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.
Another very good dog about this period was Mr. W. Duggan's (Birmingham) Spider, who won first prize at Birmingham four years in succession, and I am inclined to think that Spider came a good second to Tim. Later, Mr. P. Swindells, Stockport; Mr. W. E. Royd, Rochdale; Mr. W. Hodgson, Harpurhey; Mr. J. S. Skidmore, Nant-wich; Mr. J. F. Godfree, Birmingham; Mr. J. Hinks, Birmingham; Mr. J. Littler, Birmingham; Mr. P. Morgan, London; Mr. S. E. Shirley, and others had some very good specimens, and Mr. E. T. Dew's Fly (Weston-super-Mare) must not be forgotten. Mr. Shirley's Purity, that won third prize at the Crystal Palace in 1872, was by Tim out of a bitch by the smart fourteen-pound bull terrier Nelson, hence her name, a piece of sarcasm pointed no doubt at the carelessness (?) of some dog breeders as to how they crossed their various strains. Other dogs that did a great deal of winning in their day, about the "eighties," were Mr. J. Martin's Joe, Gem, and Pink, animals rather more of the whippet type in body - though wonderfully neat in head - than some people liked.
I think when all is said and done that our best and purest strain of this white terrier came from the north of England, where a few are still bred, as they are in the Midlands, but fewer in the Metropolis. The most recent London-bred specimens I have seen have been comparative toys, under l0lb. in weight, and with that round skull, or so-called "apple head," which so persists in making its appearance in lilliputian specimens of the dog - an effect of inbreeding.
The English white terrier is in appearance an attractive dog, small in size - he should not be more than 141b. weight - cleanly and elegant, but he is not particularly noted for his intelligence, as I am sorry to write is the case with all these smaller smooth coated terriers that for generations have had their ears cut. This is unfortunately the custom with the one of which I write - at any rate, this evil result of cropping is my experience, as it has been of others who have kept this variety, and the black and tan terrier likewise.
There are other drawbacks to his becoming a fashionable favourite, for, however his elegance and the purity of his white coat may fill the eye, he is by no means a hardy dog. Then he is difficult to breed in perfection; the puppies are as likely to come with patches on them as not, and terrier heads or greyhound shaped bodies and vice versa are by no means unusual. They are not easy to keep in condition for exhibition; it is troublesome and dangerous (to say nothing about being illegal) to have their ears cut or cropped, and, unless a white terrier carries its ears smartly up and cut to a point almost, he is a sorry looking object. Again, he is particularly subject to total or partial deafness, which may be hereditary or arise from other causes, such as a delicacy that is supposed to appertain to some totally white animals, especially such as are inbred to a great extent, as is the case here. I have heard, when living in the north, that at least one of the very best bitches of the early time, and from which many of the best were descended, was "stone deaf." No doubt this is the dog Mr. Roocroft alluded to in Vero Shaw's "Book of the Dog" as being one of the best he ever saw, and which preceded the favourite Tim.
For show purposes, which means when it is required to place the animal before the judges to the best advantage, it is usual to cut off the whiskers, to singe or clip the under part of the tail where it might be clad with coarse hair, and to cut or shave what in the "fancy" are considered superfluous hairs from the ears. Indeed, the latter is done to such an extent, and evidently acknowledged as being quite honest and straightforward, that at the autumn show of the Kennel Club in 1893 I saw an exhibitor clipping hairs from the ears of a white terrier whilst on its bench, in full view of the company present; and strangely enough this public "faking" did not appear to attract any attention.
During 1893 some attention was drawn to the decadence and seeming neglect of the breed, and it was almost sad to see one of its admirers, and the owner of specially good specimens, writing pretty much in the same strain as I have done as to the anxiety the keeping in show form this terrier causes. Dr. Lees Bell, the gentleman in question, writing to one of the papers which gives a considerable amount of space to kennel subjects, says:
"All breeders have, I daresay, experienced the same difficulty of breeding pure white puppies with level heads and fine skulls together with proper English terrier lines of body. The puppies are either foul-marked, or have domed skulls and whippet bodies, or they have level heads, with the thick skull and wide chest and general stoutness of body of the bull terrier. But apart from those difficulties which it is the art of breeding and selection to overcome, the great amount of trouble requisite to keep white English in form and to prepare them for exhibition naturally exercises an influence inimical to the popularity of the breed. The cropping of the ears, the trimming of the tail, shaving the ears, the washing and general anxiety to keep the dog spotless till after the show, all combine to make the hobby too tiresome to allow the breed to be popular with those at any rate who have little leisure for the indulgence of their pet hobby. The appearance of red wounds, too, on the white ground is also a great drawback. For all these reasons I doubt it is too much to expect that the breed can ever become popular, especially when there are other breeds of terriers better suited for the special purposes for which pet dogs are kept. Such terriers as the Irish, for example, are game, gay, and always the same, ready for a fight, and rarely much the worse for a shindy, while they can be picked up and set on the show bench with the least possible trouble - and what more do we want? While regretting extremely the decay of the white English Terrier, I am afraid they must bow to the inevitable, and give place to dogs better suited to the wants and conveniences of the present day than they unfortunately are".