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.

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