14 inches
Life span 11 to 14 years
Coat type Short, fine
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Red, white, black and tan
Popularity Very popular – ranked 36th by the AKC
Intelligence Fair to average – will need around 40 to 80 repetitions to learn a new command
Tolerance to heat Very good – can handle even hot weather just not extreme temperatures
Tolerance to cold Low – not good in any cool or cold climates and will need extra care if temperatures where you live drop low
Shedding Low – will not leave a lot of hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity High – gains weight easily so watch its food and treat intake and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Low to moderate – easy to groom and care for
Barking Occasional – may need to train it to stop on command but should not be a frequent problem
Exercise needs Quite active – needs daily activity
Trainability Moderately easy to train – has a stubborn side
Friendliness Excellent with socialization
Good first dog Very good – do not have to have experience as long as you are prepared to do some homework
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good – need socialization
Good with strangers Very good to excellent with socialization
Good apartment dog Very good due to size, barking may need to be controlled
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Somewhat healthy breed – has several issues including kidney disease, deafness, heart problems and eye problems
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic medical care and pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $215 a year for miscellaneous items, license, toys and basic training
Average annual expenses $820 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,600
Rescue organizations Several including the Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America and the Bull Terrier Club of America Rescue Support Committee
Biting Statistics None reported for the Miniature Bull Terrier but for the standard there have been 3 attacks that did bodily harm, 1 child victim, 0 deaths and 1 maiming

The Miniature Bull Terrier’s Beginnings

The Miniature Bull Terrier was developed in England sometime in the early 1800s though the first written record does not happen until 1872 in the book ‘The Dogs of British Island’. It is believed to have the English White Terrier (now extinct), the Bulldog and the Dalmatiner in its mix. At the time there was huge variation in the size of the Bull Terrier, from as small as 3 pounds all the way up to the large size. Miniatures and toys were used in competitive ratting and were also kept as companions and were valued at a time when Victorians were very much in to their small dogs. Until the early 20th century the toy version were shown around Europe and in the UK but fell out of favor because there was very little consistency. They had problems with deformities, dwarfing and other issues that occurred when breeders take miniaturizing too far.

However the miniature version maintained their popularity. Breeders based their breeding on the larger Bully’s standard but just kept it compact creating a more manageable version of the Bull Terrier. Someone who had a lot to do with these efforts was James Hinks who went for the white color and the egg shaped head look. The other colors were introduced after. A rhyme from then tells the story of how the breed was changed from a common man’s dog to a gentleman’s dog. It says that Hinks “Found a Bull Terrier a tattered old bum; Made him a dog for a gentleman’s chum.” However in 1918 the English Kennel Club disavowed them as breeders struggled to maintain their look.

New Lease on Life

In 1938 the Miniature Bull Terrier Club of England was formed by a Colonel Glyn. It was re-recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1939. Bull Terriers had spread to the US in the late 18th century, the Bull Terrier Club of America was started in 1897 and they were recognized by the AKC in 1885. Miniature Bull Terriers were shown too but they were not fully accepted by the AKC until 1991. It is not as common as the larger version in the US and but is still quite popular and is ranked 36th by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

This medium sized dog weighs 25 to 33 pounds and stands 10 to 14 inches tall. They really do just look like smaller versions of the standard dog, strong, long necks, wide chest, muscular. They are squared with strong backs that arch slightly. Its tail is set low and short in length and it carries it horizontally. The skin is very tight across the body and its coat is flat, shiny, short and harsh. There are two varieties, white and colored. A white can have some markings on the head but to be a show dog there should be none elsewhere. Colored Miniatures can be red, tricolor, black, bridle, fawn and white.

These have the typical Bull Terrier egg shaped large head and have strong jaws. The head is flat on top and it has ears that erect and should no longer be cropped (though there was a time when that was allowed). Its eyes are triangular shaped and are small and set deep and close together.

The Inner Miniature Bull Terrier


The Miniature Bull Terrier is an alert dog so makes a great watchdog as it will bark to let you know if there is someone breaking in. It also does have some protective instincts so may act to defend you and its home. It is brave, lively, fiery and energetic. In the right home it is loving to its owners (even possessive) and very loyal and sometimes playful and clownish. It does bark occasionally and it does have an independent streak too. It is very much in temperament like the standard version in fact just a bit easier to manage in terms of size.

This dog is a great family companion for active people willing to involve their dog in their lives. It wants to be with you and be included in family activities. Be prepared for the famous Bully runs though. This is where your dog will run mad through your home or in the yard for no known reason, just for fun! You will need a good sense of humor being this dog’s owner with its mischievous and inquisitive nature. It is active indoors as well as out and likes getting attention by performing tricks. There will be times its mischief and liveliness get it into trouble, even when well trained it will get up to no good on occasion!

It is usually friendly with visitors but it does not like being left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety. If it is not kept busy and does not have enough companionship it can become destructive. It loves and needs plenty of exercise and stimulation but also enjoys snuggle times where it can lean or sit with you and watch TV. It has a stubborn side so you will need to be firm with it.

Living with a Miniature Bull Terrier

What will training look like?

The Mini Bull is moderately easy to train for those with experience, it is average in intelligence and it does have a stubborn and independent side that can get in the way sometimes. Start training early before it has developed bad habits and has become stronger willed. Be calm and assertive, make sure you are consistent, fair but firm. Use positive methods including treats, praise and rewards to encourage and motivate. Make the sessions interesting, fun and keep them short so it does not get boring and repetitive.

Mini Bulls like their larger versions will continue to test the rules and boundaries you set even when you think training is completed. Be prepared to always stick by the rules and ready to handle such situations. To be a well-behaved member of a family make sure you get that training done right. You should also start socializing early on so that it knows appropriate responses to different people, places, sounds, situations and other dogs and animals.

How active is the Miniature Bull Terrier?

Mini Bulls need a fair amount of opportunities for physical exercise to keep them happy and well behaved. It is a fairly active dog and while it can adapt to apartment living it is best suited to larger homes with a yard. As well as making sure it gets a couple of walks a day, around 40 minutes a day. Also give it a chance for other forms of activity. A dog park or secure space where it can go off leash and run free and play doggy games with you is ideal. This is also an opportunity for it to socialize and play with other dogs. If there is a yard that is another place where you can play with it, it can explore and be warned it does like to dig. Make sure the yard is well fenced and secure though. When out walking make sure it is on a leash as it does like to try and chase squirrels and other small critters.

Caring for the Miniature Bull Terrier

Grooming needs

This is a low maintenance dog, not a lot of grooming is needed to keep it looking good and healthy. Give it a brush once or twice a week to keep its coat shiny and keep any loose hair under control. Though that loose hair is minimal with this breed apart from during seasonal shedding times when it can be heavy. It also means some people with allergies find this a good breed to have, though if that is an issue always have the person with allergies visit the dog before you buy it. In between bath time wipe it with a damp cloth to keep it clean. Keep baths to a minimum so as to not dry out its natural oils. If you want to amp up its natural sheen use a coat polish or conditioner.

Ears should be checked for infection signs, swelling, wax build up, irritation, redness and such. If all looks fine you can then give them a weekly clean. Use a damp cloth or ear cleanser and cotton ball and just wipe the parts of the ear you can reach. Do not insert anything into its ears, this could hurt it a great deal and do some serious damage. Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week using a dog toothbrush and vet approved toothpaste. Its nails will need to be clipped if they get too long and do not wear down naturally with its physical activity. You can do this yourself or you can have a professional groomer or vet do it for you. If you do it make sure you know about dog nails and have the right tools. Do not cut where the quick of the nail is, there are blood vessels and nerves that if clipped will cause a lot of pain and bleeding.

Feeding Time

It will need to be fed 1 1/2 to 2 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly can vary depending on its size, health, metabolism, level of activity and age. Make sure you measure its food and watch its treat intake as it does gain weight easily and is prone to obesity.

How is the Miniature Bull Terrier with children and other animals?

This is certainly a dog well suited to living with children and it makes a great family companion. It loves to play with them, is exuberant and lively with them and is also tolerant and loving towards them, especially when raised with them and with socialization. Supervision is needed around young toddlers though as that energy can cause them to get knocked over. That socialization is especially important for it to accept strange children when they come visiting.

With other pets it can be friendly with socialization and when raised with them. However it does have a high prey drive and will want to chase and possibly kill small animals like strange cats and such. Bringing a Mini bully to a home with other small pets could be a risk. Care also needs to be taken when introducing it to other dogs of the same sex especially if it has not been neutered, and small dogs as it sees them as something to be chased. With socialization though it can get along with dogs of the opposite sex that are the same size or larger, though if it feels it is being challenged it will not back down.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Miniature Bull Terrier has a life span of 11 to 14 years and is somewhat healthy though it is prone to several issues including eye problems, blindness, allergies, deafness, heart problems, tail chasing, skin problems, kidney disease, luxating patellas and sunburn. Use sunscreen when out in hot weather.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm in the US and Canada in the last 35 years the Miniature Bull Terrier is not specifically mentioned. However the Bull Terrier is and both have the same temperament so if the Bull Terrier has the potential so does the Miniature Bully. However it has not been involved in a large number of incidents, there have been 3 attacks that did bodily harm, 1 victim was a child, there were no deaths and one of the three attacks was classed as a maiming. This means the victim was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement. Over 35 years though that is just 1 attack a year. Despite those low numbers people do associate the larger sized dog with aggression, and that assumption may be applied to the smaller dog. Take care to socialize and train your dog as best you can, to give it the attention and activity it needs and to supervise when you are out with it.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Miniature Bull Terrier is going to cost more than a lot of other breeds. At the moment you can expect to pay around $1600 for a pet quality dog from a decent breeder. For a top breeder of show dogs that price can go higher. It is important when looking for purebreds to research and find good breeders who truly know what they are doing. Avoid buying from puppy mills, pet stores or backyard breeders. The best you can hope from these places is ignorance, but in general they mistreat their dogs and are even deliberately cruel. You could look at rescues or shelters for a cheaper alternative. These price at $50 to $400 to adopt, you get initial health needs taken care of and the joy of giving a dog a new forever home. However you are unlikely to find a puppy aged purebred at a rescue, and purebreds too are less common. If you are not completely set on a purebred consider adopting a mixed breed, they can give just as much love and be just as rewarding to own.

Once you have your new dog there are some things to have at home for it, and you should take it to a vet as soon as possible for some checks and procedures. At the vet it will get a physical exam, have its vaccinations up to date, be dewormed then also have some blood tests done, micro chipping done and be spayed or neutered. This will cost about $270. At home it will need a crate, carrier, bowls, collar and leash and such. These items will cost about $200.

Then there are yearly costs that come with being a responsible pet owner. It will need basic medical care like check ups, flea and tick prevention, shots and of course pet insurance. This will cost about $460 a year. $145 a year will cover its dog treats and its good quality dry dog food. The other costs like basic training, license, miscellaneous items and toys will come to about $215 a year. This gives a total of $820 a year as a starting figure.


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The Miniature Bull Terrier is an energetic, curious, stubborn and comical dog best suited to people who are active and perhaps do not have other pets in the home. If you are an admirer of the Standard Bull Terrier but have less space in your home the Mini Bully is just like it but in a more compact form. It is loyal, fun to have around, affectionate and alert. It does like to dig though and its clown like behavior can mean it does things it should not!

Featured Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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