A fun-loving dog who takes to agility and obedience training, the English bull terrier is quite a lot of pooch packed into a small-sized body. Sitting side by side, it's difficult to tell them apart. The truth is that there are more similarities than differences, which are subtle and few.
Only One Difference
Essentially, size is the only difference between mini and full English bull terriers. The definitive authority on the breed standards, the American Kennel Club, says that the two breeds are identical in every way except size. The AKC standard limits a mini bull terrier to 10 to 14 inches in height and gives no weight requirement other than saying that the weight should be proportionate. There is no size standard for the full bull terrier, but the most common height is around 21 and 22 inches.
The Mini Came First
Often the miniature version of a dog breed comes after years of breeding the full-sized version by crossing it with similar but smaller breeds. In the case of the English bull terrier, however, the mini came first. When the breed was first created, most bull terriers were as small as the dogs that are now known to be miniatures. The AKC says that breeders of the day wanted bull terriers that were a bit bigger, and bred them with Spanish pointers to increase the size.
Lovers, Not Fighters
Muscular and stocky and with a seemingly unapproachable look on their faces, mini and full English bull terriers may appear unfriendly, but only at first. The breed, even as small in stature as it was in the beginning, was intended to produce tough, roughhousing fighting dogs, according to the AKC. Today, however, both breeds exhibit gentle, playful, even clownish, personalities and prefer energetic play to a serious fight.
Two Out of Three
As if two kinds of bull terriers weren't enough, the AKC reveals that there actually used to be a third, even smaller version of the breed. In addition to full -- or standard -- and mini English bull terriers, there used to be a toy bull terrier, as well. The popularity of the toy breed didn't catch on and eventually faded away leaving only the mini and full versions of the breed you know today.