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Pit bulls are big, ferocious dogs aren’t they?
Well, not always. Not only is the reputation of pit bulls as aggressive unearned, but you can also get miniature pit bulls, often called a pocket Pitbull, which are small dogs that adapt well to apartment living.
The name pocket pitbull is actually a bit misleading. These dogs aren’t pure-bred American pit bull terriers but are instead a mixed breed to ensure their small size.
They also aren’t small enough to fit in your pocket; they are about twice the size of other teacup breeds.
Read on as we take a closer look at the pocket pitbull to help you decide whether they might be the right breed for you.
- Mixed breed dog – American pit bull terrier and Patterdale terrier
- 12-16 inches tall
- 11-22 pounds
- 11-13 year lifespan
- Easy to groom
- Adapts to apartment living
- Needs lots of exercise
- Needs lots of mental stimulation
- Highly trainable
- Appropriate for first-time owners
History Of The Breed
Pocket Pitbulls or miniature pit bulls are mixed breed dogs that started to appear in the 1990s when many new “designer” mixed breeds emerged. They are a cross between the American pit bull terrier and the Patterdale terrier.
There are actually three types of dogs that are considered “pit bulls.” There is the American pit bull terrier, which is recognized by the American Dog Breeder’s Association and the United Kennel Club, there is the American Staffordshire terrier, recognized by the American Kennel Club, and finally, there is the Staffordshire bull terrier, recognized by both the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.
All of these dogs descend in one way or another from British bull and terrier dogs that were cross-bred in the 19th century for bull-baiting and fighting. They were imported to the United States in the 1870s.
Patterdale terriers were also bred in England in the 18th century to be versatile dogs able to resist the colder temperatures in the north of the country. They are small dogs measuring only between 12 and 15 inches, bred for hunting rats, foxes, and other vermin.
They look a lot like a miniature version of the pit bull, making them an ideal dog to cross with the American pit bull terrier to create the pocket pitbull.
Size And Appearance
Pit bulls are generally pretty big and muscular dogs, measuring between 18 and 21 inches and weighing as much as 60 pounds. Patterdale terriers are significantly smaller, measuring just 12-15 inches and only weighing up to about 13 pounds.
When they are brought together in the pocket pitbull, they produce a fairly diminutive dog, measuring between 12 and 16 inches and weighing between 11 and 22 pounds.
If they grow any larger than this they aren’t considered a miniature or pocket pitbull, but simply a pit bull mix.
This is more than twice the size of most “teacup dogs,” which may weigh 4-7 pounds, but is still extremely small for a pit bull-type breed.
The miniature pitbull also tends to be more muscular and sturdy than other miniature and toy breeds. This is good news as it means that they are less fragile and prone to accidents.
In general, they tend to look more like their pit bull than their terrier parent, in part because this is something that breeders try to encourage.
They have a shiny, smooth, short coat which can be white, cream, tan, brown, black, or gray.
While they do shed, they don’t shed a lot and can be easily maintained with regular brushing. Baths probably only need to happen once a month unless they get up to some dirty fun.
Puppies can take around 2-3 years to fully mature, but they will probably reach their full height at between 14 and 16 months. After that, their growth is just a matter of filling out.
Personality And Temperament
Many people believe that pit bulls are naturally aggressive, but this is simply not the case.
Unfortunately for the breed, its trainability and muscular physique have often caused it to be chosen by those looking for fighting dogs. As a result, the breed has earned a reputation that it does not deserve.
Pit bulls and their miniature offspring are actually affectionate and loving dogs when they are brought up in a safe family environment full of affection and positive reinforcement.
They will want to be a member of the family and be part of everything you do, and they will be affectionate and protective toward their people.
They are highly intelligent, which means that they are easy to train. They are also good at picking up on what is expected of them without being specifically told.
They should be taught with positive reinforcement rather than punishment, as punishing dogs can encourage the kind of negative behaviors associated with pit bulls, but any dog can develop these traits if trained with intimidation.
Their curious minds do need quite a bit of mental stimulation. If they are left alone at home for extended periods with nothing to do, you can expect them to get a bit destructive.
Unlike some breeds, they don’t tend to develop anxiety and depression if they are left at home for hours while everyone is out at school or work, but they will need something to keep them occupied.
Objects such as puzzle games and challenging toys that dispense treats are good examples.
When pocket Pitbulls are appropriately socialized with children from a young age, they can make great “nanny” dogs.
They will take children under their wing as their own and be both gentle and protective. They should not be left unsupervised with very small children, though, as they are stronger than they look and could accidentally knock them over when playing.
These dogs do tend to be territorial, which makes them good watchdogs.
They will bark when anyone unusual approaches the house, but you do need to teach them not to be overly territorial so that they don’t cause problems outside the house, or every time your neighbor approaches their own front door.
As with most dogs, the key to ensuring that your dog can get along with other people, children, and pets is socialization from a young age.
Miniature Pitbulls are smart enough to figure out what behavior is wanted from them and distinguish “new” from “threat” if they are exposed to enough stimuli while they are developing.
Read our guide to socializing puppies here.
Exercise & Care
Both the parents of the miniature pitbull are active working breeds, so you can expect an energetic little dog who loves to be active, is fearless when challenged, and is resilient.
Despite their little legs, these dogs need lots of exercise. They should be getting at least one hour of exercise a day, preferably split into two shorter sessions.
They will also be happier if they have an outside area to wander during the day, though backyard play is not a substitute for regular exercise.
They are adventurous and will love to join you on hikes and other adventures, though you may encounter points on the trail that they need a helping hand to navigate.
They will do best with families that like to spend the weekend doing fun, active things, rather than curled up on the couch, though evening snuggles are definitely welcome.
Their diminutive size means that it can be easy to overfeed your dog, especially if you are regularly giving them treats or food off your own plate (which is never advisable since it encourages begging).
Most pocket Pitbulls only need around 400 calories per day, though you need to monitor them to discover the exact right amount for your dog.
Make sure their food is split into at least two meals. It is better to leave their food out for 15 minutes to let them eat and be done, rather than leave food for them to graze.
Breeding programs tend to leave all dog breeds prone to some health problems.
While mixed-breed dogs tend to be healthier than purebred dogs, thanks to the diversity in their gene pool, they also have the potential to inherit health concerns from either or both of their parents.
Miniature Pitbulls are known to be inclined towards hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland does not produce hormones properly leading to symptoms such as lethargy and unexplained weight loss.
A healthy and balanced diet is the best way to prevent and manage this condition, but your dog may also require medication in the long term.
Hip dysplasia is another common ailment in pit bulls that is also seen in their miniature children, though it is not as frequent.
This is when the hip joints’ ball and socket do not grow to fit one another properly. This can cause them a lot of pain and result in things like the early onset of arthritis.
Over-exercising your dog as a puppy is one of the main culprits when it comes to exacerbating hip dysplasia.
Puppies, before they are fully grown, should only have about five minutes of exercise each day for every month of their life. Using this math, a four-month-old puppy only needs about 20 minutes of exercise.
Making sure your dog gets plenty of glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 in their diet can also help with this condition.
Patterdale terriers can be prone to heart disease, and this may manifest in their pocket pitbull pups as well. The main symptoms to look out for include coughing, weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and trouble sleeping.
Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight and limiting their salt intake can help minimize their chances of developing this disease.
You also need to look out for skin allergies with these puppies. The itchiness will usually affect their belly, ears, and feet. Their allergies may be seasonal or food-related.
Buying A Miniature Pitbull
Despite not being a pure-bred dog, Miniature Pitbulls tend to be more expensive than American pit bull terriers because they are a relatively new breed, so it is not always easy to find one.
While a pure-bred pit bull pup might cost you around $500 from a good breeder, you can expect to pay $1,500-$2,500 for a miniature pitbull. You may also find that there is a waiting list with the best breeders.
Of course, you should always consider adopting from a shelter rather than buying, since there are so many dogs in need of a good home, but if you are specifically after a pocket pitbull you will probably need to look elsewhere.
They are relatively rare in shelters and tend to get snatched up quickly, so you will need to get lucky to find one that way.
Before buying or adopting, be sure to check the laws in your area. Many places have breed-specific laws for pit bulls and related breeds.
You may not be able to own one at all where you live, or there may be restrictions on where they can go and how you need to secure them in public.
Should I Adopt A Pocket Pitbull?
Having read our guide to the miniature pitbull, are you considering adopting one of these pocket pups? Ask yourself the following questions to make a final decision.
What Is My Home Like?
Miniature Pitbulls can actually adapt quite well to apartment living, as long as they get enough exercise and mental stimulation.
Like most dogs, they do best if they have a bit of outside territory to call their own. This is especially important if they are going to be at home alone for extended periods of time.
Who Is At Home?
These dogs do well with children once they have passed the toddler stage, and can get along with other animals if they are socialized to do so from a young age.
They can be left alone for quite a bit of time while everyone is at work and school, as long as family members are willing to spend appropriate time with them while they are around, including both exercise and mental stimulation through activities and training.
Do You Have Experience With Dogs?
Miniature Pitbulls are intelligent and highly trainable, and they are appropriate for first-time owners as long as you have patience. Never fall into the trap of yelling at or punishing your dog.
Whatever they did, it wasn’t deliberate. They also find it difficult to associate punishment with things that they may have done earlier, causing confusion and undermining their training.
Do You Have An Active Lifestyle?
Despite their little legs, pocket Pitbulls love to be active. They need someone who can take them out daily, and they are happiest joining their family on weekends full of active adventures.
While they will enjoy snuggling on the couch, this is only after they have burnt off their energy.
Is a pocket bully a pit bull?
A pocket bully is not a pure-bred pit bull, but a cross between an American pit bull terrier and a Patterdale terrier to produce a significantly smaller dog.
Do pocket bullies bark?
Miniature Pitbulls do not tend to bark for no reason but they will vocalize to get your attention or raise the alarm. Proper socialization from a young age will help them tell the difference between “new” and “threat” and help keep barking in check.
Do pocket bullies have jaw lock?
No, pocket bullies do not have a lockable jaw, but neither do pure-bred pit bulls. This is a myth. They are just tenacious and don’t like to let go once they have something.
Can I feed my miniature pitbull raw meat?
Yes, you can feed your miniature pitbull a raw meat diet, but it is not recommended to mix this with dry dog food as it can undermine their appetite and eating habits.
You need to be sure to prepare raw meat in a sanitary environment for your dog, and also offer them a variety of fruit and vegetables to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients that they need.
Are raw eggs good for pit bulls?
Eggs contain lots of protein and are great for your dog, but they should always be cooked. Never feed your dog raw eggs. The risk of salmonella for both your dog and yourself is high with raw eggs.
If you have always loved pit bulls, but considered them too big to fit into your lifestyle, the miniature pitbull may be the dog for you.
They aren’t pure-bred dogs, but rather a pitbull mixed with a Patterdale terrier, which reduces the size of the pit bull while retaining most of the characteristics that make these dogs special.
These dogs will adapt well to living in smaller quarters and will enjoy being a member of the family.
They are highly trainable and manageable for first-time owners; however, don’t be fooled by their small size–they still have lots of energy. They’ll need lots of exercise every day.
Do you have any experience with miniature Pitbulls?
Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.
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