This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
Of course, a dog, even with such an amount of popularity as the bull terrier, could not go long without a club being formed for its improvement, and this came to pass in 1887. The following is a description of the bull terrier as adopted by the Club : -
The general appearance of the bull terrier is that of a symmetrical animal, and embodiment of agility, grace, elegance, and determination.
The head should be long, flat, and wide between the ears, tapering to the nose, without cheek muscles. There should be a slight indentation down the face, without 'a stop' between the eyes. The jaws should be long and very powerful, with a large black nose and open nostrils. Eyes small and very black, almond shape preferred. The lips should meet as tightly as possible, without a fold. The teeth should be regular in shape, and should meet exactly; any deviation, such as a 'pig jaw,' or being ' under-hung,' is a great fault.
The ears are always cropped for the show bench, and should be done scientifically and according to fashion.
The neck should be long and slightly arched, nicely set into the shoulders, tapering to the head without any loose skin, as found in the bulldog.
The shoulders should be strong, muscular, and slanting; the chest wide and deep, with ribs well rounded.
The back short and muscular, but not out of proportion to the general contour of the animal.
The fore legs should be perfectly straight, with well-developed muscles; not 'out at shoulder.' but set on the racing lines, and very strong at the pastern joints. The hind legs are long and, in proportion to the fore legs, muscular, with good, strong, straight hocks, well let down near the ground.
The feet more resemble those of a cat than a hare.
Should be white.
Short, close, and stiff to the touch, with a fine gloss.
The tail should be short in proportion to the size of the dog, set on very low down, thick where it joins the body, and tapering to a fine point. It should be carried at an angle of about 45 deg. without curl, and never over the back.
From 151b. to 501b.
As a matter of fact, I do not think very much of the above description, because of its meagreness and incompleteness, and I am almost afraid that when it was drawn up sundry dogs that had not totally black noses and were somewhat uneven in mouth were occasionally winning prizes. "Over-shot" or "under-shot" mouths, that is where the upper teeth extend over the lower ones, or the lower teeth protrude in front of the upper ones, should be absolute disqualification. This was the creed upon which we were brought up so far as all terriers are concerned, and in bull terriers not the slightest blemish in this particular should be allowed.
The club evidently acknowledges ears cut "scientifically and according to fashion." A bull terrier may have either a small drop ear like a fox terrier; or a semi-erect ear, i.e., one that drops down in front at the tips; or a rose ear, one thrown back, is allowable. However, I am not writing this article as a criticism on the work of the Bull Terrier Club, an acknowledged body of responsible admirers of the variety, who ought to know what they are doing. Perhaps on some other occasion they may improve and modify their code, and be a little more explicit as to what disqualifications are, and how far a "patched dog" is handicapped. At the time of writing this there are marked dogs winning prizes on the bench. I also think they might have said something as to the fawn and fallow and brindled dogs, for such are quite as much bull terriers as the white specimens, though they may not be so fashionable.
The Club does not issue a scale of points, but for the sake of uniformity, and because I do not wish to insult the bull terrier by omitting to do to him what I have done to other dogs, I give him the following tabulation: -
Head, including skull, muzzle, lips, jaw, teeth
Ears (badly cropped or otherwise)................
Neck and shoulders ...
Legs and feet............
Grand Total, 100.
Colour, pure white for show purposes; but for ordinary purposes a patched dog, i.e., one with fawn or brindled marks, need not be discarded, nor need fawn or fallow or brindled dogs. The latter are even hardier than the whites, which, whether on account of their colour, or because they are cropped, are often quite deaf. In buying a bull terrier always take care that its sense of hearing is acute. A dog that cannot hear until you pull its tail is no use. One or two very high-class bull terriers in other respects have been almost quite deaf. A notable instance of this is to be found in the dog White Wonder, originally sold as a "deaf dog" to a fancier in America for £80. Evidently not passing muster there he came back to this country, and, shown by Mr. Pegg at Curzon Hall in 1893, was absolutely disqualified by the judge, Mr. Hartley.
This disqualification caused a considerable amount of sensation and unpleasantness at the time, and it was sought to prove that the dog was not actually totally deaf. Perhaps he was not what is called "stone deaf," but he was about as "hard of hearing" as a white fox terrier I once owned, of which a friend wittily remarked, "it could hear well enough when you rang its tail." Still White Wonder was, in my opinion, sufficiently deaf to justify the action of the judge in the matter.
A very dark hazel eye is desirable, and the small pig-like eyes, with flesh-coloured eye-lids, are to be guarded against. Cherry-coloured or flesh-coloured noses, or parti-coloured noses, should likewise be a severe handicap, if not actual disqualification. The weights ought to be divided - dogs and bitches under 151b.; dogs and bitches under 3olb.; and dogs and bitches over 3olb. in weight.
Some bull terriers go up to 451b., or even 5olb., in weight, but such animals are in reality too big, and as a rule when of such a size they lack symmetry, and have more than an inclination to be coarse and heavy in the head. It is one of the most difficult points to achieve in breeding bull terriers, to have them clean and pleasant in the muzzle, i.e., free from anything approaching hanging lips or jowl. Throatiness, too, must be guarded against; indeed, a perfect bull terrier should be as cleanly chiselled or cut in the muzzle, mouth, and neck as a black and tan terrier or as an English white terrier.
In the United States an attempt is being made, or has perhaps in a degree succeeded, to introduce a so-called new variety - the Boston terrier - named after the "hub of the universe," This animal is, from a description I have been given, and from illustrations forwarded me, nothing more than a very bad strain of the old-fashioned fighting bull terrier, and I fancy has nothing to recommend him, still it is being "boomed" in America, and at some shows special classes are provided for him. As is the case with our bull terrier, it is the fashion to have his ears cut.