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Your Guide to the 5 Kinds of Bull Terriers

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 world is familiar with the Standard Bull Terrier. This is the big, stocky dog that you are most likely to see in somebody's home or garden. Then, there is the Miniature Bull Terrier, and it's exactly what it sounds like—a smaller version of the Standard.

They are considered two separate breeds. In fact, kennel clubs don't recognize the Standard/Miniature cross as a purebred and do not allow them to enter the show ring. Anyone trying to sell this cross as “purebred” is either not aware of this fact 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 mini, a bullie must not exceed 14 inches (35,5 centimetres) at the shoulder. The mini is bred 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 rarer than the Standard. But the dogs enjoy a loyal following because their size is perfect for those who prefer a smaller Bull Terrier (the big ones act like tanks, sometimes!).

The smaller breed is often more expensive. They also have breeding difficulties. Fertility is sometimes absent and females need more Cesarean sections to deliver puppies. Miniature Bull Terriers also have small litters, often whelping only one or two puppies.

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 other breeds that shaped it. One of them was the Bulldog which added tenacity, more muscle, courage and a solid frame. This influence also contributed to the Bull Terrier's barrel ribs, heavy skeleton, short coat and powerful jaw. From the Bulldog ancestor, Bull Terriers also inherited their coat colours.

The Bulldog type is any Bull Terrier that is very muscular, stocky, has a broad skull. They have a heavy and powerful look.

This bullie shows Bulldog type traits.

This bullie shows Bulldog type traits.

The Terrier Type

The Terrier type goes back to a remarkable ancestor; the now-extinct White English Terrier. Said to be the forefather of many popular breeds today, including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Boston Terrier, the English White bestowed traits that are very recognizable in Bull Terriers.

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

Negative Influences Also Persist

  • A too-slight build.
  • Skeletons that are too delicate.
  • Over-excitability.

A Terrier type is robust but has a lighter appearance than the Bulldog variety. Breeders often use the Terrier type to add agility, quality and soundness to a kennel.

The most refined subtype: The graceful and slender lines of this dog place it under the Dalmatian subtype.

The most refined subtype: The graceful and slender lines of this dog place it under the Dalmatian subtype.

The Dalmatian Type

Early breeders realized that the Bull Terrier needed more conformation. The Dalmatian was chosen to add the finishing touches. From the Dalmatian, the Bull Terrier borrowed better legs, paws, and graceful movement. Undesirable traits also survived in some bullies, including a "soft" facial expression and Dalmatian spots on the skin.

To the untrained eye, the Dalmatian type is often mistaken for a half breed. The dog sometimes lacks the distinctive egg-shaped skull, has longer legs, and a graceful body that most onlookers do not associate with Bull Terriers.

This subtype is often used in breeding 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 spots on this Bull Terrier's chest is a leftover trait from the breed's Dalmatian ancestors.

The spots on this Bull Terrier's chest is a leftover trait from the breed's Dalmatian ancestors.

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.

At the end of the day, a well-bred Bull Terrier displays 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 with personality! Each bullie has its own moods and behaviours. But every breed has a desired temperament as a whole. In this case, all five types should ideally reflect most of the points below.

  • 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 prized by owners.
  • Bullies can be 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 type of Bull Terrier you have. 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—spunk, fire and a knack for hilarious moments.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

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