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.
An excessive size of the aural appendages is not an attribute of the terrier proper, any more than are the hound markings. I am inclined to believe that if ever there was an original terrier he had semi-erect ears, which, standing quite upright at times, were, when their owner came to be at work, thrown back into the hair of the neck, which for purposes of protection Nature provided stronger and more profuse there than on any other part of the body. To a great extent fancy has outdone Nature in this respect, and few of the terriers seen winning on the benches now have that strong, muscular, hair-protected neck required for thorough workers. Neatness and quality are sought. In nine cases out of ten where a dog show man possesses a fox terrier with a greater profusion of hair on the neck than elsewhere on the body, it would be taken off in order that a neatness and cleanness there would better attract the eye of the judge.
The popularity of the fox terrier commenced to make itself apparent some thirty years or so ago, and during the decade which immediately followed that date its progress in the estimation of the people was phenomenal. Those days are still spoken of as the "good old times," and so long as a dog was white, with a patch of black or brown or tan on him - even brindle was not then considered disqualification - weighed anything between 11 lb. and 3olb., and had his tail docked, he was called a fox terrier, and sold as such. He had a pedigree made for the occasion perhaps. And if his ears were too big, they could be sliced down, as they sometimes were, and if they stood up erect instead of dropping, they could be cut underneath, and often were, and made to hang in the orthodox fashion.
The British public had not then learned to distinguish between one dog and another, long heads, straight legs, round feet, and other important essentials were considered secondary considerations when placed against an evenly-marked "black and tan" head - "tortoiseshell headed" a clerical friend called my little terrier, and he thought he had made a good joke, too. With the multitude came, for once at least, wisdom; the youngsters studied from their elders, hob-nobbed with fanciers, and so by degrees obtained an inkling as to the requirement and appearance of a perfect terrier, or one as nearly perfect as possible. Any kind of rubbish almost could have been palmed off as the genuine article twenty-five years since; but a difference prevails now.
Go to a dog show to-morrow, and eighteen out of every twenty persons you meet (ladies of course excepted) will argue with you as to the relative merits of this dog and about the defects of that one. They wonder at your presumption, perhaps, as you give your opinion against theirs; why, they will even talk to the judge himself, and tell him where he has done wrong, and how that terrier ought to have won and the actual winner only been placed third. Further inquiry might elicit the fact that the person so laying down the law was an interested party, and had shown a dog (in the same class as that in which he was criticising the awards) as long on the legs and as defective in ribs and loins as a whippet, and was highly indignant that it had not won the cup.
I have known a man to judge fox terriers who had never bred one in his life, had never seen a fox in front of hounds, had never seen a terrier go to ground, had never seen either otter, weasel, or foul-mart outside the glass case in which they rested on the wall in a bar parlour, and had not even seen a terrier chase a rabbit. His slight experience of working a terrier had been obtained at a surreptitious badger bait in the stable of a beerhouse, and a violent attack on a dozen mangy rats by a mongrel terrier in an improvised pit in the bedroom of the landlord of the same hostel. However, such things are not so now, and the popularity of the fox terrier is as great as ever it was.
As I have said, a commencement of the extraordinarily popular career of the modern fox terrier was made thirty years ago. At that time few dog shows had been held, the first one of all, in 1859 at Newcastle-on-Tyne. Needless is it to say that there was no class for fox terriers then, nor was there at Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester, following in successive years. Of course in the variety class for terriers, a few that had run with hounds were entered, but the first division ever arranged in which they were to compete only with their own variety was instituted at the North of England second exhibition of sporting and other dogs, held in Islington Agricultural Hall, June, 1862. Here a class for fox terriers headed the catalogue; there were twenty entries, and the winner of the first prize was Trimmer, a dog without pedigree, and shown by the late Mr. Harvey Bayly, then of Ickwell House, Biggleswade, later master of the Rufford. If we mistake not, this was a coarsish-looking, workmanlike dog, hound tan and black marked, whose strain was that of the Oakley terriers, the kennels of which were not far away from Mr. Bayly's residence.
In 1862, when what is now the Birmingham National Exhibition was held at the Old Wharf in Broad-street, there was a class for "White and Other Smooth-haired English Terriers, except Black and Tan." Several fox terriers were exhibited, and out of a class of dogs containing twenty-four entries, all the prizes went to the then so-called new variety; the leading honour being taken by Jock, exhibited by Mr. Thomas Wootton, of Nottingham, Mr. Bayly being second with Trap, whilst Mr. Stevenson (Chester) was third with Jack. In bitches, Mr. Wootton was second with Venom, and a Mrs. Mawes first, with a white bitch called Pepper, that afterwards went to Lieutenant-Colonel Clowes, of Worcester.
Here, then, did the fox terriers first attract public attention, and so much was this the case that the following year, viz., 1863, the Birmingham Committee had provided two classes for them, though a similar thing had been done at two shows held in London in March and May, also in 1863.