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Historical Notes

[Note: In a discussion of the history of the Fox Terrier published in The Century magazine in 1885, author James Watson concluded that the below passages were not a description of early Fox Terriers but rather of the modern black-and-tan terrier.  Interestingly, the article goes on to credit Stonehenge's theory of a cross between foxhounds and black-and-tan terriers for the birth of the Fox Terrier.]

Excerpts from: Biographical sketches and Authentic Anecdotes of Dogs
By Captain Thomas Brown
Published in 1829


(Canus Terrarius, Variety B.)

This is a handsome sprightly dog, and generally black on the back, sides, upper part of the head, neck, and tail ; the belly and the throat are of a very bright reddish-brown, with a spot of the same colour over each eye. The hair is short and somewhat glossy ; the tail rather truncated, and Carried slightly upwards; the ears are small, somewhat erect, and reflected at the tips; the head is little in proportion to the size of the body, and the snout is moderately elongated. This dog, though but small, is very resolute, and is a determined enemy to all kinds of game and vermin, in the pursuit and destruction of which he evinces an extraordinary and untaught alacrity. Some of the larger English Terriers will even draw a badger from his hole. He varies considerably in size and strength, and is to be met with from ten to eighteen inches in height.

This dog, or the wire-haired Scotch Terrier, is indispensably necessary to a pack of fox-hounds, for the purpose of unearthing the game. From the greater length of leg, from his general lightness, and the elegant construction of his body, he is more adapted for running, and, of course, better enabled to keep up with the pack than the Scotch Terrier.

Mr. Daniel, in his Rural Sports, mentions a match against time with a Terrier, which took place in 1794, in which a small dog ran six miles; the first mile in two minutes, the second in four, the third in six, the fourth in eight, and the fifth and sixth in eighteen minutes,—an immense falling off, considering his wonderful speed and the known stoutness of the Terrier. We doubt there has been some unsteadiness either in the watch or watch-holder. He afterwards ran six miles in thirty-two minutes.


The following extraordinary invitation to see a Terrier destroy one hundred rats in twelve minutes, appeared in a sporting gazette:

" Rat-Murder by Authority!!

"One hundred lives lost in twelve minutes, at the Westminster Cock-pit, Tufton-street, on Tuesday, September 3, 1823, when the phenomenon-dog, Billy, the property of Mr. Dew, will exhibit his wonderful, peculiar, and almost incredible method of rat- killing, for a stake of twenty sovereigns."

This attracted a full attendance of the most distinguished characters among the Fancy from all parts. Nearly two thousand persons were congregated in the pit at an early hour, including people of all ranks ; and many hundreds of pounds were betted on this occasion.

Billy, seconded by his owner, and the rats by Cheetham, now entered the area of the pit, (twelve feet square,) and the rats were expected to have been let go singly, with room to get away, and many of them laid their bets accordingly ; but they were put in all at once, and it was easy work for Billy, for he dispatched the entire hundred in seven minutes and forty seconds,—a grip a-piece sufficing to kill 'the varmints. Loud huzzas from the winners crowned the feat.



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