531A Plummer Terrier Critique

by   David Hancock

 On the 11th of may at Belvoir Castle, I had the pleasure of judging the Plummer Terriers entered in the dog show held there that day for a whole range of sporting breeds. The actual show site was superb, scenically beautiful and well set-up. I had not judged this breed before but made myself very familiar with its breed standard beforehand. Terriers like this one and the Sporting Lucas are worth promoting and now form an important part of our sporting terrier coverage.

Although the entry was small, the quality was good, with excellent material for future breeding programmes on view.

Ring training is vital if a judge is to assess an exhibit accurately and Plummer Terrier owners wishing to achieve success at shows for their dogs must train their animals to walk maturely on leads, stand still when 'stacked' for the judge and not resist a physical inspection, especially of their mouths. The dogs should be in Show Condition, i.e. with clean teeth, gleaming coats, trimmed claws and physically fit, e.g. not limping. The entry is after all being judged on its appearance not its feats underground.

 My more detailed comments, having examined this entry comprehensively, are these:

 Movement pretty good with some relatively minor flaws only.

 Temperaments good with no 'fear-biters', the worst type.

 Coat colour and texture was good; few mis-marked dogs.

 Mouths were quite excellent, better than I expected.

 Backs were not too short, terriers can be too cobby.

 Set of ears and their carriage was good.

 Set and shape of eyes was good.

 Bone was strong but not overdone; these are earth-dogs not sled-dogs. There is a huge difference between light strong bone structure and the seeking of heavy bone for its own sake. What really is the advantage to a working terrier of thick ankles!

 Lay of shoulders was pretty good; I would rate this ahead of spannability, i.e. the ability to enclose the dog's thorax with two hands.

 Angulation in the hindquarters was sound; over-angulation contributes nothing to a dog's field performance.

 My adverse comments are these:

 1 dog was noticeably out at elbow.

 1 dog 'toe'd-in' with the front legs.

 1 dog had a slight but discernible 'Hackney' action in the front assembly; this dog should not be bred from.

 1 dog was too close behind and 1 was barrel-hocked; this should be compensated for in breeding programmes.

 2 dogs verged on being snipey-jawed; it is important in a working terrier for the jaw to be strong throughout its length.

 1 dog had little rear extension, this meant it picked up it rear feet too high, causing additional fatigue when working.

 1 dog had a 'weaving' front action, in which the feet crossed over on the move; the front action must be straight if the animal is to gain the best use of its leg strength.

 Having had a close look at this breed, one I admire, I believe the breed's gene-pool is adequate; there is simply no requirement, in my view, to introduce outside blood at this stage in the breed's development. It would bring in more problems than it would solve. But knowledgeable breeding from sound stock can improve the breed still more, retain the required jacket and temperament, and not allow any loss of earth-dog anatomy. These are functional terriers or they are nothing special; of what value to an earth-dog is massive bone, a barrel chest and an over-muscled physique?

Finally, having studied the extant breed standard, and judged to it, examined the entry at this show with some care and discussed the way ahead with fanciers at this show, I would recommend: that the breed standard is recast to be more precise, that a breeding register is established, a stud book set up and only registered stock bred from, so that dogs with serious faults are not bred from and those minor faults appearing are bred out and not sealed in a closed gene-pool.