ShowSight Presents The Miniature Bull Terrier

Miniature BullTerrier

Judging The Miniature Bull Terrier

By Michael E. Flaugh, PhD

to the point, it is in outright defiance of the breed standard, which specifically says, “The distance from the tip of the nose to the eyes should be perceptibly greater than that from the eyes to the top of the head.” The breed standard further specifies that the head be “long, strong and deep right to the end of the muzzle”, a requirement that is difficult to reconcile with a literal inter- pretation of the term “egg shaped”.

Large or round eyes are not particular- ly common fault in the Mini today. In fact, they generally have eyes that can be con- sidered acceptable. However, relatively few Minis actually have eyes with the ideal tri- angular shape and oblique set called for in the breed standard. Going a step further, Minis with eyes that meet the additional requirement of being deep set are down- right rare. Few breeds are supposed to have eyes set as deeply as is expected in the Bull Terrier. As an avid aid in visualiz- ing this correct deep eye set, consider the following exchange overheard at a recent show: A spectator asked an exhibitor with a Mini having exceptional eyes why her dog’s eyes were closed. She replied, “They aren’t closed”.

It is not unusual for exhibitors to bring their Mini into the ring believing the dog they are showing has exceptional sub- stance when, in fact, it is merely fat. Any competent judge should have little difficul- ty recognizing obesity. The “squishy” feel of fat is unmistakable. It so happens that a judge can easily tell when a Mini is over- weight without even touching it. As a Mini becomes overweight, its tuck vanishes. The underline of the Mini should rise gen- tly from the brisket to the belly. The topline of the Mini should appear to have a very slight slope owning to a modest arch over the loin. A high rear is often a sign of weakness in the rear legs. A dog will tend to stand more upright on the rear legs to compensate for this weakness. A dog that likes to stand with its legs out- stretched to the rear may also be compen- sating for weakness. Standing this way shifts weight to the front legs. The Mini should be most comfortable standing in the classical show stance. A Mini with ideal soundness and balance should be able to step into that position unassisted. The basic mechanics of the Mini’s gait does not differ significantly from that of most breeds. The extreme, ground cover- ing stride of the sighthound would, of course, be out of place for the Mini. On the other hand, the gait should never be chop- py. It might best be described as efficient and purposeful. Head carriage should be comfortable – neither high nor low. Tail

Fanciers of the Bull Terrier have little difficulty grasping the concept of a head that, viewed from the side, presents a pro- file that curves smoothly from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. Often over- looked is the requirement that the head should have a full appearance when viewed from all directions. In other words, viewed from the front or from above, one should see a fullness extending all the way forward to the end of the muzzle. Judges should not forgive a tapered head just because the profile is particularly impres- sive. A tapered or “wedge shaped” head is highly undesirable.

Before leaving the subject of heads, a brief comment about ears is in order. Ears should be small and set high on the head. Often they are neither. Most judges instinc- tively favor the head with small, high ears because these characteristics result in a more attentive, intelligent look. There is even better reason to favor these charac- teristics: They are correct for the Mini. The number of short legged Minis in the ring is declining steadily. However, even now, enough short legged Minis may occasionally show up in the ring at the same time to sell a judge on the notion that they are actually the ones with the correct proportions. The breed standard clearly calls for proportions that give a square appearance. Short legs on a Mini give the illusion of smaller overall size, and short legs may look more substantial than legs of the correct length. In comparison, the correct leg may appear to lack sub- stance, however this appearance is mis- leading. Upon grasping a Mini’s front leg, a judge should find it unusually well mus- cled for a dog of its size.

Another common head fault is a lack of underjaw. A narrow underjaw will often cause the lower canines to be forced inside the tooth line (“interior lower canine”). When examining a Mini’s bite, judges always check the incisors, but often fail to look at the positioning of the lower canines.

156 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE • J UNE 2011

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