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Historical Notes

The Dog
William Youatt
Edited with additions by E.J. Lewis, M.D. in 1846


The forehead is convex; the eye prominent ; the muzzle pointed ; the tail thin and arched ; the fur short ; the ears of moderate size, half erect and usually of a deep-black colour, with a yellow spot over the eyes.  It is an exceedingly useful animal ; but not so indispensable an accompaniment to a pack of foxhounds as it used to be accounted.  Foxes are not so often unearthed as they formerly were yet many a day's sports would be lost without the terrier.  Come sportsmen used to have two terriers accompanying in the pack, one being smaller than the other.  This was a very proper provision ; a large terrier might be incapable of penetrating into the earth, and a small one might permit the escape of the prey.  Many terriers have lost their lives by scratching up the earth behind them, and thus depriving themselves of all means of retreat. 

The coat of the terrier may be either smooth or rough ; the smooth-haired ones are more delicate in appearance, and are somewhat more exposed to injury or accident ; but in courage, sagacity and strength there is very little difference if the dogs are equally well-bred.  The rough terrier possibly obtained his shaggy coat from the cur, ad the smooth terrier may derive his from the hound.

The terrier is seldom much service until he is 12 months old ; and then, incited by natural propensity, or the example of the older ones, or urged on by the huntsmen, he begins to discharge his supposed duty...

[Description of training a Terrier to go to ground]

... The Terrier is however, a valuable dog in the house and on the farm.  The stoat, the pole-cat, and the weazel, commit great depredations in the fields, the barn and granary; and to a certain extent, the terrier is employed in chasing or destroying them ; but it is not often that he has a fair chance to attack them.  He is more frequently used in combatting the rat.

The mischief effected by rats is almost incredible.  It has been said that, in some cases, in the article of corn, these animals consume a quantity of food equal in value to the rent of the farm.  here the dog is usefully employed, and in his very element, especially if there is a cross of the bull-dog about him.

There are some extraordinairy accounts of the dexterity, as well as the courage, of the terrier in destroying rats.  The feats of a dog called "Billy" will long be remembered.  He was matched to destroy one hundred large rats in eight and a half minutes.  The rats were brought into the ring in bags, and, as soon as the number was complete, he was put over the railing.  In six-minutes and thirty-five seconds they were all destroyed.  In another match he destroyed the same number in six minutes and thirteen seconds.  At length, when he was getting old and had but two teeth and one eye left, a wager was laid of thirty sovereigns, by the owner of Berkshire bitch, that she would kill fifty rats in less time than Billy.  The old dog killed his fifty in five minutes and six seconds.  The pit was then cleared and the bitch let in.  When she had killed thirty rats she was completely exhausted, fell into a fit and lay barking and yelping, utterly incapable of completing her task.

The speed of the terrier is very great, one has been known to run six miles in thirty-two minutes.  He needs to be a fleet dog if, with his comparatively little bulk, he can keep up with the foxhound.


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