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The Welsh Terrier

This breed is near akin to the wire-hair Fox-terrier, the principal
differences being merely of colour and type. The Welsh Terrier is
a wire-haired black or grizzle and tan. The most taking colouring
is a jet black body and back with deep tan head, ears, legs, belly,
and tail. Several specimens have, however, black foreheads, skulls,
ears, and tail, and the black will frequently be seen also extending
for a short way down the legs. There must be no black, however, below
the hock, and there must be no substantial amount of white anywhere;
a dog possessing either of these faults is, according to the recognised
standard of the breed, disqualified. Many of the most successful bench
winners have, nevertheless, been possessed of a little white on the
chest and even a few hairs of that colour on their hind toes, and,
apparently, by the common consent of all the judges of the breed,
they have been in nowise handicapped for these blemishes.

There are not so many grizzle coloured Welsh Terriers now as there
used to be. A grizzle and tan never looks so smart as a black and
tan; but though this is so, if the grizzle is of a dark hard colour,
its owner should not be handicapped as against a black and tan; if,
on the contrary, it is a washed-out, bluish-looking grizzle, a judge
is entitled to handicap its possessor, apart altogether from the fact
that any such colour on the back is invariably accompanied by an
objectionable light tan on the legs, the whole being a certain sign
of a soft, silky, unterrierlike coat.

The coat of the Welsh Terrier slightly differs from that of the
wire-hair Fox-terrier in that it is, as a rule, not so abundant, and
is, in reality, a different class of coat. It is not so broken as
is that of the Fox-terrier, and is generally a smoother, shorter coat,
with the hairs very close together. When accompanied with this there
is a dense undercoat, one has, for a terrier used to work a good deal
in water, an ideal covering, as waterproof almost as the feathers
on a duck's back. The other difference between the Fox and Welsh
Terrier--viz., type--is very hard to define. To anyone who really
understands Welsh Terriers, the selection of those of proper type
from those of wrong type presents little if any difficulty.

As a show-bench exhibit the Welsh Terrier is not more than twenty-two
years old. He has, however, resided in Wales for centuries.

There is no doubt that he is in reality identical with the old black
and tan wire-haired dog which was England's first terrier, and which
has taken such a prominent part in the production and evolution of
all the other varieties of the sporting terrier.

There are several people living in or about Carnarvonshire who can
show that Welsh Terriers have been kept by their ancestors from, at
any rate, a hundred to two hundred years ago. Notable among these
is the present master of the Ynysfor Otterhounds, whose great
grandfather, John Jones, of Ynysfor, owned Welsh Terriers in or about
the year 1760. This pack of Otterhounds has always been kept by the
Jones of Ynysfor, who have always worked and still work Welsh Terriers
with them. From this strain some good terriers have sprung, and this
although neither the present master nor any of his ancestors have
concerned themselves greatly about the looks of their terriers, or
kept anything but a head record of their pedigrees. They are all,
however, pure bred, and are set much store on by their owner and his
family, just as they always have been by their predecessors.

Until about the year 1884 no one seems to have considered the question
of putting specimens of the breed on the show bench. About that year,
however, several gentlemen interested in the variety met together
to see what could be done in connection with the matter, the outcome
being that the Welsh Terrier Club was shortly afterwards founded,
the Kennel Club recognised the breed, and the terrier himself began
his career as a show dog.

The specimens which were first shown were, as may be imagined, not
a very high-class-looking lot. Although the breed had been kept pure,
no care had been taken in the culture of it, except that which was
necessary to produce a sporting game terrier, able to do its work.
One can readily understand, therefore, that such an entirely fancy
point as a long foreface and narrow, clean skull had never been
thought of for a moment, and it was in these particulars that the
Welsh Terrier at first failed, from a show point of view. Naturally
enough, good shoulders, sound hind-quarters, more than fair legs and
feet, and excellent jackets were to be found in abundance, but as
the body was almost invariably surmounted by a very short and
wedge-shaped head and jaw, often accompanied with a pair of heavy,
round ears, an undershot mouth, and a light, full eye, it will be
realised that the general appearance of the dog was not prepossessing.

The Welsh Terrier to-day is very much improved beyond what he was
when first put on the bench. This improvement has been brought about
by careful and judicious breeding from nothing but pure bred specimens.
No outside aid has been invoked--at any rate in the production of
any of the best terriers--and none has been required. It is a matter
for great congratulation that the breed has been kept pure despite
all temptation and exhortation.

The Welsh Terrier breeds as true as steel; you know what you are going
to get. Had popular clamour had its way years ago, goodness only know
what monstrosities would now be being bred.

The colour of the Welsh Terrier is, of course, against him for working
with a pack of hounds, especially in water. It is only fair, however,
to the breed to say that, barring this colour drawback, there is no
better terrier to hounds living. They are not quarrelsome, show very
little jealousy one of another in working, can therefore easily be
used, exercised, and kennelled together, being much better in this
respect than any of the other breeds of terriers. They also, as a
general rule, are dead game; they want a bit of rousing, and are not
so flashily, showily game as, say, the Fox-terrier; but, just as with
humans, when it comes to real business, when the talking game is
played out and there is nothing left but the doing part of the
business, then one's experience invariably is that the quiet man,
the quiet terrier, is the animal wanted.

On the formation of the Welsh Terrier Club a standard of perfection
was drawn up and circulated with the club rules. This standard has
remained unchanged up to the present day, and is as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--The skull should be flat and rather wider between the ears than
the wire-hair Fox-terrier. The jaw should be powerful, clean cut
rather deeper and more punishing--giving the head a more masculine
appearance--than that usually seen in a Fox-terrier. The stop not
too defined, fair length from stop to end of nose, the latter being
of a black colour. EARS--The ears should be V-shaped, small, not too
thin, set on fairly high, carried forward, and close to the cheek.
EYES--The eyes should be small, not being too deeply set in or
protruding out of skull, of a dark hazel colour, expressive and
indicating abundant pluck. NECK--The neck should be of moderate length
and thickness, slightly arched and sloping gracefully into the
shoulders. BODY--The back should be short and well ribbed up, the
loin strong, good depth, and moderate width of chest. The shoulders
should be long, sloping and well set back. The hind-quarters should
be strong, thighs muscular and of good length, with the hocks
moderately straight, well set down and fair amount of bone. The stern
should be set on moderately high, but not too gaily carried. LEGS
AND FEET--The legs should be straight and muscular, possessing fair
amount of bone with upright and powerful pasterns. The feet should
be small, round and catlike. COAT--The coat should be wiry, hard,
very close and abundant. COLOUR--The colour should be black and tan
or black grizzle and tan, free from black pencilling on toes.
SIZE--The height at shoulders should be 15 inches for dogs, bitches
proportionately less. Twenty pounds shall be considered a fair average
weight in working condition, but this may vary a pound or so either

DISQUALIFYING POINTS: NOSE white, cherry, or spotted to a considerable
extent with either of these colours. EARS prick, tulip, or rose.
Undershot jaw or pig jawed mouth. Black below hocks or white anywhere
to any appreciable extent, black pencilling on toes.

Next: The Scottish Terrier

Previous: The Irish Terrier

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