The European Burmese and the Burmese we know in North America began from the same original breed. Wong Mau, the first Burmese cat introduced to the western world in 1930, was the mother to both these breeds.
From the United States this original breed spread east to the United Kingdom where it was bred with the Siamese. From then on the original breed followed two different paths of development. So today we have two very different looking cats, with two different names, that share a common ancestry.
The most obvious difference between the two Burmese breeds is the number of colors of the European Burmese coat - ten to be exact. Introduction of the red gene is responsible for the additional colors. In the U.K. Siamese come in many colors including red points, so the introduction of this gene to the existing four colors (brown, chocolate, blue and lilac) produced the colors red, cream, brown-tortie, chocolate-tortie, blue-tortie and lilac-tortie.
There is also a difference in type between the two Burmese breeds. The European Burmese is an elegant cat with a slightly rounded shape, whereas the Burmese has a compact, well-rounded appearance. The eye shape also differs between the two breeds. The temperament of the two Burmese breeds is essentially the same.
The European Burmese is an elegant, but not a fragile cat. It is medium sized and muscular. The European Burmese love people, are highly intelligent, affectionate and loyal. They like the companionship of another cat or dog, however they will also live quite happily as the only pet.