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.
Scotland is prolific in terriers, and for the most part these are long-backed and short-legged dogs. Such is the Dandie Dinmont, the Skye, and the Aberdeen terrier; but the old hard and shorthaired "terry" of the West of Scotland, as I recollect him when a boy, was much nearer in shape to a modern fox terrier, but with a shorter and rounder head, the colour of their hard wiry coat mostly sandy, the face free from long hair, although some showing a beard, and the small ears carried in most instances semi-erect, in some pricked.
The Kennel Club has on several occasions instituted classes for the old Scotch terrier at their shows, but these have never obtained sufficient entries to encourage the club to keep the class open, until at their summer show, 1879, when they received the support and co-operation of the recently formed Scotch terrier club, or of those who had discussed the propriety of forming such a club, and who, I believe, subscribed the prize money, found or suggested the judge, and made most of the entries, which latter amounted to fifteen.
Unfortunately, those selected for prizes, although undoubtedly hard-haired Scotch terriers, as the schedule described them, were not the old hard-haired Scotch terrier, but a well-known distinct variety yclept the Aberdeen terrier, several of the winners being in fact imports from the granite city or the district. The best in the class, judged as an old Scotch terrier, was Mr. J. C. Carrick's Pig, and as the judge, Mr. J. B. Morrison, was brought specially from the West of Scotland to judge this class, his going for the short-legged Aberdonians was the more astonishing. It may, however, be accounted for, if we recollect that Mr. Morrison is a Skye terrier fancier, and suppose that breed, in common parlance, to have "filled his eye."
The true old Scotch terrier should be a stoutly built dog, leggy in comparison with the Skye, Dandie, or Aberdeen, varying in size, as all breeds little cared for do, but easily to be kept near to a standard of 151b. to 181b., which I hold to be the most useful for a working "varmint " dog, even if he is not wanted to go to ground.
The head rather short and the skull somewhat round, the jaws being strong and also short - more or less bearded; a long lean punishing jaw, as the phrase goes, is a modern feature in terriers of any variety, and the idea is often carried to great excess.
The eyes bright and keen, peering through short shaggy hair.
The ears small, covered with soft short hair, semi-erect, falling over at the tip.
The neck short and strong.
The chest moderately deep, ribs strong, the back ones fairly developed, the back short as a fox terrier's, with strong loins and good muscular square buttocks.
The legs stout, well covered with hard hair, stifles only moderately bent, front legs straight, all covered with hard short hair; the feet compact, and hard in the sole, and the claws strong.
The tail, if undocked, 8in. to 10in. long, brush-like, not fringed, the covering being hard hair.
The prevailing colour sandy, sometimes a dark grizzle, and I have occasionally seen them brindled.
The coat hard and very dense, from lin. or rather less to 2in. in length at the greatest.
I give the above, written from memory, as a rough description of the Scotch terrier, as kept by my father, and such as were commonly met with in the West of Scotland some forty years ago.
The above admittedly rough description first appeared in The Bazaar newspaper, and drew forth rather strong letters expressing views antagonistic to those of mine.
Mr. J. B. Morrison, the judge referred to, naturally adheres to the type he selected as best illustrating the breed of the old Scotch terrier at the Alexandra Palace Show, and "The Badger," who owned the prize winners, as naturally followed suit.
I respect both these gentlemen and their opinions, and wishing that both views might find expression in "British Dogs," I offered, at"The Badger's" request, to give publicity to his remarks on the breed; but after waiting some time, to the inconvenience of the publishers, without receiving anything on the subject from "The Badger," I can only say that I believe his views and description of an old hard-haired Scotch terrier will be found given, as well as I was able, under the heading Aberdeen Terrier.
I have, however, had the pleasure of receiving a letter from Mr. S. D. Hine, a gentleman who has for many years bred Scotch terriers, and whose description differs both from the gentlemen above referred to, and from mine on some points, whilst on others we are all agreed. Mr. Hine says: "He is a square-built dog, about 10in. high, not over 141b. in weight, and with a hard straight coat, no tendency to curl, and in texture more allied to badger bristles, with a total absence of any approach to silkiness. His coat is abundant and rough, but more thick than long in the hair; colour any shade of brown, tan, yellow or grey, seldom black, never white in the pure breed, and blue invariably indicates a cross with the Italian greyhound. In body he is rather long and low, not weasel-shaped like a Skye, still less leggy, like a Bedlington terrier, thicker in bone in the limbs than a Fox terrier, with very muscular thighs. In conformation of head he is inclined to squareness, with rather full frontal development, the jaws closing level with each other, not snipey or pointed. The eye is rather full, and the irides brown, the darker the better; ears short and drop, never pricked. The neck is thickish and rather shorter than any other breed of terrier.
In temperament the Scotch terrier is rather grave than gay, always looks full of business, but is seldom savage. I have bred a great many, but never knew one turn out morose or sulky in disposition. Very attached and affectionate to his master; very plucky, but not quarrelsome. They are hardy and robust in constitution, and mostly good water dogs. I think it is a breed of dog not so well known as it should be, and only wanting to be known to be very highly valued."
I have pleasure in giving Mr. Hine's description, although it does not alter my opinion that a more leggy dog than one 10in. high was, and is, in many parts of Scotland recognised as the right stamp. It appears to me that in this, as in all breeds when not specially bred to a standard, considerable difference is sure to arise, and one style of dog will be found peculiar to one district, another to another, all having sprung from one parent stock.
Whilst, therefore, I look upon the Aberdeen terrier as a Scotch terrier, - as I have endeavoured to describe him he differs considerably from what in youth I knew as the Scotch terrier, and as these terriers exist in such numbers, I think in this age of sub-division of varieties and minute description, he deserved to be separately treated.
I will now give quotations from two justly eminent writers on dogs, and it would be easy to quote many others who have written similarly on the subject. Youatt says: "There are three varieties, first the common Scotch terrier, 12 or 13in. high; his body muscular and compact, considerable breadth across the loins, the legs shorter and stouter than those of the English terrier, the head large in proportion to size of body, the muzzle small and pointed . . . the hair long and rough, colour black or fawn . . . Another species has nearly the same conformation . . . legs apparently, but not actually, shorter; body covered with longer, more curly, and stouter hair. ... A third species, of considerably larger bulk, and 3in. or 4in. taller than either of the others; its hair is shorter than that of the others, and is hard and wiry."
"Stonehenge" says: " The Scotch terrier closely resembles the English terrier in all but his coat, which is wiry and rough, and hence he is sometimes called the wire-haired terrier; a name, perhaps, better suited to a dog which has long been naturalised in England, and whose origin is obscure enough. Beyond this difference in externals there is little to be said distinctive of the one from the other, the colours being the same, but white being more highly prized in the southern variety, and the black and tan when more or less mixed with grey, so as to give the dog a pepper and salt appearance, being characteristic of the true Scotch terrier; but there are numberless varieties in size, and also in shape and colour."
I hold that such writers as I have quoted, and others who have similarly written, should not be ignored by "fanciers," who are too apt to possess themselves of the dog first, and from him frame their standard by which to judge, regardless of the views and opinions of others.
As already said, I see no reason to alter my rough description. I look upon it as an attempt only to draw a more marked line between varieties which differ considerably in character, far more in fact than drop-eared and prick-eared Skye terriers, which are now bred distinct, and are given separate classes at shows.
I repeat, without the slightest disrespect to Mr. Morrison, that the dogs awarded prizes by him as Scotch terriers are nearer in type to Skye terriers than the one I consider the lowland Scotch terrier, and are what I have attempted to describe as Aberdeen terriers.