EURO-TERRIERS - a neglected market
by   David Hancock

In The Kennel Gazette of August 1888, there's a short report on a terrier contest that reads: “A show of ratting terriers was held in the Palais de l’Industrie at Antwerp in July, and is worthy of record as being the first show held in Belgium by a specialist club. The entry of 156 included 16 dachshunds, 13 Schipperkes, 40 fox terriers, 2 Skyes, 6 bull terriers, 3 Yorkshire terriers, and several toy griffons, with a few white English terriers and black and tans, in addition to a nondescript variety class…on the second and third days the visitors were treated to grand ratting contests, which are very popular in Belgium. There were no English exhibitors present…” Shame about the last few words but what an event that must have been. Generally speaking, terriers are anything but 'Euro'! But the French now have more working Fox Terriers than we do.

In France, the Societe Centrale Canine and the Reunion des Amateurs de Fox Terriers have instituted the Coupe de France de Broussaillage - flushing game above ground. Smooth Fox Terriers there are recognized not just below ground, but for their aptitude for hunting above ground, flushing out wild pig from thick undergrowth and their persistence and boldness in the drive. German Hunt Terriers, Jack Russells and Welsh Terriers are used, as well as the Fox. Points are awarded for performance during the search (15), flushing and voice (20), drive and pursuit (10) and reaction to gunfire (5). Judges can multiply the scores according to the dog’s overall showing, so that a total of say 40 could be increased by doubling or even tripling the score to 80 or 120. Grades are awarded for 125-150 points (excellent), 100-125 (tres bon) and 75-100 (bon), with 50-75 earning an honourable mention. How good it would be if such terrier working tests were to be introduced here, if only to expose the boasters!

We may have captured the terrier breed market but not the terrier function. The Dutch have re-created their Smoushond, with a distinct terrier appearance. The German Hunt Terrier has fanciers here; the newly-created Cesky Terrier is finding favour here too. The Dobermann Pinscher and the Giant Schnauzer are, like the Airedale and the Russian Black Terrier, not exactly earth-dogs but the smaller pinschers and schnauzers were farm and stable vermin controllers, just like our native terriers. The smooth-haired Austrian Pinscher has many similarities with our emergent Plummer Terriers. The Franks had a small dog they called the bibarhund or biberhunt, literally beaver-dog. From these came a type referred to as rattlers, both smooth and rough haired. Later came the Rattinpintscher, literally a dog that nips rats, and in time the breed-type we know as the pinscher and the schnauzer - the latter literally a dog with a bearded muzzle, developed.

The German authority, Richard Strebel, writing in his massive work, Die Deutsche Hunde of 1903, recorded that: "There is little to say about the history of the German Pinscher. Illustrations of the breed are rare. It does not appear in old oil paintings. He occupied such a menial position, so unimportant, that artists felt it not worth their while to depict him for posterity." That statement echoes the omission of both pastoral dogs and terriers from English paintings of past centuries. In some old English dictionaries, the word pinscher is defined as a dog breed, a short-haired English Terrier, black and tan terrier, rough or wire-haired terrier. Some authorities state that the pinscher originated from stock brought back from England by German workers and that a cross with the French griffon-type produced the rough or wire-haired variety, to become known as the Schnauzer.

As far as the German Hunt Terrier is concerned, the reverse may have happened. When I was working in Germany nearly fifty years ago, an old German Forstmeisster told me that his grandfather had imported English hunt terriers to control vermin. International boundaries have never been barriers to the dog trade.  The Smoushond of Holland has much in common with the old German rough-haired Pinschers but still throws black and tan progeny, with some experts claiming an infusion of English terrier blood in their development.

The past popularity of the Fox Terrier has led to derivatives appearing even further afield. In Andalusian Spain the sherry houses and wine shops use another Fox Terrier derivative, the Ratonero Bodeguero, to keep rats under control in their store rooms.  There is a distinct terrier look to the Belgian breed of Schipperke, used as a vermin controller on barges there, they are sharp-witted and quick-moving, with an alert expression and a terrier-like attitude. Coming from the old province of Flanders, they were popular along the canals of Belgium and Holland and have been credited with the first one-breed dog show, one set up by guild workmen in 1690. The German Hunt Terrier is not gaining ground here despite being an  attractive little sporting dog. As always with German native breeds their breeding is well stewarded and an underground test is mandatory for breeding stock. But wherever terrier-like dogs appear in the world an origin in British terrier stock is likely; the reputation of British terriers is rightly acknowledged by dog-breeders all over the developed world.