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Historical Notes

Excerpts from: The Dogs of the British Islands
Edited by John Henry Walsh ("Stonehenge")
Published in 1872

Note: This version of The Dogs of the British Isles includes general discussion of "Terriers of no definite breed" and of the Black and Tan Terrier.  Both have been excerpted for interests sake.



THE TERRIER FAMILY is a large one, and each sort has some merit of its own. Almost every country house possesses one or more of this vermin-killing tribe—famous either for beauty, or courage, or some really good quality. Good dogs there are undoubtedly, both rough and smooth. We have known breeds of both descriptions which could scarcely be surpassed ; but our predilection is strongly in favour of the smooth dog. We, therefore, place him first upon the list, and proceed to describe him according to our experience.

It must be understood that we ignore in our present article anything approaching the toy terrier—requiring clothing, cushions, or a glass case. We are dealing with the vermin terrier, possessing courage, constitution or stamina, and hardihood, but still the terrier, without a trace of the old bulldog strain.

The best of all colours for a smooth terrier are white and black-and-tan. Both colours are good, but on some accounts we prefer the white dog. Used for ratting, he is most easily distinguished ; and he has the same advantage as to colour when his services are required for rabbit-hunting. But for a town we prefer the black-and-tan, provided that the tan cheeks, spots over the eyes, throat, and legs are brilliant in colour, and that the black is raven-black. In this case the dog should have no white about him—not even on his chest; and a white foot thoroughly destroys his value. Whether black-and-tan or white, his coat should be smooth yet hard, and he should be perfectly free from the very least roughness, or anything approaching coarseness of coat about his muzzle, eyebrows, thighs, or any part of his profile.

A smooth-haired dog may weigh from 6lb. to l0lb., or even 20lb.; but, provided he is large enough for his calling, he cannot be too small. It is an advantage to keep down the size of certain dogs as much as possible, and to consider that two small terriers will do more 'than double the work of one large dog, whilst they consume no more.

The muzzle must be fine, tapering, sharp, and fox-like: but the jaw must be muscular, the skull flat and narrow. The " stop," or indent between the eyes, must be evident and " pronounced." The eye must be sparkling, bright but not large. The ears should be round, flat to the head in repose, but raised, although falling over, when the dog is roused. A tulip or prick ear is a great deformity, and betokens mongrel family. It has been the fashion to crop the ears of terriers for many years, and the eye has become so accustomed to it that many good judges will scarcely look at a terrier unless he has been scientifically cropped. In large towns it is not the fashion to shorten the tail at all when the ears are cut, whilst country sportsmen leave the ears but shorten the tail. We consider it the. best course to leave the ears as Nature made them, and that a vermin-killer will be most serviceable uncropped.

The neck should be long, tapering, and muscular, and clean where it joins the lower jaw. The ribs must be round, the shoulders deep and well set back, and as powerful as possible, enabling the dog to grapple with his foe or to dig him out. The loins must be strong and the back ribs deep. In the conformation of his body he must be neither high nor wide, but well knit together, multum in parvo.

The fore legs should be straight as arrows; the feet strong, the toes moderately arched and well split, and the form of the foot round and fox-like. The thighs should be large and muscular, the hocks in a straight line, and the hind legs should be moderately straight also.

The tail must be very fine, with a low carriage, but not bare; and when the dog is excited it is carried gaily.

We may add that the mouth must never be underhung. It is better that the upper jaw should be slightly in excess, if there is the least deviation from a level mouth.

We remember some charming white terriers exhibited in ,1805 by Mr. White, of Clapham-common, but we think they were too delicate for everyday work. Mr. Hinks, of Birmingham, has shown some capital specimens, full of symmetry and life ; and we can. call to mind two first-prize dogs belonging to Mr. Tupper, of Long-acre, which we considered dogs of excellent quality. One of the very best specimens, however, which we have seen for many years, was the property of Mr. St. John Coventry, of Knowle House, near Wimborne, and was purchased of Bill George, of Kensal New Town. The dog was never exhibited, but he was the model of a white terrier,- and of first-rate temper and courage.

Smooth terriers may be found of other colours—yellow, yellow-and-white, hound-pied, black or fawn. A beautiful blue or blue-fawn variety exists, but we believe it is crossed with the Italian greyhound. Brindle colour is a sure sign of bulldog crossing; and we have never seen a pure terrier of that hue...


The points of a terrier are similar, whether he is rough or smooth.

Value of Points of the Terrier (pure and simple)

Head 15 Shoulders 10 Legs 5 Loins 15 Colour 10 Symmetry 10
Neck 10 Chest 10 Feet 5     Tail 10    
25 20 10 15 20 10

Grand Total, 100


The black-and-tan English terrier is a very elegant dog, approaching in his symmetry to the greyhound. The muzzle is long and tapering, not under-hung on any account. Skull flat and narrow; eye small and dark; nose black. The ears, if cropped, should be erect, long, and tapering to a fine point; if entire, they should be thin, small, falling like those of the fox terrier, and free from tan outside.

The neck is long, tapering, yet muscular, free from throatiness, and in fact the skin must be perfectly tight under the lower jaw, or " well cut." The shoulders should be muscular and well set back ; the Loins well developed, broad and deep ; the ribs round, deep before as well as behind; the

Legs straight, feet round and small, but the toes should be well split up.

The tail must be fine towards the point, free from curl, and not curled over the back.

In colour, the black should be of a deep jet; and the tan mahogany red. Each toe should be pencilled with black, and there should be a black thumb- mark just above the foot in front of the leg. The tan should not run into the black, and should be developed as follows :—

A rich clear spot over each eye, and one on each cheek, with the inside of the ears tanned. A line along each jaw, running into the gullet, which has no black, and a large spot on each side the breast bone, and inside of the fore and hind legs. The vent has a small tan spot, and the under side of the tail should be tanned.

The weight is from 7lb to 25lb, but the best size is about l0lb. or 12lb.

Value of Points of the Black-tan Terrier

Colour 15 Head 25 Chest 5 Feet & legs 5 Loins  
Coat 5 Eye 5 Shoulders 5     Tail 5
Markings 20 Neck 5            
40 35 10 5 10

Grand Total, 100

Our illustration (see frontispiece) represents a very well-known and beautiful specimen of the black-and-tan breed, " Dandy," the property of Mr. George Fitter, of 3, High Park-corner, Nechells, Birmingham. We are unable to state how many first prizes this dog has taken, but we are prepared to say that he richly deserved them all, and that he is one of the very best framed dogs we have ever seen. We have frequently formed one of the throng grouped round him at exhibitions, and we have always been ready to indorse the decision of the judges. Mr. Henry Brown, of Gilling Lodge, Hampstead, has also shown some capital specimens of the same colour, and he is an acknowledged authority on many breeds.

Black-and-tan is perhaps the oldest smooth terrier colour, and we can remember very choice specimens nearly forty years ago—one bitch, Gyp, a very perfect one, was about that time the property of the Rev. Joseph Dornford, a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford.




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