CHAPTER XLVIII. THE MINIATURE BREEDS

Except in the matter of size, the general appearance and qualifications of the Miniature Black and Tan Terrier should be as nearly like the larger breed as possible, for the standard of points applies to both varieties, excepting that erect, or what are commonly known as tulip ears, of semi-erect carriage, are permissible in the miniatures. The officially recognised weight for the toy variety is given as “under seven pounds,” but none of the most prominent present-day winners reach anything like that weight; some in fact are little more than half of it, and the great majority are between 4 lb. and 5 lb.

Probably the most popular specimens of the miniature Black and Tan at the present time are Mr. Whaley's Glenartney Sport and Mr. Richmond's Merry Atom. Merry Atom is only 4-1/2 lb. in weight, and he is beautifully proportioned, with a fine, long head, a small, dark eye, small ears, and the true type of body. His markings of deep black and rich tan are good, and his coat is entirely free from the bare patches which so often mar the appearance of these toys, giving the suggestion of delicacy.

The Miniature Black and Tan is certainly not a robust dog, and he has lost much of the terrier boisterousness of character by reason of being pampered and coddled; but it is a fallacy to suppose that he is necessarily delicate. He requires to be kept warm, but exercise is better for him than eiderdown quilts and silken cushions, and judicious feeding will protect him from the skin diseases to which he is believed to be liable. Under proper treatment he is no more delicate than any other toy dog, and his engaging manners and cleanliness of habit ought to place him among the most favoured of lady's pets and lapdogs. It is to be hoped that the efforts now being made by the Black and Tan Terrier Club will be beneficial to the increased popularity of this diminutive breed.

For the technical description and scale of points the reader is referred to the chapter on the larger variety of Black and Tan Terrier.

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Of late years Toy Bull-terriers have fallen in popularity. This is a pity, as their lilliputian self-assertion is most amusing. As pets they are most affectionate, excellent as watch-dogs, clever at acquiring tricks, and always cheerful and companionable. They have good noses and will hunt diligently; but wet weather or thick undergrowth will deter them, and they are too small to do serious harm to the best stocked game preserve.

The most valuable Toy Bull-terriers are small and very light in weight, and these small dogs usually have “apple-heads.” Pony Queen, the former property of Sir Raymond Tyrwhitt Wilson, weighed under 3 lb., but the breed remains “toy” up to 15 lb. When you get a dog with a long wedge-shaped head, the latter in competition with small “apple-headed” dogs always takes the prize, and a slightly contradictory state of affairs arises from the fact that the small dog with an imperfectly shaped head will sell for more money than a dog with a perfectly shaped head which is larger.

In drawing up a show schedule of classes for this breed it is perhaps better to limit the weight of competitors to 12 lb. The Bull-terrier Club put 15 lb. as the lowest weight allowed for the large breed, and it seems a pity to have an interregnum between the large and miniature variety; still, in the interests of the small valuable specimens, this seems inevitable, and opportunist principles must be applied to doggy matters as to other business in this world. At present there is a diversity of opinion as to their points, but roughly they are a long flat head, wide between the eyes and tapering to the nose, which should be black. Ears erect and bat-like, straight legs and rather distinctive feet; some people say these are cat-like.

Toy Bull-terriers ought to have an alert, gay appearance, coupled with refinement, which requires a nice whip tail. The best colour is pure white. A brindle spot is not amiss, and even a brindle dog is admissible, but black marks are wrong. The coat ought to be close and stiff to the touch. Toy Bull-terriers are not delicate as a rule. They require warmth and plenty of exercise in all weathers.

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The most elegant, graceful, and refined of all dogs are the tiny Italian Greyhounds. Their exquisitely delicate lines, their supple movements and beautiful attitudes, their soft large eyes, their charming colouring, their gentle and loving nature, and their scrupulous cleanliness of habit—all these qualities justify the admiration bestowed upon them as drawing-room pets. They are fragile, it is true—fragile as eggshell china—not to be handled roughly. But their constitution is not necessarily delicate, and many have been known to live to extreme old age. Miss Mackenzie's Jack, one of the most beautiful of the breed ever known, lived to see his seventeenth birthday, and even then was strong and healthy. Their fragility is more apparent than real, and if they are not exposed to cold or damp, they require less pampering than they usually receive. This cause has been a frequent source of constitutional weakness, and it was deplorably a fault in the Italian Greyhounds of half a century ago.

One cannot be quite certain as to the derivation of the Italian Greyhound. Its physical appearance naturally suggests a descent from the Gazehound of the ancients, with the added conjecture that it was purposely dwarfed for the convenience of being nursed in the lap. Greek art presents many examples of a very small dog of Greyhound type, and there is a probability that the diminutive breed was a familiar ornament in the atrium of most Roman villas. In Pompeii a dwarfed Greyhound was certainly kept as a domestic pet, and there is therefore some justification for the belief that the Italian prefix is not misplaced.