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Terrier Breeds I - N


The Irish have the distinction of being the only all-red terrier, and originated, as the name suggests, in Ireland. But how the breed was created is another matter. Dog historians are very unsure in this regard. Its ancestry seems to be linked to that of the Welsh Terrier for it is suggested that both descend from a type of wire-haired black and tan terrier which had been known in Britain since the 17th century. To confirm this is the fact that some black and tan puppies frequently occurred in early litters of Irish Terriers.

When the breed was first introduced fanciers claimed all manner of virtues for the Irishman. And while some exaggeration may have existed in these claims, it is true that the breed is a superb ratter and guard dog which, despite its vermin killing instinct, is also a soft-mouthed retriever of game. In truth it is a breed deserving of its earlier name, the “Irish Sporting Terrier.”

Most dog historians begin their accounts of the breed with its introduction to the public at a dog show held in Dublin in 1875. Classes were offered for dogs over and under nine pounds and it is written that the event drew an entry of fifty terriers of all colours and sizes, with and without cropped ears. This heterogeneous gathering caused such a stir among breed fanciers they formed a specialty club and draughted the first breed standard, which remains virtually unchanged today.

The public was quick to take a liking to the Irish Terrier, and within a very few years the breed ranked among the three most popular terrier breeds in Britain. But this was not to last. Commencing in the 1920s, the demand for Irish Terriers moved steadily downward. One breed enthusiast, Gordon Selfridge, owner of one of London’s largest department stores, tried to revive interest in the breed by staging an Irish Terrier exhibition in one of his store’s departments. Another Irish Terrier supporter, the Duke of Atholl, opened the exhibition; attendants were dressed in Irish national costume and souvenir programmes were given to all visitors. While this gesture did little to restore the Irish Terrier’s popularity, it remains a colourful part of the breed’s history.

The Irish Terrier was first registered in Canada in the years 1888-1889.

Kerry Blue

To expect the history of this Irish breed to be well documented is to expect the impossible. There is a long period of uncertainty between the year 1588, when ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked off the coast of Ireland and some elegant Spanish “puddle dogs” swam ashore, and the year 1808 when the first Irish Blue Terrier is mentioned in writings. Nevertheless, it is believed that the shipwrecked dogs interbred with local terriers to found the breed we now call the Kerry Blue. In 1808, it is said that a race of silver blue dogs had been breeding true in County Kerry for 150 years, where they were used for fighting, ratting, controlling such farm pests as badger and rabbit, herding, hunting, guarding the flock and the homestead, even operating the butter churn when there was nothing else to do. Because these were dogs of the humble crofter who was forbidden by law to own sporting hounds, it is suggested that some of the blue dogs’ versatility came from Irish Wolfhound and Otterhound blood that had been introduced on the sly.

However the breed was created, after the introduction of dog shows, classes were offered for the dogs in Ireland commencing in 1887. Over the years they were variously classified as ”silver-haired Irish Terrier,” Irish Terrier (blue) and Blue Terrier (working). This muddled state of affairs continued until 1922 when Mrs. Casey Hewitt of Tralee, one of the breed pioneers who had helped standardize type, introduced the blue terrier to Britain. In that year, ten of the breeds were exhibited at Crufts’ show in London, the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of England was formed and a breed standard written. At first the Kerry’s unkempt appearance was held against him, but once the British had persuaded exhibitors to trim their dogs so they could compete on equal terms with other terrier breeds, the Kerry made a fine account of himself in the show ring. In Ireland the Kerry must still be shown in its natural state, and since 1926 before a dog may be confirmed as a breed champion it must qualify in two working tests. In one it must tackle a badger and draw it to ground; in the other it must demonstrate its natural hunting ability with rabbit and rat.

The first Kerry Blues came to this continent in 1918. Canadian registrations were first recorded in 1924-1925.


The Lakeland is a small, working terrier developed in the border county of Cumberland in the north of England. The Lakeland’s job was to hunt fox and other vermin that preyed on the farmers’ lambs and poultry. Unlike the terriers in the south of England who were used to bolt the fox from its hiding place, the Lakeland was bred to go in for the kill. For this job, strong, punishing jaws were essential. Also, because the little dog accompanied the hunt which usually travelled on foot, the Lakeland needed great stamina and endurance. The dog also needed a slender, agile body to aid him in following the wily fox over rocky ledges and through narrow crevices. It is said that ”the body of a Lakeland should be able to follow into any rocky crevice that his head and shoulders can enter.”

The background breeding used to create the tough little Lakeland varies with the authority quoted. Breeds suggested include the Border, Bedlington, Fox, Dandie Dinmont, and Old English Black and Tan Terriers. One writer includes the Otterhound. The breed was also known by a variety of names, these in accordance with the district where the Lakeland was bred. They include Patterdale, Fell, Cumberland and Westmoreland. Small wonder that when the Lakeland was exhibited, it was first classified under the all-embracing title “coloured working terrier.” It is said that first specimens were much rougher looking and higher on leg than today’s smartly groomed Lakelands.

Prior to World War I some effort was made to organize a breed association but it was not until 1921 that this became a reality. The association’s first president was Lord Lonsdale, whose family had been breeding Lakelands for some fifty years. By 1928 a breed standard had been adopted and in that same year The Kennel Club ( England) renamed “the coloured working terrier” the Lakeland Terrier, and granted it official recognition. Three specimens competed at their first championship show at the Crystal Palace, London, in 1928. Succeeding years have seen ever increasing numbers of Lakelands in competition and the breed has accounted for some outstanding show wins both in Britain and on this continent.

First Canadian registrations were recorded in 1931.

Manchester, Standard

Writings dating back to almost 400 years are thought to refer to a breed of English terrier similar to the modern Manchester. Originally called “the black and tan terrier,” the Manchester was bred as a “ratting machine,” not a show dog. Early specimens were valued more for their working ability than their good looks, and it is reported that the black and tans were rough coated, quick, strong-jawed and generally more rugged in type than the Manchester as it is known today. On farms these terriers were used as barnyard ratters and to control the rabbit population. Apparently this was the extent of their gameness, the breed being unequal to the task of routing the fox or larger predators.

In the days when blood sports flourished the black and tan was highly favoured in the rat pit. Most famous was a dog called Billy, who is on record as having killed 100 large rats in six minutes and thirteen seconds. The dogs’ ears were cropped to protect them from painful rat bites.

Two events were to influence the change in breed type and the eventual drop in the black and tan’s popularity. The first was the abolition of blood sports in England. The second was the banning of ear cropping in 1895. The ear that took well to cropping gave an ungainly appearance when left natural. To further complicate matters a breed standard was adopted which spelled out precise, compulsory tan markings on an otherwise solid black dog. This made ideal specimens extremely difficult to breed and public favour switched to other terriers. Presumably about this time a whippet cross was introduced to give the black and tan its sleek coat, more refined outline, whip tail and finer head. One of the foremost breeders was Samuel Handley of Manchester, Lancashire. Because of his efforts in stabilizing breed type the name was changed to Manchester, although until his death in 1878 Handley protested that black and tan was a sufficiently honourable name for the breed and that good specimens were being bred in many parts of England.

While the Manchester has never regained its former popularity, it does continue to have a small but loyal following around the world.

The Canadian Kennel Club Stud Book first recorded the Manchester Terrier in 1889 when twenty were registered.

Miniature Schnauzer

There are three sizes of schnauzer, of which the miniature is the smallest and the only one of the three breeds to be classified as a terrier, the other two being classified as working breeds. The miniature was developed in Germany towards the end of the 19th century and is thought to represent a cross between small specimens of the Standard Schnauzer and a toy breed, either the Affenpinscher or the Miniature Pinscher or possibly a bit of both. The oldest known specimen to be registered in Germany was a black female according to the stud book of 1888. Some authorities also claim that the Pomeranian, the Fox Terrier and the Scottish Terrier may have played a part in the breed’s ancestry. If so, this would account for the appearance of the occasional “mismark” still said to occur in present-day litters.

The breed name derives from the German word schnauze meaning snout or muzzle, or perhaps, more specifically, schnauzbart meaning conspicuous moustache, a characteristic with which the schnauzers are all well endowed. Intended to resemble its larger cousins in all respects, the Miniature Schnauzer was first used as a barnyard ratter, an instinct many of the breed still carry although the schnauzer’s role today is chiefly that of family pet and watchdog.

The breed was first exhibited as a distinct breed in its country of origin in 1899 but did not make its debut on this continent until 1925. It is from a very small number of dogs imported into the United States between the years 1925 – 1935 from the continent, mostly from Germany, that the majority of present-day Miniature Schnauzers in Canada and the United States descend. In America the breed was not an overnight success. But in 1946, after a Miniature Schnauzer won Best in Show at a prestigious event, its popularity was assured.

In 1933 a national specialty club was founded in the United States, and in 1951 a similar organization came into being in Canada. First called The Miniature Schnauzer Club of Ontario, since 1955 this group has been known as The Miniature Schnauzer Club of Canada.

First official registration took place in Canada under the breed name “Schnauzer-Pinscher” in 1933.


Whatever background breeding was to create the Norwich Terrier also applies to the Norfolk. It is assumed that small Irish Terriers were used initially. Later these were crossed with other terrier breeds. Two that are suggested are the Border and the Cairn. For thirty years two ear types persisted in the Norwich Terrier-the drop and the prick. Both varieties were shown together under the same breed classification and the two varieties were inter-bred. However, it seems that such interbreeding created problems with ear carriage, and breeders discontinued the practice. Thus only prick-eareds were mated to like, and drop-eareds to drop-eareds. After a few generations of this it became evident that two quite different types of terrier were evolving, and what seemed grossly unfair was that in the show ring the prick-eareds were consistent winners over the drops. Because of this, supporters of the drop-eareds sought to have this variety recognized as a distinct breed.

In 1963 separate breed standards for the two varieties were submitted to The Kennel Club (England), and two years later separate breed status was granted. The newly recognized breed became known as the Norfolk Terrier.

Like his very close relative, the Norfolk is a game, working terrier that loves horses and the stableyard. These are the smallest of the terriers weighing about eleven pounds (5 kg) and standing about ten inches (25 cm) at the shoulder. It is said that their harsh, wiry, close lying coats make them the ideal companion for those wanting a terrier that stays neat with a minimum amount of grooming attention.

Following Britain’s example The Canadian Kennel Club recognized the Norfolk Terrier as a separate breed in 1977.


During the mid- nineteenth century it became the vogue to create local strains of terriers particularly suited to various districts in England. Each would be of a size, structure, and working ability compatible with local conditions. In this way, it is assumed, the Norwich Terrier-the working terrier of East Anglia-came into being. The interesting point is that while many breeds created failed to stand the test of time, the Norwich not only survived but from the original breed a second breed now called the Norfolk was derived. It is not known for certain which breeds were used to create the little red terrier but most authorities assume that small specimens of the Irish Terrier played a major role.

What has been recorded is that in the 1870s a breeder by the name of’ Lawrence did a brisk business in small red terriers, many of which were sold to students of Cambridge University- so many, in fact, that at one time the little dogs were known as Cantab Terriers. Over the years other names have been given them, including Trumpington and Jones Terriers.

As working terriers the little dogs proved their gameness and many were adopted as hunt club favourites. They became dual-purpose dogs that could go to ground for the fox when necessary and act as stable yard and house pet at other times. The record states that early specimens were of mixed type until about 1914 when a Mr. Fagan became interested in stabilizing breed type. This was achieved by 1923 when the breed became known as the Norwich Terrier and in 1932 it was granted separate breed status by The Kennel Club (England).

At this time both the prick- and drop-eared varieties were classified under the single breed name of Norwich Terrier. In 1936 the breed was recognized in the United States, where both varieties arc still known under the single Norwich classification. In Canada, as in Britain, the drop-eared variety now has separate breed status under the name of Norfolk Terrier.

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