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.
I ONCE heard a man describe this dog as "neither fish, fowl, nor good red herring," meaning no doubt in his original way to express his opinion that the Clydesdale or Paisley terrier was neither one thing nor another, and perhaps he was not far wrong. It has been said that this terrier was originally a cross between the ordinary Skye terrier and the Yorkshire terrier, but, although it is of quite modern origin, no proof has been produced when such crosses took place or who made them. To my idea it is much more likely that the Yorkshire terriers were produced from the Paisleys or Clydesdales, and we all know that, until within a comparatively recent date, the former were known as "Scotch terriers," and in the first volume of the "Kennel Club Stud Book" their classification is "Broken-haired Scotch or Yorkshire terriers." This was in 1874, but a little later the classification was changed to "Yorkshire Terriers," and as such it still remains. A much more likely origin is that the variety was made by the Glasgow and other Scottish dog fanciers crossing the softer-coated, lighter-coloured prick-eared Skye terriers with each other until they bred fairly truly and produced the Skye terriers in an altered form.
The Yorkshire terrier is a drop-eared dog; the Clydesdales are all prick-eared, and the latter were even within the present generation shown amongst Skye terriers, and known generally as such, although sometimes they were distinguished as "silky-coated" terriers. The Clydesdale Terrier Club was established in 1887, but ceased to exist after a few years. A fresh club was then formed, called the Paisley Terrier Club, which still survives, though in a somewhat somnolent condition. The Kennel Club gave the variety classification in their Stud Book in 1888, but a year or two previously classes had been specially provided for them at the leading Scottish shows. Classes for them were likewise given at the Jubilee show held at Barn Elms in 1887; but, although a few representatives were present, the encouragement the committee received was evidently not sufficient for the Kennel Club to encourage the variety at future exhibitions.
I remember at the earlier Scottish shows, especially the Glasgow ones, which were usually managed by Mr Henry Martin, a number of very handsome animals, shown by a Mr. Wilson and others; these dogs were then called Paisley terriers, and they competed amongst the prick-eared Skye terriers, often enough winning the leading prizes, much to the annoyance of exhibitors of the true breed of Skye terrier. In the end "ructions" took place; owners of both varieties flew to the newspapers, with the result that it was then re-decided that a Skye terrier should have a hard coat, and animals of the Glasgow fancy, with silvery, soft jackets, ought to be constituted a variety of themselves. In due course this was done, and such were known as Paisley terriers or Glasgow terriers. Later, the Clydesdale terrier became perhaps the more familiar name, and between the two the matter of nomenclature now rests, although the name Clydesdale appears to have the preference. At the present time there are more specimens of this silky-haired terrier bred in Paisley than elsewhere, and Mr. John King is perhaps at the head of the fancy there.
The Clydesdale or Paisley terrier, though he can kill rats, and maybe other vermin, is essentially a pet dog, and is usually kept as such. Like the Yorkshire terrier, his coat requires keeping in good order by repeated combing and brushing, though in this respect his owners do not take the pains and give the time to his toilet the Yorkshire fanciers do to their favourites, although at times the feet of the Paisleys are covered with wash-leather coverings in order that they do not wear away the hair therefrom, and to prevent them unduly scratching and spoiling their coats. I have likewise seen the hair of the Paisley terrier tied back over the eyes, and to keep a dog in really tip-top form for the show bench something of this kind is required.
Mr. Thomson Gray, in his "Dogs of Scotland," says: "While possessing all the characteristics of the Skye, as far as form, colour, and length of coat are concerned, they have a soft, silky coat, and on this account have been known for the past ten years or so as Glasgow or Paisley terriers. Previous to this, however, they were simply known as Skyes, and exhibited as such. The Paisley terrier has never been very widely distributed, and seldom found beyond the valley of the Clyde. At the shows which used to be held at Glasgow a dozen or more years back, these silky-coated terriers were seen in all their beauty, and the fact of their appearing there as Skyes was what first brought them into prominence. The fanciers of the hard-coated Skyes rose in arms against them, holding that they were not Skyes, as they had a silky coat, and were only pretty 'mongrels' bred from Skye terrier 'rejections,' and ought to be known as Glasgow or Paisley Skyes. On the other hand, the breeders of the silky-coated dogs held, as a matter of course, that the texture of coat their dogs possessed was the correct one. This was untenable, as until the introduction of this breed no Scottish dog had a silky or soft coat.
"After the decision against the eligibility of the silky-coated dog to compete in the Skye terrier classes, the breed rapidly declined. A few, however, held to the breed out of pure love and admiration for it, but they were few. The Paisley fanciers appear never to have lost sight of the dog, and it was not only by keeping and breeding them that they again brought the silky-coated beauties into popularity, but by instituting classes for them at the annual dog shows held at Paisley on New Year's Day. A fresh interest was thus begun in the breed, which has never been allowed to flag. . . . Breeders of hard-coated dogs, more especially if the coat be long, know how difficult it is to keep up the hard coat, on account of the washing, combing, etc, required to keep the dog in show trim, and also from the idle and indoor life exhibition dogs lead. A pup now and again will be found in a litter with a soft coat, although not quite silky in texture. These a good breeder, as a matter of course, would reject; but how many do really reject them, if they are good in other points? They perhaps do not breed from them, but they do not hesitate to sell them, and thus increase the difficulty by giving good pedigrees to such dogs. In Skye terriers the length of coat is one of the principal points; one therefore can easily understand how a pup with an extra long coat would be prized, even should the coat be a little soft. This, then, was how the Paisley terrier originated. The silky-coated dogs, from their great beauty, took the eye, and were greatly prized as pets; and as the demand increased, which it very quickly did when they began to win prizes, they were bred in large numbers, and the points now attained were only arrived at by careful selection and scientific breeding. Some dark rumours are afloat about the crosses that were resorted to to gain the points desired, but if such a thing ever took place it has never been made public. It is hinted that the Dandie had something to do with the manufacture of this breed, and we have heard it asserted that the Paisley terrier was the result of a Dandie-Skye cross, but we have seen no evidence to support this statement. We are of opinion that no cross was required, and that in the case of the best strains none took place.