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Boston Terrier Type And The Standard

The standard adopted by the Boston Terrier Club in 1900 was the result of

earnest, sincere, thoughtful deliberations of as conservative and

conscientious a body of men as could anywhere be gotten together. Nothing

was done in haste, the utmost consideration was given to every detail, and

it was a thoroughly matured, and practically infallible guide to the

general character and type of the breed by men who were genuine lovers of
the dog for its own sake, who were perfectly familiar with the breed from

its start, and who were cognizant of every point and characteristic which

differentiated him from the bulldog on the one side and the bull terrier

on the other, and while admitting the just claims of every other breed,

believed sincerely that the dog evolved under their fostering care was the

peer, if not the superior, of all in the particular sphere for which he

was designed, an all-round house dog and companion. In the writer's

estimation this type of dog, for the particular position in life, so to

speak, he is to occupy, could not in any way be improved, and the mental

qualities that accompany the physical characteristics (which are

particularly specified in the first chapter) are of such inestimable value

that any possible change would be detrimental. It may be observed that it

was the dogs of this type that have led the van everywhere in the days

when he was practically unknown outside of the state in which he

originated. Monte, Druid Vixon, Bonnie, Revilo Peach, and dogs of

their conformation possessed a type of interesting individuality that

blazed the way east, west, north and south. Does any one imagine that the

so-called terrier type one so often hears of, and which a large number of

people are apparently led today to believe to be par excellence, the

correct thing, would have been capable of so doing? No one realizes more

fully than the writer the fact that the bully type can be carried too far,

and great harm will inevitably ensue, but the swing of the pendulum to the

exaggerated terrier type will in time, I firmly believe, ring in his death

knell. It is a source of wonderment to me that numbers of men who don the

ermine can distribute prizes to the weedy specimens, shallow in muzzle,

light in bone and substance, long in body, head and tail, who adorn (?)

the shows of the past few years. I am not a prophet, neither the son of

one, but I will hazard my reputation in predicting that before many years

have rolled, a type, approximating that authorized by the Boston Terrier

Club in 1900 will prevail, and the friends of the dog will undoubtedly

believe it to be good enough to last for all time.

It will readily be recalled that Lord Byron said of the eminent actor,

Sheridan, that nature broke the die in moulding one such man, and the

same may be affirmed with equal truth of the Boston terrier, and he will

ever remain a type superior to and differ from all other breeds in his

particular sphere.

It may not be generally known by those who are insisting on a much more

terrier conformation than the standard calls for, that an equally extreme

desire for an exaggerated bull type prevailed a number of years ago

amongst some of the dogs' warmest supporters, whose ideal was that

practically of a miniature bulldog, without the pronounced contour of the

same. I remember when I joined the Club in the early days that some of the

members then were afraid that the dogs were approximating too much to the

terrier side of the house. What their views today would be I leave the

reader to imagine. The plain fact of the case is, the dog should be a

happy medium between the two, the bull and the terrier. Can any

intelligent man find a chance for improvement here? I admit that many

people are so constituted that a change is necessary in practically

everything they are brought into close contact with. But is a change

necessarily an improvement? If some men could change the color of their

eyes or the general contour of their features they would never rest

satisfied until they had so done, but they would speedily find out that

such a change would be very detrimental to their appearance, the harmony

of features and correlation of one part to another would be distorted. I

admit readily that one very important result would be obtained, viz., the

dog of the pronounced terrier type could be bred much more easily. But is

an easy production a desideratum? I certainly think not. To those who

must be doing something and who find a certain sense of satisfaction in

tinkering with the standard, we extend our pity, and state that experience

is a hard school, but some people will learn in no other. To those of us

who love the dog as he is, and who believe in letting well enough alone,

we admit we might as well suggest to improve the majestic proportions of

the old world cathedrals and castles we all love so much to see, or

advocate the lightening up of the shadows on the canvas of the old

masters, or recommend the touching up of the immortal carvings of the

Italian sculptors. We advise the preacher to stick to his text, and the

shoemaker to his last, and to all those who would improve the standard we

say: Hands off! One very important feature in connection with the Standard

is, that while breeders and judges are perfectly willing to have all dogs

that come in the heavyweight class conform practically to it, when the

lightweights and toys are concerned, a somewhat different type is

permitted and the so-called terrier type is allowed, hence we see a

tendency with the smaller dogs to a narrower chest, longer face and tail.

While personally I am in favor of a dog weighing from sixteen to twenty

pounds, or even somewhat heavier, there is absolutely no reason why one

should not have any sized dog one desires, but please observe, do not

breed small dogs at the expense of the type. Let the ten or twelve pound

dog conform to the standard as much as if it weighed twenty. I think an

object lesson will be of inestimable value here. Every one who has visited

the poultry shows of the past few years must have been delighted and

impressed to see the beautiful varieties of bantams. Take the games, for

example, with their magnificent plumage and sprightly bearing. On even a

casual examination it will be discovered that these little fowls are an

exact reproduction of the game fowl in miniature. The same identical

proportions, symmetry and shape. Take the lordly Brahma and the bantam

bearing the same name, and the same exact proportions prevail. And so it

should be with the small Boston terrier. They should possess the same

proportions and symmetry as the larger. Remember always that when the dog

is bred too much away from the bulldog type, a great loss in the loving

disposition of the dog is bound to ensue. Personally, if the type had to

be changed, I would rather lean to the bull type than the terrier. The

following testimony of a Boston banker and director of the Union Pacific

Railroad, to whom I sold two large dogs that were decidedly on the bull

type, may be of interest at this point. Speaking of the first dog he said:

I have had all kinds of dogs, but I get more genuine pleasure out of my

Boston terrier than all my other dogs combined. When I reach home in the

afternoon I am met at the gate by Prince, and when I sit down to read my

paper or a book the dog is at my feet on the rug, staying there perfectly

still as long as I do. When dinner is announced he goes with me to the

dining room, takes his place by my side, and every little while licks my

hands, and when I go out for my usual walk before retiring the dog is

waiting for me at the door while I put my hat and coat on. He follows me,

never running away or barking, and he sleeps on a mat outside my door at

night, and I never worry about burglars. All this is very simple and

commonplace, but it shows why this type of a dog is liked. In regard to

the differences of opinion that different judges exhibit when passing upon

a dog in the show room, one preferring one type of a dog and the other

another, this, of course, is morally wrong. The standard requirements

should govern, and not individual preferences. We hear a good deal said

nowadays about the cleaning up of the head, and the so-called terrier

finish. That seems to be the thing to do, but does not the standard call

for a compactly built dog, finished in every part of his make-up, and

possessing style and a graceful carriage? This being the case, a dog

should not possess wrinkled, loose skin on head or neck, and the shoulders

should be neat and trim. In a word, in comporting to the standard a dog is

produced that possesses a harmonious whole, a thing of beauty and a joy

as long as he lives. In short, the dog should be as far removed from the

bull type as he is from the terrier. If the present judges can not see

their way clear to follow the standard, why, appoint those that will, for

as every fair minded man agrees, the dogs should follow the standard and

not the standard follow the dogs. It is needless to add that I do not

share in the pessimistic view taken by many lovers of the dog who think he

will be permanently injured by the differences of opinion that prevail as

to the type, etc., and the personalities that sometimes mar the showing of

the dog, for I am of the same opinion as was probably felt by the great

fish who had to give up Jonah, that it is an impossible feat to keep a

good man (or dog) down, and that instead of falling off, as one writer

intimates, he will fall into the good graces of a larger number of people

than has heretofore fallen to the lot of any variety of man's best friend.