Breed Focus – The British Shorthair

25th June 2015

Did you know? There are over 100 British Shorthair varieties recognised!


In the late 19th century, the Cheshire Cat of Lewis Carroll’s (1865) Alice in Wonderland was decided as a British Shorthair tabby. Around the same period, English breeders, including Harrison Weir, had begun selectively breeding the most beautiful mixed breed cats, which were shown for the first time at London’s Crystal Palace in 1871. These cats were called British Shorthairs to distinguish them from foreign and oriental breeds such as the Angora. The British Shorthair is the counterpart of the European Shorthair and the American Shorthair.

In 1901, The Brutish Cat Club was formed. The first British Shorthairs (mostly blues) resembled the Chartreux. As a result, the two breeds were crossed, to such an extent that the F.I.Fe decided to combine the two and recognize just one breed. But, in 1977, the F.I.Fe once again separated the two breeds and prohibited crossing of the two breeds.

Following World War II, British Shorthairs were crossed with Persians to add mass and fill out the British Shorthairs silhouette, as well as to increase the range of coat colours. New patterns such as colourpoint were recognized.

In the United States, where the breed was crossed with American Shorthairs, the British Shorthair was recognised by the C.F.A in 1980. The most recent standard established by T.I.C.A. was published in 1993. The French F.F.F. recognised the breed in 1979. British Shorthairs are extremely popular.


This calm, good-tempered, easy-going cat looks like a teddy bear. British Shorthairs are excellent, well-balanced companions that adapt easily to life in the city or in the country (where they can act on their hunting instinct).

The British Shorthair gets along well with other cats and dogs. Lively, playful and very affectionate, but not to the point of being bothersome.

This hardy breed does not reach full maturity until 2 or 3 years of age. Onset of puberty is relatively late. Weekly brushing and combing is sufficient. During shedding season (this cat sheds a lot), daily brushing is required.

The British Shorthair in Brief

Country of Origin: Great Britain

General: Medium to Large. Weight 4-8kg. Semi-cobby to cobby body type (compact).

Head: Round, broad and massive. Full cheeks. Distinctive muzzle. Short, broad, straight nose with a gentle dip (but no nose break). Firm chin forming a perpendicular line with the nose.

Body: Compact, well-knit, broad chest, shoulders and rump. Muscular.

Coat: Short, dense, and well bodied. Firm to the touch, plush giving the impression of natural protection. Abundant undercoat. British Longhairs also exist, the result of the introduction of too much Persian blood. All colours permissible, the British Blue is the most popular variety.

Tail: Length is equal to 2/3 the length of the body. Thick at the base and tapering slightly to a rounded tip.

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Category: Breed Focus