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.
As far back as the history of British dogs goes we have mention of the terrier, the dog that went to earth after fox and badger, and by "conceaved fear drove them out of their hollow harbours."
I have written of them in the past tense, for in the multitudinous varieties now called terriers there are many altogether unfitted for the work which gave the breed the generic name.
Justice compels me to say the modern black and tan, after the refining processes of the Manchester and Birmingham showmen, is one of those that would make but a poor figure at underground work. The legs and feet are too slender and elegant for digging, and their satin-like coat is not the sort of covering in which to face wet grass and dank woods.
MR. HOWARD MAPPLEBECK'S BLACK AND TAN BITCH "NETTLE" (K.C.S.B. 8646).
Sire Colonel - Dam Nell.
Whilst on the subject of the coats of terriers 1 must notice a rather curious and, I think, altogether erroneous supposition of Youatt's on the subject. He says, "the rough terrier possibly obtained his shaggy coat from the cur, and the smooth terrier may derive his from the hound." The cur he elsewhere describes as a cross between the sheepdog and the terrier, but there are rough-coated as well as smooth-coated hounds, and the terrier was placed by Caius among the hounds, between the harrier and the bloodhound in fact, and he states him to be the "smallest of the kind called Sagax." Now, if there always have been hounds, both smooth and rough, it is surely quite as likely there have also always been smooth and rough terriers.
Caius says nothing about the length of coat or the colour of his terriers. Daniels, in his "Rural Sports," makes special mention of the elegant and sprightly smooth-coated terrier, black in body and tanned on the legs; and in foxhound kennels of the last and early in this century terriers of all colours were kept - red ones, brindled, brown pied, white pied, pure white and black with tanned faces, flank, feet, and legs, and all of these were kept for work, not for show - work requiring the strength, fortitude, ardour, and indomitable pluck of a genuine terrier, for a working terrier worthy of the name should be as "hard as nails," active as a cat, and lively as a cricket.
The old style of black and tan terrier was stronger but not so elegantly built as his modern representative, and still we may occasionally see the stouter-limbed, broader-chested, thicker-headed, and coarser-coated dog that illustrates the original from which our show dog has sprung.
Dog shows have, no doubt, had much to do with transforming the rather "cloddy" rough-and-tumble black and tan into the graceful and refined animal of our show benches; and noted among breeders who had a large share in producing this dog of the day stands the name of the late Mr. Sam Handley, who in the earlier years of dog shows successfully exhibited, and became generally recognised as the greatest authority and most expert judge of this breed especially, although also of many other varieties in which he took an interest.
I do not know that any cross has been resorted to in bringing this terrier up to the mark, but the great length of head, the tendency to show a tucked-up flank, and a something in the general contour gives one the impression that greyhound blood is in them, and if so, it was probably obtained through the whippet. The skull is certainly much narrower in proportion to length and to size of dog than in the greyhound, and rumour says this end is obtained by continued compression with wet bandages during puppyhood.
With improved elegance of form was introduced gradually a finer coat and richer and more decided contrast in the colours, and when Nature is not so kind as desired in this respect, some of the votaries of the breed assist her.
I believe, however, that staining, dyeing, and painting is not much resorted to now-a-days; careful breeding has done so much towards perfecting the dog that there is less need to introduce low tricks, which cannot be too severely censured.
Although the modern black and tan terrier is unfitted for the hard rough work at which his progenitor was an adept, it must not be inferred from anything I have said that he is a useless dog - he is, on the contrary, game enough and death to vermin, as all the terrier tribe are, but he is simply not fitted to stand rough weather. He is also a remarkably active and cheerful companion, and makes a first-rate house dog, being generally quite free from any objectionable smell, and he does not harbour fleas, nor carry the dirt on wet days into the house, as rough-coated dogs do.
The black and tan is sometimes called the Manchester terrier, but there is no sound reason for it; this I pointed out in an article on the breed, which I contributed to "Dogs of the British Islands," and made it a cause of complaint against the Kennel Club that in their stud books they gave countenance to this misnomer; and I see in the volume of their "Stud Book" since issued the entries of these dogs are not called Manchester, but simply black and tan terriers, and this is as it should be, for far more good ones have been bred out of Manchester than in it, and the dog is really an old English terrier.
There is considerable difficulty in breeding dogs with all the desirable points, and when a specimen is found nearing perfection in shape, colour, and markings, very long prices are given for it.
Another point (of course, artificial, yet great stress is laid on it), is the cutting of the ears - unless this is what is euphonistically and most erroneously called artistically done, it mars the chance of an otherwise first-rate dog winning.
This is a custom I most strongly deprecate, and I hope to see it done away with, as it has been in the case of pugs, Dalmatians, and others. Whether it improves the dog's appearance is a matter of opinion; I think it does not, and I do not think without better reasons than I have ever heard given we are justified, for a mere whim or fancy, in exposing to all weathers one of the most delicate organs of the body, which nature has specially protected, thus leaving the poor beast easily liable to ear canker, deafness, and other evils. The following are the points required in a first-rate specimen: