Bull Terriers (Miniature)

Bull Terrier (Miniature)Bull Terrier (Miniature)

Miniature Bull Terriers are identical to their Bull Terrier ancestors in every way except for size. From 1866 when classes for Bull Terriers began, the classification was by weight. This resulted in the now extinct Bull Terriers (Toy) which weighed under 12 lbs. In 1918, they were removed from the English Stud Book and became extinct. In 1938, they were revived as a Bull Terrier (Miniature) with a height limit rather than a weight limit. This created the Bull Terrier (Miniature) we know today.

The Bull Terrier (Toy)

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

After dog fights were prohibited by law, and rat pits were equally out of the question, a miniaturised Bull Terrier began to be developed. This was because 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 Toy Bull Terriers which were differentiated by weight.[5] 

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].

How the Bull Terrier (Toy) became Extinct

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 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.

But in 1939, a Bull Terrier (Miniature) Club was first formed. They decided to resurrect a Bull Terrier with a height, rather than a weight limit. But World War Two interrupted their progress. But in 1946, the Club held its first Championship Show with a height limit.[7] 

The Bull Terrier (Miniature) becomes a Pure Breed

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

In 1939, Bull Terrier (Miniature) was created in England and recognised with a height, rather than a weight limit[7].

In Australia, the first record of Miniature Bull Terriers was of a brindle and white pair 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 cm (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 a head egg-shaped head, and the males should look masculine with the bitches should look obviously. Each should have maximum substance for its size, consistent with quality and sex. Although considered here together, the Miniature should look distinct by its more diminutive height.


The head of a Bull Terrier should look 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

Because of the tight skin that covers the head giving clean tight lips, you can easily see the depth of head in profile, particularly the muzzle.This provides the bone required to anchor the large strong teeth which should form a normal scissors bite. The eyes are triangular shaped and as dark as possible. They are 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 to 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. In profile, the body in profile has a gently curving underline.

The body should look athletic. The strong level topline arches over the well-muscled loin, completed by a tail which is thick at the root and tapers to a point, is carried horizontally. The hindquarters are muscular with well-developed first and second thighs forming a good turn of stifle.

Bull Terrier (Mini)Bull Terrier (Mini)

Bull Terriers move with a free true action but with a typical jaunty air which typifies his devilish character and temperament. His skin tight and short coat is harsh to touch.

He comes in white with or without markings on the head. Alternatively, he can be with brindle preferred. Whatever the colour, the colour should predominate the white which should be clear and not ticked. While black, fawn and tri-colour are acceptable, blue and liver are not.

References and Further Reading


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[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