This section is from the book "British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition", by Hugh Dalziel. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs.
Among all those who have written on fox terriers of late years, none appear to have been inclined to go to the root of the matter and tell us anything of the origin and early history of this breed.
A general idea seems to prevail that fox terriers are a production of modern times, and this idea has no doubt been fostered by the way in which spurious imitations of them have been from time to time manufactured, and by the ignorance of judges who have permitted various and very opposite types to find favour.
The fox terrier proper is not a modern breed, and perhaps there were as good dogs fifty years ago as there are now.
Some of us will, I dare say, remember the old black and tan English terrier - not in any way resembling the whip-tailed, smooth-coated, and pencil-toed black and tan of the present day, but a dog of very similar appearance to the Old Jock and Old Trap type of fox terriers.
My father has at present in his possession a painting of a noted terrier that belonged to his grandfather. This dog was a black and tan - that is to say, black, with a considerable quantity of light tan, and white breast. He, upon one occasion, went to ground in Newburgh Park, and stayed several hours, until dug out, when it was found that he was engaged with two large badgers, and though fearfully cut up, he showed no signs of giving in. This dog had good drop ears, and in all other respects except colour would have held his own on a show bench at the present day.
I believe there is no doubt that there was an equally old breed of white English terriers of the same character, and it was by crossing these two sorts that the colour of our modern kennel terriers was produced. The black and tan was, from its colour, difficult to keep in view, and mixed colour looked more uniform with the hounds.
However, even to the present day, or at least till very recently, the Duke of Beaufort has kept up a breed of black and tan fox terriers, and excellent dogs they are.
Treadwell, the huntsman of the Old Berkshire, has had several good terriers - notably Tip - and these were descended from a black and tan dog he had with the Cottesmore twenty-five years ago, called Charley. This dog was bred by Mr. Cauverley, of Greetham, near Oakham, whose family has had the breed for a century. Some years ago I was at the Old Berkshire kennels, and saw Treadwell's terriers. They were a hardy, useful sort, weighing from 101b. to 161b.
Old Trap was descended from a black and tan breed, and I believe Old Jock was also. These dogs were thoroughly genuine terriers, and their blood at the present day asserts itself in many of the best prize winners we have. Unfortunately, owing to the want of authentic pedigree registries and the not very scrupulous consciences of certain dealers and breeders, Old Jock and Old Trap have been made responsible for a great deal of stock with which in reality they had no connection. Old Jock was bred by Capt. Percy Williams, and was by his Jock out of Grove Pepper.
This brings me to a consideration of the Grove terriers, which, in the hands of Jack Morgan, soon attained to the greatest fame. It may, indeed, be questioned if, at the present day, we have a better bitch than old Grove Nettle. I may also direct attention to another terrier, not so generally known, that was bred by Jack Morgan, when huntsman to Lord Galway. That was Trimmer, better known as Cooper's Trimmer, and he achieved lasting fame as being the sire of Belvoir Joe. Of the Belvoir terriers, however, I shall have something more to say.
Of the same breed as the Grove are the terriers, which Ben Morgan introduced into Lord Middleton's kennels; and, though their lot did not fall in early days among the show world, they were none the less goodlooking and thoroughly up to their work. I well remember Nettle of this breed. She was the granddam of Belvoir Joe, and a thorough terrier, quite up to show form. Another of the same strain was Old Vie, whose daughter Vic, by Old Tartar, produced Jester II. The two Vics, for many seasons, did excellent service with the hounds.
Another very old breed, not generally known to fame, was many years in the hands of the late Mr. F. Bell, of the Hall, Thirsk. Some eighteen years ago two of his terriers distinguished themselves greatly in an otter hunt that took place in the Colbeck - one of the tributaries of the Swale. Twig, one of these dogs, several times bolted the otter, and was the first to tackle him on crossing a shoal. For this he nearly lost his life, as he was found to be bitten through one of the veins in his neck, and nearly bled to death. The sister to this dog - a bitch called Venom - won one of the first prizes that were ever offered for fox terriers. This was at Yarmouth. Twig was an exceedingly good-looking dog, showing no bull, and as good as most of the present' winners. He was marked with black and grey tan on the head. I am sorry to say, however, that Mr. Bell's breed has become well-nigh extinct.
Mr. Bower, of Oswaldkirk, has long been the possessor of terriers that have often become notorious for doughty deeds; and people still tell the story of Old Jim, who worried a very large and savage monkey that belonged to Sir George Wombwell. The dog was only eleven months old, and had previously been considerably bullied by the monkey. At last, upon the eventful day, he was observed to go towards the monkey's yard, look inquiringly around, doubtless to see if any one was near, and then he went in. Some time afterwards the brewer, who had seen him enter the yard and not return, went to look after him, and found the monkey dead, while the dog was so punished he could not move.
Mr. Bowers's breed has been extensively used in kennels in the North of England; but I have little doubt that there is a cross of bull in it.
Mr. H. Gibson has long been well known as a breeder of first-class fox terriers, and he has, in fact, owned them for above thirty years. The first he ever possessed was a bitch bred at Hams Hall, in Warwickshire, by a gamekeeper named Massy. This bitch killed a favourite cat belonging to the present Mr. Adderley's mother, and so had to be got rid of. Massy consequently sold her to a barber named Collins, of Coleshill, and he went to the school where Mr. Gibson then was and sold her to him for all the money he then possessed, i.e., £3. Mr. Gibson now says he wishes he conld find a few like her at .£100 each. Her name was Fly. Mr. Gibson also tells me that in those days there were many good fox terriers to be found, and that gamekeepers used them instead of spaniels. They were valued from 20s. to 40s. each. The Atherstone, the South Warwickshire (in Vyner's time), and the Belvoir (in Goosey's day) had plenty, such as you can hardly find now.