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.
We have thus quite four diverse opinions, let alone two or three more which emanated from the decisions of modern show bench judges who had awarded prizes to narrow-chested, flat-ribbed abortions, soft in coat, and minus all character, animals certainly dear at one-fourth the sum that has been paid as their entry fees. "We must encourage the breed," said one judge, in reply to my strictures for his award of a prize to such a creature. "Right enough," replied I; "but you encourage no breed when you award a prize to a mongrel like that." Nor did he, although the specimen in question was shown from the kennels of a well-known member of the Welsh Terrier Club.
Failing, then, to obtain much uniformity of opinion orally, I had recourse to letter-writing, and from Wales, the northern portion thereof, where these terriers find most favour, in due course my reply came. Certainly it was altogether in favour of the identity and purity of the breed, and, being from an ardent admirer of the type, and one who knows what that type is, the opinion expressed must be of that value I take it to be. Twenty years ago my informant possessed "two rare, nice terriers of the type shown now. Common enough then, they were generally used in the country for the ordinary terrier purposes. At Dolgelly a strain had been kept in the family of Mr. J. G. Williams for three generations. Mr. Griffith Williams, Trefeilar; Mr. Owen, Ymwlch; and Mr. Edwards, Nanhorn Hall, Pwllheli, had all owned Welsh terriers for fifty or sixty years; and Mr. Jones, of Ynysfor also, the latter gentleman never being without a few couples running with his scratch pack of hounds upon and about the wild, rough country surrounding Beddgelert. Again, the late Mr. J. Rumsey Williams, of Carnarvon, was an ardent admirer of this variety, and several of the earlier strains which have won show bench prizes can be traced from his stock - Mr. Dew's Topsy, Mr. J. E. Jones's Tansy, and Mr. C. W. Roberts's Welsh Dick being the most notable examples." Leaving North Wales and going southwards, the same correspondent says that Welsh terriers have been known there for one hundred and fifty years in connection with the Glansevin Hunt, and likewise with the Abererch Hunt for almost as long a period. Now all these dogs, of somewhat different strains, were produced of similar type. Some were larger than others, some shorter and thicker in head, nor were they all identical in build and height from the ground; still, a similarity in appearance ran throughout, which plainly betokened a common origin.
In addition to this practical argument in favour of the Welshness of these terriers, classes were first made for them at Welsh shows, the one held at Carnarvon in July, 1885, I believe, being the earliest of all; but it was at Bangor, in the following August, that the meeting took place which inaugurated the club, following a suggestion made by a correspondent in the columns of the Field some short time earlier.
Returning for a moment to the various animals exhibited as Welsh terriers, it is remarkable that by far the three best dogs up to a certain date were English-bred ones, and of English extraction, and two of them came from the district of South Durham and North Yorkshire. The latter were the Welsher, first shown by Mr. A. Maxwell, Croft, near Darlington, and the puppy Mawdwy Nonsuch, purchased from the same gentleman at an enormous price by Mr. E. W. Buckley, who for a long time showed an unbeaten certificate. The third was the well-known terrier General Contour, whose pedigree is unknown, but he is credited with being an Englishman so far as blood is concerned.
Another good dog about that time was little Bob Bethesda, a true Welshman, and such dogs as Lieut.-Col. Savage, Mr. W. S. Glynn, Mr. W. J. M. Herbert, and other exhibitors now show, are for the most part "pure Welsh;" at any rate for some few generations back.
A fairly, and not more than fairly, distinguishing type has been produced, of which Mr. J. H. Harrowing's Brynhir Joe, his sister, Dolly; Mr. W. Hasseirs Nan; Mr. W. S. Glynn's Dim Saesonaeg; Mr. W. J. M. Herbert's Cymro Dewr II.; Miss Parker's Mona Fach and Lady Cymraeg; Mr. Roberts' Lady Ceredwen, and Lieut.-Col. Savage's Sir Launcelot are perhaps about the best that are being shown at the present day. But I am sadly afraid if one went very carefully into the pedigrees of some of the Welsh terriers entered as such, one would find little Welsh about them beyond their names. Just now there are many energetic admirers of the Welsh terrier, including Miss Parker, Mr. Rother-ham Cecil, Mr. W. B. Davenport, Mr. W. C. Roberts, Mr. F. Bouch, Mr. W. J. M. Herbert, Mr. M. T.
Morris, Mr. W. S. Glynn, Mr. R. Hartley, and others, who as a rule are strong supporters of the club.
I think that the introducers of the Welsh terrier as a variety of its own claimed a little too much for their speciality, and in the Field of Aug. 15, 1885, there is an account of how they can hunt the otter and kill it too. I have seen an ordinary smooth-coated fox terrier, which had been kennelled with hounds, speak on the drag of an otter; but that a terrier, even a Welsh one, can pick up a cold scent by the riverside in early morning and hunt it out from pebble to pebble and rock to rock, now this side the river and now on that, until the otter is marked in some hover in the bank, I must see before I can believe. And when the otter is found and swum, and killed by a dozen little terriers with weak jaws, without the aid of the poles and spears and staves of the hunters, a climax is reached which ought to make the Welsh terriers, that are said to do so, the most popular breed of modern times. But no terrier can do this, nor will anyone who has seen otter hunting with hounds, and knows what punishment the otter can take and give, believe it of any small dog. Indeed, nature never intended them for such work. That the Welsh terrier is a game, plucky terrier, smart and active on land, at home in the water, and free and kind in his disposition, I have no manner of doubt. His blood, too, may be of the bluest. Unfortunately, until lately, he has been neglected and overlooked. A pedigree for over a hundred years is good enough for any dog, and such, I am told, some of our Welsh friends are supposed to have. This, with the varied accomplishments he possesses, and his sprightly presence, should enable him to sustain the position in public favour he has so quickly reached.
I have no doubt that the so-called Welsh terrier will retain his popularity, because he is a nice little dog of a handy size, and, having usually been reared out of kennels, that is, brought up in the house, is affectionate, kindly, and desirable as a companion, nor is he fond of fighting, and his colour is pleasing. Judges, however, should not lay too much stress upon the rich tan and deep black to the sacrifice of more useful qualities. It is in the matter of colour in dogs where trouble has been caused, and an easy path laid for dishonest practices. I am certain that had not so much been thought of the blue colour in the Bedlington terrier, he would have been a more popular dog to-day, the same with the black and tan English terrier likewise. Colour was required in both, and when nature did not give it, such was produced artificially. Now that the Welshman is well established, let his admirers keep to one type and one type alone. Discountenance all trimming and plucking; show your dog naturally and he will be far better than when trimmed, and plucked, and singed, and dyed. To prove how he has prospered I need only draw attention to the Stud Book, where in 1886 there were but half a dozen entries registered, in 1893 there are fifty-one, and signs are not wanting that the latter number will be increased in the near future.