This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
The popularity of the fox terrier is undoubted. He is seen running at large in the streets of our cities and towns; in country places he abounds; and go where you will half a dozen fox terriers are to be found for each specimen of any other variety of the canine race. Clubs are established to promote his efficiency and to add to his beauty. There is a so-called parent club, and there are a dozen minor affairs of the same kind, local and otherwise. The fox terrier has a journal solely to look after its interests, for in the Fox Terrier Chronicle the claims of the little dog are supported. Then the fox terrier has a special stud book; and a volume devoted entirely to this dog's history and description has been published, and met with unusual success; the former edited by Mr. Hugh Dalziel and published at 170, Strand, the latter in its second edition - "A History and Description, with Reminiscences, of the Fox Terrier," published by Horace Cox, Bream's Buildings, E.C.
Again, almost every man and woman who knows a St. Bernard from a mastiff confess to the impeachment that they are "rare good judges of a fox terrier," and any exhibitor or other individual with fifty or a hundred pounds in his pocket to lay out on dogs, can so expend that sum and join one of the clubs, and he will have a fair chance of being remunerated as a judge of the breed, and so become qualified (?) to aid in that capacity at any show to which he may be appointed.
There was a time when there were scarcely a score of men who knew a good fox terrier when they saw one; now, if one believes all that is told, prime judges of the variety are to be found in thousands. That once famous exhibitor Mr. Thomas Wootten, of Nottingham, has lived to see this, and so has Mr. Gibson, who a few years since had such a fine kennel of terriers at Brokenhurst; but Mr. J. H. Murchison, Mr. S. W. Smith, Mr. Cropper, with others, the best judges of the variety to be found a quarter of a century ago, have gone the way of all flesh, and so have not had the misfortune to outlive their reputation.
However, I shall not anticipate matters, but before dealing with the modern fox terrier must say something about his early history. When terriers were first used for unearthing the fox there is no record to tell, and no doubt our earliest dogs of this breed were utilised for a variety of purposes, and trained to kill rats and other vermin as well as to tackle the fox and badger, and perhaps the otter.
It was not, however, until towards the close of the past century, or the early part of the present one, that the name of the fox terrier began to be adopted, his present popularity commenced less than thirty years ago. In the "Sporting Dictionary" 1803, we are told that "since fox hunting is so deservedly and universally popular in every country where it can be enjoyed, these faithful little animals have become so exceedingly fashionable that few stables of the independent are seen without them. Four and five guineas is no great price for a handsome, well-bred terrier." If the fox terrier was fashionable then, how much more so is he at the present time, when a couple of hundred sovereigns is by no means an unusual price to pay for "a handsome, well-bred terrier"?
Although at this period there were terriers of all colours pretty nearly, I am of opinion the fox terrier was originally black and tan. In Daniel's "Rural Sports" (1801), S. Elmer, the artist, draws us such a one, and I have in my possession a very rare engraving, "The Fox Terrier," from an original picture by De Wilde, published August 4, 1806, fry Laurie and Whittle, 53, Fleet-street, London.
This is a black and tan dog, somewhat ragged in coat, which, however it may be inclined to be wavy, must in reality be as smooth as many of the ordinary fox terriers of the present day. He has drop ears, a "docked" or shortened tail, and capital legs and feet and nice bone; about 181b. in weight, lacking character somewhat, but bearing in all but colour a resemblance to the present terrier dog. In some of the terriers shown twenty years ago I have often seen dogs very much of the shape and style of this terrier as De Wilde has drawn him. I reproduced the engraving in my volume on the Fox Terrier, already alluded to.
In Bingley's "Memoirs of British Quadrupeds" (1809) two terriers are beautifully etched by Howitt. In a copy of this excellent work now lying on my library table the plates are coloured. One of the dogs, wire-haired, is a kind of dark blue and tan in hue, with semi-prick ears, and an uncut tail; the other, with erect ears, is smooth coated and black and tan, both rich in colour, less than 2olb. in weight each, and likely enough from their appearance to kill either fox, rat, or weasel. As a fact, the wire-haired terrier has just given the finishing shakes, which have extinguished the last sparks of life in a foulmart, whilst the smooth dog, more in the back ground, is evidently growling and snarling at his mate for having had the little bit of work all to himself. The admired author of the book says :
"This dog has its name of terrier or terrarius from its usually subterraneous employment in forcing foxes and other beasts of prey out of their dens, and, in former times, driving rabbits from their burrows (sic). It is generally an attendant upon every pack of foxhounds, and is the determined enemy of all kinds of vermin - such as weasels, foulmarts, rats, etc. The terrier is a fierce, keen, and hardy animal, and will encounter even the badger, from which he sometimes meets with very severe treatment. A well-trained and veteran dog, however, frequently proves more than a match for that powerful animal. Some terriers are rough and others smooth haired They are generally reddish brown or black, of a long form, short legged, and strongly bristled about the muzzle".
The Rev. William Daniel tells us little about fox terriers, though he recommends that when young they should not be entered to the badger, "for," he says, "they do not understand shifting like old ones, and, if good for anything, would probably go boldly up to the badger and be terribly bitten; for this reason, if possible, they should be entered to young foxes. . . . With respect to the digging of foxes which hounds run to ground, if the hole be straight and earth slight, follow it, and in following the hole, by keeping below its level, it cannot be lost; but in a strong earth it is best to let the terrier fix the fox in an angle of it, and a pit be then sunk as near to him as can be. A terrier should always be kept at the fox, who otherwise may move, and in loose ground dig himself further in; in digging keep plenty of room, and take care to throw the earth where it may not have to be moved again. Huntsmen, when near the fox, will sometimes put a hound into the earth to draw him; this answers no other purpose than to cause the dog a bad bite, which a few minutes' more labour would render unnecessary; or, if the fox must be drawn by a hound, first introduce a whip, which the fox will seize, and the hound will then draw him out more readily".