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.
My favourite author then proceeds to write of their use in taking his master quickly up to a wounded deer, but, irrespective of the latter, no one can say that St. John's description does not altogether tally with that of the Scotch terrier. It is nearly twenty years since the late Captain Mackie gave me a small, semi-prick eared dog he had got from the north of Scotland, from which the above description might have been taken. It ran at times on three legs, was slow to be the aggressor, but was a terrible punisher for a fourteen pound dog when he did start; and he, too, was at times shy and reserved, and would eat grouse and pigeon as freely as he would any butchers' meat.
Long before I owned this dog a friend of mine had a similar one sent out of Caithness-shire, which was called a "Skye terrier," but again he turned out to be just a Scottish little fellow, short on the legs, hard in coat, and as game as possible. Both these were brown brindles in colour, which I fancy were at that time more plentiful than the black brindles or almost black dogs, oftener seen on the show bench to-day.
It was about the year 1874 that a newspaper controversy brought the Scottish terrier prominently before the public, and the Crystal Palace shows and the one at Brighton the following year, viz., in 1876, provided classes for them, which, however, failed to fill. Then there came a lull, a club was formed, and in 1879 Mr. J. B. Morrison, of Greenock, was invited to the Alexandra Palace show to judge the Scotch terriers in a class which had been provided for them. A few months later divisions were given them at the Dundee show, when the winner, though a pure "Scottie," was called a Skye terrier, and came from that island. Birmingham provided a class in 1881, and with an incompetent judge the prizes were withheld, though such men as the late Captain Mackie, Mr. Ludlow, and Mr. J. A. Adamson were exhibitors. The Curzon Hall show appears to have been rather unfortunate in this sort of thing, for previously the leading prize in wire-haired fox terriers was withheld when there was as good a specimen of the variety as we ever saw on the bench or in the ring at any time. However, another year things went better with the Scottish terriers, as in 1883 Messrs. Ludlow and Blomfield, of Norwich, to whom much of the credit for the popularisation of the breed is due, again made entries and won chief honours with their little dogs Rambler and Bitters. Two years later Captain Mackie was the most successful competitor, securing the leading prizes with his historical Dundee and his lovely little bitch Glengogo, and so we are brought right down to the present time.
Much has been written of the various strains of the Scottish terrier, but such are of little account, as, although they were kept by many of the Highland sportsmen on their estates, and used for hunting purposes and for killing vermin, all had sprung from a common origin. They had not sufficiently distinguishing features from each other to merit a separation, though every laird said his own breed was the best and the only one to be found in its original purity. However, be this as it may, there is no doubt in my mind that this terrier had inhabited Scotland long before modern writers told us what they knew about dogs, and that all the stories about the Skye terriers being in reality a half - bred poodle or Maltese, made so by one of the breed washed up from a shipwrecked vessel on the coast of Skye, is all nonsense - a traveller's tale and no more. The so-called Aberdeen terrier is the Scottish terrier pure and simple, and the Poltalloch terrier, mentioned in "Dogs of Scotland," is a yellowish white variety kept by the Malcolms at Poltalloch, in Argyllshire, where the strain is carefully preserved. These terriers only differ in colour from the ordinary Scottish terrier. A white puppy occasionally appears in a litter of the latter as it does sometimes in deer-hounds Of course, if these white puppies were reared and bred from, a strain of that colour would eventually be perpetuated, and probably this has been the case in the first instance at Poltalloch. Some years ago Mr. Thomson Gray procured a white bitch of pure pedigree for Captain Keene, a well-known member of the Kennel Club. I have a portrait of her by me now, and she is certainly a Scottish terrier in every particular, and a great favourite with her owner, who entered her in the "Stud Book" as White Heather. From her, Captain Keene has had three litters to ordinary coloured dogs of the breed, but not one of the puppies has yet taken after their dam, all of them, strangely enough, being either black or very dark brindle.
It is a somewhat remarkable fact that this white Scottish terrier is occasionally produced in the ordinary course from dark coloured parents; the Scottish deerhound likewise, but not frequently, throws a similar puppy in the same way, and Mr. J. Pratt has been successful in breeding two or three Skye terriers pretty nearly pure white. In alluding to these off coloured specimens one must not forget that fawn or sandy Scottish terriers are by no means infrequent, and two or three years ago Mr. A. Maxwell, of Croft, near Darlington, won several prizes with a dog of this colour, and a very good specimen of his race too. We all know that the fawn colour in deerhounds and in Skye terriers, although not so prevalent as once was the case, is still by no means uncommon.
The allusion to the Poltalloch terrier in the "Dogs of Scotland" elicited the following communication from Col. Malcolm, R.E., to the author of the work in question: "The Poltalloch terriers still exist in the Poltalloch Kennels, and I hope that your recognition of them may make it more possible to keep them up. They are not invariably white, but run between creamy white and sandy. A good one at his best looks like a handsome deerhound, reduced in some marvellous way. They are gameness itself, and terrible poachers. They love above all things to get away with a young retriever, and ruin him for ever, teaching him everything he ought not to know. As for wisdom, make one your friend and he will know everything and do it. I have known one whose usual amusement was rat-killing, and who had never retrieved, go into a hole in tender ice and bring out a wild duck, because, I suppose, he thought it a shame to waste it when his master had shot it. This chap had a great friend, a mastiff bitch, and he used to swim along water-rat infested streams, and she applying her nose to the landward hole would snort a rat out of his wits into the water, and into the terrier's jaws, who, silently swimming, was keeping pace with his friend. They are said in the kennels to have a trick of suddenly turning upon one of their number and putting it to death, and when they do this they leave but little mark of their work, as they eat their victim. They are kept for work - fox and otter hunting. They have consequently to be kept small, and without the power which seems to be of such value on the show bench. This could easily be got by feeding up, but then the dogs would be of no use in the fox cairns. As it is, they often push in between rocks they cannot escape from, and so the best get lost".