Bull Terrier (Miniature)

Bull Terrier (Miniature)Bull Terrier (Miniature)

Today, Miniature Bull Terriers are identical to their Bull Terrier ancestors in every way except for height. But this was not always the case. Historically, from 1866 when classes for Bull Terriers began, there were classifications by weight. This resulted in the now extinct Toy Bull Terriers which weighed under 12 lbs. But in 1918, they were removed from the English Stud Book and became extinct. In 1938, they were revived with a height limit rather than a weight limit. This created the Miniature Bull Terrier we know today.

History of the Toy Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier & Toy Bull Terrier 1889Bull Terrier & Toy Bull Terrier 1889

A miniaturised Bull developed after dog fights were prohibited by law, and rat pits were equally out of the question. But although the Bull Terrier was popular as a companion for men, he was considered too quarrelsome to make him a desirable pet for the ladies! So England developed small Bull Terriers which were differentiated by weight and called Toy Bull Terriers[5].

Toy Bull Terriers

Bull Terrier (Toy) c 1905Bull Terrier (Toy) c 1905

Around 1866,there were 20 entries at a London Show for Bull Terriers under 10 pounds, and 3 years later 32 Bull Terriers under 15 pounds. At this time Bull Terriers ranged in weight from 8 to 55 pounds. To maintain their diminutive size, the small Toy Bull Terriers became in-bred and difficult to rear. But although small, they always retained their 'distinguishing character'[1]. Selling for around the same price as the larger ones, Toy Bull Terriers failed to improve even under the patronage of the Ladies' Kennel Association who had their interests at heart. By 1905, exaggerations had crept in and one was reported as not even weighing 3 pounds! But these tiny ones, even some with an apple domed skull like a Chihuahua, commanded the highest prices.

Toy and Bull Terriers (Miniature)

Toy Bull Terrier (under 12 lbs)Toy Bull Terrier (under 12 lbs)

Until 1918, the Toy Bull Terriers weighed 5 - 12 pounds and Bull Terrier's weight began at 15 pounds[3]. But in 1918 the Toy Bull Terrier was  removed from the Kennel Club Stud Book and became extinct.

In 1939, 20 years later, Bull Terrier (Miniature) was created and recognized with a height, rather than a weight limit[7].

History of the Miniature Bull Terrier in Australia

Bull Terriers (Miniature) Triplets!Bull Terriers (Miniature) Triplets!

The first record of Miniature Bull Terriers was when a brindle and white pair was imported in 1965. Although ANKC allowed the English policy of breeding between these two Bull Terrier varieties, all progeny had to be registered as Miniatures. This is still a source of controversy in Australia, as many breeders struggle to produce correctly conformed Miniature Bull Terriers under the height limit of 35.5cm (14 inches)[4].

The Bull Terrier and Miniature Bull Terrier Today

Bull Terrier (Male)Bull Terrier (Male)

Although the Miniature Bull Terrier has a mandatory height of under 35.5 cms (14 inches), the Bull Terrier has no specified height. Otherwise, these two Breed Standards are identical. Each breed should be substantially but athletically built, have an head egg-shaped head, and the males should look masculine with the bitches obviously more feminine. Each dog should have maximum substance for its size, consistent with quality and sex. Although considered here together, the Miniature should immediately look distinct by its more diminutive height.


The ideal head of a Bull Terrier is described as being egg-shaped with no indentations from the base of the ear to the end of the muzzle. The best way to understand an ideal Bull Terrier's head is to compare it with the shape of an actual egg! Then you can see that the skull is somewhat flat where the egg is widest, and smooth the contour of the head narrows towards the nose. You can also see why the head planes are described as being down-faced giving the whole head, particularly the muzzle the look of strength.

Bull TerrierBull Terrier

Tight skin covers the head giving clean tight lips. So you can easily see the depth of head in profile, particularly the muzzle, which provides the bone required to anchor the large strong teeth which should form a normal scissors bite. The eyes are as dark as possible, triangular in shape and placed so the muzzle appears perceptibly longer than the skull. Historically cropped, today the small neat erect ears with their thin leathers held stiffly erect complete the finish of this unique head.

The neck should be long and strong without dewlap and taper into sloping shoulders that should never have the 'tacked on' look of its Bulldog ancestor. The forelegs are strong and straight through upright pasterns to round feet. The elbows are placed close to the chest the depth of which is equal to the length of the foreleg. The chest is deep and ribs are well sprung so the body in profile has a gently curving underline. The body should look athletic with a strong level topline and arch over the well-muscled loin, completed by a tail which is thick at the root, tapers to a point, and carried horizontally. The hindquarters are muscular with well-developed first and second thighs forming a good turn of stifle.

Bull Terrier (Miniature)Bull Terrier (Miniature)

Bull Terriers move with a free true action but with a typical jaunty air which typifies his devilish character and temperament. His skin should be tight and the short coat is harsh to touch. He comes in white with or without markings on the head or coloured. With coloured dogs, brindle is preferred but the colour should predominate the white which should be clear and not ticked. While black, fawn and tri-colour are acceptable, blue and liver colour are not.

References and Further Reading

[1] Kevin Kane, James Hinks, Master Craftsman (Self-Published 2001), Chapter 2- "The Exhibition of Fancy and other dogs at The Holborn Horse Repository Show of 1862" and Chapter 3 - "Hinks Old Puss, Not Bred To The Business". Pages 13-62

[3] Lady Evelyn Ewart, 'The Toy Bull-Terrier' Cassell's New Book of the Dog' by Robert Leighton assisted by eminent authorities on the various breeds. Published 1907 by The Waverley Book Co Ltd Vol 111, Chapter L111 Page 465-6

[4] Joy Schafer, 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' Bull Terrier Miniature published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 Page 81

[5] J.H.Walsh, under the name 'Stonehenge', 'The Dogs of the British Islands' (Fifth Edition) Published by 'The Field' Office, 346 Strand, W.C.London 1886. Book lll, 'Terriers (Other than Fox and Toy)', Chapter ll, Smooth Terriers (other than Toy). The Bull Terrier Page 262

[6] Kim Dennis-Bryan and Juliet Clutton-Brock - 'Dogs of the Last Hundred Years at the British Museum' Published by British Museum (Natural History), London (1988) ISBN 0-565-01053-0 Page 79 Toy Bull Terrier.

[7] Lt. Col. R. H. Glyn- 'The Book of the Dog' Edited by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald Published by Nicholson & Watson London 1948 The Miniature Bull Terrier Page 576