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The Bull-terrier

The Bull-terrier is now a gentlemanly and respectably owned dog,

wearing an immaculate white coat and a burnished silver collar; he

has dealings with aristocracy, and is no longer contemned for keeping

bad company. But a generation or two ago he was commonly the associate

of rogues and vagabonds, skulking at the heels of such members of

society as Mr. William Sikes, whom he accompanied at night on darksome

business to
eep watch outside while Bill was within, cracking the

crib. In those days the dog's ears were closely cropped, not for the

sake of embellishment, but as a measure of protection against the

fangs of his opponent in the pit when money was laid upon the result

of a well-fought fight to the death. For fighting was the acknowledged

vocation of his order, and he was bred and trained to the work. He

knew something of rats, too, and many of his kind were famed in the

land for their prowess in this direction. Jimmy Shaw's Jacko could

finish off sixty rats in three minutes, and on one occasion made a

record by killing a thousand in a trifle over an hour and a half.

The breed is sufficiently modern to leave no doubt as to its

derivation. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century attention

was being directed to the improvement of terriers generally, and new

types were sought for. They were alert, agile little dogs, excellent

for work in the country; but the extravagant Corinthians of the

time--the young gamesters who patronised the prize-ring and the

cock-pit--desired to have a dog who should do something more than kill

rats, or unearth the fox, or bolt the otter: which accomplishments

afforded no amusement to the Town. They wanted a dog combining all

the dash and gameness of the terrier with the heart and courage and

fighting instinct of the Bulldog. Wherefore the terrier and the

Bulldog were crossed. A large type of terrier was chosen, and this

would be the smooth-coated Black and Tan, or the early English White

Terrier; but probably both were used indifferently, and for a

considerable period. The result gave the young bucks what they

required: a dog that was at once a determined vermin killer and an

intrepid fighter, upon whose skill in the pit wagers might with

confidence be laid.

The animal, however, was neither a true terrier nor a true Bulldog,

but an uncompromising mongrel; albeit he served his immediate purpose,

and was highly valued for his pertinacity, if not for his appearance.

In 1806 Lord Camelford possessed one for which he had paid the very

high price of eighty-four guineas, and which he presented to Belcher,

the pugilist. This dog was figured in The Sporting Magazine of the

time. He was a short-legged, thick-set, fawn-coloured specimen, with

closely amputated ears, a broad blunt muzzle, and a considerable

lay-back; and this was the kind of dog which continued for many years

to be known as the Bull-and-terrier. He was essentially a man's dog,

and was vastly in favour among the undergraduates of Oxford and


Gradually the Bulldog element, at first pronounced, was reduced to

something like a fourth degree, and, with the terrier character

predominating, the head was sharpened, the limbs were lengthened and

straightened until little remained of the Bulldog strain but the

dauntless heart and the fearless fighting spirit, together with the

frequent reversion to brindle colouring, which was the last outward

and visible characteristic to disappear.

Within the remembrance of men not yet old the Bull-terrier was as

much marked with fawn, brindle, or even black, as are the Fox-terriers

of our own period. But fifty years or so ago white was becoming

frequent, and was much admired. A strain of pure white was bred by

James Hinks, a well-known dog-dealer of Birmingham, and it is no doubt

to Hinks that we are indebted for the elegant Bull-terrier of the

type that we know to-day. These Birmingham dogs showed a refinement

and grace and an absence of the crook-legs and coloured patches which

betrayed that Hinks had been using an out-cross with the English White

Terrier, thus getting away further still from the Bulldog.

With the advent of the Hinks strain in 1862 the short-faced dog fell

into disrepute, and pure white became the accepted colour. There was

a wide latitude in the matter of weight. If all other points were

good, a dog might weigh anything between 10 and 38 lbs., but classes

were usually divided for those above and those below 16 lb. The type

became fixed, and it was ruled that the perfect Bull-terrier must

have a long head, wide between the ears, level jaws, a small black

eye, a large black nose, a long neck, straight fore-legs, a small

hare foot, a narrow chest, deep brisket, powerful loin, long body,

a tail set and carried low, a fine coat, and small ears well hung

and dropping forward.

Idstone, who wrote this description in 1872, earnestly insisted that

the ears of all dogs should be left uncut and as Nature made them;

but for twenty years thereafter the ears of the Bull-terrier continued

to be cropped to a thin, erect point. The practice of cropping, it

is true, was even then illegal and punishable by law, but, although

there were occasional convictions under the Cruelty to Animals Act,

the dog owners who admired the alertness and perkiness of the cut

ear ignored the risk they ran, and it was not until the Kennel Club

took resolute action against the practice that cropping was entirely


The president of the Kennel Club, Mr. S. E. Shirley, M. P., had

himself been a prominent owner and breeder of the Bull-terrier. His

Nelson, bred by Joe Willock, was celebrated as an excellent example

of the small-sized terrier, at a time, however, when there were not

a great many competitors of the highest quality. His Dick, also, was

a remarkably good dog. Earlier specimens which have left their names

in the history of the breed were Hinks's Old Dutch, who was, perhaps,

even a more perfect terrier than the same breeder's Madman and Puss.

Lancashire and Yorkshire have always been noted for good

Bull-terriers, and the best of the breed have usually been produced

in the neighbourhoods of Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Bolton, and

Liverpool, while Birmingham also shared in the reputation. At one

time Londoners gave careful attention to the breed, stimulated thereto

by the encouragement of Mr. Shirley and the success of Alfred George.

Of recent years the Bull-terrier has not been a great favourite, and

it has sadly deteriorated in type; but there are signs that the

variety is again coming into repute, and within the past two years

many admirable specimens--as nearly perfect, perhaps, as many that

won honour in former generations--have been brought into prominence.

Among dogs, for example, there are Mr. E. T. Pimm's Sweet Lavender,

Dr. M. Amsler's MacGregor, Mr. Chris Houlker's His Highness, and Mr.

J. Haynes' Bloomsbury Young King. Among bitches there are Mrs.

Kipping's Delphinium Wild and Desdemona, Mr. Hornby's Lady Sweetheart,

Mr. W. Mayor's Mill Girl, Mr. T. Gannaway's Charlwood Belle, Dr. J. W.

Low's Bess of Hardwicke, and Mrs. E. G. Money's Eastbourne Tarqueenia.

While these and such as these beautiful and typical terriers are being

bred and exhibited there is no cause to fear a further decline in

popularity for a variety so eminently engaging.

The club description is as follows:--

* * * * *

GENERAL APPEARANCE--The general appearance of the Bull-terrier is

that of a symmetrical animal, the embodiment of agility, grace,

elegance, and determination. HEAD--The head should be long, flat,

and wide between the ears, tapering to the nose, without cheek

muscles. There should be a slight indentation down the face, without

a stop between the eyes. The jaws should be long and very powerful,

with a large black nose and open nostrils. Eyes small and very black,

almond shape preferred. The lips should meet as tightly as possible,

without a fold. The teeth should be regular in shape, and should meet

exactly; any deviation, such as pigjaw, or being underhung, is a great

fault. EARS--The ears, when cropped, should be done scientifically

and according to fashion. Cropped dogs cannot win a prize at shows

held under Kennel Club rules, if born after March 31st, 1895. When

not cropped, it should be a semi-erect ear, but others do not

disqualify. NECK--The neck should be long and slightly arched, nicely

set into the shoulders tapering to the head without any loose skin,

as found in the Bulldog. SHOULDERS--The shoulders should be strong,

muscular, and slanting; the chest wide and deep, with ribs well

rounded. BACK--The back short and muscular, but not out of proportion

to the general contour of the animal. LEGS--The fore-legs should be

perfectly straight, with well-developed muscles; not out at shoulder,

but set on the racing lines, and very strong at the pastern joints.

The hind-legs are long and, in proportion to the fore-legs, muscular,

with good strong, straight hocks, well let down near the ground.

FEET--The feet more resemble those of a cat than a hare.

COLOUR--Should be white. COAT--Short, close, and stiff to the touch,

with a fine gloss. TAIL--Short in proportion to the size of the dog,

set on very low down, thick where it joins the body, and tapering

to a fine point. It should be carried at an angle of about 45 degrees,

without curl, and never over the back. HEIGHT AT SHOULDERS--From 12

to 18 inches. WEIGHT--From 15 lb. to 50 lb.