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The White English Terrier

This dog, one would think, ought, by the dignified title which he
bears, to be considered a representative national terrier, forming
a fourth in the distinctively British quartette whose other members
are the Scottish, the Irish, and the Welsh Terriers. Possibly in the
early days when Pearson and Roocroft bred him to perfection it was
hoped and intended that he should become a breed typical of England.
He is still the only terrier who owns the national name, but he has
long ago yielded pride of place to the Fox-terrier, and it is the
case that the best specimens of his race are bred north of the border,
while, instead of being the most popular dog in the land, he is
actually one of the most neglected and the most seldom seen. At the
Kennel Club Show of 1909 there was not a single specimen of the breed
on view, nor was one to be found at the recent shows at Edinburgh,
Birmingham, Manchester, or Islington, nor at the National Terrier
Show at Westminster. It is a pity that so smart and beautiful a dog
should be suffered to fall into such absolute neglect. One wonders
what the reason of it can be. Possibly it is that the belief still
prevails that he is of delicate constitution, and is not gifted with
a great amount of intelligence or sagacity; there is no doubt,
however, that a potent factor in hastening the decline is to be found
in the edict against cropping. Neither the White Terrier nor the
Manchester Terrier has since been anything like so popular as they
both were before April, 1898, when the Kennel Club passed the law
that dogs' ears must not be cropped.

Writers on canine history, and Mr. Rawdon Lee among the number, tell
us that the English White Terrier is a comparatively new breed, and
that there is no evidence to show where he originally sprang from,
who produced him, or for what reason he was introduced. His existence
as a distinct breed is dated back no longer than forty years. This
is about the accepted age of most of our named English terriers. Half
a century ago, before the institution of properly organised dog shows
drew particular attention to the differentiation of breeds, the
generic term terrier without distinction was applied to all earth
dogs, and the consideration of colour and size was the only common
rule observed in breeding. But it would not be difficult to prove
that a white terrier resembling the one now under notice existed in
England as a separate variety many generations anterior to the period
usually assigned to its recognition.

In the National Portrait Gallery there is a portrait of Mary of
Modena, Queen Consort of James II., painted in 1670 by William
Wissing, who has introduced at the Queen's side a terrier that is
undoubtedly of this type. The dog has slight brown or brindle markings
on the back, as many English White Terriers have, and it is to be
presumed that it is of the breed from which this variety is descended.

Apart from colour there is not a great difference between the White
English Terrier and the Manchester Black and Tan. But although they
are of similar shape and partake much of the same general character,
yet there is the distinction that in the black and tan the
conservation of type is stronger and more noticeable than in the
white, in which the correct shape and action are difficult to obtain.
It ought naturally to be easier to breed a pure white dog from white
parents than to breed correctly marked and well tanned puppies from
perfect black and tans; but the efforts of many breeders do not seem
to support such a theory in connection with the English Terrier, whose
litters frequently show the blemish of a spot of brindle or russet.
These spots usually appear behind the ears or on the neck, and are
of course a disfigurement on a dog whose coat to be perfect should
be of an intense and brilliant white. It appears to be equally
difficult to breed one which, while having the desired purity of
colour, is also perfect in shape and terrier character. It is to be
noted, too, that many otherwise good specimens are deaf--a fault which
seriously militates against the dog's possibilities as a companion
or as a watch.

Birmingham and Manchester were the localities in which the English
Terrier was most popular forty years ago, but it was Mr. Frederick
White, of Clapham, who bred all the best of the white variety and
who made it popular in the neighbourhood of London. His terriers were
of a strain founded by a dog named King Dick, and in 1863 he exhibited
a notable team in Laddie, Fly, Teddie, and Nettle. Mr. S. E. Shirley,
M. P., was attracted to the breed, and possessed many good examples,
as also did the Rev. J. W. Mellor and Mr. J. H. Murchison. Mr. Alfred
Benjamin's Silvio was a prominent dog in 1877.

Silvio was bred by Mr. James Roocroft, of Bolton, who owned a large
kennel of this variety of terrier, and who joined with his townsman,
Joe Walker, and with Bill Pearson in raising the breed to popularity
in Lancashire. Bill Pearson was the breeder of Tim, who was considered
the best terrier of his time, a dog of 14 lb., with a brilliant white
coat, the darkest of eyes, and a perfect black nose.

It is apparent that the Whippet was largely used as a cross with the
English Terrier, which may account to a great extent for the decline
of terrier character in the breed. Wiser breeders had recourse to
the more closely allied Bull-terrier; Mr. Shirley's prize winning
Purity was by Tim out of a Bull-terrier bitch, and there is no doubt
that whatever stamina remains in the breed has been supported by this

The following is the description laid down by the White English
Terrier Club:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Narrow, long and level, almost flat skull, without cheek
muscles, wedge-shaped, well filled up under the eyes, tapering to
the nose, and not lippy. EYES--Small and black, set fairly close
together, and oblong in shape. NOSE--Perfectly black. EARS--Cropped
and standing perfectly erect. NECK AND SHOULDERS--The neck should
be fairly long and tapering from the shoulders to the head, with
sloping shoulders, the neck being free from throatiness, and slightly
arched at the occiput. CHEST--Narrow and deep. BODY--Short and curving
upwards at the loins, sprung out behind the shoulders, back slightly
arched at loins, and falling again at the joining of the tail to the
same height as the shoulders. LEGS--Perfectly straight and well under
the body, moderate in bone, and of proportionate length. FEET--Feet
nicely arched, with toes set well together, and more inclined to be
round than hare-footed. TAIL--Moderate length, and set on where the
arch of the back ends, thick where it joins the body, tapering to
a point, and not carried higher than the back. COAT--Close, hard,
short, and glossy. COLOUR--Pure white, coloured marking to disqualify.
CONDITION--Flesh and muscles to be hard and firm. WEIGHT--From 12
lb. to 20 lb.

Next: The Black And Tan Terrier

Previous: The Old Working Terrier

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