When the Kennel Club abolished cropping in 1895, there were pessimists who predicted that Bull Terriers, Great Danes and others that had their ears trimmed would be completely ruined. Yet, greatly to the credit of the Bull Terrier men, it has to be noted that their official club and individual breeders were in favour of stopping a practice that they regarded as cruel. It must be admitted that breeds that had previously had their ears trimmed looked very strange when they were compelled to grow a natural ear, but to-day we should probably agree that a dog with shapely and erect ears is an improve ment on one that has been cropped. It is obvious that where ears are cropped no trouble need be taken to get them small and shapely, or what ever may be required. That is one of the difficulties that we have with foreign breeds, such as Schnauzers and Boxers, which are cropped in Germany but may not be mutilated here. It is altogether a lottery to know what the shape of the natural ear will be. My Bull Terrier friends have been extraordinarily clever, since on the whole they have managed to get an erect ear that achieves very much the same effect as cropping, and anyone looking at the two photo graphs published to-day, would give their vote in favour of the modern dog. Better than its Forerunners Towards the end of last century, and at the beginning of this, we were in the habit of thinking that Bull Terriers were uncommonly good, but on refreshing the memory by a reference to photographs, I have come to the conclusion that, here again, we have another breed that need not fear comparison with its forerunners. The process of evolution in an upward direction has evidently gone on. I am not pinning my belief to the photograph of the old specimen here reproduced, but I have referred also to pictures of champions that were famous rather over 40 years ago, and I am unable to perceive that those dogs were the equal of what we meet nowadays. The breed has passed through several stages one admits that for a time after the discontinuation of cropping the dogs slipped back a good deal. In 1906 the late Mr. W. J. Pegg, who had many of the best, expressed the opinion that the breed was sadly, deteriorating. This is what he said of some that he judged at two shows in that year The exhibits presented two distinct types the larger were so weedy, high on leg, light of bone and snippy in muscle as to resemble overgrown whippets many were as soft in expression as a Borzoi the heads, though long, being entirely devoid of Bull Terrier expression and character.” That was not a very cheerful picture, but from my own recollec tion I should say that it was justified, and that the criticism would have held good some years afterwards. A Comeback Then breeders managed to stage a comeback, and since the War we have had a number of dogs that were more than pleasing. A feature of the new era has been the revival of the old coloured dogs. Originally, as everyone knows, Bull Terriers took after the colour of the Bulldog side of their parentage, and the whites that later became altogether fashion able, were a product of some 70 years ago. The coloured dogs having sur vived in Staffordshire and elsewhere, those who wished to establish them again had to go to that county for the foundation stock which they were compelled to cross with the whites in order to get quality. Evolution of the Moderns The first results were somewhat depressing, but in course of time breeders have succeeded in getting really delightful coloured dogs, as may be inferred from the photograph of the modern dog, which appears to-day. Not only had breeders of this variety to produce a colour of pleasing pattern, but they had to convert a common, ugly head into one of the shape approved on the whites. They had also to change the body a good deal, and to improve the legs and feet all honour to them for the manner in which they have suc ceeded. Perhaps I may be wrong, but it has always seemed to me that Bull Terriers are a very difficult breed. One draws that conclusion from the comparatively few really first-class dogs and bitches that come out every year. Dogs of Yesterday and To-day– No. 6 ABOUT FORTY TEARS AGO– AND T O-DA T Above is Faultless, a Bull Terrier of about 40 years ago, with cropped ears while the right- hand picture shows Mrs. MacNeilVs Ch. Mystery Knight of Lueuch. Better in bone and head he is a good example of the modern type.
Written by A. Croxton Smith