CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE SCOTTISH TERRIER

The Scottish Terrier as a show dog dates from about 1877 to 1879. He seems almost at once to have attained popularity, and he has progressed gradually since then, ever in an upward direction, until he is to-day one of the most popular and extensively owned varieties of the dog. Sir Paynton Pigott had, at the date mentioned, a very fine kennel of the breed, for in The Live Stock Journal of May 30th, 1879, we find his kennel fully reviewed in a most enthusiastic manner by a correspondent who visited it in consequence of a controversy that was going on at the time, as to whether or not there was such a dog at all, and who, therefore, wished to see and judge for himself as to this point. At the end of his report on the kennel the writer adds these words: “It was certainly one of the happiest days of my life to have the pleasure of looking over so many grand little dogs, but to find them in England quite staggered me. Four dogs and eight bitches are not a bad beginning, and with care and judicious selection in mating, I have little doubt but Mr. Pigott's kennel will be as renowned for Terriers as the late Mr. Laverack's was for Setters. I know but few that take such a delight in the brave little 'die-hards' as Mr. Pigott, and he may well feel proud of the lot he has got together at great trouble and expense.”

The fact that there was such a kennel already in existence proved, of course, a strong point in favour of the bona fides of the breed. The best dog in it was Granite, whose portrait and description were given in the Journal in connection with the said review; and the other animals of the kennel being of the same type, it was at once recognised that there was, in fact, such a breed, and the mouths of the doubters were stopped.

Granite was unquestionably a typical Scottish Terrier, even as we know them at the present day. He was certainly longer in the back than we care for nowadays, and his head also was shorter, and his jaw more snipy than is now seen, but his portrait clearly shows he was a genuine Scottish Terrier, and there is no doubt that he, with his kennel mates, Tartan, Crofter, Syringa, Cavack, and Posey, conferred benefit upon the breed.

To dive deeper into the antiquity of the Scottish Terrier is a thing which means that he who tries it must be prepared to meet all sorts of abuse, ridicule, and criticism. One man will tell you there never was any such thing as the present-day Scottish Terrier, that the mere fact of his having prick ears shows he is a mongrel; another, that he is merely an offshoot of the Skye or the Dandie; another, that the only Scottish Terrier that is a Scottish Terrier is a white one; another, that he is merely a manufactured article from Aberdeen, and so on ad infinitum.

It is a most extraordinary fact that Scotland should have unto herself so many different varieties of the terrier. There is strong presumption that they one and all came originally from one variety, and it is quite possible, nay probable, that different crosses into other varieties have produced the assortment of to-day. The writer is strongly of opinion that there still exist in Scotland at the present time specimens of the breed which propagated the lot, which was what is called even now the Highland Terrier, a little long-backed, short-legged, snipy-faced, prick or drop-eared, mostly sandy and black-coloured terrier, game as a pebble, lively as a cricket, and all in all a most charming little companion; and further, that to produce our present-day Scottish Terrier—or shall we say, to improve the points of his progenitor?—the assistance of our old friend the Black and Tan wire-haired terrier of England was sought by a few astute people living probably not very far from Aberdeen.

Scottish Terriers frequently go by the name of Aberdeen Terriers—an appellation, it is true, usually heard only from the lips of people who do not know much about them. Mr. W. L. McCandlish, one of the greatest living authorities on the breed, in an able treatise published some time back, tells us, in reference to this matter, that the terrier under notice went at different periods under the names of Highland, Cairn, Aberdeen, and Scotch; that he is now known by the proud title of Scottish Terrier; and that “the only surviving trace of the differing nomenclature is the title Aberdeen, which many people still regard as a different breed—a want of knowledge frequently turned to account by the unscrupulous dealer who is able to sell under the name of Aberdeen a dog too bad to dispose of as a Scottish Terrier.” But there can be no doubt that originally there must have been some reason for the name. In a letter to the writer, Sir Paynton Pigott says, “Some people call them and advertise them as the Aberdeen Terrier, which is altogether a mistake; but the reason of it is that forty years ago a Dr. Van Bust, who lived in Aberdeen, bred these terriers to a large extent and sold them, and those buying them called them, in consequence, 'Aberdeen Terriers,' whereas they were in reality merely a picked sort of Old Scotch or Highland Terrier.” Sir Paynton himself, as appears from the columns of The Live Stock Journal (March 2nd, 1877), bought some of the strain of Van Bust, and therein gives a full description of the same.