Tuesday 30 November 2010

More on the bullies

A comment on the last blog pointed out that the sheep head on the modern bull terrier (or "Roman finish" as the breeders prefer to call it in an effort to imbue it with rather more grandeur) is an aesthetic preference that doesn't cause health problems.

The above is a still from footage we shot for Pedigree Dogs Exposed and it shows how extreme some of these dogs' heads are.

I love Bullies - they're full of character. But, however hard I try, I am at a loss to understand why anyone would want to do this to a dog.  It's the most unnatural shape (the whole head in fact, not just the bridge) and although I can't prove a health-deficit, surely those small eyes and head shape must have some impact on the dog's ability to see?  I know of one Bull Terrier owner who played what they thought was a great game with their dog.  It involved putting a grape on the floor in front of their dog and, oh, how they laughed that the dog could not see what was directly in front of its nose.

Does it matter? It does to me because no natural dog has a head this shape; it's been done on a whim and it adds absolutely nothing to the dogs' function.  And it isn't just the dog's head. Just compare the proportions of the historical dog with a current modern UK show dog:

Which is the better balanced, better proportioned dog? I don't think that anyone other than those in Bull Terriers would think it was the second dog. But what do you think? Has Kennel Club breeding actually "improved" the Bull Terrier?  And I don't mean temperament-wise. I accept this has improved. But temperament has nothing to do with phenotype - except perhaps in the Bulldog where the current phenotype makes it almost impossible for the dog to put up much of a fight even if the mind was willing.

I suspect I might be deluged by Bully owners trying to skew this poll, but let's give it a try anyway...



  1. I'd personally like to know why breeders of BT's have felt the need to change the way this breed looks.
    I completely understand selecting for temperament but surely selective breeding for this head shape has nothing to do with behaviour?

  2. A Bull Terrier will always be a lot of dog, even if it is it is a small package.

    Some of them might be too much of a dog, especially families who want their children to be able to handle and walk the dog.

    According to Wikipedia, the original size of Bull Terriers was what we now call Miniture Bull Terriers. And what we now call the regular size, were originally produced by crossing Bull Terriers with Pointers.

    I realise that the miniture Bull Terriers of today have the same unusual head shape as the larger Bull Terriers, and that there are health problems in the Minnies too, however, I believe that the miniture Bull Terriers fit into most families bettter.

    In the interest of breeding responsibly, and of breeding puppies who fit well into today's homes and families, I think that breeding the miniture size is a bit more socially responsible, and it is the real original size.

  3. Over time the trends in the show ring randomly change, with an overall trend towards exaggeration...it's a lot like the world of high fashion, except with living creatures. :(

    In my breed, the (U.S.) collie, the trend has been towards more coat, smaller eyes (the standard says "medium eye" and we now have an eye that looks like a little speck in the dog's head--go figure), a very full muzzle, and a lot of "underjaw"--the result is a dog that often resembles a shar pei or a lizard more than a traditional collie. A lizard with a big old chin. LOL

  4. as was pointed out.. the dog in the Old Fashioned picture would be killed in the UK today.. why? because it looks like a "pit bull" .Wikipedia is wrong.. again.. Bull terriers were never the size of miniature bull terriers.. although some are now larger than they were in the "old days".. Bitches run between 45-55 pounds and dogs between 55-70 pounds.. too large and they lose type. No one is breeding for a "bigger" BT. Mini bulls have been plagued with eye problems (suggested that they were bred .. cross bred.. with another smaller terrier.. Jack Russell( you know those healthy non registered dogs) or Smooth Fox that brought this problem in as it is not found in the (standard) Bull Terrier..) In fact in some countries ( yours included) cross breeding between Standards and Minis in order to fix the PLL problem in minis has been a practice for some time.. now we have an accurate test ( thanks to all of those studies funded in part by PURE BRED dog breeders.. nasty as they are) that will tell mini breeders ( and other breeds as well) how to avoid this drastic problem and create a healthier dog..
    Many children handle Bull Terriers with ease..it is not the size of the dog.. but the owners who make that call.
    I see your "poll" is for No.. but reasoning.. nope.. none..temperament should be the first thing on a breeders mind.. it is the first thing on many BT breeders minds..so as you grudgingly admit.. temperament is better than ever on BT's.. but your question as to which is the "better balanced dog"?? Please.. if you take the head off the pictures they are about the same.. One is thinner.. and really the older dog has a much poorer top line..not too mention floppy ears that were often cropped to make the dog "fit for function" as shown in your smaller picture of an old BT with cropped ears..
    I know of no BT that cannot spot a squirrel a million miles away.. or find a piece of kibble under that has been under the couch for a year or so.. your poor argument about head structure.. well BAAAAAAA humbug to that.. you have not proved any point at all except that you take exception to everything..you might note that in the old dog photo. ( only one ..there are lots more if you research the BT)) the dog still has a very small eye.. in fact it appears to be smaller than the current dog who is a very nice example of the breed but appears to be a bitch as does the photo of the old fashioned dog.. but then as we all know.. pictures can lie.. and often do...

    The modern BT is a healthy happy dog for the most part.. with a head that does not harm it in anyway as far as health considerations.. you may not "like" it.. but many do..
    as for breeders using the term Roman finish to "imbue it with rather more grandeur".. LOL.. it is called roman finish because so many Romans had( and have) big noses..and some still do.. and some people like it.. some don't just like in dogs..and feel they just MUST have a say in what others like and don't like.. I will assume you and Kate will never marry a "Roman".. LOL

  5. 'Roman nose' is a term used in horses too, for many draft breeds.

    If something does not harm the dog's health or it's quality of life, I don't see why it being purely an 'aesthetic' affect is all that wrong.

    Would such a head prevent a BT from fighting or biting in the matter it was originally created for? Perhaps... but they are now a pet dog and not a working dog, and are not advertised as working dogs. They are bred to be pets with an appearance that is handsome to a certain type of person.

    I agree that changes in a breed purely for fashion that results in suffering should be condemned. But criticizing breed features that you -admit- have no actual bearing on health, purely because you don't like the way it looks rather sounds petty when there are plenty of examples of actual suffering in other breeds because of their conformation.

  6. Oops, you're quite right about the picture being of a bitch.. have corrected the text.

    And a bit mean to blame jack russells for introducing PLL into mini-bulls given how many other breeds suffer from it.

    As for the "Roman finish" being justified because you "like it" - no wild/pariah/landrace dog has a head that shaped, suggesting that evolution probably had good reason to build them the way it did. The modern head looks like a perversion - a strong word, I know, but it just looks intrinsically wrong; freakish even when it's at its most extreme.

  7. if you believe that minis"fit better" into today's households.. by all means get one.. but make sure it has been tested for PLL and the parents as well..but please don;t say that a Bull Terrier is not a fit dog for a child or that breeders who breed standard BT's are not "socially responsible".. it makes you sound as if you actually believe in the Dangerous dog crap. you don't do you????

    1. And just how would you test a min for PLL given that in order to carry out the test the dog has to be dead. I have owned an bred both standard and miniature bull terriers fo twenty years before I retired from showing. temperament is first class and better than most breeds. All dogs have thier intrinsic ailments and BT's are no different but also no worse. No rage syndrome, hip dyspacia or spinal issue of note. If you buy a pedigree dog you can see its parents, even grand parents and you are buying a known quantity, get a mongrel and take a risk. By the way, I had up to 15 BT's at a time and also 24 foster children over the period, not one ever had an issue with my dogs.

    2. Testing for PLL is now available with a simple DNA swab.

  8. you forgot to add.. "to me" and I think you meant to say "at its least extreme" as even then I doubt if you would "approve".

    and I did not blame JR's.. I also mentioned Smooth Fox..BECAUSE they were the breeds believed used to miniaturize the BT..not the Tibetan Terrier or any other breed that has problems with PLL.
    don't want a "modern" BT??.. don't worry you can find plenty of them that still look like the "old fashioned dog" Lots of breeders do not breed to the standard for heads and even when they do some are not as correct as others... Most of them are not as correct to the standard as the beautiful bitch you maligned here...perhaps you can tell me why you think the first dog is so much more "correct" than the bitch who excels in top line, ear placement, head quality, bone, substance, depth of brisket, turn of stifle, lay of shoulder and tail set.. ( more but who is counting) and temperament.. yes I do know her..
    Bull Terriers are about as far from a landrace breed as you can get..although I admit.. they can be wild on occasion.. LOL.. but give them a comfy couch..a lap and a snuggle.. after a nice walk and a better dog cannot be found..why should they look like a landrace dog?
    I do think Jemima you would be happy of all dogs were reverted to the landrace and wild dog look.. much like a wolf.. no thanks I will take my roman nosed clown dog over any dog any day..but that is just me..
    by the way..they often do remind me of little horses.. when I see my brindles outside in the fog.. they remind me of a group of ponies..but unlike a draft horse.. they refuse to pull a cart.. maybe I should cross them with a Bernese.. at least they would be pulling their weight instead of sucking up mass quantities of dog treats!!! LOL.
    There is nothing wrong with criticizing what you know.. but honestly.. this is one ring you should stay out of.. your blog.. your choice.. but if you have no other reason than "I don't like it".. it really does not apply any more than "I DO like it" and not to any problem"exposed"
    Jan Dykema
    Bestuvall Bull Terriers
    AKC Judge

  9. A couple of commas missing in my post - should have been "freakish, even, at its most extreme".

    Jan/Pai, I can see why you think my criticism of the bull terrier head is misplaced. I realise I am not being entirely consistent in finding the head shape so disturbing.But it IS a conformational extreme, regardless of whether or not there is a health deficit attached to it and I think it goes to the nub of what has gone wrong. "I like" has got so many breeds into trouble.

    It's quite hard to find solid evidence that the show GSD is "wrong" too given that the breeders will point out that even the most extreme angualted dogs have good hip scores in even the most extreme angulated dogs. But there are few people outside of GSDs who don't wince when they see these dogs move.

    I have not maligned the "beautiful bitch" - I have just pointed out that, to me, she is not s well put-together as the historical dog an asked others what they think.

    As for being "correct" - it's a meaningless word to me given what passes for "correct" in so many breeds. But seeing you've mentioned it, having a trawl through old BT breed standards, the "egg-shape" was originally meant to refer to the shape of the dog's head from the front, not in profile. And the early breed standard required a slight stop.

  10. You said it yourself,you have no proof that the dogs head shape affects it vision,maybe thats because there is no proof as it has no bearing on the dogs eyesight.
    And i can assure you that my dogs can and do chase a tennis ball down without a problem and when walking over the local fields they can see the rabbits in the long grass and give chase,all to no avail i should add.
    And they manage to do this without bumping into each other and the trees.

  11. The current Bull terrier head shape is because the breed was bred for the pit and anyone with an IQ a tad above plant life knows that a pair of pincers ( Shaped like a Parrot's beak ) can exert many times the crushing power of a pair of long nosed pliers. Go to your shed and test this on a piece of wood.
    The pointer was not used in the development of the breed, it was the Dalmation, hence the spots on the whites. A few weeks of reading about the breed might be a good precursor to expounding in print.
    James Watkiss.
    Westbul Bull Terriers, Australia.
    56 years of everything BT-owning-breeding-hunting-judging-loving them.

  12. Ah Jemima, you've really opened a can of worms here! Bully owners can be every bit as stubborn as their dogs. LOL Fwiw, my uncle used to breed standards and we own two mini's ourselves. (The standards are banned in the country where we currently live.) I like A BIT of the Roman on bullies (and I think the modern bitch shown is beautiful) but I think a few breeders have gone too far, to the extent that I wouldn't buy one. Some bullies (and I say this as a lover of the breed) look grotesque, making it APPEAR that the breeder is prizing her/his personal view of bully aesthetics over more important traits such as health and temperament.

    Having said that, know that there are bullies in other parts of the world as well, not just the UK or North America (or Australia). Our two wouldn't pass the American or British breed standard on physical characteristics, but they have the solid muscular build, vexing obstinancy, independent mind, clownish character and steadfast loyalty that I've always loved about the breed, even if they don't pass muster on every single physical point. (Ours have a head shape in between the two examples, modern ears and a body shape more like the older bitch. And pedigree papers. Try telling THEM they're "not bullies"! :) We're very happy with both our darlings.)

  13. That's very interesting, Mr. Watkiss. Bull Terriers must have an entirely different skull musculature than normal dogs. Usually, the muscles attached to the nasal bone go to the lips, not the mandible. In your average dog, the profile of the skull has nothing to do with 'crushing power.' There's a very good illustration of dog skull musculature here:


  14. OMG - Some people just have nothing to do with their time! We have owned bred and loved Bull Terriers for plenty of years, and we have never had any problems that affect our dogs because of their head shape! Fpr me that is what sets a Bullie apart from the rest. If you have an eye for a Bullie, nothing comes close. As they say - beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and my Golly - Bullies is the most beautiful creatures on earth, with the most awsome personalities. Leave the Bull Terriers alone, and go phsyco analize the head of the Rhino!

  15. can you please elaborate on why you think the old fashioned dog is "better balanced and better proportioned" than the bitch in the current photo? I have a pretty good collection of BT books and I cannot find a standard that calls for a "slight stop".. would love to know where you found one.. my guess is that it called for a "slight stop " as opposed to a large one.. defining the profile and egg shape.. which is defined both from the front.. called "fill" and from the side.. called "profile" hence the egg shape from all views.
    PS one dog is standing in grass... one not.. so feet and length of leg are impossible to judge...along with cat feet which are so necessary ( correct) for breed type..

  16. I found the original description here (about two thirds down the page) and is ref’d as being from the BT Club’s description:


    This book, by Robert Leighton, was published in 1910. The breed standard at this stage asks for a flat face which should have a "slight indentation" (although no stop - I was wrong about that). There was certainly no mention of “egg-shaped”. Clearly, at some point it changed from “flat” with a “slight indentation” to “egg-shaped” and “gently curved profile”? I also believe that previous breed standards made clear that the egg-shaped was from the front, not in profile. Will have a look back when I get a mo - unless someone else can source?

  17. You are wrong on several points Jemima.

    Everyone with an eye for a dog can see that the old fashion Bull Terrier is the unbalanced one of the two. He/she has to stand very wide with both front legs otherwise he would fall aside. The modern Bull Terrier shown in the picture is the better balanced of the two.

    The head is the most unnatural shape? Have a look at wild animals. Quite a few don't have a stop, for example lions, horses, sheep etc. They are fit for function. So to state that the shape is unnatural is wrong. Yes, the head shape of the Bull Terrier was created but it doesn't make the Bull Terrier unfit, unhealthy or unable to do what other breeds can.

    Please have a look at the link I added and see for yourself that the Bull Terrier is just as normal as any other dog. The fact that the shape of the head is different to other dogs doesn't mean they are unhealthy it just makes them different. You are entitled to not like them but I do !

    Working as a professional dog photographer I work with all sorts of breeds/dogs, some breeds I like some I don't fancy that much but up till now I haven't seen one I like better than the Bull Terrier.

    Alice van Kempen, the Netherlands

    Dog Photographer, writer, publisher.

  18. If you wish to do something constructive,look into puppy farmers who do not test their bitches for health issues and keep on breeding the one bitch 4.5 or more times,also they do not test their puppies,I have bull terriers and would not have any other dog,and as for which is the balanced of the 2 it is the 2nd picture

  19. And quite a few animals have horns. That wouldn't make them right on a dog.

    I'm not saying the shape per se is unnatural - I'm saying it's unnatural on a dog. To my eyes.

    As for James Watkiss's claim that the dog was "bred for the pit and anyone with an IQ a tad above plant life knows that a pair of pincers ( Shaped like a Parrot's beak ) can exert many times the crushing power of a pair of long nosed pliers".... Bunkum!

    You are entitled to defend it on the "it does no harm" ticket, but, really, the head shape change came after the dog was no longer used for fighting.

  20. I think that BT's shape & form is a minor problem compared to health issues like demodex and uncounted number of allergies.

  21. Alot of breeds have changed over the years, but why create this blog just because YOU think it looks unnatural. There are no health issues attatched to the dog due to this head shape and it is ridiculous to say that it also affects there eye sight, that comment did make me laugh. There are many breeds out there that have serious health issues due to KC standards and overbreeding and interbreeding, these are the ones you need to concentrate on - serious issues not just asthetics which are totally personal anyway.

  22. Hi Jemimna,I know of no reason why you should not have an opinion, we do live in a demorcratic society, however that opinion should be based on personal experiance of the topic the opinion is about, until you take the time to breed or own modern day bull terriers your opinion and that of the pedigree dogs exposed progame and those other breeds you targeted will be seen as just an attempt to higher your profile and make a pound.


  23. Have to disagree with Jamie that the Bull Terrier was used in the pit. The Bull Terrier developed by James Hinks was never bred for the dog pit, he created the Bull Terrier purely as a show dog. Please read two books written and published by Kevin Kane; "Pity Me" & "James Hinks Master Craftsman".
    Two of the best books ever written on the creation and development of the Bull Terrier, unlike other authors who copy and paste false or unproven information time after time. If I look at your reaction you got your 'knowledge' about Bull Terriers from some of these books.

    "although I can't prove a health-deficit, surely those small eyes and head shape must have some impact on the dog's ability to see?"
    I see you are questioning yourself already, different than other dogs doesn't mean it has to be unhealthy. Chinese people have much smaller eyes than us Europeans, the can see as clearly as we do.

  24. This is sonething that will go on and on, but why pick on the Bull Terrier's head shape? Why not start a blog about the wrinkles on the Shar Pei, or the extreme heaviness of the Rottweiler and the English Mastiff? What about the fact that dogs like the Great Dane have been bred so big that they only live for about 6 or 7 years?

    Come on, the Bull Terrier's head has no detrimental effect on its' health or its' ability to be a good pet. And as to the eye sight, I've been to many dog shows & not once has a Bull Terrier failed to see the treat or toy poised in front of its' nose!

    1. Sorry Babe but she has written a blog on Shar Pei wrinkles.. She also wrote about Mastifes

  25. I am not sure you have to meet a bull terrier to have an opinion on the head-shape. But I have met lots of them - and my sister had two, one of which tried to eat our English Setter puppy. Many years ago now and I have since met others with wonderful dispositions (if better with humans than other dogs; there was one in our village who last year removed the testicles of an elderly terrier he met out on a walk - partly the terrier owner's fault for picking the dog up but, obviously, not entirely). I have a soft spot for the breed and like their quirky character. Indeed, I like their look, too - just not the very extreme heads.

  26. Anon wrote: "why pick on the Bull Terrier's head shape? Why not start a blog about the wrinkles on the Shar Pei, or the extreme heaviness of the Rottweiler and the English Mastiff? What about the fact that dogs like the Great Dane have been bred so big that they only live for about 6 or 7 years?"

    Give me time...

  27. The head is a personal preference and you know what in every litter there is differences in the heads. Not every breeder keeps the overdone head, they do have a body too you know. So there is the right puppy for everyone. I don't think breeders deliberately breed extreme heads. You can't control genetics, you can put plain to plain and get some good and exaggerated heads. Or put two good heads together and get plain straight heads etc etc etc. I have many old Bull Terrier books and some of the old standards are there but a standard is a blue print that was a work in progress all those years ago. They were developing towards what they wanted. The standard for years has not changed much. Not long after the 1900's by memory they did mention about having more finish. But thats a work in progress to get that. I think the Bull Terrier of today is a healthier dog with modern technology at our easy access. Health testing is done by the serious breeders. Head shape is a personal preference, you simply don't like the extreme head, that is your choice. But you can't deny me or any other breeder or lover of the Bull Terrier our choice to have a lovely head with that stunning roman finish. In my 20 years of involvement with the breed I am yet to see their head shape being responsible for serious health issues. Their tiny eyes don't stop them from seeing, as someone said above the Asians can still see well. BTW google the Bedlington Terrier - check out their head shape too. The Bull Terrier has a unique head shape but we're not alone with it.

  28. I agree with Jemima. The head of the modern bull terrier is weird. The pic of the dog from former times shows a much better head in my view.
    It's all to do with breeders gradually changing the look of their dogs because they want them to look "typey", ie distinct from any other breed.
    They also seem to want to make them look cute.
    I'm old enough to remember bull terriers back in the 1950s and they weren't nearly so odd-looking then.
    Many other breeds have had their heads changed over the years too, having started off with fairly "normal" looking ones. Eg, the borzoi's head, I think, is weird. The flatcoat's head has become more Roman-nosed than it used to be.
    The show gundogs have blockier heads than before, while something like the Sheltie is really sharp-nosed and small-eyed now.
    They usually change the heads and add lots of extra coat.
    I think most of the time the dogs have lost their looks, which is odd when they are trying to breed attractive dogs. They (the breeders) obviously think they look nice, but I don't. For example, the working springers and cockers have really beautiful heads (and bodies) but not the show versions.
    Look at the show cocker - ridiculous narrow head, domed skull and drooping ears. Poor thing.
    Julia Lewis

  29. you seem to not like the pedigree breeds very much, easy target to pick on, and open a hornets nest to boot is this just another way of getting info for your next programme of rubbish that sends accusations an untruths abound. The bull terrier, yes curved head, the odd health problem? yes and breeders are trying depserately through health tests and screening to irradicate these problems which are no where near of the scale that other breeds suffer from. How about so called 'designer dog breeds' oh sorry i meen mongrels more and more with health problems.
    You say a bully tried eating your English setter puppy....Well setters.....hip displacyia, hypothyroidism, elbow dispaycia and deafness.....these problems are prevalent in the setter and stop the Gundog from being fit for purpose and cetainly shortens the work life of a dog.
    Perhaps you should look at your own back yard before throwing stone in someone elses.

  30. Here is an interesting blog on head shape, you may wish to read Steven Bodio's blog of September 22, 2010 on Chinese Tazis http://stephenbodio.blogspot.com/2010/09/chinese-tazis-continued.html.
    Here is a Sino/Roman nose on sighthounds in Central Asia. These dogs are working dogs not for showing except to show performance on the steppes.

  31. Firstly as the OWNER of the BEAUTIFUL Bull Terrier, I would like to say that 1 she is fully Health tested clear!, and lives a very HEALTHY and HAPPY life hear with us, 2 she has perfect eye sight! and we have NECER had any problems with her! secondly I would just like to know where you got this picture?? and WHO gave you permision to start this topic using it! because we certainly didnt!!!

  32. Jemima says:
    Will have a look back when I get a mo - unless someone else can source?

    here you go.. :

    "The first breed standard from the Bull Terrier Club was introduced in 1887 and called for a wedge shaped head with as little stop as possible"
    Kevin Kane, The Origin and Development of the Bull Terrier

    From the same author:
    "The Bull Terrier head was described, in the 1915 standard as oval, almost egg shaped, with an arc form ( sic) the occiput to the tip of the nose, the more downfaced the better."

    Down face is another word for profile.

    Jan Dykema
    Bestuvall Bull Terriers

  33. The picture is published on the Internet (in fact on the Pets4Home site advertising her father's services). I can use it under "Fair Use" (which allows the use of copyrighted images for comment and review). I chose it because I thought she was a good example of the modern dog (as opposed to choosing a very extreme dog that would have been considered an unfair comparison).

  34. The thing is, as you get this "specialized look" that serves no function, you end up with people breeding for it (and winning for it) and over time, you wind up in the land of extremes like so many other breeds.

    Just because there's no real health issues with it now doesn't mean that there won't be later as the look becomes more and more extreme and we end up with dogs who look like tapirs.

    How many breeds have gone this way? Be vigilant BT people, or you too will be saying in 30 years, "What ever happened to our breed that it's gone so wrong now?"

  35. beware the dark room
    unlike most people im not questioning your right to pursue your passion,but more to say beware the dark room that is the room you do your writing and research because i've got a feeling that in 30 or 40 years time you might think you,d have been better trying to help the young kids eeking out a living on rubbish dumps in asia or south america,or the baby girls being left to die on the streets of china,but hey ho if theres greenbacks init.
    i can see it now in the queue up above st peter says "ah jemmima ,no major sins ;good but you;ve spent the last 40 years trying to safeguard the headshape and rear angulation of certain dogs"what do you think hell say then ,well it wont be get yourself an orange out of this box will it, itll be falling , falling then singey bum time.and as a bullterier enthusiast you could say ill be joining you,but you see i know that anyway not because of any major sins or hopefully 30 years showing bullterriers its just because "i dont like oranges " tick tock tick tock.
    subnote; if a squirrel trumps in the middle of a forest an no ones there to here it ,does it make a sound?

  36. I agree with mikken. There is no problem with the dogs face shape, but by selecting dogs with these extreme face shapes you are bottlenecking the gene pool.

  37. I see this as a fairly simple matter.
    The Bull Terrier, just like any pedigree dog, has physical traits that make it what it is, a Bull Terrier! The physical differences distinquish it from any other breed of dog, as do the traits of any other pedigree dog, otherwise they would basically all look the same.
    The individual look of any breed will nearly always dictate what breed an individual person chooses to invite to share their home and past times with.
    Simply because you dislike the trait of the Bull Terriers downface, does not automatically mean they must have health issues! It actually just means you don't like the look of the dog we have today, compared to the dog we had decades ago.

    That is obviously your choice, there are plenty of other types of dog for you to choose from! Just as the Bull Terrier of today is the choice of many people, including myself.

    The look and shape of many things change over time, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, even the human body shape, height etc has changed.
    Sorry but thats life!

    As long as responsible breeders continue to strive to breed from healthy dogs, I don't see a problem with the downface. It hasn't stopped any of my Bull Terriers from living a full, high quality life.

    Personal opinions are always going to differ, you don't like the modern Bull Terrier, so what.... don't have one then.

  38. I think the parrot head look does have a use, the same use as the ridgeback does on Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Both are used by people to say "My dogs is not a pit bull".

    To breed these dogs without their oddity might cause the dogs to suffer from threats to their health.

  39. What a very interesting blog! Firstly, and most importantly, I wonder why you have singled out Bull Terriers? As "anonymous" has mentioned. Bedlington Terriers have been bred with the roman finish to their noses which has become more extreme over the years. They were also used for fighting in the past and are known for being aggressive - see their breed profile. Why have you picked on Bull Terriers? Is it because they do not appear soft and fluffy? I believe that you have chosen a Bull Terrier because any dog with "bull" in it will attract press attention and all I can say is - leave us in peace. All the reputable breeders in this country, to my knowledge, breed for temperament and health first and foremost. I was given my first bull terrier in 1952 and she had a great Roman profile - pretty similar to the bull terriers I own now. As to it being an unnatural shape - well that is nature. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and thank God for that because life and the world would be a boring place if everything looked the same. May I suggest you use your considerable skills in spotlighting the real people who cause the problems and those are the breeders who care nothing for the health or welfare of their chosen breed but only for the profit they can make. Ask any reputable bull terrier person and they will point you in the right direction.

  40. Jemima, all those people who say that they should have the choice to breed their dogs to have the head shape which they like - IF I were to breed Bull Terriers with the old style head, would they say that my choice was okay too, or would they yell that I was ruining the breed by not breeding it to their idea of what the breed should be?

  41. I always thought it was just the trim that gave the Bedlington the sheep's head - but happy to be corrected if wrong. The breed standard for the Bedlington Terrier head demands: "There must be no ‘stop’, the line from occiput to nose end straight and unbroken." ie no curved profile.

  42. Freedom is speeech is great isn't it?
    You have every right to voice your opinions like we bull terrier enthusiasts have a right to voice ours.
    There has been a dramatic change in the shape of the bull terrier head, you are correct however if you are going to pick fault with a pedigree breed you had better pick fault with all breeds because I cannot think of any breed that has not changed since the early 1900s, head shape, leg length, body shape the list can go on......in the grand scale of life does the shape of a head that doesn't in any way shape or form disable a dog be the subject of such a blog? there is far more human and animal cruelty in the world for us to turn our thoughts to, you highlighted in your programme things already noted by breeders the KC etc...We are trying hard to breed out the genetic defects and ailments in our dogs only a fool would ignore the warning signs that have been happening over the past years. These problems are not new, and we will in life always have hurdles to overcome. We will eventually cure cancer and aids and other horible diseases in the human race but this won't stop other new diseases being born. We all strive to make life better but none of it happens over night.
    I would rather have a BT with an exaggerated head than a peke that can't breath properly, or a badly bred 'designer crossbreed' that has inherited problems from its forefathers.
    A can of worms well and truly opened, that I will suspect wil run and run........

  43. PLEASE breed any head you prefer on an BT.. no problem.. in fact many heads are plainer than others and these dogs are loved an cherished by their owners..It is all about choice...your choice to breed what are known as plain heads in the breed is your choice alone..go for it...
    I too would rather see the author lobby agsint the dnagerous dog act rather than try to talk about a subject that she knows little about..in my opinion her time would be better spent working to fight the banning and killing of dogs "just because of they way they look".. note that one poster here has already said they cannot have a Bull Terrier because they are banned in their country ( where is that exactly)
    Yes the biggest threat to the health of the BT and many bull breeds as well as some working breds is death by government..now THAT would be worth a TV program...

  44. Thanks for the info, Jan. Yes, I think it changed somewhere between 1910 and 1915. Although I have a pic here of a 1931 vintage BT - taken from"63 Illustrations of Perfect Specimens: Dogs of Today" by Major Harding Cox - that shows that the wedge (but definitely not the egg-shape) still prevailed at that time. (Absolutely no hint of a curve). Am checking with canine historian Col David Hancock who I think may be able to answer this definitively. Will post if so. Incidentally, there's also this interesting observation in the Major Cox book "It has been frequently complained that formerly a too large percentage of Bull-Terriers were stone deaf. Cropping was supposed to account for the trouble; though some held the rather far-fetched theory that all entirely white dogs are apt to be deaf, or partially so."

    Of course we now know that white dogs ARE much more likely to be deaf than coloured.

  45. There is over 100 years between photographs so I don't see any real arguement. All things change and if this change was over a period of ten years I would agree with some of the things you have highlighted.

    Take a look at this you may learn that everything changes whether man-made or eau naturale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

    Within the scrupulous fraternity there is a lot of good hard work to keep the BT standard and as healthly as possible. There are other bredders, we know, who look at making a quick profit but this is in every trade of life.

    People have opinions on everything, in this topic, you don't like the shape of the bull terrier head. Is that all what is blog is about? There are bigger issues within the whole animal breeding 'industry' than the shape of the a dogs head, that i find the most beautiful BTW.

    On another note, I prefered the Ford Escort MKI & MKII but some engineer changed the shape of the car totally and it became the most iconic car of the eighties/nineties.

    But seriously can you try and stop the KC from accepting any of the following names as breeds of dog? cocka-poo, Shihpoos, sprocker spaniels and everything you find here. I actually like some of the cute thing buts wouldn't pay £800 for a mongrel. Who is the immoral, irresponsible breeder now?

    evolution - it's the future!!

  46. Some fab historical pix of BTs here...


  47. white animals.. along with merle ( which is why the gene has to be very cafefully handled and why I cannot imagine why the doxie folks wanted it) are sometimes deaf..thank goodness we have BAER testing.

  48. Jemima, looking at the link you posted, who can argue with a straight face that bull terriers are more attractive today than they were 70 years ago? And they're definitely not alone--every single breed looks more exaggerated and simply uglier today than 70 or 100 years ago. You can quote me on that! Breeding for the show ring is seriously creating a bunch of freaks. And I agree with the previous poster--working lines of dogs are invariably more attractive than their show line counterparts. It seems like breeding for looks, in addition to creating gobs of health problems, has also failed at its fundamental goal, which was to make dogs more attractive. It's time to give up dog showing altogether!

  49. Can we compare the head of the Bull Terrier with the head of the show Collie? I don't know why breeders want a dog with an egg shaped head, but why do they want one with a head shaped like a pick-axe?

    Can't they work on breeding for good health and temperament? Why write standards for odd head shapes? Maybe a normal, less freaky look would be better?

  50. You know I read an article once written by a vet who stated that those fancy designer crossbreds have more health problems than the purebreds. (Based on their experience within their own practice). People stupidly believe they can crossbreed and its healthy automatically. So many out there pay top dollar for a mongrel who may end up with health problems. Why? Because they believe the hype that crosses are better and healthier. Humans have an amazing array of health problems and we're not inbred. (Well the high majority of us aint).

  51. "The Bull Terrier, just like any pedigree dog, has physical traits that make it what it is, a Bull Terrier! The physical differences distinquish it from any other breed of dog, as do the traits of any other pedigree dog, otherwise they would basically all look the same. The individual look of any breed will nearly always dictate what breed an individual person chooses to invite to share their home and past times with."

    What about temperament, is that not important? Breeders supposedly breed first and foremost for temperament and health, yet buyers buy because a breed "looks" the way it does?
    Personally, I do not think all breeds would look the same, because "form follows function", even with dog breeding (or, at least, it used to...).

    Why do bull terriers of today have so short legs?

  52. Raiden Bull Terriers2 December 2010 at 10:05

    What a load of rubbish!! Everyone has a right to their own opinion but as a loving owner & breeder of bull terriers I find this blog offensive to say the least. Suggesting the bull terrier has trouble seeing due to eye size & head shape is laughable - have you nothing better to do that make uneducated comments & posting photos that are about as relative as putting modern day man next to the Neanderthal. Lying on the sofa next to me, watching me with his little triangular eyes, snorting thru his distinctive roman finished nose at the end of his oversized but beautifully curved head my boy raises a short leg & gives the single paw salute.

  53. Our bullies and minis are healthier than they have ever been.Health testing is common place with registered breeders.The head shape does not effect the dogs health but is what makes the bully unique.Perhaps we should start placing breeding restrictions on humans with roman noses on the grounds that some people may not find them aesthetically pleasing or they 'may' have some 'later to be discovered health' issues???? Does every dog breed have to be tailored to fit your personal aesthetics Jemima?
    Yes, we all know white animals are more prone to deafness and valuable research is being conducted that would not possible without the co operation of breeders submitting DNA samples.
    You quote that " I like" can be dangerous well "I don't like " has disastrous consequences in history.
    You admit it yourself.You can't find a problem with health in relation with this breeds head shape.You are all about health in pedigree dogs aren't you? No joy for you here then.Time to move on.

  54. As you can see from above - Bull Terrier fanciers are fierce in protecting the breed. It is because everyone wants to put a label on a bullie without knowing the breed. This forum started of with a personal dislike of a head shape and an unjustified comment that a Bull Terrier has problems as a result of this. Please provide this forum with concrete evidence and actual case studies.

    I am a Bull Terrier fanatic and wish people will respect our choice to love our dogs and in turn respect the fact that for the Bull Terrier person nothing comes close.

    If it's not a Bull Terrier, it's just a dog!

  55. The Bedlington terrier`s head,when clipped off is a normal "long dog" type of shape,that ridiculous lamb`s head look is purely fur trimmed up to that shape.The true working Bedlington ..as seen at working terrier shows..has a normal head with no silly fluffy bits.And yes,they are KC reg Bedlingtons!
    A previous poster mentioned getting rid of the multitude of allergy/demodex cases in the breed ....and I agree with that.

  56. What's the level of inbreeding in Bull Terriers? If high, might be contributing to the allergy/demodex issue.

  57. Many allergy problems in all dogs are caused by diet It is usually the first thing that dermatologist will look at rather than jumping to the conclusion that inbreeding is the cause.Perhaps this also applies to humans.There seems to be so more many allergy problems in children these days than I can recollect as a child.Also saw a study that early weaning of puppies < than 3 weeks can cause a tendency to allergies in later life.I have three generations of bullies all fed BARF diet and not an allergy amongst them. I am sure you would consider them inbred.I call them line bred.Demodex is quite common in many breeds of dogs as puppies.

  58. I am sure diet plays a role, as does environment. But allergies can also be an indication of an immune function not working optimally - and that may be because of inbreeding. You should not rule it out - and not least because there's now a new test which could be of real help to breeders. I'll post on this separately but in the meantime, have a look at:


  59. If I have a dog who is allergic to corn, and so I feed him on a meat diet instead, and when fed just meat he has no alleries, does that mean that he now is not allergic to corn and can't be said to have allergies, and is therefore fit for breeding?

  60. Never had any problems with allergies or skin problems with our Bullies but they are fed on a BARF diet as well. In summer/autumn they roam in our garden and pick their own fruits like figs, apples, pears, red berries, grapes and blackberries - it's amazing how they just pick the ripe blackberries en leave the unripe ones - it must be their good ability to see LOL.

    Why not start a new project on dog food producers Jemima? There was a TV program in the Netherlands that revealed what ingredients are used for commercial dog food. Ever seen a wolf or wild dog eat corn, soy or grain? Yet it is the main ingredient for commercial dog food, they use as less as only 2% meat in it. No wonder dogs develop skin disorders !
    Great new project in my opinion instead of accusing Bull Terriers to be unable to see properly - in fact they are as sharp as a knife when it comes to that, they don't miss the smallest breadcrumb and do spot objects/humans or other animals hundreds of meters away from them. If they would have been hunting dogs I do expect they would have been hunting by sight.
    In fact Bull Terriers are relatively healthy as a breed, there are a few inherited diseases but responsible breeders do test for these. The Bull Terrier doesn't suffer from any eye problems and HD like lots of other breeds do - and we don't live in a perfect world; some humans die much to young others live up to over a hundred and most of us don't in- or linebreed.....

    Here are the links to the Dutch TV program, some of it is in English, some in German and of course in Dutch - great new project I would say Jemima !!!





  61. What a shame more research wasn't done before posting this article.

    Are you baiting bullie breeders or are you going to take a pot shot at all Pedigree breeds claiming they don't look like their origin ancestors from 45,000 year ago. No one knows what that dog looked like so will be interesting to see your answer.

    Oh and btw I have bullies with these types of heads and none are ill, undershot, bad tempered, deformed etc like you seem to be claiming.
    Interestingly you are quite forgetting the point that great advance have been made in this breed. Did you know that most bullies at the turn of the 20C were deaf? Breeders are trying their best to create a healthy breed yet you state we should be making a backward step and going back to that type of dog.

    Laughable also that you show a dog with an upright shoulder, weak loins & poor topline saying this dog looks better and more balanced! I think that statement shows the true extent of your knowledge.

  62. Oh look, the bully people have skewed the poll!
    Julia Lewis

  63. The ONLY people who think modern show dogs look good are the people breeding them. The general public, sadly ignorant of what's trendy in the ring, invariably favors a more balanced, less exaggerated dog.

  64. Also I am sorry people but allergies and demodex are caused by inbreeding. A healthy dog should be able to thrive on any diet. Read this:


    And hip dysplasia isn't caused by people letting their dogs run on hardwood floors, either.

  65. Just wondering from which planet Annie came into our world - but as an experiment let's start feeding fish to horses; corn to cheetahs; raw meaty bones to impalas; grass to lions and seeds to rhinos according to Annie they should be able to thrive on any diet!

    Another one for you 'Annie' please have a look at my very unbalanced, very exaggerated show dogs, who are allowed to run on hardwood floors ....... http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=7479&id=100001545467386

  66. Janice Chardaice2 December 2010 at 23:22

    Like you say 'you can't prove a health deficit'!!!
    'You' feel small eyes and head shape must have some impact on the dogs ability to see 'AGAIN' You can't prove a health deficit'!!!

    Unatrual. Almost all of the worlds animals are 'unatrual' The world and its animals have evolved and developed, changed to their enviornment. (Which of course is down to man!) So what is a natrual animal? with a natrual head body and mind??? Not one that you will have seen in your life time!!!!
    Oh and some of these 'Wild' animals do have health deficits,
    as do people......Oh and guess what, we create those too!!!!

  67. "Oh look, the bully people have skewed the poll!"

    Indeed. Although given that there have been over 200 referrals from bulliez.net, I'm slightly surprised they haven't skewed it more!

  68. I'm sorry, Alice, did you deliberately misunderstand me? A healthy dog should be able to thrive on any dog kibble that is on the market today. Not to say I would feed my dogs some of the cheaper kibbles...

    Also I didn't understand your point about hardwood floors. MY point was that plenty of dog breeders will blame the puppy buyer for causing hip dysplasia in their puppy by letting it run on slick surfaces, or jump into the back of a truck, rather than placing the blame on genetics where it belongs.

  69. Yes, Alice, let's, and while we're at it, let's create a dog, whose head resembles that of a sheep. Oops, wait, that has already been done.

    BTW, wolves in Italy do eat spaghetti, and dogs are basically more scavengers than hunters, they also eat "human garbage", that includes soy, grain, corn.

  70. I've been looking for a breeder of athletic bull terriers for years now and haven't had any luck. The head and "substance" is all anyone cares about. Yet again, a former athletic breed becomes an absolute sickening circus freak joke.

  71. Mine was the first post. Clearly asking WHY the need to change the shape of the BT's head.
    69 posts later and no one has given a reason other than it looks nice. Most changes in breed standards recently (be them obscure or minor, for example the pug) have been done to improve and help the breed.
    Clearly the changes to the BT head shape have been quite drastic.
    OK some may say it has caused no health issues, but did they know this before they decided "their preferred look" was best?

  72. Kate, breeds change over time without any changes to the breed standard. Only the way the standard is interpreted changes. Again, look at collies--the standard says "medium eye" and the eye has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. Always the trend is towards exaggeration. If some coat is good, more is better. If some reach and drive is good, more is better (look at the german shepherd for goodness' sake!). If a bit of a Roman nose is good, why not go a step further with it? I shudder to think what show dogs will look like 50 years from now!

  73. "If a bit of a Roman nose is good"

    my point is.....good for what? Good for who?

  74. This really has put the feline amongst the flying rats.
    The point coming through from owners and breeders is that the shape does not cause detriment to the dog. But the point is, as with most of the pedigree dogs around now, that may be more luck that judgement. It was changed because they liked the look - not because they thought it would be beneficial to the dog itself.
    As for previous poster - since when has a sheep been a wild animal!

  75. The first modern bull terrier was Lord Gladiator. He was born in 1917 and had prick ears and a no stop. He was the first "stopless" bull terrier.

    Many years ago, it was decided that breeding for the white coloration exclusively was causing a large amount of deafness in the breed. Deafness associated with the pure white color in English white terrier, the bull terrier's ancestor, is believed to have been reason why it died out. So they crossed the dogs with handful of Staffies, one of which was a first cross between a Manchester terrier and a bulldog, and the colored dogs were created.

    The AKC bull terrier club refused to recognize the colored dogs. I have a book on bull terrier history in which the mandarins of the AKC bull terrier club threw an absolute fit about these animals. Only when they agreed to recognize the dog as a separate variety from the white would they allow it into the registry. In the AKC ring, colored and white bull terriers are shown separately.

    I've seen some photos of the early coloreds. They did have some staffie features, "button eyes" and relatively pronounced stops.

    These dogs have real issues with genetic diversity. A French study of nearly all their registered breeds found them to have as much problems with genetic diversity as two rare native French dogs.

  76. http://media.photobucket.com/image/lord%20gladiator/Peter9761/IMG-5-1.jpg

    Lord Gladitor b. 1917. He was the first modern bull terrier, and the whole breed is based off him.

  77. Two different dogs, surely?

    Head completely different.

  78. I have owned BTs for over forty years. Yes what we considered incredible heads in the 60s are not the same as today. I too don't see any health problems with the egg shaped head and small eyes. I happen to like that look. It's not to everybody's taste. More importantly I love the BT personality and temperament. I breed for the roman finish because I enjoy dog shows. Dog shows are fun for me, but the dogs come first. So if someone wants to breed bullies with less profile, I say go for it as long as you health and BAER test, and take responsibility for the puppies and place them carefully. (Rescues all over the world are swamped by the irresponsible breeder.) Most litters have dogs with not enough head for the show ring but we love them just the same and place them with owners who love them. We do have genetic problems as do all dogs, but I don't think the head shape is responsible for it. ALL BTs come down from the same few dogs who were the foundation animals. Breeders are trying our best with the deafness. Before we could BAER test, we could breed any dog that could hear. We now know that unilaterally hearing dogs breed the same as bilaterally deaf ones, and we don't breed from them. Not only that, very few, if any, breeders breed exclusively white to white dogs anymore. As Retrieverman notes above, yes colored dogs were looked down upon, and even color-bred whites were too. They were much more accepted when I came into the breed in the 60s, but you did not breed colored to colored as it was said you would revert back to Staffordshire type. This is obviously not true, there are many show quality BTs with two colored parents. There are a lot of us out there who adore this breed and are doing our best to breed healthy ones. No I didn't vote in the poll so don't include me in skewing it.

  79. We have come a long way from the ape too. Well with the exception of a few. The Bull Terrier of today is a far better dog. Carefull breeding and hard work has got it there and the 1 person thinks she knows it all does this. Go and pick on back yard breeders. Leave the pedigree dogs alone.

  80. Okay you guys are going on about the head and how they look. As NONE of us were around when Hinks made the decision to create a NEW breed why are you questioning anything? Seriously, when a new breed is being created it is a work in progress. The changes were bred into and they moved slowly but surely and they created a blueprint - the STANDARD. So that everyone was on the same page of what it should look like. This standard has been changed years ago whilst the breed was still in development but nothing of late but minimal changes ie the wording was altered to reflect easier of what it intention is. The Bull Terrier standard actually is one of a fully fit and functional dog. It is balanced and constructed well. Its head is unique and we breeders love that head. From time to time we get exaggeration to it but that is not something one deliberately breeds for. It is something that comes a result from that mating - its genetics and mother nature at work. You can get overdone heads from ordinary, flat plain heads. Our kennel has good balanced heads and from time to time we might get exaggerated heads but not often. So enough of this rubbish of trying to persecute a breed all because YOU personally are not a fan of this shape head. My former husband had a lovely roman nose, we often joked he resembled his Bull Terriers. Seriously go find a topic that truly needs exposing and an area where animals truly need the help of the public. But right now I see racism on a breed based on LOOKS. You have no proof that the way they look is unhealthy so why persist on a topic that you can't disprove. You know what I would never perform brain surgery cause I am not qualified to do so. You are not a breed expert therefore you are not qualified to speak and spread forth lies about the breeds health based on head shape without evidence. Sure have an opinion but that opinion is just based on personal preference but is not based on true hard based facts. Love if we were to hypothetically take you to court for defaming our breed you would lose,,,NO EVIDENCE to prove to the contrary that their head affects health. So please stop sprouting it. As I said above find a topic where you will actually be helping animals not crucifying and maligning a breed that has had to deal with Enough crap from the uneducated and inexperienced.

  81. Perhaps Bull Terrier breeders would agree to putting a cap on the Bull Terriers' head?

    And not making Bull Terriers more and more extreme? I have noticed, here in the comments, that the Roman nose seems to be evolving into "eggheads".

    Perhaps we could say that a bit of the old Roman nose is okay, but let's not breed for eggheads?

    IMO, the change from deer type Chihuahua dogs to applehead Chihuahua dogs was no improvement at all. You don't really want that path for the Bull Terrier breed, do you?

    Let's easy up on the "My dog has a bigger, rounder head than yours", that's nothing to brag about.

  82. Well Perhaps you should read the breed standard then and you will see it is described egg shaped when viewed from the front.

  83. The head shape might not affect health, but it is freaky looking to anyone but the people who deliberately created it.

  84. It might be freaky looking to others, but there are thousands and thousands of us world wide who love that face and head. I think a lot of teenagers are freaky looking.

  85. What would you sacrifice for that head? Do you love the head more than the breed?

  86. "Do you love the head more than the breed?"

    Since the head doesn't cause any health problems or suffering, why would anyone demand they have to even MAKE that kind of choice?!

  87. Your poll is a joke. Anyone with half an idea of how these things work could sit there all day changing their ip and vote as many times as he or she desires. So that would deem the results inconclusive. The Bull Terrier is an old breed and has been changing for years. Breeders are getting closer to the standard now more than they could before. Why fix something if it is not broken? I own and breed them myself. None of mine have any trouble fetching a ball with precision or catching a treat mid flight. Nor do they have the health issues as some people are claiming the head shape is giving them. Just leave them alone please.

  88. Blogger keeps track of where the traffic to this blog comes crom. As of this eve, there have been almost 300 referrals from bulliez.net so I'm rather astonished that the poll ended up so equal. Perhaps some were repeat visits, hence why the number was not reflected in the number of votes in favour of the current dogs. But I think it fairly safe to say that if you took the bull terrier breeders out of the equation, most people do not think that kennel club breeding has improved the dog.

    Stand by for another blogpost on bull terriers in the next couple of days...

  89. If they aren't bull terrier breeders or owners, why do we care if they think our dog is improved or not? I've been insulted to my face about how ugly my dogs are, and if I had a nickel for every time I've been told they look like pigs I'd be wealthy. I don't care, the looks of the BT does not affect anybody except those of us who enjoy it. It does not affect the health or temperament.

  90. Pai, it's simple, really. The head might not cause any problems, but choosing a dog (male or female) for breeding based just on the look of their head, can. For example: you have a male with wonderful head (one of the best you've ever seen) that also passes this wonderful head to his offspring. Unfortunately, kidney problems come with that as well. Would you breed or not? Would you sacrifice the pup's kidneys for this beautiful head? (I made this example up, of course.)
    That's the whole point of my question; how far would you go for that "beautiful" head?

  91. Jemima, I am a doctor - and if that shape of head turned up in a human, there would be a diagnosis for it. Faciocranial dysplasia defended as a lovable thing by the people who create it?

  92. The BT head shape is not a spontaneous birth defect that's been bred on, it's the result of many generations of selective breeding for a certain shape. If you look at the development of the breed, you can see that clearly. To compare it to some kind of disease in human beings is frankly ignorant.

  93. I HAVE turned down dogs with virtues I wanted because they didn't pass health tests. So no, I wouldn't breed to a dog with bad kidneys, slipping patellas, sub-aortic stenosis, or was deaf. No matter how gorgeous he is otherwise. The offspring are going to be somebody's beloved pets, whether or not they are show quality.

  94. To anyone with even a basic understanding of mechanics it should be obvious that a dog with small, deep set eyes set on a head with a convex nose is going to have a restricted field of vision.

    Having owned both Bullies and other breeds I've seen this demonstrated many times. To say that such an extraordinary head shape has no effect on functionality is pure ignorance.

  95. Dear Pai, I am not too sure on which side ignorance lies here. What you like to refer to as the "Roman finish" to the bull terrier´s head has nothing whatsoever in common with the nose bridge shape called "Roman nose" in husbands, or the slightly concave profile seen in some heavier breeds of horse.
    I do understand people loving their dogs regardless of deformity. I don´t understand love of deformity.
    And I repeat, the shape of the bull terrier´s head is cranofacial dysplasia.

  96. Then by your definition, Papillion ears suffer from 'ear hypertrophy' rather than being the result of dogs being bred over years to have large ears. I'm sorry, but there actually IS a difference. Or perhaps you'd like to explain how a Rough Collie's 'unnaturally' narrow head is analogous to some human birth defect as well? The same goes for any dog breed with features that are not present in wild-type canids (i.e. most of them).

    Show breeders are being accused of being blind to anything but appearances. Yet I see in this topic people doing the same thing -- no matter if there is no evidence that the roman finish actually causes distress or problems for the dog; it's 'ugly', so it has to go!

    There are -actual- health issues in BTs that could be criticized, but instead it's a benign head shape that's getting people up in arms. On a blog that's about exposing the flaws of caring more about physical appearance than actual health problems, I find that quite ironic.

  97. Wrong miniatures have a straight "terrier" head hence why their smaller.

    And me personally I absolutely love the modern BT, a real dog imo and different, BECAUSE OF THE HEAD. But if I was presented with 1901 version of the BT, I wouldn't turn it away either...

  98. Cranofacial dysplasia hey , next you will be saying the miniatures have dwarfism.

  99. Dear Pai, if you measure the skull volume, i e the size of the brain case, in a modern Rough Collie, it is no different from the volume of any other dog of comparable size. The elongated nose does give that impression, granted, but since the "narrow skull of the modern show Collie" was a point of heated argument already 100 years ago, yes - it has been measured. If the brain case had indeed been miniatyrized by show breeders in this breed, which happens to be the one I particularly love, I would be at the doors of the FCI demanding action along the lines of the European Community laws for the protection of companion animals against breeding for deformity. ( It has occurred to me that maybe more of us should be thinking along the same lines.) As it happens, the national KC here recently demanded that show judges take special note of the size of the Collie eye and of temperament, i e we want the Collies to show steady nerves and eyes of normal size to win in the ring. Small progress, but progress still.

    Concerning the Papillion, I hardly know what the breed looks like and can´t say anything about the size of its ears. Concerning miniature dogs, surely you know that e g the Dachshund is what in humans is known as a chondrodysplastic dwarf?

  100. P S: I´m not sure it´s OK to mention one´s own blog here, but if it is - for a look at Rough Collie heads, please look in at collievaenner.blogspot.com - post December, 11th For a wider view. We´re telling Swedish readers that we link permanently to Ms Harrison´s blog.
    The photo is of my own Collies on a morning walk. They are on leads, as elk, deer and hare are plentiful and tempting for herding dogs ;-). The size and form of the skull you may judge for yourself. Double click for larger pic.

  101. Jemima Harrison said "But I think it fairly safe to say that if you took the bull terrier breeders out of the equation, most people do not think that kennel club breeding has improved the dog. "

    and again people outside of the phenomenon knows better then the ones inside.

    what would you do Jemima if the whole world tells you that you must cut your nails daily?

  102. My dear Mr. Bodil Carlsson,

    You are very quick to grab very impressing sounding medical terms for the Bull Terrier's deformed face. I think you are advertising your blog and your breed. If you want to throw around clever sounding terms, I think your breed suffers from Scaphocephaly. So referring to your post on 08 December stating that
    "Jemima, I am a doctor - and if that shape of head turned up in a human, there would be a diagnosis for it. Faciocranial dysplasia defended as a lovable thing by the people who create it? "

    So Jemima, if a Rough Collie head showed up in a human it would be called - Scaphocephaly.

  103. Dear Anonymous,
    I am a woman :-). But no matter! The term for the shape of head/face of the Bull Terrier would, if it had occurred in a human, have been referred to as craniofacial dysplasia. If you think that sounds impressive, nothing I can do about it.
    Some Anonymous wrote earlier that the BT head is a "Roman nose" similar to the nose of her husband. It so happens that if Mr Anonymous had truly possessed the same kind of "Roman nose" as the BT:s, he would have been offered corrective surgery at the expense of the tax payers in order for him to stand a chance of being anybody´s husband at all.

    Scaphocephalic would, if I recall rightly, mean "boat-shaped head". Some of the modern Rough Collies have such odd heads that I think banana-shaped would be more fitting, don´t you? Even though that term makes no mention of the excessively small eyes currently en vogue.
    Excuse me, what was so wrong with the normal canine equipment?

    With the utmost respect, etc

  104. "ear Pai, if you measure the skull volume, i e the size of the brain case, in a modern Rough Collie, it is no different from the volume of any other dog of comparable size. The elongated nose does give that impression, granted, but since the "narrow skull of the modern show Collie" was a point of heated argument already 100 years ago, yes - it has been measured. If the brain case had indeed been miniatyrized by show breeders in this breed, which happens to be the one I particularly love, I would be at the doors of the FCI demanding action along the lines of the European Community laws for the protection of companion animals against breeding for deformity."

    You completely missed my point. Which was, as 'unnatural' as the Collie (or Borzoi) head may appear, it does not harm the dog. As there is also NO evidence ANYWHERE for the claim that the fanciful BT nose has harmed the dogs, tossing around human medical terms and trying to apply it to their situation is completely unsupportable. Period.
    Selective breeding for less and less of a stop is the reason for the head shape, not a birth defect. Someone being a doctor or not does not change that reality.

  105. And so Ms. Carlsson has contradicted her own post.
    Yes you can not throw around human terms for k9's, and in the same breath, please prove that the BT head has in fact changed, size shape or BT brain has changed due to the skull shape and I will be your humble follower forever. And so by the way Scaphocephaly in human terms is the narrowing of the skull...

  106. Dear Anonymous,
    Infinite are the arguments of dog nerds.

    As far as I know no one here said anything at all about the brain case OR size OR shape of the BT brain. I should think that the brain remains what it was, at least in outward appearance.
    "Please prove that the BT head has in fact changed" -? For that, see older photographs. ( I think there is one somewehere at the beginning of this post.)

    Now there are a few known deformities of the skull in humnas. The flat bones of the skull are joined by "seams" and for most of us, the joining takes place when the brain is reaching near-adult size. For some very few babies, the seams close too early, for instance on the side of the skull, leaving the growing brain no choice but to push the dome of the head upwards, producing what is known as a "tower skull". Sometimes it happens that the seams on the skull close too early, so that the brain growing inside it pushed the sides of the skull out sidewards, making the skull "boat-shaped". It can look odd, but often there is no other handicap. For as long the brain has the space it needs, mental development is normal.
    So it does not, Pai, necessarily harm the human. And yet there is a medical term for it.

    Nobody tried to increase its occurrence in humans because they thought it conferred a striking look.
    Could I ask you something I often wonder about?
    Why is it not enough to love and defend the breed, the dogs inside the show-ring costume? Why is it so important to defend the costume?

  107. "Could I ask you something I often wonder about?
    Why is it not enough to love and defend the breed, the dogs inside the show-ring costume? Why is it so important to defend the costume?"

    I don't own or particularly interested in BTs; I couldn't care less about their 'costume'. What annoys me is people with no facts on their side making insinuations that certain features are equivalent to human deformities that harm the dog's quality of life when there is no evidence or proof. Ten minutes on Google or PubMed would show you that clear enough.

    Since this blog is about exposing concrete, reality-based ETHICAL and HEALTH CONCERNS that are being glossed over or ignored in various breeds, your tangent about how ugly you find the BT head is off topic/trollish at best, and your attempts to compare it to a human birth defect to which it has no genetic similarity -whatsoever- is nothing more than a clumsy attempt to try and convince people that the BT head is a 'health concern' when reality in no way supports that belief, purely on the fact that you find it unattractive.

    And since this comment space has become about you and your personal rant about what constitutes truly 'loving dogs' (and insinuating that people who love the BT head don't really do so), I'd say you've derailed any hope of a legitimate discussion about actual BT health problems fairly well. Good job.

  108. Pai, I have hesitated about allowing this comment through because I think it's unncessarily aggressive. I have done so because it makes some good points but if you don't agree with something please try to do so without quite so much 'heat'. Strong views are welcome, but it is unfair to call Bodil a "ranting troll" - and not least because she has the courage/honesty to post comments using her real name.

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  111. Okay just want to add a couple of things, my former husband does not need surgery for his nose. Its his natural feature and he happily breathes out of it as do many other European men who have these noses. Its only a problem if they have breathing difficulty. I sleep with my dogs and they do not have breathing difficulties with their heads/noses. The shape does not play a part.

    A comment was made about the technical term for the shape of the head as if its a defect - well if the head wasn't naturally that to begin with then fine but the Bull Terrier has this shaped head naturally so its clearly not a craniofacial dysplasia. So lets not create things that do not exist in our breed and to compare them to humans with this problem is wrong.

    Now there seems to be some confusion about Roman finish and eggshape. This is discussing two different features and both are viewed at different angles ie roman finish is only viewed side on (profile) whilst egg-shape is viewed front on.

    They do have this in the standard - Viewed from front eggshaped and completely filled, its surface free from hollows or indentations. Profile curves gently downwards from top of skull to tip of nose which should be black and bent downwards at tip. Nostrils well developed and underjaw deep and strong.

    I hope this has cleared some of the confusion that I'm seeing here.

  112. Anonymous, there seems to be a confusion of terms somewehere.
    Any human with a "Roman" (aquiline) nose has a perfectly normal NOSE - that´s the bone structure starting at eye level, arching down to cartilage of normal size, breadth etc and ends in a pair of nostrils, which dito. Of course he/she is in no need of plastic surgery. A Roman NOSE is one of the normal varieties, the opposite of snub nose if you like, and nothing else.

    The modern BT has nothing like a Roman NOSE. It has, as I think we all can see, a change in the shape of the bones of the skull and the upper face continuing down to the nostrils. As to the claim that the BT had its head remodelled in this fashion "naturally" - excuse me, wasn´t this a conscious choice by a few breeders originally, followed then by many others who simply liked the look and noticed it did well in the ring?
    You can go on calling it "Roman nose" all you like, it still is nothing to do with the naturally occurring varieties of the human nose bridge. Just as dogdom labelling of peculiarities has nothing to do with dogs.

    1. http://www.btca.com/content/documents/education/bull_terrier_illustrated_standard.pdf

      there is nothing about a Roman nose in the BT standard however a true Roman nose in a human is:
      Ro'man nose'

      a nose having a prominent upper part or bridge.

      Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
      Roman noses in humane re often also called hook noses because of their prominent bridge and extreme curve..

  113. Show breeders turn everything into a caricature. Their disregard for character, temperament and health are evidenced by most typical pedigrees which show a great deal of inbreeding.I think BT's and Staffordshire BT's have a long history of selection for their character which is steadily being eroded by show breeders. They are both tremendous companion breeds and are typically terrific with children. My solution is crossbreed heterozygosity which retains the unsurpassable character whilst minimising the health issues.Interstingly the cross breed has a much more natural (wild type) physical appearance than either parent.

  114. What is a natural head shape, in your opinion, given that no modern dogs are natural! Using your analogy all dogs should look like wloves, or maybe hyenas? Seems like your giving your opinion in lieu of knowledge. And did this person you refer to with the grape realise that grapes are poisonous to dogs?

  115. ★ I think...
    the Bull Terriers (mini & standard) have the most AWESOME head ever!!!
    I love eggs ❤ :)

  116. Perhaps you should go cry about the breeds of dogs that have been bred/contorted into shapes that are incapable of giving birth without surgery, or the breeds of dogs that have had their eye sockets bred to be so shallow and their eyes so big that sometimes their eyes just fall out of their head? I think this is a relatively ridiculous attack on Bull Terriers as a breed, especially considering they have a relatively limited array of health issues in comparison to many other breeds. If you don't like how they look, don't welcome one into your home. It's just a shame you'd shun them for that, seeing that they are as friendly as it comes and would never shun you. :-) Food for thought.

    1. She DOES talk about how some dogs can't give birth without surgery and how they can't even mate without human assistance, she talks about how some dogs have eye sockets so shallow that there eyes can pop out you just had to give her time :)

  117. I agree that creating disproportions and sheep heads in bullies is not improving, but I can not agree with this:

    "But temperament has nothing to do with phenotype"

    Just think about Belyaev's foxes (bred for temperament, but their appearance changed a lot)

  118. Belyaev found that selecting for tameness led to drop ears and new colour/colour patterns emerging. But that's not really what we're talking about here.


  119. That is so sad that breeders have done this to such a wonderful breed:(

  120. All this "personal preference" stuff is silly.

    These dogs ARE freakish looking. That's not an opinion - it's a fact based on the definition of the expression "freakish" (bizarre, grotesque, abnormal).

    Further, "dog lovers" who are attached to dogs based upon their appearance shouldn't refer to themselves as "dog lovers" they should refer to themselves as "dog looks lovers".

    Obsession with looks is immoral, immature and unseemly. Dog breeders who breed in order to produce dogs with particular looks are immoral, immature and practice an unseemly hobby.

    1. Then disliking a breed based on appearance and not health/function/temperment doesn't sound very much like a dog lover either.

      Anyways you can still have a nice looking dog that is functional. Border collies and Greyhounds are beautiful and functional dogs. Is appreciating the beauty of a dog somehow wrong now? Many dogs real jobs are fading or gone now a days,so original function is fading. Many sporting dogs are bred for looks/health/function. Sports are keeping many breeds alive by doing such.

  121. Well, there's a reason we call these designer or purebred dogs. Someone decided to play god and start redesigning them because art and beauty are subjective, hell with health or natural selection. And pure bred maybe from the same standard as purely for breeding standard. Not necessarily the kind of dog that could live a healthy life, do a lot, have a lot of endurance to hike, run, jump, stuff like that. I love all dogs, but this disturbs me.

  122. The first picture at the top, the small picture is not a bull terrier but a White Terrier.

    That is a breed they used to get the bull terrier.

    I got 2 miniature bull terriers, yes the head has changed in time, and theree are some more extreme then others but every breed evolves. There is absolutely no health problems with the head, nose and eyes. If you want to search in defaults with breeding and heads go to the small breeds, and the ones with the smashed faces .... they got health issues.

  123. New breeder's act like genetic genius from WWII. We all must be pretty and blond.
    They destroyed almost every breed and they have courage to talk. And all the people who disagree with them are stupid and don't understand nothing?


  124. The bull terrier was originally bred for pit fighting,the structure of the modern BT jaw is quite inefficient.The downface precludes full jaw gape,wry mouths and malocluded teeth exacerbate the process .Compare the skulls of the BT and the APBT,and you can see it for yourself ,Some '' gladiator!

  125. The breed has improved drastically for the good. No protruding elbows which cause weakness. Hind leg structure has totally changed for the better [although their still is a small number of breeders who do not view this as a problem] Temperament is better generally. Their is a variety of colour's which was not their in James Hinks day. As for the head I do agree that some of the heads are over the top. The kennel club should persuade some of the clubs to promote less of an exaggerated head. The dog was bred to fight and kill rats for "sport" that is what it's physical construction is judged upon. Sometimes muzzles tend to be to long and too narrow as their is an obsession with head profile [Exaggerated shape from side] no use. Some breeders need to put more of an emphasis on head strength and less exaggeration. An example of perfection to me is a dog called Caliber Cabin Class from the mid 90's.

  126. The breed has improved drastically for the good. No protruding elbows which cause weakness. Hind leg structure has totally changed for the better [although their still is a small number of breeders who do not view this as a problem] Temperament is better generally. Their is a variety of colour's which was not their in James Hinks day. As for the head I do agree that some of the heads are over the top. The kennel club should persuade some of the clubs to promote less of an exaggerated head. The dog was bred to fight and kill rats for "sport" that is what it's physical construction is judged upon. Sometimes muzzles tend to be to long and too narrow as their is an obsession with head profile [Exaggerated shape from side] no use. Some breeders need to put more of an emphasis on head strength and less exaggeration. An example of perfection to me is a dog called Caliber Cabin Class from the mid 90's.

  127. Love the old bullies! I don't even think temperment has improved... Back in the day, bull terriers were prized for never starting a fight, yet finishing them if needed, and friendly and protective to their owners. Lately, they are too lazy to go on a brisk jog....