The definition of a mini bulldog depends on who you are talking to -- and on the puppy they are trying to sell you. At least three breeds of dog, and an awful lot of semantic machination, go into this description.
The pup who's being called a mini bulldog is going to be one of three things -- and none of them are recognized by the American Kennel Club as a separate breed. Your mini bull may be lovable and adorable, but he will not be showable (despite any claims made to the contrary by his breeder).
Mini bulls are either purebred dogs selected for pronounced neoteny (retention of puppy-like characteristics, such as an extra-short face and large, widely spaced eyes), achondroplasia (a genetically dominant form of dwarfism) and an adult size much smaller than the AKC breed standard; or they are designer mixes of English or French bulldogs and pugs.
Miniature English Bulldogs
Miniature English bulldog breeders tend to get their panties all in a bunch when they're compared to breeders of "fake" mini bulldogs (bulldog-pug mixes), but the fact of the matter is that, no matter how adorable, sweet and adoptable their minis are, the breeders are engaging in practices widely considered disreputable in the field of animal husbandry.
To get the mini look, they breed their smallest purebred dogs with the smallest mates possible, ad infinitum. This frequently means breeding dogs who are close relatives to concentrate the desired characteristics within their line. It also means breeding dogs who carry genetic "defects" -- and since the English bulldog breed is already rife with such health-impacting issues, this is pretty easy to do, but not necessarily in the long-term best interest of the resulting puppies.
There is no argument that they are indeed cute, hence the demand. Are they adoptable? Sure, and they make lovable pets, but the ethics of purchasing one are debatable.
Maxing out at no heftier than 28 pounds -- around half the size of their English counterparts -- the diminutive French bulldog or "Frenchie" is the original "mini bulldog." However, many are still larger than the "ideal" mini. Some puppies marketed as mini bulldogs are French-English bulldog crosses or French bulldogs crossed with pugs.
Originating in China, the pug is the Asian version of the bulldog. These breeds share brachycephaly (flattened faces), short legs, broad chests, short, thick coats and spunky attitudes. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to mix them in the endless pursuit of the perfect pup.
Most puppies advertised as "mini bulldogs" are bulldog-pug crosses. Like the famed labradoodle and the cockapoo of yore, these puppies are designer mixes, but from the way some breeders play them up, you could easily get the impression that they are the latest new breed. They are not. However, many lines have been mixed for generations, so most "mini bulldog" parents are themselves crosses, rather than purebred pugs or bulldogs.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.