Are Pocket Bullies Aggressive?

  • Time to read: 9 min.

The Pocket Bully is one of the five types of the American Bully breed. Despite being the smallest and lightest of the five types, the Pocket Bullies can still look very intimidating. However, its startlingly fierce looks couldn’t be more contrary to its actual nature. 

Pocket Bullies are not aggressive. They are gentle and affectionate while being protective of their families. Well-trained and socialized Pocket Bullies are even tolerant of friendly strangers. According to the American Bully Kennel Club, aggression is considered uncharacteristic of the breed. 

Keep reading to find the answers to your questions about the temperament of the Pocket American Bully. 

All About the Pocket American Bully

The American Bully is a modern breed developed as a companion breed. Its muscular physique and blocky head often leave the impression of a ferocious, aggressive creature, but the American Bully is the opposite. Those familiar with the breed know that they make ideal family pets. 

The American Bully was standardized and recognized as a breed in 2004 by the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC). In partnership with the United Kennel Club (UKC), it has upheld standards in an effort to maintain and improve the quality of the breed. Both clubs deem aggression in the breed as unnatural and unacceptable. 

The Pocket Bully is one of the five types of the American Bully breed. It is the smallest of the different types but is by no means less intimidating to look at than the others. Like all the other Bully types, the Pocket Bully makes for loyal and loving companions despite its ferocious appearance. 

How Pocket Bullies Are Towards Their Owners

American Bullies are good-natured, gentle, and affectionate companion dogs across all Bully breed types. They are incredibly loyal to their owners. 

However, their sunny disposition does not mean they are incapable of being territorial and protective. Pocket Bullies may be smaller than the other breed types, but they can be highly protective of their families and the property within their territory. 

How Pocket Bullies Are Towards Children

People with little knowledge about the breed often get nervous about seeing Bullies around a child, especially a small child. But their fears are completely baseless as Pocket Bullies are great around kids. 

These dogs are a confident and courageous breed and seem to recognize the vulnerability of children. They know how to engage in play without hurting children. They can be especially protective of the children of their owners. 

How Pocket Bullies Are Towards Strangers

Well-trained and socialized Pocket Bullies can be composed and restrained around friendly strangers. Unsocialized dogs might indiscriminately bark at people they don’t know. 

Pocket Bullies are highly intelligent and perceptive and can sense when the stranger is not a threat. They pick up cues from the interaction between their owner and the stranger. 

When the Pocket Bully is confident that there is no threat, it tolerates strangers. They may not be friendly towards strangers initially, but neither are they aggressive. However, at the first sign of danger, a Pocket Bully will quickly become aggressive towards anyone they consider a threat to their owners. 

How Pocket Bullies Are Towards Other Dogs

Pocket Bullies can be pretty friendly with other dogs. However, they must be socialized young to develop this demeanor towards other canines. 

The socialization requirement is not unique to the American Bully. The same is true of other protective breeds. Despite their gentle nature, unsocialized Bullies can be more prone to aggression than those that have been socialized. 

Why Pocket Bullies Become Aggressive

According to the American Bully Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, aggression is uncharacteristic in American Bullies. It is considered a disqualifying feature, and any instance of aggression is a reportable incident. 

However, Pocket Bullies can become aggressive under certain circumstances, as with any dog breed. Knowing the possible causes of aggressive behavior in Pocket Bullies is essential to distinguish from a predisposition for aggression or provoked aggression. 

Here are some reasons why a Pocket American Bully would become aggressive:

  • They have been provoked.
  • There is a threat to their family. 
  • They have been poorly trained. 
  • They haven’t been socialized.
  • They have been traumatized. 
  • They are sick or injured. 
  • Irresponsible breeding. 

They Have Been Provoked

While Pocket Bullies can be angels to their families, they are not beyond provocation. Sadly, the breed faces a lot of discrimination from people ignorant of the breed’s gentle nature. Some of the discrimination comes to the point of bullying. 

In many instances in which aggression was noted in a Pocket Bully, the aggression was provoked by taunting or harassment. Despite the provocation, Pocket Bullies that have mastered bite inhibition do not immediately lash out. 

They may be tolerant at first, barking to warn and ward off hostile characters. If the provocation is given continuously and the Pocket Bully senses that the threat is escalating, they will turn truly aggressive. 

There Is a Threat to Their Family

An instance in which aggression in a Pocket Bully is acceptable is when there is a real and present threat to their family. As mentioned earlier, a Pocket Bully is great at sensing when a stranger is a threat based on the interactions between their owner and the stranger. Once a Bully detects danger, it can quickly turn aggressive toward the perceived threat. 

Unscrupulous characters who do not heed the warning barks and growls find that the Pocket Bullies are vicious fighters. They will not relent until they are convinced that the threat to their family has been disabled. 

They Have Been Poorly Trained

While the American Bully breed is not inherently aggressive, their training can influence their behavior and demeanor. 

One of the reasons American Bullies are so expensive is because professional breeders usually put their stock through training and socialize them before they are rehomed with their new owners. Breeders who do not share this commitment to the proper training of their stock will rehome untrained Bully puppies. 

Even though they are a gentle breed, as puppies, they can misbehave. As noted in other breeds, they may go through a stage of incessant play-biting or aggressive play. Pups usually grow out of it, but aggressive play can become habitual. This behavior can be controlled with proper training until it is wholly overcome or outgrown. 

They Haven’t Been Socialized

Bullies that haven’t been socialized at a young age may not be as friendly towards other dogs or strangers. They may even exhibit some aggression, especially when strangers enter what is considered their territory. 

This aggression may stem from anxiety or fear that arises when they encounter dogs or people who are unfamiliar. They are reacting defensively to what they perceive to be a threat. It is important to socialize dogs, even non-aggressive breeds. 

Professional breeders usually socialize their stock before rehoming them. People who get their Bully pups from breeders who don’t socialize them might observe some rough or aggressive behavior towards strangers. 

They Have Been Traumatized

Bullies with a history of maltreatment or abuse may become aggressive as a defensive mechanism. Pups from rescues are more prone to this than pups from professional breeders. Bullies that have experienced abuse may be traumatized and will become aggressive when they are anxious or feel threatened. 

Like with any trauma, there are specific triggers, and if the pup’s history is not well-documented, you may have no way of knowing what can set off the trauma. For example, a dog that was abused by being pelted with empty beer cans may have an aggressive reaction to the sight of beer cans. 

While adopting a Bully may stem from good intentions, it is wise to learn as much about the Bully’s history as possible before you do. Be especially cautious about adopting mature Bullies from rescues as they are the most likely to have experienced trauma. 

They Are Sick or Injured

Bullies have a high pain tolerance. This means by the time they start showing signs or symptoms of pain caused by illness or injury; they may already be experiencing heightened discomfort and feeling vulnerable. 

Like most animals, Bullies are more prone to aggression when they are in a vulnerable state. This may cause them to react aggressively out of an innate survival instinct. When your Bully exhibits uncharacteristic aggression, consider that they may be in some pain. 

When you suspect this to be the case, keep children away from your Bully until the pain can be confirmed or ruled out. Consider calling the vet to do a home service if you aren’t confident about handling your Bully, especially if the aggressive behavior persists. 

Irresponsible Breeding

The aggression has been bred out of the American Bully; however, not all breeders play by the rules. Irresponsible breeding may be the cause of uncharacteristic aggression in a Pocket Bully. If the pup were bred from two parents showing aggressive traits, then no doubt the trait would be passed on. 

Puppies from irresponsible breeders also tend to have a host of behavioral issues as the parent dogs are usually stressed and anxious, and they pass that on to their offspring. 

What To Do When Your Pocket Bully Puppy Behaves Aggressively

No matter how gentle a dog is, some errant behaviors may occur in the earlier stages of its development. You can help your Bully overcome any bad behavior with the right interventions

What is reported as “aggression” is sometimes just rough play. Most puppies go through a season of biting. They usually outgrow this stage as they mature, but this doesn’t mean you should just wait for the behavior to pass. 

Here are some ways to deal with an aggressive Pocket Bully pup:

  • Command Training 
  • Bite Inhibition or Withdrawal
  • Exercise
  • Socializing
  • Obedience Training

Command/Obedience Training 

Your Bully will need to be trained to follow commands. This is essential in helping them overcome bad behavior. 

Dogs taught to obey and exercise restraint have a much lesser chance of becoming aggressive adults. Teaching pups to recognize the authority of their owners is essential. You can either do the training yourself, or you can enlist the help of a professional.

Bite Inhibition or Withdrawal

The play biting stage of any pup should not be allowed to go by without instilling bite inhibition. Bite inhibition is crucial to teaching dogs restraint that will prevent them from biting as a whiplash reaction.

Bite inhibition is taught by reacting to the dog’s bites. Acting pained lets the pup know that their behavior is causing pain. As time passes, you will notice the force of the pup’s bite become less until it stops biting when you act pained. 

This is when you know that bite inhibition is being learned. Dogs that learn bite inhibition are much less likely to be physically aggressive even when they are provoked. 

On the other hand, a dog that has not learned bite inhibition will react out of instinct and bite, even when they have no intention to cause harm or when they are not aggressive. Bite inhibition is vital to discouraging aggressive behavior in young dogs. 

Exercise

Sometimes the solution to aggressive play is to exercise your pup. Pups are full of energy. They need to displace that energy before it builds up. 

Often pups might exhibit random bursts of energy called “zoomies,” or they may become aggressive with play biting. Exercise your Bullies to reduce the frequency of this behavior so that all that energy is expended. 

Socializing

Socializing Bully-types is essential to their training and upbringing. Bullies that are socialized are friendlier to other dogs and tolerant of strangers. This reduces the chances of aggression when they encounter unfamiliar dogs or people. 

Socialization should be slow and gentle to allow your dog time to assimilate and learn. Trust your dog’s instincts and don’t push them to interact with strangers if they don’t want to. 

Final Thoughts

Pocket Bullies are not aggressive. It is contrary to their true nature to be aggressive. Well-bred, well-trained, and socialized Pocket Bullies make very loving pets. In fact, they are considered one of the best family dog breeds. However, when a Pocket Bully is abused or neglected, it may develop an uncharacteristic propensity for aggression.