Native to England, miniature bull terriers (or MBTs) are compact dogs with triangular eyes, egg-shaped heads, stout builds, short fur, and larger-than-life personalities. Part of the terrier family, this breed has tenacity but is teeming with affection and antics. Their demeanor and appearance are largely similar to the standard bull terrier—but make no mistake about it, the MBT is a breed all its own with a devoted ‘egghead’ following.
Today, the mini bull terrier makes a popular pet and excels as a canine competitor, particularly in agility. However, these dogs require firm, patient training and aren’t necessarily the best choice for a first-time dog owner. If you’ve got what it takes to stay one step ahead of the MBT, you’ll fall in love with this breed’s unique character.
Height: 10 to 14 inches
Weight: 25 to 35 pounds
Coat: Short, coarse coat
Coat Color: Various colors including white, red, fawn, brindle, or black (solid or mixed with white)
Life Span: 10 to 13 years
Temperament: Playful, stubborn, athletic, affectionate, independent, loyal
Characteristics of the Miniature Bull Terrier
Your mini bull terrier will be the happiest when spending time with you. This breed is known for having a playful, affectionate temperament—but adopt with caution, as they're also very intelligent and become bored easily. MBTs need excessive amounts of training and exercise to stay happy, but even with the proper care, they're still likely to flaunt their stubborn temperament at times. This breed needs to be socialized consistently from a young age to prevent guarding behaviors toward strangers, and they aren't ideal for homes with other pets. However, that doesn't mean they aren't still excellent companions. For an experienced, mindful owner, the miniature bull terrier is an endless source of entertainment and love thanks to its goofy personality and extra-loyal nature.
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History of the Miniature Bull Terrier
With one look at the miniature bull terrier, you’ll see that this dog is a breed all its own. The characteristic egg-shaped head and triangular eyes give few insights into the breed’s history. However, like all miniature breeds, we know that the MBT was bred down into a smaller package from the standard bull terrier.
The standard bull terrier is commonly thought to have been developed in the mid-1800s from a cross between the old English bulldog, the English white terrier, the English greyhound, and the Dalmatian. From this canine conglomeration emerged a terrier that excelled at hunting and killing rats in sporting events where spectators placed bets on the outcomes.
Seeing the breed’s tenacity, hunters started breeding a miniature version to serve as smaller "ratters" that could hunt small prey even in tight quarters. The miniature bull terrier today holds onto the tenacity of the terrier, and the breed often exhibits a strong prey drive. However, the playful and sweet nature of the mini is what makes this breed an outstanding companion pet.
One of the most famous mini bull terriers is the icon for shopping superstore Target. Bullseye, aptly named for the red circles adorning his snowy white coat, has been appearing in print and television ads for the company since 1999. Interestingly, this is also the same year that the MBT gained official breed recognition from the AKC.
Miniature Bull Terrier Care
Like many terriers, the mini bull terrier has a big heart inside its deep chest. These dogs tend to show tremendous loyalty to their owners and family. While not overly clingy, they do love to be around their people and can become bored or destructive if left alone for excessively long periods of time. They reportedly do well with children, but it’s important to make sure that your dog is socialized from puppyhood with kids of various ages. The energy and enthusiasm of an MBT make a great playmate for older kids that love to run and romp.
Keep in mind that these dogs are very smart. Without enough mental and physical exercise, they’ll find their own way to stay occupied. Frequently described by breed enthusiasts as "a 3-year-old in a dog suit," they’ll keep you entertained but also spring plenty of surprises on you.
A few solid walks each day will help keep your bull terrier in shape and out of trouble. These dogs also tend to enjoy athletic challenges like agility, flyball, rally, and more. Introducing a number of activities into your MBT’s routine is a great way to prevent boredom while keeping your dog fit and healthy.
Grooming a mini bull terrier is fairly simple. These dogs only need brushing once a week or so, ideally with a grooming mitt. They benefit from an occasional bath to keep doggy odor away, but it’s not necessary to go to any great lengths to keep your MBT’s coat looking great. You should know that this breed is at least an average shedder; some dogs shed less while others shed more, but either way, the short, coarse hairs are bound to show up on your floors, furniture, and clothing. Consistent brushing is the best way to keep excess hair at bay. It's also important to brush your dog's teeth and trim their nails on a regular basis.
Training a mini bull terrier will likely be your greatest delight and hardest challenge. Owners of an MBT simultaneously sing their praises while lamenting their stubborn streak. This is typical for terriers, and the mini bull terrier has a full-sized dose of attitude.
Patient, consistent, and firm training will go a long way in helping this pint-sized terrier learn to listen and obey your commands. It’s highly beneficial to enroll your dog in obedience classes from the start to help establish good pack leadership principles.
Some say that bull terriers are particularly dog-aggressive, but other experienced owners point out that good socialization is the key (as it is with any dog breed). Still, it’s wise to keep in mind that this breed was developed to hunt small game, so their prey drive is strong and might overrule good training on occasion. Some owners note that their mini bull terrier can’t be trusted off-leash, while others find it possible—as long as they let their pooch choose his own path.
The stubborn streak of mini bull terriers sometimes leads to a state of "shutdown," in which the dog abruptly loses interest in an activity. This mental shutdown can also occur during training or when your MBT is protesting a change in routine. These types of challenges require patience and determination to work through, and it’s also important to make training a mentally stimulating activity for your MBT.
Common Health Problems
With a sturdy build and ready-to-go personality, the mini bull terrier isn’t frail or feeble. However, the breed still has some medical problems to be aware of. The National Breed Club recommends asking your MBT breeder for health tests from both parents (and the puppy, if applicable) for common conditions. Look for a responsible breeder with solid pedigrees and a healthy lineage to help minimize the chances of issues related to inbreeding. Below, find common issues related to miniature bull terriers:
- Deafness: Deafness is particularly seen in solid white bull terriers, though the problem has been noted in dogs with coats of various colors as well.
- Skin Allergies: This breed is prone to allergies, which can either be environmental or food-related and cause itchy or irritated skin.
- Heart Murmur: This condition causes irregular blood flow inside your dog's heart, and it can be a sign of other diseases.
- Kidney Disease: Kidney diseases can affect one or both of your dog's kidneys, and in singular cases, one kidney can be removed. These conditions can lead to acute renal failure or chronic kidney disease.
- Luxating Patella (also known as trick knees): Luxating patellas affect your dog's knees where they meet the other bones in the leg, causing the knee to pop out of its joint. This condition can be treated with physical therapy or surgery.
- Glaucoma: Often caused by preceding conditions like Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) in this breed, Glaucoma is a painful disease that affects eyesight and can lead to blindness. PLL is a genetic defect that allows the lens of your dog's eye to move irregularly. Ask your veterinarian about preventative screenings for PLL, and watch for signs like inflammation, redness, and increased tears.
Diet and Nutrition
Mini bull terriers should be fed a quality diet with plenty of protein, along with special caution against overfeeding. These dogs are prone to canine obesity, so don’t make it a habit to give too many treats or feed table scraps to this breed. Feed adult mini bull terriers twice per day and consult your veterinarian about the proper amount per meal for your specific dog.
This breed’s tendency towards allergies sometimes means that they struggle with traditional dog food formulas. Some MBTs do better on a limited-ingredient diet to combat allergies and maintain a healthy coat and skin.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Miniature Bull Terrier
Breeders exist that specialize in the mini bull terrier, but you might also find your pint-sized pal at a rescue. While the mini bull terrier has been gaining notoriety, thanks in part to the breed’s role in major marketing campaigns, they’re still a relatively rare terrier to find. Puppies from breeders typically cost between $1,500 and $3,000, though some breeders may charge more depending on availability and pedigree.
Local or regional bully breed rescues sometimes have mini bull terriers in need of a good home. It’s always a great idea to check with your local rescues first before buying a puppy from a breeder. The following are credible rescue resources and breeder organizations:
- Bull Terrier Rescue
- Recyla-Bull Terrier Rescue
- Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America
- American Kennel Club Breeder Listing
Friendly and affectionate
Can be stubborn
May not tolerate other dogs well
Needs extensive exercise
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you think you’d like to make a mini "egghead" part of your pack, consider the breed's temperament and whether they're a good fit for you. Mini bull terriers are appealing because of their small size, but they still carry a big commitment in terms of time, training, and energy.
If you're interested in similar dog breeds, check out:
There are plenty of dog breeds that can join your family—by learning more about different options, you're sure to find your next best friend!
Is the Miniature Bull Terrier a Good Family Dog?
This breed is incredibly devoted and affectionate toward its family, but mini bull terriers also require extensive exercise and training. Known for being very lovable but stubborn at the same time, MBTs should be raised by experienced owners.
Are Miniature Bull Terriers Rare?
Miniature bull terriers are still somewhat rare in the United States, but they can be easier to find when searching through breed-specific organizations. If you're interested in adopting this breed, consider reaching out to MBT rescues to find a dog in need of a forever home.
Are Miniature Bull Terriers Aggressive?
While a well-trained miniature bull terrier shouldn't be aggressive, many owners note that this dog's protective nature can outweigh their training. Socialize your mini bull terrier at a young age and avoid raising this breed in households with other dogs.
Are Miniature Bull Terriers Hypoallergenic?
Yes. Mini bull terriers give off less dander than some other common dog breeds, and they're a good choice for owners with mild allergies.