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Historical Notes

Artwork and excerpts from: A History of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland (The Terriers)
By Rawden Lee
Published in 1894

I IMAGINE that were one of our great-grandfathers to be shown a specimen of the modern black and tan terrier he would be unable to recognise it as the same variety of dog that, when he was a boy, ran about the stable yards, destroyed vermin, and was made into a household pet.  The original fox terrier was a black and tan terrier, at any rate many terriers used for the purpose of driving foxes from their holes were black and tan in colour, and from them must have sprung “the black and tan” as he is seen to-day, crossed probably with some lighter built dog, maybe a small greyhound.

Illustration by Arthur Wardle from A History and Description of the Modern Dogs
Great Britain and Ireland (The Terriers)

With his rich red-tan markings, he deep black colour, penciled toes, and thumb marks on the feet, elegant shape, sprightly appearance, and general gameness, he is no doubt a dog that might have had a popular future in store.  But the fates decreed otherwise, and fashion suggested that he would look better with a portion of his ears cut off, and man carried out the needless mutilation.  This system of cropping I have already descanted upon in the chapter devoted to the bull terrier and the white English terrier, and I have no more to add on the subject.  I am of the opinion that has as much care been used in producing on the black and tan terrier a small thin drop ear, or a neat semi-erect one, as there has been in breeding for colour, he would be a more popular and commoner dog to-day than is the case.  He has everything to recommend him for a house dog.  He is not too big, is smooth-coated, handsomely shaped, intelligent in expression, brilliant in colour, which being dark is less liable to show dirt and therefore in advance of any white animal in a town where grimes and smuts prevail and dirt is one of the common objects of the streets.

In addition to the illegality of “cropping”, there are all the trouble and unpleasantness connected therewith, which are quite sufficient to keep such a dog from being found in almost every household.  I am not alone in the opinion that this mutilation, continued for some many generations, has had a most injurious effect upon his health and general nature.  The black and tan, like other terriers with their ears cut, is more liable to deafness than dogs whose ears remains as nature made them, and so far as the first-named is concerned, I believe that his spirit is in many cases broken by the cropping process in his youth and he is never so game and smart a dogs as he would otherwise be.  At least, this is my experience of black and tan terriers and other who have kept them as house dogs bear a similar opinion to that expressed here.  He is now a purely fancy dog, i.e., he is not used as an assistant to the gamekeeper or to destroy vermin, foxes and such-like creatures.  He may kill rabbits, indeed he can be trained until he is quite adept at the first-named rude branch of sport, but his tender ears are against his going to ground and hunting in the coverts and coppices, as he would do in his natural condition.

Illustration by Arthur Wardle from A History and Description of the Modern Dogs
Great Britain and Ireland (The Terriers)

It is much to be regretted that the endeavours to put a stop to “cropping” have not been more successful.  So far back as 1879, at the instigation of Mr. James Taylor, of Rochdale, the Birmingham committee, or one of its members, gave special prizes for black and tans with uncut ears, and these prizes were continued for three years, but received little or no encouragement from exhibitors.  Then the old Black and Tan Terrier Club, established in 1884, followed the same line, and offered prizes at many expositions up and down the country, but with no better result.  They received no encouragement in their good work from the Kennel Club.  With few exceptions the breeders of the dog have become educated to the mutilation, and believe the black and tan terrier looks smarter and handsomer with ears tapered almost to a point than he does with small aural appendages dropping down like those on a fox terrier.  I know several admirers of the variety who gave over breeding their favourites because to compete successfully against what were perhaps inferior specimens the ears had to be operated upon.  However, it is not a mere matter of opinion that a “cropped” dog can never be a popular animal, and if the present “black and tan terrier clubs” desire him to be so, they will have to return to the system adopted by the original club and persevere in offering prizes to be competed for by unmutilated dogs only.

To leave this unpleasant part of my subject, let me say that the black and tan terrier as he is found today is of modern manufacture.  Daniel in his Rural Sports (1802) certainly describes a terrier if that colour common in his time, but this was a more stoutly built dog, made on the lines of a modern fox terrier and used for a similar purpose and as a gamekeeper’s assistant.  Indeed, the common terrier of a hundred years ago was for the most part black and tan in colour, with white on his chest and his feet.

The late Rev. T Pearce (Idstone) tells us of the black and tan terrier which his family had sixty or seventy years ago, and other writers follow in the same vein.  These were bred for work and work only; the modern production is a purely fancy animal, whose “markings” are of more value than gameness, and his elegance of shape more than stoutness of constitution.  Dog shows first brought him into prominence as a “fashionable beauty” and at out earliest exhibitions he was extremely well represented.  Still, he was not then so uniform in quality and markings as he came to be later on, and every class contained some for or other that was badly marked, and by no means of the type that was then coming into vogue.  There is no doubt that between 1850 and 1860 the old-fashioned dog was crossed with some other variety of a lighter build, and this may have been a small dark-coloured greyhound.  Anyhow, the “long lean heads” more often than not showed some greyhound cross, however remote it might be, and the black and tan terrier was and is more tucked up in the loins and not so level in the back as the fox terrier aught to be.  Then his feet are not so round and catlike, a longish foot, though it might be think enough, being preferred as then the “penciling” on the feet-black marks on the tan ground-might be better defined when the toes were rather long.

There is no doubt that when dog shows were first instituted the black and tan terrier was a much commoner animal than he is now; at any rate, the classes for him were much better filled then than is the case at the present time.  For instance, at the Holborn Show in 1862, there were forty-two of the variety benched, divided equally in two classes, one for animals over 5 lb. in weight, the other for dogs and bitches under 5 lb.  At Leeds in the same year the classes were even better filled, the latter having thirty-six entries, the former twenty-seven entries; and at one of the London shows in 1863, that at the Ashburnham Hall, there was an actual entry of ninety-five black and tan terriers, divided intro three classes-for dogs and bitches over7 lb., for the same between 7 lb and 5 lb weight, and for others under 5 lbs.  One is apt to wonder what a show committee would think were such an entry to be obtained to-day, and certainly as matters are at present, with about a dozen entries in four classes, as may be found at Curzon Hall, the black and tan terrier has not become popularized with the spread of the dog show.

The most successful dog at these earliest shows was Mr. G Fitter’s (Birmingham) Dandy, a good-looking terrier-like dog, illustrated in “Dogs of the British Isles,” but he had much more tan about him than would be deemed a recommendation today, nor were his “thumb marks” a black splash on the tan ground of the foot about the size of the end of the thumb-and “pencillings” sufficiently distinct, still he was a nice terrier.  Then as now, the “black and tan” was mostly to be found in the Metropolis and in the large centres of the Midlands and Lancashire.  Mr. J Wade, of Clerkenwell, about the sixties has a lot of smart terriers, so had Mr. Fred White of Clapham, and Mr. W. MacDonald, who at the same time had more than a passing fancy for Maltese spaniels and Italian greyhounds, and liked a “trotting horse” too.  In Birmingham, Mr. James Hinks has them; Mr. Littler kept some good ones, and so did Mr. Jackson, at Wednesbury.

About this period there were two or three keen admirers of  “fancy dogs” in Manchester and the neighbourhood, who devoted much time and trouble to perfect the black and tan terrier, and, however good were the specimens produced by the south country fanciers, the northern ones were better.  Indeed, this terrier became so connected with Manchester, as to come to bear this name, and the Kennel Club acknowledged it as the “Manchester” (terrier) as well as by its own name of the black and tan.  The reason for such a fresh nomenclature was by no means obvious, but it remains to this day, ad will possibly linger on until this variety of terrier is supplanted by perhaps a more useful but certainly by no means a handsomer dog.

Great names in connection with “the black and tan” were those of Mr. Samuel Handly of Pendleton near Manchester, of Mr. James Barrow, near Manchester, of Mr. W. Justice, Manchester, and of Mr. R. Rubchester, Ardwick, the latter’s Colonel being about the best stuff dog of his day, and one of the best bred ones.  The pedigrees were very lax at these times before the Stud Book: was published, and even for long after its publication. Pretty nearly all the sporting publicans and many of the working men of Cottonpolis and its neighbourhood kept and bred these terriers, and from them the best specimens were purchased by Mr. Handley and by others, who in turn resold them to the leading exhibitors. 

To exhibit a black and tan terrier to perfection was one of the “arts” of dog showing.  The ears were to be carefully attended to, i.e., any loose or unsightly hairs had to be shaved off, the whiskers were cut, and then there came the general “faking” of trimming, which, if found out, would certainly lead to the disqualification of the dog and its owner.  Without going so far as to say that no black and tan terrier was ever exhibited successfully when in its natural condition, I certainly do not exaggerate when I say such is seldom the case; but the “art and mysteries of faking” are not followed to the same extent as once was the case, although this sort of thing is still carrier on and even allowed by the Kennel Club.  There might be white hairs to pluck out or to darken, on the chest or elsewhere; the stern was to be trimmed; the hindquarters, which were often far too brown, had either to be plucked or again darkened; the tan, if rather pale or “cloudy” could be brightened up even to the extent of dyeing or staining; and the penciling ad thumb marks without which no dog was supposed to have much chance of winning, could, if absent, be produced.  I was told years ago, that one of the most successful black and tan bitches that ever lived, and as thought to be quite invincible, was indebted to art and to art only for her thumb marks.  That this was probably no exaggeration the following will perhaps prove.  I was judging a pretty strong lot of black and tan terriers as a west country show some few years ago.  Amongst them was a beautiful bitch which then appeared for the first time, and, notwithstanding the fact that she was absolutely without thumb marks on her fore feet, I gave her first prize.  Some time after, in conversation with her owner, I alluded to his bitch, and said she was so terrier-like in body and general character that I had no hesitation in placing her where she was, notwithstanding her deficient markings.  “Well,” said her owner, “____ tells me that the celebrated ____ never had thumb marks at all, and that he made them artificially, and offered to do the same for my bitch, but I did not care about running any risk and she is good enough without them.”  I was well-acquainted with all the parties concerned and, at any rate, twenty years ago this “faking” of black and tan terriers was carried on to an alarming extent, and it required an expert to detect where deception had been practiced.  This was owing to the fact that markings were, and still are, a sine qud non on the black and ten terrier, more so indeed than in any other dog, not excepting either the Yorkshire terrier or the Dalmatian.

These dark or black markings on the brown feet or black and tan dogs of all varieties are more or less common, and are found defined to a certain extent on collies of that colour, and on black and tan Gordon Setters.  So far as the terriers are concerned, the marks come out more prominently, because they have been bred for, and dogs and bitches with the best markings have been mated together, with the result now seen in the terriers to which this chapter is devoted.

Soon after the formation of the first club some interesting correspondence took place in the Field relative to the description of the variety.  Mr. James Taylor, then of Rochdale, wrote on the subject, and so did Mr. Henry Lacy, who at that time owned the best kennel of “black and tans” that had ever been brought together.  Moreover, he had made the breed a life-study, and it was said that what he did not know about black and tan terriers was not worth knowing.  However, neither gentleman agrees with the early description that the club had issues, which, however, they stated was subject to revision.

A part of Mr. Lacy’s letter, and his description, are worth producing, although he is in direct antagonism to my opinion as to cropping.  He wrote as follows:

 “In the first place,” says Mr. Lacy, “let me point out that black and tan terriers are essentially a Manchester breed.  Use the phrase ‘Manchester Terrier’ and any fancier knows at once what you mean.  Hence it is that all the most famous smooth black and tans have been reared in and around Manchester.  Here are a few of their names: Old Gass, Barrow’s Pink, Handley’s Saff and Colonel, Laing’s Charhe, Kade, and Jerry, Lacy’s Queen II, General, and Belcher, Justice’s Viper and Vulcan, and innumerable others of a true quality.

“I will now lay down what I deem to be the true points by which the quality of a black and tan should be judged, taking a dog weighing from 17-18 lbs.

“Body – Well formed and short.  Girth of chest about 20 inches.  Back nicely arched, falling gently to the root of the tail.

“Head – In length, from occipital bone to tip of nose, 7 inches to 8 inches; skull between the ears, almost entirely flat, with a slight hollow up the centre between the eyes, and no material drop at the eyes.

“Ears – My opinion on this point is very decided, although I am aware that many fanciers do not share it.  I admire a scientifically cropped ear, well up and pretty long.  This gives a sharp, bright appearance to this particular terrier.

“Neck – Not too long, and slightly arched and betraying no coarseness at the point at which it joins the lower jaw.

“Feet – Small feet with the toes well together.  The hind feet should be cat-shaped, but the forefeet should be rather hare-footed, and come to a point in the centre.

“Tail – The tail should be set on a level with the height of the shoulder, and carried straight or only slightly curved.  It should be thick at the base, and taper gradually to the end, measuring from 8-9 inches.

Coat – The coat should be short and fine in texture.  I have invariably found that when the throat is entirely covered there is a tendency to a heavy coarse coat.  I therefore do not object to lack of hair on the throat, as I consider it a distinct characteristic of the breed.  I look for a fine silky coat of raven black with a brilliant glossy appearance.

Colour – A rich mahogany tan, of a uniform a shade as possible.  Tan spots on the eyes and on the cheek.  The tan on the muzzle should begin at the nostril and continue by the ridge of the nose and then fall under the jaw.  The division between this and the pea mark on the cheek should be decided and distinct.  The paw mark on the forelegs should be equally pronounced and each toe should be nicely penciled.  The colour under the tail should he as nearly as possible the same shade of tan as the other marks and the tail should cover it almost entirely.  There should be no breeching of tan on the hind legs, on the neck nor behind the ears.

“I claim that if a black and tan possesses all these points, he is of the true breed, as it is accepted and understood by the best authorities in his native country of Lancashire.\”

So much for Mr. Lacy’s opinion, which must, of course, be taken as coming from one of the very best judges of the variety we have known; still, he does not tell us that the popularity such a handsome dog out to possess could never b achieved because it required cropping and so much attention in the way of “trimming” to make it presentable on the show bench.  I need hardly say that the writer of the above extract had at one time an extremely powerful kennel of “black and tans” and he, which his man Bob Carling, could always send a dog into the ring in proper fashion.  It was Mr. Lacy who bought that successful bitch Queen II, who did so much winning at the leading shows about 1870-2.  The Rev. W. J. Mellor, then of Nottingham; Mr. S. Laing, Bristol; Mr. C. Harling, Manchester; Mr. W. Hodgson, Harpurhey; Mr. J. H. Murchison, Thrapstone; Mr. T. Swinburne, Darlington; all had at one time or another excellent specimens of this variety.  A little later, Mr. A George, Kensal Town; the late-Mr. W. J. Tomonson; Mr. G.S. Manuell, and Mr. Codman of London, owned some very good terriers indeed, and from what I know of them, they were shown without being unduly trimmed, but their strains were not particularly companionable animals.

Perhaps some of the best of the variety are now to be found in Scotland, where Mr. D.G. Buchanan, at Broxham, has a very excellent team, with which he wins a large number of prizes.  Mr. Webster Adams, at Ipswich, has another nice lot; Mr. J. Tucker, in Wales, is a noted breeder; and until quite recently Mr. T Ellis, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, had perhaps the best modern kennel, as it contained several dogs that had been purchased for large sums, and finally known with the prefix Bromfield.  Mr. B Lathom, Eccles; Mr. J.W. Taylor, Oldham; Mr. J Howarth, Strangeways; Lieut Col. Dean, near Birkenhead; Mr. Tom Ashton, Lancashire; Mr. W. Barlow, Farnworth; and Messrs. Hogg, Stand, near Manchester, at the time I write are great admirers of the variety and possess perhaps specimens quite as good as there are in any other kennels.  But the “black and tan” is still being bred in considerable numbers round about Manchester and the would-be purchaser would be more likely to find suitable animals in that locality than elsewhere, though the London and Birmingham dealers could no doubt produce anything that might be required.

Owing to the variety of surroundings that I have named, the black and tan terrier is scarcely a dog that can be recommended for the household.  Whether there is anything particularly attractive for the dog stealer in him I cannot say, but I have doubts on the matter, for at least three of my friends who resided in suburban London owned very nice black and tan terriers, and sooner or later the three of them rose on three separate mornings and found themselves dogless individuals.  Their “black and tans” had been stolen, now were they recovered, and one of the three friends, who liked the variety very much indeed, has a second strain stolen as well.  So he got an Irish terrier, which remains with him to this day.  Possibly the local thieves couple of Irish dogs with Irish politics, and sensibly enough consider them best left alone.

There are three clubs established to look after the well-being of the black and tan terrier, one arising from the ashes of the original body established in 1892 and called “The Black and Tan Terrier Club of England,” I presume to distinguish itself from another club which was headquartered in Scotland, and has but recently (1893) been established.  The third is the “Manchester or Black and Tan Terrier Club,” likewise organized during 1893.

From what I have written, it will be surmised that this terrier is one of the most difficult varieties to judge properly and with satisfaction, for not only are the colours and markings to be taken into consideration, but sufficient knowledge is required to detect whether the dog is indebted to nature alone for her perfections or whether art has been her assistant.

The description and points of the black and tan terrier as adopted by the English Club are as follows; they are pretty much the same as those of the Manchester club, the chief difference being that the latter limit their weight to 18 lb.

“Head – Long, flat and narrow, level and wedge-shaped, without showing cheek muscles, well filled up under the eyes, with tapering tightly lipped jaws and level teeth.

“Eyes – Very small, sparkling and dark, set fairly close together and oblong in shape.

“Nose – black.

“Ears – Cropped and standing perfectly erect, if uncropped, small and v-shaped, hanging close to the head above the eyes.

“Neck and shoulder – The neck should be fairly long, and tapering from the shoulders to the head, with sloping shoulders, the neck being free from throatiness and slightly arched at the occiput.

“Chest – Narrow but deep.

“Body – Moderately short and curving upwards t the loin, ribs well-sprung; back slightly arched at the loin and falling again at the joining of the tail to the same height as the shoulder.

“Legs – Must be quite straight, set on well under the dog and of fair length.

“Feet – More included to be cat than hare-footed.

“Tail – Moderate length and set on where the arch of the back ends, thick where it joins the body, tapering to a point, and not carried higher than the back.

“Coat – Close, smooth, short and glossy.

“Colour – Jet black and rich mahogany tan, distributed over the body as follows: On the head the muzzle is tanned to the nose, which with the nasal bone is jet black; there is also a bright spot on each cheek and above each eye, the under jaw and throat are tanned, and the hair inside the ear is of the same colour.  The forelegs tanned up to the knee with black lines (pencil marks) up each toe and a black mark (thumb mark) above the foot.  Inside the hind legs tanned, but divided with black at the hock joint and under the tail also tanned and so is the vent, but only sufficiently to be easily covered by the tail; also slightly tanned on each side of the chest.  Tan outside of the hind legs, commonly called breeching, a serious defect.  In all cases, the black should not run into the tan, or vice versa, but the division between the two colours should be well defined. 

“General Appearance – A terrier, calculated to take his own part in the rat pit, and not of the whippet type.

“Weight – Not exceeding 7 lb; not exceeding 16 lb, not exceeding 20 lb.

Scale of Points

Head    20
Eyes     10
Ears     5
Legs     10
Feet     10
Body    10
Tail       5
Colour and Markings    15
General Appearance (including terrier quality)    15
Grand Total:     100

It may be interesting to compare the above with what Mr. Henry Lacy suggested eight or nine years ago and what was considered good when he wrote would undoubtedly be considered so now.

Of late I have noticed that there is a tendency to breed the black and tan terrier too much of the whippet and Italian greyhound stamp, with tucked-up loins, arched back, and long feet.  With such defects have come round full, glaring eyes, instead of the small, piercing, almond-shaped orbs which ought to be part and parcel of every terrier, whether kept as a companion or as a vermin destroyer.  Breeders ought at once to check this tendency, which can be easily done by refusing to use such dogs and bitches in their kennels as are likely to perpetuate defects so glaring and mischievous.  As recently as the Liverpool Show of 1894, in conversation with an old and successful exhibitor of black and tan terriers, I had my attention drawn to these prevailing weaknesses, although the variety was not well-represented at that exhibition.  Unterrier-like specimens, for the most part, took the leading prizes there.

Our dog loving cousins in America do not appear to have shown any great affection for the black and tan terrier, nor have the few imported by Dr. Foote of New York, attracted any particular attention when they were benched.  Perhaps on the other side of the Atlantic the natives do not possess sufficient knowledge of the breed to fully appreciate the rich colour and correct markings of this, to say the least, peculiar terrier.

Before closing the chapter allusion must be made to the blue or slate-coloured terriers which are occasionally produced from this variety, though the parents may be correctly marked themselves.  Such “sports” are in reality as well bred as the real article, and are found of all sizes, perhaps more commonly amongst the “toys” and the small-sized specimens than amongst the larger ones.  Some are entirely blue or slate-coloured, others have tan markings.  In certain Lancashire towns they are far from uncommon and have little value set upon them, nor are they acknowledged on the show bench at the present time.  Still, at two or three of the earliest canine exhibitions special classes were provided for these “blue terriers” and once or twice in London a fair entry was obtained.

Mr. James B Morrison’s Blue Paul dog ‘Paul’ (pedigree unknown). 
19th century engraving from a description given to the artist.

Mr. Thomson Gray, in his “Dogs of Scotland”, mentions a dog called the Blue Paul, and earlier writers had also drawn attention to the same animal.  I certainly refuse to acknowledge him as a variety, and consider him identical with the “blue terrier bred from black and tans”.  Come specimens described may have been larger, stronger and generally coarser than a perfect black and tan terrier ought to be, but such is not sufficient distinction to make them a distinct variety.  There are many well-bred black and tan terriers up to 30 pounds weight and over, and I have seen more than one “blue” dog bred from such, and what Mr. Thomson Gray would no doubt have considered “a find” as one of the last of the race of the so-called Blue Paul.  Some time or to her a fancier had a terrier called Paul, and it being  celebrity in its line, which was to kill rats and fight, and “blue” in colour was called “Blue Paul” to distinguish it from other eminent dogs bearing a similar name.  At least, such is my idea of the origin of the name, notwithstanding how I may upset local historians and others who have said Paul Jones gave the dog its name having brought a specimen home on his return from one of his piratical expeditions.


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