Reposted from February 2005
Border terriers owners go to extraordinary lengths to claim that their dogs are an ancient breed, despite all evidence to the contrary -- they point to indistinct dogs tucked into the corners of oil paintings, and talk of everyone from Caius to Walter Scott.
In fact, there is little evidence to suggest the Border Terrier existed before the start of the Kennel Club era which began in the 1860s, and it was not until 1920 that the border terrier made it into the formal Kennel Club roles in the U.K. -- a late entry due to the fact that, up until then, it was not very distinct from the non-pedigree fell terrier which had previously been incorporated into the Kennel Club as the "Welsh Terrier" after an attempt to claim it as an "English Black and Tan Terrier" failed. See here for more on this tale.
One of the more bizarre examples of reaching for history can be seen on pages four and five of Walter Gardner's book "About the Border Terrier." This book is notable -- as are all border terrier books -- for not having a single picture of a border terrier working a fox.
Gardner does, however, devote two full pages to two pictures of "The Old" and "The New." The picture on the left ["The Old (1879)"] shows "The Dandie Dinmont 'Doctor' with Dr. Hemmings' Bedlington Terrier 'Geordie'" The picture on the right ["The New (1973)"] shows "John Jardine of Dandie Dinmont Fame with one of his terriers and Miss M. Edgar with her Border Terrier."
The Old and the New? What? The dogs being compared are not even the same breed!
What is amazing here is the suggestion that the Border Terrier is nothing more than an 1879 Bedlington. This is patent nonsense.
The origins of the border terrier are not complex or deeply hidden -- they are a type of modified fell terrier -- a breed with which they are routinely crossed in working circles to this day.
- Related Links:
** Old Border Picture
** The Thin Portfolio of the Working Border Terrier
** Reality Comes to the Rally
** A Brief History of the Patterdale Terrier
** Joe Bowman's Patterdale
** A Bit More on the Border-Patterdale Connection
** These Are The Good Old Days