Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes
The terriers, as their name suggests, go to the earth (la tcrre) for their prey—dogs primarily intended to unearth foxes, badgers, rabbits, rats, and other comparatively small animals which seek refuge in burrows in the ground.
"Ay. see the hounds with frantic zeal
The roots and earth uptear;
But the earth is strong and the roots are long,
They cannot enter there.
Outspeaks the Squire, 'Give room, I pray.
And hie the terriers in;
The warriors of the fight are they,
And every fight they win.' "
Though dogs of this general character have been used perhaps for a thousand years, little attention was given to classification until comparatively recent times. For example, the modern fox terrier is a very definite breed, but in the middle of last century almost any dog of terrier size and build, with the strength and courage to go into a burrow and pull out or "bolt" a fox, was a fox terrier. Many other dogs were as loosely defined.
Most of the terrier breeds we see today have been developed within a hundred years, and a good many of them within fifty. And this is not surprising when we consider that the first dog show under modern conditions was held in England only sixty years ago, that the first trial of dogs in the field was held six years later, and that in spite of the fact that dog shows at once became popular, it was not until fourteen years after the first show that there was any organization having authority to regulate such exhibitions.
With two or three notable exceptions, terriers are rather small dogs, and generally speaking are bright, active, vivacious little rascals, full of fun and mischief and with courage out of all proportion to their size.
Almost all of them make good companions and are ready to "do their bit" when rats and other vermin begin to make themselves obnoxious.
They are sometimes divided into three groups, as follows: (i) Smooth-coated:— black-and-tan or Manchester terrier, bull terrier, Boston terrier, smooth fox terrier, Dobermann Pinscher; (2) broken-haired:—wirehaired fox terrier, Airedale, Bedlington, Irish, Welsh. Scottish, West Highland white; (3) long-haired :—Skye and Yorkshire. There are others, but these are the ones most commonly seen in this country.
The white English terrier, one of the older breeds, has seldom been seen in America and seems to have almost died out even in England. No doubt it played its part in helping to establish some of the more modern varieties.
The bull terrier, formerly known as bull and terrier, is probably one of these, the cross with the bulldog giving the size, strength, and courage necessary to make the great fighting dog developed by the English gamesters in the early half of last century.
The old wire-haired black-and-tan terrier also probably contributed to the making of this dog, which as a canine fighting machine has never been equaled. Literally, he would sooner fight than eat, and no matter how brutal and degrading dog-fighting may be, we cannot but admire in a dog, as we do in a man, those qualities which enable him to bear without whimpering the severest punishment and physical pain, sometimes for hours, and finally die in the pit rather than save himself by showing "the yellow streak."
Fortunately the "sport" has long been prohibited by law, and practically died out in England fifty years ago. Though illegal in this country, it still flourishes among certain classes and in certain sections, and pit-hull terriers have been exhibited at a big bench show in Ohio within a very few years.Most of these dogs were brindle and white in various proportions and had much shorter faces than the now thoroughly respectable and gentlemanly white bull terrier so well known to us all and so skillfully depicted in Richard Harding Davis' "The Bar Sinister"—one of the best dog stories ever written.
The bull terrier is a very strong, active, tenacious dog, and some supporters even claim great intelligence for him.
The accepted type is pure white with a black nose. He is a very symmetrical dog, splendidly muscled, with very straight legs and sturdy sloping shoulders, rather short, compact body, and a long, even muzzle, with heavy jaw muscles. He is built to fight other dogs, and nothing has been sacrificed, as with the bulldog, that will help him in the combat. They fight without a sound, whatever their punishment.
The small, oblique, triangular eye, coupled with the pink showing through the fine hair of face and muzzle, give even the best bull terrier a somewhat piggy look. But aside from this he is a handsome, active, and sturdy dog, free from nonsense, and with a good dependable disposition, although his capable shoulder seems to carry an invisible but easily dislodged chip on it. Other dogs, whatever their size, have no terrors for him.
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