Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dubious Terrier Breeds

Only in America, the land of P.T. Barnum:
"Hairless Terrier" at left, "Tunnel Terrier" at right.

There is nothing new about the creation of terrier breeds, many of which have lasted just long enough to be named in a book before coming up "extinct" or renamed and then declared extinct.

The "Black and Tan" terrier, for example is nothing more than a Fell Terrier that the English tried to rename and claim as their own. The gambit failed and the breed "disappeared" in name, if not in fact. The Fell Terrier can be found in the Kennel Club ring as the Welsh Terrier, though the Kennel Club Welsh terrier has been "improved" to the point that few, if any, work in the field today.

The "English White" terrier was another attempt to create a breed, this time with a degenerated smooth Jack Russell that may have been cross-bred with a small lap dog. This breed also failed to catch on and disappeared shortly after it was created. Note this "English White" is not related, in any way, to the white molosser dog used for bull baiting two centuries earlier; same name, but an entirely different dog with different origins and histories.

The Glen of Imaal terrier is nothing more than a turn-spit dog given a fancy name and an invented history as a badger working dog. In fact the Kennel Club dog is totally unsuited to earth work due to its size and a propensity for muteness, though badger baiters tried to cobble together "trials" for this type of dog after badger baiting was banned. The dog all but disappeared before recently being given new life as a show dog -- admitted to the AKC on October 1, 2004.

The creation of new terrier breeds continues unabated. A few variations of existing terrier breeds occassionally catch on, but most do not.

The "Plummer Terrier" looks like it is here to stay and may, in fact, be getting a bit of a boost from the U.K. ban on fox hunting, as ratting moves a bit closer to center stage.

The Patterdale terrier is often described as being a black fell terrier, but in fact a Patterdale is visually quite distinct from a regular fell terrier. At this point, I think Patterdales Terriers stand as a breed apart.

Another terrier breed with a clear provenance in the 20th Century is the Norfolk Terrier which was popularized by a stable man and dog dealer by the name of Frank Jones right after World War I. Originally called a "Trumpington Terrier" and then a "Jones Terrier," the dog has since split into two breeds, the Norwich Terrier (ears up) and the Norfolk Terrier (ears down).

Most new terrier breeds do not catch on. Though a breed may flourish at the point of creation, most fade into obscurity rather quickly due to uglyness, uselessness, or failure to understand the politics, economics and genetics inherent to breed creation and maintenance.

  • American Hairless Terrier: This is simply a mutant rat terrier -- a genetic anomaly that was born hairless. Someone in Louisiana figured "yippe" I can sell this freak to people with allergies, and it was off to the races.

  • American Tunnel Terrier: This is nothing more than a cross between two non-working breeds, a Boston terrier and a Rat terrier. Despite the name, they are never found at artificial den trials, and despite the breeder hype of being a "verminator" they seem to have never done anything heavier than nailing a few rats and mice.

  • Capheaton Terrier: This is nothing more than a smooth red fell terrier renamed by a woman too silly or stupid to know the breed already existed -- and has for generations.

  • Atlas Terrier: This is nothing more than a Jack Russell terrier with a merle gene -- a gene most Jack Russell breeders breed away from since it is so often associated with deafness. The creator of this breed is waiting to go to trial on animal abuse charges in Philadelphia.

  • Lucas Terrier: First bred by Jocelyn Lucas, this is nothing more than a cross between a Sealyham female and a Norfolk male, and was produced because the show Sealyhams were getting too big to work. This dog proved to be unpopular with the show set and the working set, and has largely disappeared. The "Sporting Lucas" terrier has cropped up in recent years as an attempt to revive this breed, but it is doubtful that it will succeed considering the state of hunting with terriers in the UK.

  • Teddy Roosevelt Terrier: This is nothing more than a rat terrier with short legs, and is quite unlike the orginal rat terrier (Skip) owned by Teddy Roosevelt. The American Rat Terrier, of course, is nothing more than a degenerated version of the old working fox terrier, now known as the Jack Russell Terrier.

  • Tenterfield Terrier: This an Australian toy fox terrier of dubious linneage.

  • James Pocket Terrier: This is less than a breed and more like a chest measurement for a very small working Jack Russell terrier. There is no physical standard for this breed other than a dog with a very small chest (under 14 inches) and a desire to work.

  • Shelburne Terrier: This dog never really existed other than in someone's imagination and Jocelyn Lucas's book. Created by the Shelburne Hunt in Vermont, it was a cross between a Norfolk terrier and Sealyham-Jack Russell cross, and it does not seem to have existed beyond a few litters.


Viatecio said...

I've always had dubious thoughts regarding the Manchester terrier. I can see how they'd be tough little dogs due to their similarity to the miniature pinscher, but I just can't see how these things would be tough enough to go to ground against anything like what Mountain and Pearl go after.

As an aside, you might add the link to your entry about the Dandie Dinmont terrier. I remember you going on for a while about how they're basically just like Glen of Imaal terriers in that they just...don't work.

Jonathan said...

You have forgotten a recent creation, the Cesky Terrier.

Furthermore, the English white terrier probably disappeared because the lack of pigment caused sensorineural deafness.
Dorothea Penizek

PBurns said...

Not forgotten -- I have whole posts on other breeds that have different levels of success or nonsuccess and are of very recent vintage in terms of creation.

Cesky --

Dandies -- and

Skye Terrier --

Various "extinct" terriers such as the English White, Black & Tan, etc. >>

Cairn Terrier --

"Parson Russell terrier" >>

Russian terrier >>

Pattedale terrier >>

Boston Terrier >>

German Hunt terrier >>

There are many any other breeds whose true histories do not quite line up with what their enthusiasts imagine, of course, including the "Congo terrier" which I have put up a few recent posts about :)


mugwump said...

Hey! Catching up on my I detecting a derogatory sniff in my beloved rat's direction? He may not go to ground, but he tracks true and has driven many (much?) evil vermin straight into my JRT mix's ready jaws.
From my understanding, the rat was meant to kill rats (duh), and be all around farm dogs. A good ranch bred rat terrier is just that. Kick ass squirrel dogs, livestock gatherers and loyal child protectors. Semi-obedient too. Sniff.

Mysweetangel said...

My dog, when I got her, she was called a Tunnel Terrier. I was like thinking what is that? but this dog trainer pointed out to me that she is a Boston/Rat Terrier mix. She does NOT kill or harm small animals. She doesn't have the heart to kill them I guess. Shes actually loving towards all animals. She is really a great dog. Another name for Tunnel Terrier is Brat Hybrid. But either way I think they are really awesome fun loving dogs.

Dennis Gutowski said...

Rat Terriers always have been and always will be working terriers.

True, there are enough of them that are just pets for some blue haired bitty, but that can be said of a lot of dogs.

My rattie has made a lot of kills for me, and I would not trade him for a jack rusell for all the tea in china.

Rusell's are too tightly wound for me. Rattie's are just the right mix for me.