Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Brief History of the Patterdale Terrier

It’s amazing how mixed up and convoluted a breed history can become, and even more amazing that it can be confounded so quickly.

Consider, for example, the Patterdale.

First, there is the question of whether it is a breed at all, or simply a black smooth-coated Fell Terrier.

If one wants to argue that a Patterdale is simply a smooth coated black Fell Terrier, that’s fine. We could also say that a Jack Russell is a white Fell Terrier, couldn’t we? In any case, people who know Patterdales know one when they see one. Is there any other meaningful definition of a terrier breed ?

The use of the Patterdale name for a type of terrier goes back to at least the 1930s. Jocelyn Lucas notes that the United Hunt said it preferred to use Lakeland Terriers and “Patterdales from J. Boroman’s strain at the Ullswater Kennels”.

The characteristics of these 1930s Patterdales is not known, but it is worth noting that the Ullswater Kennels were famous for Border Terriers and the Patterdale breed, as we know it today, first sprang up in the 1950s in the breeding program of Cyril Breay who had been a Border Terrier breeder.

While the 1930s Patterdales are reported to have been shaggy black Fells, Breay’s early dogs are described as slape-coated black-ticked dogs with massive heads. Could these “Patterdale Terriers” have been genetic sports descended from a “blue and tan” Border Terrier? We will never know, as Cyril Breay kept no records, though he swore there was no Bull Terrier in his dogs.

Breay was a slight man and did not work his dogs himself, leaving that part of the job to his friend Frank Buck. Buck’s own line of dogs were descended from the Ullswater terriers kept by Joe Bowman (no doubt the “J. Boroman” noted by Lucas), and the dogs of the two men began to devolve to a type as lines were crossed and condensed.

Whatever their origin, the dog that showed up in the field in the 1960s, and continuing today, is a smooth, hard-coated dog of variable size and looks, and with a good track record of honest work. Patterdales have a reputation as being enthusiastic self-starters.

Though still a pure working dog, the future of the Patterdale is precarious. On one side are the show ring pretenders who value looks over utility, while on the other side are young fools crossing Patterdales with Bull Terriers and Pit Bulls, resulting in dogs that are too big and overly hard.

The good news is that there are a handful of breeders trying to keep the dogs right-sized and well-balanced between the ears. Some of these breeders have been breeding good dogs for decades, but it is a tough job and it is not clear that the next generation of terriermen is up to the task. Time will surely tell.


urbanprophet777 said...

i wanted to post to first just give a hats off to this site and its creators i find it awsome and imformative....but secondly want to ask anyone on there opinion on bsl and hunting terriers? or wiether anyone feels that bsl would hinder terrierman in the states? walk in it.... urbanprophet

Retrieverman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cumbriancub said...

Would just like to ask Retrieverman to explain his comments a little more please. If he is implying that a Patterdale is just a family show dog to working terriers, then I must say he very much mistaken and can not carry much knowledge for true terrier breeds. I am from the Lake District in England where this breed began and we are very much proud of our dogs. It is true their blood line is a dead secret and their history hazy but one on this side of the water would be a fool to look down at a patterdale, for it has not only proved itself faster, stronger, a quicker on the mark then any terrier i've ever known and will always follow a job to the end.

As for breeding for wrong reasons, they seem to settle quite nicely in all roles given to them and are harder to spot up my way as anything other then a country mans friend. Unlike the boarders and jack russels who sleep on the ends of beds of most family houses, or the west highlands and the fox terriers who would struggle to work due their minds being bred out in favour of good lucks.

If it is the cross with the bull dog one worries about, I am yet to see it. I have noted however an increase in bulldog X greyhound. Yet im to see a better hunter them those crosses and thankfully all i've met have been good around my teriers, but I'm open to be proven wrong..I'd rather have a dog I could tackle myself.

Staffordshire bull terriers alone though over here are becoming quiet pain, from bad breeding to bad owners. A dog without a job is a troublesome dog indeed. I'm yet to find a job that would suit that breed now. A legal job that is anyway.

PBurns said...

Cumbriancub, pay no attention to Retrieverman. He has never seen a Patterdale, much less dug over one. Hope you have a good season ahead!


Retrieverman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PBurns said...

Nice sentence structure there Scottie Westfall III, showing much intelligence and class.

All I said is a fact: You have never seen a Patterdale terrier in the flesh, nor have you ever dug on one.

Am I wrong? You would like to beg to differ?

Fine: Please name the date, location, dog and owner. Post a few pictures.

Absent that, I am fine with you simply going away. Your threats are childish and your tactics are those of a 13-year old girl having a temper tantrum.


337410f6-8a7b-11e0-8119-000bcdcb471e said...

OMG Mr. Burns...!

I know that I'm stating the obvious here, but the rage expressed in that last comment is CREEPY.

I wrote political opinion columns for the school paper when I was an undergrad. This attracted the attention of a few...unhinged individuals. One of them, in particular, was moonbat crazy. I had to file a police report about him.

He sounded like this Retrieverman dude (have seen his comments on PDE--he always struck me as vaguely off-key).

It is good that you are blogging about this. You are protecting yourself.

Ro Martinet

Dan said...

To be honest with a few dog types you do wonder; the breeder might be completely sincere in saying that he never knowingly crossed in a bulldog, but there's no telling if a bulldog cross terrier might not have had his wicked way with an in-season bitch somewhere in that breeder's set-up.

A similar thing can be seen in the world of horses. Connemara ponies are purported to be pure-bred natives, yet a hell of a lot of 'em show quite a few characteristics more typical of Arab horses (flighty temperament, dodgy feet and so on). That rather gives rise to the suspicion that somewhere back in their ancestry someone might've crossed in an Arab stallion just to put a bit of extra pep into their breeding strain, which pep has now spread right across the gene pool of that breed type.

Bulldog x greyhounds are, as a previous commentator said, becoming more common in Britain. Mostly they're being used as lurchers for lamping foxes and (possibly, I have no knowledge here) also badgers. The UK's Hunting Act was a spectacularly crap piece of legislation which convinced many a countryman that the government here was stark, staring bonkers (recent "protect the badger" protests over a cull of diseased animals also argues that quite a big section of the public is similarly lacking in wit) and that anything went.

Bulldogs are also seen in inner cities as "status dogs", and most of these animals are dangerously unstable nut-jobs which think that they are alpha in their family and behave accordingly if slighted. As we all know, a dog which thinks it is alpha in a human family is a dangerous beast indeed, as although it thinks it is boss, it doesn't understand about 80% of the human social cues.

As to retrieverman, were he a dog he'd be on course for a trip to the vet for castrating to see if that calmed him down any; if it didn't then a life as a farmyard bark-dog would beckon.

Gary Man said...

The patterdale is a fantastic dog but any moron that breeds bull dogs and Staffis into this breed are totally unhinged as are both these breeds of dogs. They both have so many problems you could covr 4 pages. so why breed then into a beautiful terrier line. Or is it just a man macho thing. Make it hard. God what morons

Rusty Boyd said...

I dont see much sense in using bull lurchers for Badger.
Badgers dont exactly run fast and it would be a poor Bull that couldnt catch one.
Plummer and others have stated that the old Combat Bulldog in Britain was one of the types used to create working Terriers.
So Bull blood is in them all.
Working Jack Russell men here add in a bit of Working Staff every now and then.
Most always have.
Not all Staffs are the KC type or the wannabe Gangster muscle bound Bull type.
There are still old types about.
Even KC breeders will throw up the odd good one simply cause the genes are still floating around in there and will appear even when they dont want them.
I would doubt there is a Kerry Blue around that hasnt got EBT in its history.
When they were still a working dog the boys liked adding a bit of EBT for Teastos Mor.
If you dog is doing its job, why worry.

Brock Ritchie said...

We use Patterdale x APBT with great success on Coyotes decoy, Bear work and Ground work. When bred right from the right dog they loose nothing.