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Your Guide to the 5 Kinds of Bull Terrier

As an animal welfare worker, Jana worked with bull terriers. She had a boarding home for the breed and currently owns a perky specimen.


The Bullie Bunch

The Standard Bull Terrier is the foremost kind the world is familiar with. This is a big, stocky creature and the one you are most likely to see in somebody's home or garden. Then, there's the Miniature Bull Terrier and it's exactly what it sounds like — a smaller version of the Standard. Even though they resemble each other in every way except size, they're considered two separate breeds. In fact, kennel clubs don't recognize the Standard-Miniature cross as a purebred and as such, will not be allowed to enter the show ring and should preferably not be bred. Anyone trying to sell this cross as “purebred” is either not aware of this or operates a scam.

The remaining three are variations within the Standard group. They are known as:

  • The Dalmatian type
  • The Bulldog type
  • The Terrier type

Small Dynamite

To qualify as a Miniature, a bullie must not exceed 14 inches (35,5 centimeters) at the shoulder. Size aside, the mini is bred along the same rules as its bigger cousin, with whom they share a feisty temperament. They also display the same coat colours. During dog shows, however, minis have their own class since they remain a separate breed.

The Miniature is more rare than the Standard. The dogs enjoy a loyal following because its size make it perfect for those who cannot handle the Standard (they act like tanks, sometimes). What counts against the Miniature becoming more widespread is that most people still prefer their tanks and also because the smaller breed is often more expensive. The biggest problem with the mini population surrounds breeding difficulties. Fertility is sometimes absent and females need more Cesarean sections in order to deliver puppies. Miniature Bull Terriers also have small litters. It's not unknown to see a bitch whelp only one or two puppies.

The Standard and Mini

Side by side, the size difference between the two breeds can be clearly seen

Side by side, the size difference between the two breeds can be clearly seen

The Bulldog Type

To understand the Standard Bull Terrier better, one must look at the dogs that helped shape the breed. One of them was the Bulldog. Used to add more substance and tenacity to the bullie, the Bulldog's influence was a good one; more muscle, courage and a solid frame. It also added the Bull Terrier's barrel ribs, heavy skeleton, short coat and the powerful jaw. The Bulldog also left a colourful legacy. From this ancestor, the bullie inherited brindle, fawn, fawn smut, red and the black-and-tan.

Despite all the fantastic contributions, the Bulldog also cursed the Bull Terrier with traits that remain difficult to breed out. Incorrect feet, skulls that are too large, short jaw, highly undesirable round eyes and pigmentation faults like the Dudley nose. A “Dudley” is a pink or flesh-coloured nose. The correct colour for bullie noses has always been black.

The Bulldog type is a bullie with a heavier than normal substance. This heaviness will be carried in the bones, muscles and general shape of the dog. When a breeder desires more substance, he or she will use this subtype to add this quality to their dogs' bloodline.

The Terrier Type

This kind harks back to the bullie's remarkable ancestor, the extinct White English Terrier. Said to be the forefather of many of today's popular breeds, including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Boston Terrier, the English White was a slender beauty. This dog brought great influences to what would eventually be recognized as the Bull Terrier.

  • Dark and small eyes
  • Neat, upright ears
  • The highly desirable varminty expression
  • The clean outline of the body
  • Straight legs and tight shoulders
  • Properly arched toes, or “cat feet”
  • The whip tail
  • Low hocks and well-bent stifles
  • Agility and high intelligence
  • Finally, the white coat, of course!

Negative influences also remained in the modern bullie, including:

  • A build too light
  • Similarly, a skeleton that is too refined
  • Over-excitability

When the Terrier Type shows up these days, the dog will have a lighter substance. When its good points outweighs the bad, if any are present, then the Terrier Type will add agility, quality and soundness to a kennel.

The Refined Subtype

The graceful and slender lines of this dog places it under the Dalmatian subtype

The graceful and slender lines of this dog places it under the Dalmatian subtype

The Dalmatian Type

At one point, breeders realized that the developing Bull Terrier needed more conformation. The Dalmatian was perfect to add the finishing touches. From the spotty dogs, the Bull Terrier borrowed better legs and paws, as well as a more graceful movement. Just like the other two subtypes, undesirable traits sometimes peek through in Bull Terriers today, including soft expressions and the ticked coat.

The Dalmatian type is perhaps the most obvious subtype to spot at a glance. Often mistaken as a half breed, it clearly has bullie looks but comes with long legs, a delicate body and a face that is more graceful than the others. Truly, this is a beautiful dog and a full Bull Terrier. But as mentioned before, many owners of the Dalmatian type must face a misinformed public who either believes the dog is crossed or badly bred.

This gorgeous variation is often used to improve movement and conformation. While excessive subtypes are not the ultimate goal, the three kinds serve to keep the breed balanced by adding qualities as they are needed.

The Triple Blend

The best Standard Bull Terrier is a blend of all three subtypes. By extension, so is the Miniature, just in smaller dimensions.

Unlike the mini, the Standard doesn't have set rules regarding weight or height. However, the dog must give the appearance of maximum substance. According to gender, the animal must also either look slightly more masculine or feminine. This doesn't mean that the girls are watered down. Not in the least. Bitches are also substantial and muscular, just more refined and somewhat smaller.

The Standard is the dog most people are familiar with; the large, chesty bullie with the stocky legs and jaunty gait. While its egg-shaped head is uniquely its own, the Bull Terrier must display most of the subtypes' inheritance, including the cat toes, barrel ribs, buff body, good conformation and bone.

A Universal Temperament

Temperament must not be confused for an individual's personality. Any person who owns, or owned several Bull Terriers in their lifetime, can vouch for the fact that each dog has their own quirks, moods and behaviours. However, every breed has a desired temperament. The one drawn up for the Bull Terrier counts for all five types. The best breeders take temperament in their dogs very seriously. Unfortunately, there are also those who breed this profitable dog only for sales and often disregard negative behaviours completely.

  • Excessive aggression and shyness are not desirable
  • Must have courage and charisma
  • Outgoing and curious about his or her surroundings
  • The dog's fun-loving nature is also highly prized by owners
  • Most people have made their peace that bullies can be extremely obstinate, but they should be able to absorb a degree of obedience training and discipline
  • Loving towards its family
  • Independence

Any Bullie is Awesome

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what kind a Bull Terrier is. They remain one of the most remarkable companion dogs out there. Even half breeds, with one bullie parent, often show the full panorama of what makes Bull Terriers thus — spunk, fire and a knack for hilarious moments.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit