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THE ENGLISH WHITE TERRIER.
On several occasions I have quoted the number of entries in the “ Kennel Club Stud Book” as indicative of the rise or fall in popularity of the different varieties of dogs to which they allude. These figures must not always be taken as an actual and infallible guide either one way or the other, for when the first volume of the Stud Book was published the registration of dogs was, as it were, in its infancy. The general public knew little about the thing, and only those intimately connected with shows as exhibitors and breeders took the trouble to have their dogs entered. This is not so now, for pretty nearly everyone who has a dog of good pedigree will have him entered in the Stud Book, whether it be shown or not.
However, so far as the little dog whose name heads this chapter is concerned, the inference may be correctly drawn, for no one believes that this, perhaps the least hardy of all our terriers, is so
common and easily to be found as he was five-andtwenty years ago.
In the first volume of the “Kennel Club Stud Book," published in 1874, there are fifty-four entries under the head “English and Other Smooth-haired Terriers," which did not include black and tans, and was, as a matter of fact, confined to the English white terrier under notice. The second volume contained only ten entries, whilst during 1894 there were twenty-seven registered, the section then being divided according to the sexes. However, about ten years since some little impetus was given the variety by the establishment of a club to look after its interests, and judging from the excellent entry made at Liverpool in 1894 this enterprising body seemed to be doing some service. At this show there was certainly the best collection of white terriers I had seen brought together for many years, and at the same exhibition in 1896, there was likewise a capital entry; but this appeared to be almost a dying endeavour. The latest secretary of the club writes me, at the end of October, 1902, that the body seems to have lapsed, is now nonexistent, and the climax of the downfall of the breed was reached when the Kennel Club at their show the same year crossed their classes out of the schedule.
Little is known of the early history of the English white terrier ; where he originally sprang from, who
produced him, or for what reason he was introduced—there is in fact nothing to tell the searcher after information in the matter. That he is, and has been for forty years or so, a variety of the dog in himself there is no doubt; and although he will kill rats, and is fairly plucky in other respects, he is not quite an ideal sportsman's companion. He makes a nice house dog, is smart and perky in his demeanour and conduct, requires a considerable amount of coddling and care, and so in his early days he was a favourite with the working man dog fancier of the large towns, who showed him in the bar parlour, and believed him to be the equal of any other dog in existence. The earliest illustrations of a terrier of this kind prove him to be a white dog, with a coloured mark on his body here and there; and I should say that, until he had been bred for some generations to be produced entirely white, there was seldom one born without marks of some kind or other. Even now, dogs with a coloured ear or a “patch ” on some part of the body or face are found in many litters.
The most perfect specimens of the variety have sprung
from London and its suburbs, from Manchester and other large manufacturing towns of Lancashire, including Bolton and Rochdale, whilst others were to be found in Birmingham and the Black Country.
At some of our early dog shows there were large classes of the English white terrier, sometimes the entries reaching quite a score; but the quality was not uniformly good, as a tan ear or dark mark might have been observed ; and some of the specimens were shaped more like an Italian greyhound than a terrier. The London and Birmingham gatherings usually had the best entries, but I have seen excellent quality further north—at Belle Vue and Middleton, near Manchester, and at some of the more local Lancashire and Yorkshire exhibitions. The London dog shows, as far back as 1863-64, divided these classes of white terriers, one being for dogs and bitches under six or seven pounds weight, as the case might be; the other for dogs and bitches over that standard. To instance the popularity of the variety at that time, one exhibitor alone (Mr. F. White, of Clapham) had eleven entries in the class restricted to dogs under six pounds weight, and these were all good specimens. Indeed, Mr. White appeared to be a larger breeder of this variety of the English terrier than anyone else, so much so that I once heard it argued that it was called after him, and ought in reality to be known as “White's terrier," and not as the white terrier. However, this would not suit our friends in the north, who in reality had equally good specimens which had never seen Clapham
Common. Mr. John Hoodless, of Bayswater, showed some nice terriers between 1862 and 1866.
It has been surmised that the original English white terrier had been a fox terrier crossed with a white Italian greyhound (I never saw one), and again with the small-sized bull terrier. On the contrary, I believe that the small-sized bull terrier was stopped on its road to popularity by a cross with the variety under notice. If anyone will take the trouble to wade through the early pedigrees, he will find the blood of the English white terriers in many of our leading little bull terriers. Possibly there came to be bull terrier blood in the white terrier, and the exhibitor was not always quite conscientious in his ideas, and if from one of his bull terrier bitches he produced an animal rather lighter in bone 'and longer in head than usual he forthwith entered it as a “white English terrier,” and maybe won with it. At the same time he might be taking prizes with a brother or sister of the same animal in the class for small bull terriers.
For some years—at any rate until the epoch of the Kennel Club and its Stud Book—there was a considerable amount of jumble in the pedigrees of both English white terriers and bull terriers, as the many registrations of Tim in the former and of Madman in the latter too plainly testify.