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AKD 4.6



2.5 linear ft in 3 boxes
Collection Processed by Cherie Acierno, July 2006



This collection contains chronicles the activities of the Bull Terrier Club of America through its meeting minutes, publications, and show catalogs. Interspersed within the meeting minutes are clippings, correspondence, fliers, and reports related to the breed.



The is organized into two groups:

  1. Meeting Minutes, 1947-2011
  2. Publications, 1951-2002

Club and Breed History

The Bull Terrier Club of America was officially founded and recognized by the AKC in 1897, after a false start and a disagreement with the AKC in 1895 over the issue of cropped ears, which the AKC opposed. Cropped ears quickly became a non-issue, though, as Bull Terriers were bred to ensure their ears pointed stiffly upwards.

The first breed standard was adopted in 1915. Minor amendments, concerning weight and other issues, were added in 1926 and 1936. The issue of whether to recognize non-white Bull Terriers as legitimate was hotly contested among Bull Terrier fanciers. A majority refused to recognize colored Bull Terriers. In 1936 the AKC ordered the BTCA to recognize a separate colored variety. A separate standard for colored Bull Terriers was adopted in 1949. The last major change to the breed standard came in 1957 when the Bull Terrier’s personality was characterized as “full of fire but of sweet disposition and amenable to discipline.” This change was made to counteract negative impressions of the breed, and dispel the common confusion of Bull Terriers with Pit Bulls. The issue of whether to combine the judging of the white and colored varieties of Bull Terriers continued to be a point of contention among members of the BTCA. They voted on the question in 1970 and 1986. The proposition was defeated both times. In England, the two varieties are judged together, but they remain separate in the U.S. The last minor amendment to the breed standard was made in 1974.

The Bull Terrier Club of America publishes a bulletin entitled Barks. It was irregularly published beginning in the 1960’s, became a professionally-produced quarterly in 1977, and is now published thrice annually. Since 1973 the Club has also published an annual entitled The Record, which chronicles the previous year’s events. Prior to The Record, there was a publication called an annual which was only published six times between 1936 and 1951. The Club has also published pamphlets on Bull Terriers and on the health problem of slipping patellas, and books on Bull Terriers.

Currently there are 30 regional clubs in the BTCA. The BTCA became a truly national organization, as opposed to a Northeast-centered organization, in 1970 with the institution of the annual Silverwood Competition. The Silverwood Trophy is awarded to the best American-bred Bull Terrier. The competition is hosted by different regional clubs each year, drawing Bull Terrier people together from all over the country and Canada. The ROM (recognition of merit) program, which began in 1978, also brings Bull Terrier people together, as their dogs compete to earn ROM points in different shows.

During the 1980’s the breed became suddenly popular due to beer commercials featuring a Bull Terrier named Spuds Mackenzie, and irresponsible breeders took advantage of the craze to sell to irresponsible owners. With $40,000. from the estate of Ethel Simpson Murray, the club spun off a separate non-profit Welfare Foundation, which had its hands full with rescue operations. Today the BTCA is thriving with a large, committed membership. The club continues to work on the welfare of Bull Terriers through its Welfare Foundation, and through its continued research into genetic defects. The Club also emphasizes its educational mission, countering misperceptions about Bull Terriers.

Scope and Content

The collection chronicles the Club’s decisions and actions and the development of the Bull Terrier breed, particularly within the fancy, via the Bull Terrier Club of America’s Minutes and Publications. The Meeting Minutes provide an administrative overview of the Club’s history, and reflect the concerns and politics of the Club’s members and Boards of Directors over the years. Also present are Delegates, Membership, and Special meeting minutes. The printed and publications material is not extensive but may have further accretions. It currently consists of four issues of The Record (including vol. 1, no. 1), one issue of Barks, two show catalogs, and one book.


Gift of the Hon. David Merriam, former President of the Bull Terrier Club of America, and member of the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club.

Related Materials

Researchers interested in both the Breed and its Club may be interested in the Winkie (W.E.) Mackay-Smith papers (AKE 20.2) which contain a more in-depth look at some of the Bull Terrier Club of America’s concerns and politics during the 1980’s. The collection includes Mackay-Smith’s copies of the minutes, correspondence to Mackay-Smith, drafts of articles by Mackay-Smith, articles by others clipped by Mackay-Smith (with a particular focus on genetic issues), correspondence on zinc metabolism syndrome (zinc deficiency) and other genetic issues, materials regarding BTCA elections and the Welfare Foundation, and materials related to Mackay-Smith’s work for the BTCA on luxating patellas, the Bull Terrier video, the Illustrated Standard, and Silverwood.


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