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.
This terrier is our most modern introduction, and one is apt to wonder how it was that for so long his merits have been overlooked. The dog of which I write as a Welsh terrier was unknown until some eight years or so ago. Then he appeared in some of our shows; he was given a place in the Stud Book; a club was formed in 1886 to look after his welfare, and at some modern exhibitions, to wit, at Liverpool, in 1893, there were no fewer than ninety-three entries made of Welsh terriers, or dogs that passed as such. When he was first introduced, a rather short stumpy head, with considerable terrier character generally, were considered to form the correct type; now the head has been "improved," or otherwise, until it is as long and fox terrier-like as those Mr. Wardle draws on another page, who, following the dictates of fashion, gives us the Welsh terrier, which is perhaps not Welsh at all, as he is to-day. To proceed with my story.
However reluctant I may be to agree with all that has been said and done to popularise the so-called Welsh terrier, one must give way to the majority. The Kennel Club now acknowledges this variety of terrier by the name which heads this chapter, and, in addition, there is a well-established and flourishing club that looks carefully after its interests. So let it be. Still, there is no gainsaying the fact that some of the very best terriers of this variety have been produced from parents that never had a drop of Welsh blood in their veins, that had never seen the Principality, and had no more connection therewith than the black and white fisherman's dog of Newfoundland has with the dog treasured by the monks of St. Bernard's hospice. About eight years ago the newly popularised black and tan hard-haired terrier suddenly appeared on the show bench, and, although then claimed as a native of Wales, or to have originally sprung therefrom, there was other evidence to prove that this identical dog had long flourished in the north of England, and in some districts was still to be found uncrossed with the modern fox terrier, and, so far as could be discovered, of comparatively pure blood.
When the Kennel Club authorities at Cleveland- row consented to its entry in their Stud Book in 1886, the classification of "Welsh or old English wirehaired black and tan terriers "was given, a title which, though rather long, was the correct one to adopt as likely to suit both parties concerned, for already there had been a division in the camp; the north of England fanciers of the variety wished their rights acknowledged, and the Welshmen did likewise. The former attempted to establish a club to promote the old English hard-haired black and tan terrier, and failed so to do; the latter proved successful in forming a similar coterie to look after the interests of the Welsh terrier, and to see that its merits were appreciated by dog show committees and the public at large. So successful did the latter body prove, that, not contented with obtaining all they required for their own favourite, they contrived to persuade the Kennel Club to abolish the name of old English terrier altogether; and, be the animal of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, Devon, or Yorkshire extraction, his nativity has no locus standi] and Welsh he must be to the end of his days. It was in 1888 that the Welsh terrier, as such, first appeared in the Stud Book. Such is a brief history of the popular progress of this dog.
Not very long ago I was in conversation with a native of the Principality, where his ancestors had lived for generations on their own estate - a sporting one, occupied by a sporting family.
Here came a chance to obtain some information about his native terrier. "Welsh terriers?" said he; "why, bless me! there isn't such a thing, unless you mean all the little cross-bred creatures to be seen in any of our country towns." This was a floorer at the very set-off for the man in search of knowledge; but not long after, I had the good fortune to travel for some distance with a well-known authority on all matters canicular, whose residence was likewise in Wales. " You wish to learn something about Welsh terriers," said he; "why, I am sorry to say the dog show judges are going in altogether for the wrong type." "Then there is a breed of real Welsh terriers?" said I. "Oh, yes; most certainly," said my friend; "but they are big dogs - 251b. weight or more, with shortish, close, hard coats; active, hardy-looking fellows; black and tan in colour, and particularly useful in working very rough covert on mountainous ground, such as is found in so many of the hilly and wild districts. But," continued my informant, "points of beauty are not considered of such importance as gameness and ability to work. Their ears are usually large, and the skull is generally rounder between the ears than is quite orthodox in the modern fox terrier." Here was another opinion.
A dozen years ago I myself bought what was said to be a Welsh terrier, which proved to be a moderate specimen of the ordinary white and tan marked wire-hair of the present day. The standard adopted by the judges at all recent shows appears now to be generally uniform. The dog of which we write must, according to them, be not more than about 181b. weight, black and tan in colour, quite free from white, though white on the breast or feet does not amount to absolute disqualification; coat hard, close, and water and weather resisting; head, jaw, ears, build, and general appearance identical with the modern fox terrier; but the crisper coat and darker colour give the Welsh terrier a more dare-devil and determined appearance than the fashionable beauties of the present time, such as are shown by Mr. R. J. Vicary and others.
Now I have known dogs of the above description since my boyhood in the north of England; specimens as good as anything seen nowadays I came across long before ever the Welsh terrier was even thought of as it is now, and some of the leading winners to-day, especially in the dog classes, are probably descended from the same strain, for they have come from the north of England. Most of those of Welsh origin that appeared at the earlier shows were lighter and weaker in jaw than the English variety, finer or lighter in bone, and with more than a tendency to be round or domed on the skull. This was especially to be noticed in Dau Lliw, a smart little bitch, about 151b. in weight, I should say, who for some time was at the head of her race, but her teeth were not quite level. Mr. C. H. Beck's Fan was another excellent bitch of similar stamp, but scarcely so round between the tops of the ears as the one previously mentioned. Major Savage more recently showed some first rate terriers that were much of the same style.