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 "Sportsman's Cabinet," published in two volumes in 1803-4, two years after the first volume of Daniel's "Rural Sports" appeared, contains an engraving by Scott from a spirited painting by Reinagle. Here we have three terriers, one of which is white, with marks on his head and a patch at the set on of stern. This is a wire-haired dog, with a docked tail and erect ears, showing traces of a bull-terrier cross from the shape of the skull and in his general character. Another, evidently a white dog, is disappearing from sight in an earth, whilst the third appears to be a dark coloured dog, with a broad white collar and white marks on his muzzle; his ears are likewise erect. All will pass muster as fox terriers, and if a little wide in chest for modern fancy or prevailing fashion, they are strong-jawed and appear eager for the fray.
The writer in the "Sportsman's Cabinet" (two handsome volumes, originally published at seven guineas), after alluding to the different strains of terriers, says: "The genuine and lesser breed of terrier is still preserved uncontaminate amongst the superior order of sportsmen, and constantly employed in a business in which his name, his size, his fortitude, persevering strength, and invincible ardour all become so characteristically and truly subservient, that he may justly be said 'to labour cheerfully in his vocation;' this is in his emulous and exulting attendance upon the foxhounds, where, like the most dignified and exulting personage in a public procession, though last, he is not the least in consequence".
The same writer goes on to say that the white pied bitch is the dam of a wonderful progeny, most of which have been sold at high prices, "seven recently for one and twenty guineas, and these are as true a breed of the small sort as any in England".
A pleasing, if rather ponderous, eulogy on the fox terrier, and one which most members of the fox terrier clubs at the present day should fully appreciate, though they would scarcely consider their choicest puppies well sold at three guineas apiece.
Still, in their lines, our terrier had admirers quite as ardent ninety or a hundred years ago as is the case now. Then masters of foxhounds were extremely particular in their selection, requiring in their terriers at the same time strength, intelligence, and gameness. Another author about that period tells us that the black, and black and tanned, or rough wire-haired pied are preferred, as those inclining to a reddish colour are sometimes in the clamour of the chase taken for the fox, and halloaed to as such.
As I have mentioned at length so many writers on terriers, allusion must again be made to Mr. Delabere Blaine, who, in 1840, published his "Encyclopaedia of Rural Sports," which no doubt gave the late Mr. J. H. Walsh his idea of his "Rural Sports," which followed some fifteen years later. Blaine provides much nice reading and useful information in his immense volume, and, amongst other illustrations, gives us a team of terriers attacking a badger. Some of these little dogs are white with markings, others being whole coloured, dark pepper and salts, or black and tans. This writer, thus early, laments that "the occupation of the fox terrier is almost gone, for the fox is less frequently dug out than formerly, and it was thus only that the terrier was of use, either to draw the fox or to inform the digger by his baying of his whereabouts. So his occupation being gone, he is dispensed with by most masters of hounds of the new school." Blaine proceeds to say that there are two prominent varieties of the terrier, rough and smooth, the first named appear to have been more common in Scotland and the north, "the rigours of a more severe climate being favourable to a crisped and curled coat." One of Blaine's terriers is neither more nor less than a bull terrier, bearing the orthodox brindled or brown patch on one eye, and its ears are cut.
Others, too, adopted the same ideas as Blaine, or at any rate similar ones, just as Taplin, in his "Sporting Dictionary," and the author of the "Sportsman's Repository," had done those of writers who preceded them.
The reasons hold good now in 1894 that were so admirably set forth then, but even fewer terriers are used with packs of hounds than when Blaine wrote, and, unless under exceptional circumstances, a master will leave the fox, which has contrived to get safely to ground, with his mask safe and his brush intact, if a little bedraggled. With an increasing love of hunting, so apparent during the past century, there was no wonder the terrier came to have consideration with some men little inferior to that bestowed on the hound himself. Pretty nearly each hunting country held its own particular strain, and that these were for the most part dark in colour (usually black and tan), that which has been read in these introductory pages, I think, forms fair evidence. That three varieties were common, large, medium, and small in size, too, is apparent, and that such were both smooth and rough or wire-haired; but how they were originally produced there is no evidence to show.
The early-time terriers were bred for work and not for ornament, and, unless they would go to ground after the manner of the ferret, their heads would not be kept long out of the huge butt of water in the stableyard. Rats they had to kill, and, unhappily, often enough cats too; but fox terriers were less seldom used to work as spaniels or retrievers than is the case to-day. Our ancestors believed in each dog having its own vocation: the setter to set, the pointer to point, the spaniel to beat the coverts, and the terrier to make pilgrimages underground. Nor did they condescend to train the latter to run after rabbits, as in modern coursing matches; and they took for the most part the bull terrier to bait the badger and perform in the rat pit. "A dash of bulldog blood" was always said to improve the pluck of a terrier (it certainly does not add to his elegance of form), and so no doubt came the brindle marks on some few of the modern fox terriers. Careful crossing has almost effaced the first named, now considered a blemish, and in its place the rich tan and black, or hound markings, have been introduced. Originally these gaudy colours were produced by some beagle blood, which, I fancy, came to be infused about thirty-five years ago. The large, flapping, almost hound-like, ears which still occasionally crop up, and were excessively common twenty years back, likewise suggest this beagle cross, and I have no doubt, from a modern black and tan terrier and a hound-marked pure beagle, careful selection would in very few generations produce a fox terrier with a black and tan head and a patch on the body or at the root of the stern. Of a whilom champion a well-known admirer of the variety was wont to declare, "she had ears like a blacksmith's apron".