The power of the dog/The Welsh Terrier
"These two hated with a hate
Found only on the stage." . . . .
"Ch. Longmynd Pypyr" &
THE WELSH TERRIER
There is much care and valour in this Welshman.
King Henry V.
OF one thing we may rest assured, the Prince of Wales will have no more devoted friend than the Welsh terrier Gwen presented to him by the miners of the Principality on his memorable visit to Carnarvon Castle. She comes of a race, homely looking, perhaps, but staunch to the core. "By the mess, ere theise eyes of mine take themselves to slomber, ai'll do gude service, or ai'll lig i' the grund for it; ay, or go to death; and ai'll pay't as valorously as I may, that sail I suerly do, that is the breff and the long." A very happy thought of the working men to make such a gift to their Prince, and long may Gwen live to fulfil his behests. As far as disposition goes one terrier is practically as good as another, all sharing characteristics in common. Tafty is neither better nor worse than the others. Any kind of vermin that comes along is fair game for him, if he only gets the chance of using his powerful jaws. In the house he is a terror to tramps and all unauthorised intruders, his sharp ears at once detecting the advent of strange steps.
Your supercilious show man, who looks more upon the points of a dog than his inward qualities, may tell you that he lacks the quality of head seen in the fox terrier, and that his front is not always as true as could be wished. This may be perfectly correct, but on the other side one might point to his beautifully balanced proportions, and his naturally hard coat which demands little attention before he is fit to go into the ring. These, at any rate, are compensating advantages which should not be overlooked in striking a balance of his merits and defects. Greater length and fineness of head will come in time, and it is not usual to meet so many with bad front legs as we did a few years ago. There is no doubt that the breed is improving, and getting more widely distributed. For a town dog the black and tan jacket has much to commend it, soiling less readily than that of a fox terrier. Indeed, one could not ask for a dog that causes less trouble, and this surely is a consideration in the eyes of busy men and women.
Time was when men were found to declare that the Welsh terrier was nothing more or less than the old-fashioned black and tan wire haired terrier once common in England, but they have retired worsted from the fray, and Welshmen are left in possession of the field. A satisfactory ending on the whole, for it would be a thousand pities to rob little Wales of her most typical contribution to the domestic canidæ. She has, too, her Springer and Cocker spaniels, both handsome dogs, but fewer in numbers, and some years ago she had also rough coated hounds, sturdy and hardy, as befitted the nature of the country in which they had to work. Unfortunately, they have practically disappeared.
The fact that the old English and the Welsh terriers displayed similar markings must not be used as an argument capable of being pushed to any great extent, for this is a colour that crops up in most breeds, and is therefore suggestive in many ways. Mr. R. I. Pocock, an authority to whom we must defer with respect, urges that it is potentially present in all, and from this fact he finds justification for the argument in favour of a descent from the wolf and jackal. A comparison will show that the tan on dogs is distributed, with the exception of the spots over the eyes, in a manner precisely identical with the light markings on the wild animals. His conclusion is that the black and tan pattern is a nigrescent variation, saved from being completely melanistic by the pale areas turning tan instead of black like the rest of the body, tan or red in dogs, as in men and other animals, being an intermediate stage in colour between black and white. The point is interesting, especially to bulldog men, who debar a black and tan from winning prizes on the score that the colour denotes a bar sinister. We should rather prefer to consider it as a reversion to the natural marking.
In any case, we see no reason for questioning the purity of the Welsh terrier's lineage. Centuries ago, perhaps, he may have come from the general stock, but he has been a separate entity sufficiently long to win him a place as a product of the Principality. As was to be expected, before dog shows came into vogue, and with them the necessity of a general standard for every variety, a good many different types were observable. So they were in every other breed. This is inevitable until a family likeness has become fixed by united effort on the part of owners. Even this generic likeness admits of variations, for it is an easy thing to recognise the dogs coming from certain kennels, the skill of an individual stamping minor characteristics which others fail to catch and perpetuate, though working upon the same material.