by Barbara J. Andrews, Founder-1st President, Miniature Bull Terrier Club Of America
Judging a really good Mini-Bull Terrier is best done with a smile, and understanding of the purpose of his utilitarian head, eyes, ears, thick hide and muscle.
Quality Miniature Bull Terriers were nearly extinct in America when I began to import them in 1984. With a total of 13 dogs from England, Pam Glave and I began to restore the Miniature Bull Terrier Club Of America and working with Mark Mooty, we eventually gained AKC recognition.
Winkie Mackay-Smith and Mary Remer, very prominent Bull Terrier breeders, welcomed the Miniature as either a variety or a separate breed. Less secure BT breeders were less certain. Gaining support from judges was easy! E.W. Tipton (All Breeds) and Richard Beauchamp were among the most influential Mini-Bull enthusiasts at that time. Desi Murphy and other prominent supporters came later. Tip passed away recently but fortunately Rick is still very active as a judge and writer.
What Makes a Mini Mighty? Not size. Not weight.
Especially not fat! Winkie Mackay-Smith, who judged our first National
Specialty, put it this way “Too many Standards should be called
Bullweilers. Size must be considered whether judging Standards or Miniatures.
One must be able to tell them apart. And there must be more than head and color
separating the Bull Terrier from some Working breeds.”
Judging To The Breed Standard
All bolded words or phrases are direct quotes
from the Miniature Bull Terrier Standard. Male or female, the Miniature
Bull Terrier should be strongly built, an agile, superbly conditioned
athlete. Muscle mass is inherited, as is that short tail, neat ears, and
substantial bone. A Mini with no muscle is untypical, therefore, lacking in
size separates the Standard and Mini-Bull Terrier, there are other
distinguishing features. The Mini Bull Terrier still carries the hot blood
of small terriers, is likely to have a bit more fire, and be slightly
more active, and energetic. When awake that is. Like Ch. Becca, they do
sleep soundly and it is this characteristic position that some laughingly believe accounts for the strangely shaped head!
The MBT greets life with unfettered exuberance.
If his joy in being the center of your attention causes him to be a little “over
the top”, knowing this breed, you will only smile as you walk your line or
approach him. Would that all judges were as delighted by a dog show as is the
Examination is on the table. Glen and Jean
Fancy go over the entire dog before checking the mouth. More judges might adopt
this procedure as it allows you to go over a dog that welcomes the attention
rather than one who has already resisted the process.
The bite is quickly done as there is no need to count
teeth and many exhibitors will feel it an intrusion to check molars. You can
only judge based on the standard but at the time it was written, the breed did
not have today’s head, therefore crowded incisors, inset canines, and missing
teeth were not at issue. As was pointed out in the Evolution Of Judging, you may
find opportunity to mention that a somewhat longer, less blocked head might
afford good dentition in a breed that needs its teeth...
Size defines the breed but the best Mini-Bull
could swing the wicket. Standards have improved head type but you will often
find yourself weighing virtue against a size fault. Thus, as a judge, in the
same position as the best breeders
virtue should take precedence but with the realization that the breed will soon
become the size of Standards if judges allow breeders to take the easy way,
trading size for heads and angulation. Ch. Greystone White On White (left) is a
top Specialty Winner and prominent sire. "Biff" is an outstanding example of
Miniature Bull Terrier head, eye and ear placement, topline (including arch over
loin) and substance. He is very "bullie" but within the standard, proof that
outstanding type can be achieved in a dog under 14".
Proportion and Substance. Mini’s may be
downright bullish or terrier elegant but substance is paramount. Most feel that
the ideal is right in the middle, as is perfectly defined by the name. This is a
Bull Terrier in miniature. The well-muscled square “Quarter Horse body" is
should be long. As heads improve, many are “blocked and chopped,” i.e.,
the foreface has become shortened by an exaggerated curve. Taken to the extreme,
the downface can be seen as coarse and contributing to dentition problems.
Seen in profile, the MBT head should be strong
and deep with underjaw deep and well defined. The head is egg
shaped and filled completely up for a reason. Such a head is hard for
an opponent to grasp. The solid, virtually unbreakable bone is a battering ram
filled with teeth! Again bearing in mind the history and purpose, the head
should have adequate length and teeth meshing just right. It is not only male
Mini-bulls that excel in head. The bitch at left is Ch. Grayoak Harvetta
Wallbanger. Note the high eye placement, neat ears, broad smooth egg shaped
skull, and her wonderful expression.
profile should curve gently downward. The standard says “gently” so fault
the “too cranked” profile which can result in a “parrot jaw” wherein the lower
jaw recedes because it is pushed back, dominated by the exaggerated foreface.
The white dog in profile is Ch. O'BJ Master Of Disaster. The oval outline
could be smoother but it is not marred by bulging cheeks or hollows under the
eyes. You may have to adjust your eye to the unusual proportion of a head that
is not equally balanced but is instead, longer from the tip of the nose to
the eyes as shown in the profile view.
These head studies show proportionately small ears set well back on the head, strong and deep lower jaw, and good eye placement, shape and size.
Expression. The smallish dark eyes can be hard to read but leave no doubt that this red
bitch is keen, determined, and intelligent, ready to take on any
challenge. Eyes are well sunken to prevent injury in a fight, and the
piercing glint, rarely seen in the friendly show ring, is something not to
be forgotten. The Miniature Bull Terrier is all about function, an unexcelled
fighting machine and vermin exterminator. The small, thin ears are
disposable. Sorry but it’s true. Like the eyes, they are placed high up on
the dog’s head for a good reason. This young bitch has excellent head
proportion, ears set well back, strong muscular neck of proper length (not a
swan neck!) and lovely color. She could have a bit more fill between the eyes
and turn of foreface.
Teeth are important to a fighting dog. The way
they meet is a perfect compromise between the Bulldog and the Terrier, which is
why either a level or scissor bite is correct, one no more preferred
than the other. Do not judge the Bull Terrier mouth by that of other
terriers any more than you would judge a Miniature Bull Terrier by the Bulldog
standard. Teeth should be large, strong and perfectly regular. That means
no crowding or spacing that weakens the jawbone, especially the lower, gripping
jaw. The Mini-Bull Standard does not fault missing or misaligned teeth but
honest breeders acknowledge the problem. If you award a good bite in a head that
is correct but without gross exaggeration, you are doing the breed and its
future a favor!
Neck, Topline also includes the word muscular. There may be a laugh wrinkle
at the corners of the mouth but the neck should be free from loose skin
which is a “handle” for an opponent. You can’t lift his skin nor can you pinch
for fat in a proper Bullie. The neck should be long and arched.
That does not mean swan-like. It just means longer than a bulldog’s neck!
The back is level but there must be a slight arch over the loin,
which incredibly, many judges fault while forgiving a slack shoulder or the
dip at the withers caused by upright shoulders. The Miniature Bull Terrier
male above, imported by the Andrews, shows the ideal flow of powerful neck into
ideal shoulders and muscular, compact body.
should be firmly packed with great depth. Esthetically speaking, a long
tail is a give-away to the Dalmatian influence, as is a whippy tail. For
more practical reasons, the Miniature Bull Terrier's tail is short and
thick at the root (less likely to be injured), it is set on low
(protects the sizable anus without having to be tucked) and is carried
horizontally for the same reason. The tail tapers to a fine point.
Think carrot! Puppies are to be faulted for gay tail even though, as when
showing dominance, it may be only temporary. The colored bitch Aust. Ch.
Erenden Roxana, is a lovely example of flash, strong head, proportion, good
shoulder and front.
Forequarters. Muscular. Straight
shoulders in the Mini-Bull are a common fault so be sure to reward a very
pronounced backward slope. The forelegs should be of moderate length
and perfectly straight with strong (unbreakable) bone but not to the
point of coarseness. Bowed front legs can be a sign of dwarfism and are
not found on strong and upright pasterns.
are muscular including the inner thigh, therefore the stance will be wide
and parallel making to dog difficult to topple. A Miniature Bull Terrier
can not move like an Airedale. If it has the correct musculature, it will move
wide going away. Hocks are well let down and stifle is well bent
as in the import bitch Ch. Eiraght Wicked Sister at Erenden.
The Miniature Bull Terrier Standard specifies feet
are round and compact and have well arched toes. What is doesn't
tell you those knarley hard hammers come equipped with equally thick hard,
impossible to cut toenails! Not even a grinder, used frequently will make Bullie
feet pretty! As a judge, just look for the right shape, and strong thick pads.
Coat looks fine but is actually harsh to the touch
and should be flat, tight, and glossy . Again, not to afford a tooth hold, the
skin should fit tightly.
Miniature Bull Terrier Color The “commonness” of the brindle color was spurned until
it was realized that many genetic assets were hidden in the dark pigment. Whites
could be deaf thus a white carrying brindle was/is very desirable. The
backwardness of early breeders should serve as a red flag to those who would put
color, markings, dentition, or even anatomical faults above temperament, overall
breed type and health. The white hair is pure white, not flecked
The colored Bullie should be predominately colored
as exemplified by the pair of outstanding colored dogs below, owned by Mrs. Q. Youatt, England.
Gait is defined by the jaunty air that shouts Mini-Bull Terrier. The
packed-up, weight-lifter body moves compactly, cannot single track,
therefore the legs should move parallel to each other. The bulging muscle
and broad chest forces the Mini to move wide in the front. The rear
quarters do not so much “drive” as they maintain balance while affording quick
agility. Side gait is free and easy but will not have the reach
and drive associated with a narrow-bodied breed. The simple act of getting from
one place to another is a “big adventure” for the Minibull and his care-free,
confident, exuberance says “I’m the best natured Gladiator you’ll ever meet!”
Temperament is full of fire and courageous. The Miniature Bull Terrier fears nothing.
A dog that on the table or floor does not deserve to be seen in the Bull Terrier ring!
The Bullie is amenable to discipline, like a
little boy caught with a frog in his pocket, he's apologetic while hiding a
grin. Scold him and he accepts it with grace. Strike him and he shrugs it off
and loves you anyway. So again, no Miniature Bull Terrier should ever cower or
show any aggression towards the judge. The pup to the right has remarkable head,
type, attitude and substance but the front is turned out at this age.
Faults are judged in exact proportion to its
degree. A significant statement. Award for virtue. Fault a Miniature
Bull Terrier only to the degree he departs from the ideal. But do fault
him and most breeders will respect the judge who knows the more serious faults
For example: a slightly undershot bite is only a
slight fault because a level bite is correct. A large ear on an otherwise
correct head is only a slight fault compared to narrow body, weak quarters, or
fine bone, all of which interfere with function. The mature Ch. "Casper" (below)
is an outstanding example of proportion, outline, tail set, head.
POINTS TO CONSIDER: Group Judge Diane Foot, writing in Dog News says "the BT is
first of all a Terrier. It is not just a head.” She then brings up something
we all need to consider “Lately I have noticed some lovely arched profiles,
but the overall head is lacking in depth and width. An extremely arched over
head, while pleasing to the eye, without the proper width and depth is totally
Ms. Foote calls attention to the fact that Bull
Terrier exhibitors do not usually stay for Group where they can gain the
experience and objectivity of all-rounders. That is true but it must also be
said that many Miniature Bull Terriers find it discouraging to be ignored by an
incompetent judge who judges the Terrier Group but who obviously does not
understand the Bull breeds.
Encouraging both exhibitors and judges, she says
“If while you’re judging the Terrier Group, you happen to notice that the
Standard Bull Terrier has stayed to show in the Group ring, perhaps you could
give that animal consideration for one of the placements.” You can see her
smile as she adds “…don’t just assume that Terriers are short and fuzzy. And
even if you don’t place that particular Bull Terrier, be aware that you are
witnessing the beginning of a new way of thinking for the BT breeder/owner, that
Bull Terriers can and must compete in the Group Ring at an all-breed dog show.”
Speaking for all Miniature Bull Terrier owners, it is
a thrill to see a judge’s eyes light up when he or she notices a good quality
Bullie. But disappointment often follows when a slightly undershot mouth
causes that judge to mentally dismiss an otherwise outstanding Miniature Bull
Terrier. And must bone and substance be put aside for a narrow dog that
single-tracks in the Group ring? If Miniature Bull Terrier breeds continue to
show just to each other, there is the fear that Mini-Bulls will become ever more
vulnerable to extremism to "catch the judge's eye." And conversely, what a
pity to let proper dentition go in favor of only showing exaggerated heads to
As long as judges hold the ribbons, what choice do we have? Some have chosen to
just keep the Mini-Bull as a pet and find another breed to show. Remember what
we learned in
Evolution? This breed, as much as any and more than most, is still on the
brink of becoming a rare breed once again.
Miniature Bull Terrier breeders ask honest, perceptive
judges to help us. We are mostly owner handlers. We ask that you not forgive
that which interferes with health or function and don’t award things that may be
correct in some other terrier but are anathema to the Bull Terrier.
JUDGING POINTS TO REMEMBER Miniature Bull Terrier
topline is not flat but has a slight arch over loin. Heads are decidedly
different, for reasons we avoid discussing. Think “egghead” or “football.” Eyes
and expression are wicked yet full of sparkling good humor. Movement is jaunty,
a cocky swagger. The well muscled Mini-bull tries to single track and would love
to "reach and drive" but he can’t.... And if he did, he'd be off balance, his
untippable center of balance all wrong. Ears small, neat, thin, placed
high. Tail is a short little “carrot” carried horizontally. The
Mini-Bull's attitude is fearless, ready for anything, including trotting happily
around the ring. He loves people; never met a stranger and is absolutely,
positively never shy!
The Miniature Bull Terrier is a utilitarian,
indestructible four-wheel drive SUV. There is nothing about him that is not
designed with purpose. He is among the most unique, jocular dogs you will ever
encounter. After all, when you look like a Mini-Bull, you have to have a sense
On behalf of all who appreciate “a little bull” THANK YOU for coming. THANK YOU for caring!
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