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Historical Notes

Artwork and excerpts from: The Shot-Gun and Sporting Rifle: and the Dogs, Ponies, Ferrets &c.
By John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge)
Published in 1862 (second edition)




The Terriers which are used for rabbiting, either with or without ferrets, are the smooth English dog, more or less crossed with the bulldog, the Scotch terrier, also, more or less similarly crossed, and the Dandie Dinmont. The Skye terrier is sometimes used for this purpose, but he is not equal to the above kinds. In any of these varieties, the terrier is a strong, useful little dog, but unless he has a cross of the bulldog, he is generally a rank coward.

Whatever dogs are employed for the purpose of working rabbits out of hedgerows and small coppices, whether terriers, spaniels, or beagles, if ferrets are also employed, "should be carefully broken to them, for otherwise a valuable ferret may easily be killed or spoiled. No dog answers better than a good terrier, which is easily kept in command, and is more readily quieted at the moment when silence is all-important; I shall therefore merely allude to the varieties of this dog which may be used.

The Old English Terrier is a smooth-haired dog, weighing from seven to twelve pounds. His head is flat, with a jaw tapering neatly off, and slightly overhung, if not crossed with the bulldog j eye small and bright; ears, when not cropped, short and slightly pricked, but turning over at the points ; neck strong and long ; body very neat and compact, with strong loins and deep chest, the back ribs not being very- deep ; fore legs strong and straight, and the feet round and hare-like, not resembling those of the cat; tail fine, not carried over the back ; colour most frequently black and tan, but some breeders assert that true terriers are of almost every colour which can be mentioned. My own opinion is that, unless they are crossed with the bulldog, the colour should be black and tan, with as little white as possible. This dog hunts rabbits well, but he has not courage enough for vermin.

The Skye Terrier is a very long, low, and strong dog, and if bred in or near his native country, he is quite capable of being used to hunt rabbits ; but in the south he has so long been kept for toy purposes only, that it is scarcely necessary to allude to him here.

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier immortalized by Sir Walter Scott, is intermediate in size, roughness, and length between the Scotch and Skye dogs. When of a good strain, he is an excellent rabbit dog. In colour he is invariably either " pepper" or " mustard," the former being greyish black with tan legs and muzzle, and the latter red shot with grey hairs. Both have long, silky hair over the eyes, and standing out from the muzzle ; the legs are short, body long, shoulder low, back slightly curved, head large, jaws long and square, ears large, and hanging close to the face, eye full and intelligent, tail slightly curved and carried over the back like that of the hound ; weight about fourteen pounds.

The Half-bred Terrier consists of any of the above kinds crossed with the bulldog, and shows the general appearance of the particular stock with a larger head and jaw, which is more or less overhung. These dogs are far more courageous than the pure bred terrier, and will stand wet and cold, as well as hard work, much better ; the cross is, therefore, generally preferred for ferreting or hunting rabbits, but it should not be iiearer than the third or fourth remove from the bulldog.




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