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 "Madmans," "Pusses," "Victors," and "Rebels" were for the most part large dogs, and for general excellence would compare most favourably with the best specimens seen to-day. I remember some of them very well indeed, as a fact the best of the above at one time or another belonged to personal friends of mine. Were I asked to name the best large-sized bull terrier I ever saw, I should undoubtedly plump for Young Puss, first shown by Mr. G. Smith, jun., of Manchester, who at one time had the strongest team of bull terriers in the country, and later by Mr. W. G. Rawes, Kendal. She was a beautiful bitch in every way, about 401b. in weight; one, indeed, with which we could find no fault. She had dark hazel eyes, almond shaped, and not round, a level mouth (which some of our more modern winners have not), and was as handsome a dog as anyone need desire to possess. Born in 1869, she was contemporary with other good specimens, including Victor - old Victor, first belonging to Mr. J. H. Ryder, next to Mr. G. Smith, jun., and afterwards sold to Mr. Cleasby Chorley, of Kendal, with whom he died. Victor was found smothered in his box at the Crystal Palace show in June, 1872, and it was the writer who first opened that box and discovered the fatality.
As there are some who consider this dog the best bull terrier that ever lived, a line or two may be given him. Victor, who, for a wonder, had no pedigree provided, was a 451b. dog, with a big head, rather bigger and coarser than I liked - thus I preferred Young Puss to him - a perfectly shaped body, nice dark eyes, good neck and shoulders, and remarkably straight fore legs; in the latter respect, and at the shoulders, he beat any bull terrier I ever saw. He had a well shaped and well carried stern, which was, however, rather coarse. When Mr. Chorley first bought Victor he was a bad-tempered, evil-disposed dog, but in this respect he improved much - whether this arose from the taste for "good ale," which he soon developed, I can scarcely say, but Victor did like ale, and not only would he drink a quart of the beverage, but become intoxicated, and next day evidently ailing with that aching head said to follow a night's debauch, "a glass of bitter" would set the old dog right again.
Following him as a celebrity, came "patched Victor," a white dog with a fawn or brown patch on one ear, a big dog of undoubted excellence, but when the " patch" did not put him out of the prize list some sensation was caused. Whatever truth there might have been in the story that was bandied about relating to this dog, the writer cannot state; but it was said when he won his earlier prize or prizes he was the property of one of the judges who placed him third in priority, and who afterwards sold him for a large sum. As the parties to the transaction have been dead many years, there can be no harm in alluding to what was common report at that time, especially as it gives some little idea of what could occur at dog shows before the Kennel Club had become "so great a power in the land".
Another notable bull terrier of the same date was Rebel (2770), and this dog had likewise belonged to Mr. Smith, jun., and sold by him to Mr. W. H. Akerigg, who turned him over to Mr. Leonard Pilkington, now one of our most popular greyhound coursers. Although Rebel had on occasions beaten Young Puss, to whom he was said to be brother, he was only a second-rate dog alongside her, and inferior to both the Victors already named.
I have mentioned these dogs at considerable length because I believe they were as good as, if not superior to, anything we have at the present time, and when they were in their prime the classes of bull terrier were better filled than is the case now.
I have said the first class at Birmingham had twenty-eight entries; I recollect at one of the Scottish shows (Edinburgh, 1871), there were about thirty-five competitors in the bull terrier classes, and scarcely a bad one in the lot. Now ten or a dozen in a class is considered a first-rate entry, and at Birmingham in 1893, with ten classes and thirty-seven competitors, the group was considered to be an unusually strong one.
So far I have only alluded to the large-sized bull terriers, and what there is to say about the smaller ones is yet to come. After this dog had become fairly well established in the schedules of the shows, the classes came to be sub-divided again, and for many years the classification at Birmingham was for dogs and bitches exceeding 151b. and below that weight. The competition therein was usually keen, and at this time the names of Mr. S. E. Shirley (the present chairman of the Kennel Club), of Mr. J. H. Ryder, Mr. C. L. Boyce, Mr. J. F. Godfree, Mr. S. Handley, Pendleton, a noted judge, as well as those already mentioned, appeared in the prize lists, and I should say the bull terrier was never so fashionable or had so many admirers as he had, say, between 1868 to 1874. Still he did not bring much money, and from £2 to £25 would have purchased any of the leading dogs of that day, with the exception of the "patched Victor".
Later on, whether bull terriers actually became more valuable, or money was more plentiful, one cannot say, but bigger prices came to be paid for comparatively inferior dogs. One called Tarquin, a ferocious beast, did a considerable amount of winning, and he was one of the high priced division. Then some sort of a longing was apparent for the reintroduction of the patched or marked dogs. Thus classes for bull terriers other than white were provided at one or two of our leading shows, but the specimens shown were not sufficiently handsome to cause the public to fall in love with them. So their continuance was ephemeral, especially as it was very difficult to breed them to type. Lately the very best other than white bull terriers I have seen was one called Como II. belonging to Mr. E. H. Adcock. This was a brindled dog of pretty shape, but heavier and shorter in the head than the modern white dog. I believe that Mr. Adcock's endeavours to perpetuate the strain have not proved successful.