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Historical Notes

Artwork and excerpts from: The Dogs of the British Isles
Edited by John Henry Walsh ("Stonehenge")
Published in 1878


By HUGH DALZIEL ("Corsineon")

THE Black and Tan Terrier has as good a right to be considered the representative of the old English terrier as any breed in existence, and probably a better one; but not yet having been blessed with a club to Protect his interests and quarrel over his pedigree, he has held his position—a very respectable one—in the canine world on his own intrinsic merits. His history begins long before Dandie Dinmonts or Bedlingtons were thought of, and his most distinguishing features had ere that been noted. 

Daniel, in his " Rural Sports," describes his " black body and tanned legs (thumb marks, bronzed thighs, and kissing spots had not then been invented), smooth coat, beautiful formation, short body, and sprightly appearance." Bewick copied Daniel, as several other writers have done; and since their time, through all the vicissitudes of dog life, and apparently without any special care having been taken of him, he remains essentially true to his prototype, with no doubt a finer and more polished jacket, befitting these days of dog parades.

As he cannot speak for himself, I must say for him he has a strong cause of complaint against the Kennel Club; for in the first volume of their stud book, which chronicles the principal shows for fourteen years, he was simply and properly described as the black and tan terrier, " English " of course being understood; but since 1874 they have added to his title, " or Manchester terrier." The reason for this change I do not know, as the records of their own stud book do not disclose many names of eminent Manchester breeders or exhibitors besides Mr. Samuel Handley, who bred and exhibited some of the best that have been shown, and who is still generally recognised as one of the best judges of them; and, however great an honour it may be to be " Manchester," it is a greater honour to be English, and, so far as I can see, the change in name was useless and uncalled for, and derogatory to the breed. In addition to Mr. Handley, there were years ago the following celebrated Lancashire breeders: Mr. James Barrow, Mr. Joseph Kay, and Mr. William Pearson, all now dead; but the crack dogs now met with at our shows have generally been bred by unknown people, and brought out by astute judges and spirited exhibitors. In the early days of shows Birmingham took the lead in this breed, and Mr. G. Fitter, of that town, who had a good strain, held the first position for several years with his exceptionally good dog Dandy, which served to illustrate the breed in the previous editions of " Dogs of the British Islands." Of late years the most successful exhibitors have been Mr. George Wilson, Huddersfield; the late Mr. Martin, Manchester; and, more so than either, Mr. Henry Lacy, of Hebden Bridge.

This breed is not such a general favourite with the public as it deserves to be, for it has many excellent qualities to recommend it to those who like a nice pet that does not need nursing, an affectionate, lively, and tractable companion, not given to quarrelling, very active and graceful in his actions, and with pluck enough and a keen zest for hunting and destroying such vermin as rats that infest houses and outbuildings ; for with larger vermin, such as the fox, badger, &c. (with exceptional cases), he has not the hardness to cope or stand their bites, nor has he the strength even of other terriers of his own weight, as he is formed more for nimbleness than work requiring power. His most ardent admirers cannot claim for him the courage and obduracy of attack and defence that characterise less pure terriers. As a house dog he is unexcelled, always on the alert, and quick to give alarm.

I am writing of the dog from 10lb. up to 16lb., not the small lap dogs of the same colour and markings, which are generally pampered and peevish, and ornamental rather than useful—which, when they do give tongue at the entrance of a visitor, never know when they have yelped enough, and have to be coaxed into silence. These latter are of two sorts : one with a short face, round skull, and full eye (inclined to weep), called in vulgar parlance "apple-headed 'uns," showing the cross at some time or other with the King Charles spaniel; the other type is the thin, shivering dog, that must be kept clothed, and sleep in a warmly-lined basket, his timid shrinking manner, spindly legs, lean sides, and tucked-up flanks showing the Italian greyhound cross. The weight of these two clearly distinct varieties averages from about 3lb. to 6lb.

The black and tan terrier proper is the most elegantly shaped and graceful in outline of all the terrier tribe; and, improved as he has been since dog shows came in vogue, he more than ever deserves the description Daniel gave him, being of beautiful formation and sprightly appearance. Taking his points seriatim they are as follows:

Points Of Black And Tan Terrier

Head 5 Neck and shoulders 10 Coat 5
Jaws and Teeth 5 Chest 10 Colour 25
Eyes 5 Loin 10 Tail 5
Ears 5 Legs and feet 10 Symmetry 5
Total 20 Total 40 Total 40

Grand Total: l00

1. The head (value 5) must be long and narrow, clean cut, tight skinned, with no bulging out at the cheeks ; the skull flat and narrow.

2. The jaws and teeth (value 5).—The muzzle should be long, lean, and tapering, with the teeth level, or the incisors of the upper jaw just closing over the under ones. The nose must be quite black.

3. The eyes (value 5) are black, bright, and small, neither sunk in the skull nor protruding.

4. The ears (value 5) are, for exhibition purposes, invariably cut, and much importance is attached to the result of this operation. It is required that the ears correspond exactly in shape and position with each other. They must be tapered to a point, stand quite erect, or slightly lean towards each other at the tip. This is a practice I strongly deprecate, and never miss an opportunity of protesting against; and I believe there is a general feeling arising against it; and among others who strongly condemn it is the best judge of the breed living, Mr. S. Handley. The supporters of the practice cannot offer a single valid argument in its favour, whilst there are many strong reasons against it. It is sheer nonsense to say the dogs look better cropped. It is not many years since people thought pugs looked better with their ears shorn off by the roots, but nobody thinks so now; and the practice as regards terriers could be effectually stopped by a resolution of the Kennel Club to the effect that no dog with cut ears would be eligible to compete at any of their shows after 1879. There is this practical evil too in cropping, that it places the dog with naturally defective ears on an equality in competition with the dog born with perfect ears if they have been equally skillfully manipulated. The natural ear is of three kinds—the button or drop ear, like the fox terrier; the rose ear, that is half folded back, so that the interior of the ear can be partially seen; and the prick or tulip ear. But I have never seen the last-named kind, except in coarse specimens. The leather of the ear is thin, and generally finest in the best bred dogs.

5. Neck and shoulders (value 10).—The neck must be light and airy, well proportioned to the head, and gradually swelling towards the shoulders; there should be no loose skin or throatiness. The shoulders are not so muscular as in some breeds ; but nicely sloping.

6. The chest (value 10) must be deep, but not wide ; the latter would indicate a bull cross, which would also be shown in the head and other points. The body is short, the ribs rather deep than round, the back ones pretty well let down.

7. The loins (value 10) are strong and muscular, with this formation, there is an absence of the cut-up flank which the Whippet and Italian greyhound crosses give.

8. Legs and feet (value 10).—The former are straight, light of bone, clean as a racehorse, and the feet round, with the toes well arched, and the claws jet black.

9. The coat (value 5) must be short and close ; it should look fine and glossy, but not soft in texture.

10. The colour and markings (value 25) are in this breed—which is now essentially a fancy dog—important. No other colour than black and tan or red is permissible ; the least speck of white is fatal to winning chances, and it is in the richness, contrast, and correct distribution of these that excellence consists. The black should be intense and jet-like; the tan, a rich warm mahogany ; the two colours, in all points where they meet, being abruptly separated—not running into each other. On the head the tan runs along each jaw, on the lower running down almost to the throat; a bright spot on the cheek, and another above the eye, each clearly surrounded with black, and well defined; the inside of the ears slightly tanned, spots of tan on each side of the breast, the forelegs tanned up to the knee; feet tanned, but the knuckles have a clear black line, called the " pencil mark," up their ridge; and in the centre of the tan, midway between the foot and the knee, there must be a black spot called the " thumb mark," and the denser the black, and the clearer in its outline, the more it is valued. The insides of the hind legs are tanned, and also the under side of tail; but tan on the thighs and outside, where it often appears in a straggling way, producing the appearance called " bronzed," is very objectionable. The vent has also a tan spot, but it should be no larger than can be well covered by the tail when pressed down on it.

11. The tail (value 5) must be long, straight, thin, and tapering to a point. Its carriage should be low, and any curl over the back is a fatal defect.

12. The symmetry (value 5) of this dog is of great importance, as this point is developed to as great an extent as in any other breed, not even excepting the greyhound.

Belcher, the subject of the illustration, is a three-year-old dog, bred and up to the present time exhibited by Mr. Henry Lacy, Lacy House, Hebden Bridge. He is considered the most perfect specimen of the breed extant. First exhibited at Hull in October, 1875, he took first and special prizes, and has ever since kept at the head of his class, having been first at Birmingham, Alexandra Palace, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Darlington, Islington, Manchester, and a number of smaller shows. Belcher is remarkably well bred, being by Mr. Lacy's General out of his Saff II., both sire and dam going back to Handley's celebrated Saff by Gas out of Limie, and is therefore essentially a " Manchester" terrier. Mr. Lacy's dogs having been recently distributed, we understand Belcher is now the property of Mr. Tom B. Swinburne, Darlington.

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