I know that he is not everyone’s cup of tea and many will be very quick to criticise the man, but I have always been a big fan of the late Dr D. Brian Plummer’s books which I remember reading on many occasions in my teenage years. Whether you like him or loathe him, he definitely left his mark on the dog world with his many books and his involvement with various dog breeds.
I have to be completely honest and admit that the Plummer Terrier has always been a terrier that I have looked at from afar but it has never really interested me very much. I have seen a few bushing and ratting that I was relatively impressed with but they have never been a breed that I’ve paid too much attention. I don’t think I’ve heard as much about the Plummer terrier as I have until the last couple of years.
I had thought about writing a article on Plummer Terriers starting with the usual – they are a Terrier type created by Dr Plummer who started off with a small pack of rat hunting dogs, a strain of Jack Russell to which he added Beagle, Fell and Bull Terrier blood but that is all well known and has been done on many occasions already.
The politics within the breed is also infamous with the original club the PTA (Plummer Terrier Association) having had the minerals to throw Dr Plummer out of his own club! Dr Plummer then promptly started his own club – the (PTCoGB) Plummer Terrier Club of Great Britain. Then after some more inner squabbling, another faction emerged from the PTA and created the (EPTS) European Plummer Terrier Society. The clubs seem to be getting geographically larger as if preparing for world wide domination.
Today, there are three clubs the PTA is now known as the PTC (Plummer Terrier Club) after an amalgamation gone wrong with falling outs and all sorts of illegal allegations being made. The PTC has until recently been run by the EPTS and the PTCoGB is the sole outcast in the Plummer world.
I have been told on good authority that the gentleman in charge of the EPTS had the minerals to ask Dr Plummer’s wife at his funeral could he change the name of the Plummer Terrier to the Welsby Terrier. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear Mrs Plummer’s reply…
Then there is the continued talk of KC recognition for the Plummer terrier. Why? Why anyone would want to register any working breed with the KC is beyond me. The working qualities of dogs are sacrificed for the sake of churning out pups for money. Talking about money, I did see a litter of Plummer’s for sale last October for £650. I think there is a lot more work to be done before the breed would be in a position to be officially recognised by the KC if that is the unfortunate route that the Plummer fanciers decide to go down.
One of the other talked about topics within Plummer Terrier fanciers is the possible need for the breed to be outcrossed again. Lately the breed has been throwing all sorts of health issues (including foul mouth and cleft, deformed feet, cancer, seizures and sudden death) that most probably stem from the foundation dogs used by Dr Plummer. He clearly recorded in his books they were not as healthy or from the best working stock as some will have you believe. Dr Plummer’s dogs were known to be gassy aggressive little Terriers, that were hard to keep and could never be kennelled together.
In recent times another group has emerged to try and improve this. They say the breed is not a breed as it lacks any formal recognition and is a type and as such they have outcrossed mainly using a line of working bull infused Patterdale Terriers, although there are others using working Russells and even Beagle blood. All the breeds originally used by Dr Plummer. There doesn’t seem as yet to be anything formally planned however their dogs online do look very capable.
There is a lot of questions to be answered – are they just layering good dogs onto bad and the more dilute the good gets, the more likely the health problems will simply re-emerge again? Do Plummer terriers work? What is their purpose? Or was it simply a bit of an experiment by Dr Plummer to see if he could gain KC recognition and immortalise his name in the dog world?
The truth might well be the latter but lets forgo that and look at the former question again – do they work?
Like any breed its full of aficionados, breeders, show boaters, and show ponies. However, look a bit deeper and there are some gentlemen with some very nice dogs breeding good honest workers on a regular basis albeit a lot less flamboyant than the majority who claim to be pure working terrier men but regularly stroll around the show rings every weekend of the summer.
Today, in the UK there is less and less opportunity to engage in field-sports and its simply not as fashionable for many reasons. One sport that is not dying out and indeed seems to be gaining popularity is ratting. It’s attracting all class of folk from across the UK and its also becoming more and more popular in the USA. There is no denying that Plummer Terriers excel at ratting and for decades this has been their primary purpose and many photos and videos can be found of them all over the internet. Perhaps, this is the time that all the clubs should join together for the betterment of the breed and begin a breeding program that benefits the breed and sets the foundation for the Plummer Terrier to be the ratting terrier of all terriers for years to come.