A Brief History of the Early Days
(First published by The Northeast Border Terrier Club 1999 Robert Naun)
by Specialty Committee
The Border Terrier, it turns out, was recognized by the AKC some time before 1930, but the remarkable qualities, of this, humble British working terrier caught the attention of very few American dog fanciers fortunately they were the right ones. Their coming together in a consuming effort to establish and preserve in this country the Border’s unique and subtle balance of traits is a gift to all of us who have Borders today.
The luck in Borders, continues to the present: Dr. Robert Naun, has written an illuminating history of the fragile early days of Borders in the US, the almost painfully careful development of the AKC Border Terrier Breed Standard. and the rise of the BTCA. Dr. Naun is. not only a devoted long term Border Terrier fancier / breeder/ Judge but also, fortunately for us, an historian and researcher by training and temperament.
What Bob describes in the following pages is the effort in the early days to establish communication among Border people by organizing a breed club, which eventually became the AKC recognized Border Terrier Club of America; the early BTCA members’ dedication to the development (with the help of their colleagues “across the pond”) of a descriptive AKC Border Terrier Breed Standard; and the early fanciers and kennels who shaped the breed and the basic credo of its fanciers. The achievement of these originating people is a heartening example of the way a few informed, unselfish, and dedicated individuals can make the crucial difference between a breed’s healthy survival and its, distortion and disappearance.
Bob includes an interesting Appendix, “BTCA Milestones.” which lists steps in the Border Terrier Club of America’s progress by year, from 1930 to 1979.
I: CONCEPTION: THE STRUGGLE TO LIVE. 1930-1947
It would be impossible to write a complete history of the development of Border Terriers and the Border Terrier Club of America from its inception to the millennium without writing a book. What follows is a short history of the early years of the Border Terrier in this country and those people and kennels who laid the foundation for the tremendous growth in the popularity of the Border Terrier and the membership of the Border Terrier Club of America over the last twenty years.
Curiously, there is no formal record of exactly when the Border Terrier was first recognized as purebred by the American Kennel Club, but we can assume that the recognition of the breed took place at some point before 1930, when the first Border Terriers were AKC registered.
A review of the [British] Kennel Club Gazette shows that 19 Borders were exported to the United States before 1930. Only three, however. were registered in the American Stud Book. As noted, the first Border Terrier appeared in American Kennel Club records in 1930. He was Barney Boy (Ch. Dandy of Tynedate x Queen o’ the Hunt), bred by Messrs. Dodd and Carruthers, and imported by Mr. H.S. Cram. The second to be registered, who followed that same year, was Nessy (Arnton Billy x Nessey), bred by Miss E. Hardy and imported by Mr. G. D. Thayer. In the following year Mr. Thayer again imported a Border, the third to be registered, Blacklyne Lady (Ch. Ben of Tweeden x Blacklyne Wasp), bred by Mrs. Armstrong.
The first British champion imported to the United States was Rustic Rattle (Crosedale Jock x Crosedale Judy), bred by Mrs. J A. Simpson, and brought to the United States by Percy Roberts.
The 1930s decade saw few Border Terriers registered with the American Kennel Club. It did produce. however, the first American-bred Borders to be registered. They were from two litters bred by Mr. C. Gordon Massey of Trappe, Maryland. The first litter was whelped in Aiken, South Carolina on April 1, 1931, and was by Mullach (Arnton Billy x Arthorn Lady) out of Always There (Hunting Boy x June of Twimstead). The second litter was whelped on July 28, 1931, at Trappe, Maryland; it was also sired by Mullach, out of Dryffe Judy (Whitrope Don x Ch. Station Masher). Mr. Massey had a number of Borders and, while he did not exhibit his dogs very often, he would exhibit at his home show. At the Talbot County Kennel Club near Easton, Maryland, in 1935, he entered an astonishing eleven Borders, including a number of important ones he had imported – e.g., Knowe Roy, Baiter, and Red Twister, all out of Ch. Todhunter, owned by John Renton.
A second prominent name that appears in 1930s Border registrations is Mr. William MacBain. In 1937, Mr. MacBain imported Pyxie O’Bladnoch in whelp to Ch. Foxlair. From this mating came Diehard Sandy, the sire of Am. Ch. Diehard Dandy. Pyxie, the first recorded American Champion, was mated in her next season to Mr. Massey’s Red Twister, and produced Am. Ch. Diehard Dandy’s dam, Diehard Betta. From Betta came Borders who would have important positions in the pedigrees of the Philabeg and Dalquest Border kennels of following decades.
The Border Terrier made some significant gains in the 1940s, due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Merritt Pope (Philabeg Kennels). Dr. Pope was the moving force in the promotion of the Border Terrier in the years 1941-1946, and a key figure in the founding of the Border Terrier Club of America. The founding began with a letter written in December 1946. Captain John C. Nicolson wrote to Dr. Pope suggesting that a Border Terrier club be formed to aid the advancement of the breed. Captain Nicolson and his wife had emigrated to the United States at the end of World War II and had brought with them two Borders, Sallowfield Say When and Dromfield Reckless.
By mid-January 1947, William MacBain, of Diehard kennels, wrote Dr. Pope agreeing to the need for a Border Terrier club. Soon Emerson Latting, who owned Diehard Dandy, the second recorded American Border champion, joined the group.
Captain Nicolson and Dr. Pope met for the first time at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City in February 1947. Apart from the organization of the club itself, they decided that a first priority was the development of a descriptive breed standard acceptable to both Border breeders and the American Kennel Club. Dr. Pope was elected chairman of the Standard committee and Mrs. Nicolson was designated its Secretary/Treasurer. The embryo of The American Border Terrier Club (some time later renamed the Border Terrier Club of America) was formed.
II: BIRTH: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE AMERICAN BORDER TERRIER BREED STANDARD, 1947 -1949
The Standard committee turned immediately to the task of developing an expanded, descriptive Border Terrier Breed Standard to be submitted to the American Kennel Club. The approved AKC standard at the time was a copy of the British standard. In fact, when approached by Dr. Pope, the AKC, through its Executive Vice-President Mr. Bixby, recommended that the American Border Terrier Club just use the British standard. The club, however, led by Dr. Pope, thought the British standard too vague and too skimpy for use by American judges and novices to the breed. Dr. Pope, especially, felt that there must be as clear a blueprint of the breed as possible in order to insure its sound development in the United States.
The initial plan was to have the secretary, Sue Nicolson, survey the membership and develop a tentative standard, which would then be sent to British breeders for their critique and suggestions. The initial draft, which followed the survey, was thought by a number of people, especially Dr. Pope, to be flawed. He made a number of suggestions regarding content and format for adoption before the first tentative version, at least officially, was sent overseas. As is often the case in such attempts at group consensus, it is the person who is the most interested, the most enthusiastic, and the most determined who has the greatest influence. In a relatively short time it became obvious that Dr. Pope had been given the primary responsibility for the production of the new American breed standard.
In order to get a clearer understanding of the American Border Terrier Breed Standard, which came to be produced, as well as the philosophy, which has guided the Border Terrier club for much of its existence, some knowledge of Dr. Merritt Pope is essential.
Dr. Pope came to the Border Terrier from Scottish Terriers and the Scottish Terrier Club of America. (In fact the same person who gave him his first Scottie gave him his first Border – William MacBain.) He, and to a lesser extent Mr. MacBain, had become disillusioned with the development of the Scottish Terrier Club and the breed by the beginning of World War II. As Pope told the story, he got his first Scottie in 1930. At that time it appeared to him that the Scottish Terrier Standard had been written for a working terrier and had a function-based rationale for every clause outside of purely breed characteristics (i.e. color, expression etc.). From his point of view, however, over time the club and the Scottie breed standard had fallen into the hands of those who wanted only to win in the show ring. They had no interest in the Scottie as a working terrier. As a result, changes were made in the breed standard just to make these Win oriented breeder exhibitors more competitive in the show ring, without regard for the impact of the changes on the Scotties’ function as a working terrier and without any attempt to give a clear rationale for the changes. For instance, Pope said, why should the head of a Scottie be longer and why should he weigh more? No one, he added, appeared to care how increase in weight would affect the working ability of the dog. Pope had even heard the President of the Scottish Terrier club say he would rather his Scotties have somewhat less than the pin wire coat required by the standard because he could do more with it. As a result, Pope “with a wrench” left Scotties and the Scottish Terrier Club. Throughout his life Dr. Pope would refer to his experiences in Scotties as justification for many of his ideas for the American Border Terrier Breed Standard.
It is interesting that Dr. Pope did not see himself as an authority on the Border Terrier as a working terrier. He felt therefore that what should be done was to get the ideas current among the working terrier authorities, and where they differed, weigh the opinions expressed and choose what to him appeared to be the sensible view. Of course, since he made the decisions about the varying points of view, he himself had a great impact on the standard, even if he did not realize it. Which neither in my opinion he did not, nor at the time did anyone else, for that matter.
Dr. Pope held a Ph.D. in science and was trained in research. He was able to use his knowledge in discussing the structure of an animal. He had great faith in the belief that if the whys of a standard were explained and if the standard were expressed clearly, people would be able to agree on what the ideal Border is. He also believed in seeking out the views of authorities before expounding on anything. (He frequently submitted drafts of any article he was writing on Borders to British breeders for their critique, for instance, and would often amend his text with their suggestions in mind).
Dr. Pope also had the good fortune at the time of the development of the descriptive breed standard of being able to communicate either with British breeders who had had a hand in the writing of the original British standard (John Renton, for instance) or breeders who knew the original group and had some idea of what they were trying to accomplish. At that time, as well, many of these British commentators were able to do a great deal of hunting and had first-hand experience in using the Border for the purpose for which it was designed. Dr. Pope especially sought this expertise, as he himself had no hunt experience. When you add to these characteristics of mind and circumstances the fact that Dr. Pope agreed with the view so fundamental to the scientist that the beauty of something lies in how well it functions, you can understand the strong impact the British Border Terrier breeders had on the American Standard.
Another influence on the writing of the standard was the fear breeders had of the influence of all-rounder judges on the development of any breed of dogs. In the opinion of both American and British breeders, all-rounder judges were primarily impressed with flashy appearance, which had nothing to do with the function of the breed or the physical structure needed by a terrier to do its job. They felt that as a consequence these judges awarded placings to Borders who most resembled the short backed, Fox Terrier fronted, over trimmed terriers they so often saw, and many new people, especially in Britain, were starting to breed and show this type and even trim the Border in the fashion of the more trimmed terrier breeds.
Consequently, Border Terrier breeders, including the newly formed American breed standard committee, did not want any statement in the new American standard which could be over interpreted or misinterpreted by a judge and lead to exaggerations in the breed. Their concern was so intense that it was almost as if, should a Border win in the group ring against the highly trimmed and flashy breeds, there must be something wrong with that Border.
In the context of these concerns and convictions, the first stage in the development of the new breed standard was completed under the leadership of Dr. Pope between May 21, 1947, when Sue Nicolson sent out the first rough draft to the membership and August 29, 1948, when, at a meeting in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a draft was approved as acceptable to be sent overseas for a formal critique by English and Scottish breeders. Present at this key meeting were Marjory Harvey, Sue and John Nicolson, and Merritt Pope, with William MacBain concurring by mail.
The road from the first draft made up after the survey to the draft approved in Pittsfield in 1948 is not completely clear, as Dr. Pope was not solely in charge at the beginning of the process but appears gradually to have taken more and more responsibility upon himself, with the apparent approval of the other members of the club, until at the 1948 Pittsfield meeting he was given the responsibility for writing the formal letter to the English and Scottish breeders with the request they forward their response to him.
The first post-survey draft was, understandably, somewhat lacking and imprecise in language. I quote it here in its entirety:
STANDARD FOR Border Terrier
- Overall Description – AIM to keep the working terrier as standard
- Weight – 14-16 pounds (male near the top of the weight limit)
- Height – 14″
- Color – reddish most popular — grizzle, wheaten-blue and tan very rare but to be prized to keep the dark strain in the red body – back moderately, long, straight, not over sprung in the rib, capable of being spanned with both hands – behind shoulders
- Hide and undercoat – thick and hard – should not need to be stripped down more than once a year – coat that needs expert trimming not considered good
- Head – wide between ears, broad flat skull
- Ears – dark smallish, v shaped set side of the head
- Eyes – dark, alert, kindly
- Muzzle – strong, short-few whiskers improve expression
- Nose – dark
- Teeth – slightly undershot (scissors bite) large proportion for size of dog
- Neck – strong, nice length
- Shoulders – well laid back
- Fore Legs – cat like, strong pads
- Hindquarters – racy
- Hocks – short
- Tail – set bit lower than show wire haired terrier, thick at root and tapering, carried gaily, not over back, when at ease Border often relaxes tail but raises it when interested in game or another dog.
- Nature – hard as nails – not usually quarrelsome but will stand his corner if necessary. In the house very amiable and if one did not know his fighting ability and gameness in the field one would find it difficult to believe – active, good jumpers – very easily trained and obedient – harshness in training will ruin Border as they are unusually sensitive. Border expression is typical expression of Border breeders and is peculiar to this dog being a quizzical, interesting, bright, friendly regard.
Clearly, a number of elements in this description required more exact phrasing in order for it to be an aid to novice breeders and to judges.
The first changes, which occurred, were those suggested by Dr. Pope and Mr. MacBain. Pope’s first observation was that he thought that the proposed standard would receive better reception abroad if the American standard followed as closely as possible the form and wording of the British standard they were attempting to clarify. This basic operating procedure was adopted and adhered to in all future drafts.
Pope’s second point was with regard to size and weight, a point, which he would struggle over, change, and debate until the final draft was sent to the American Kennel Club for their approval. He reiterated what had happened to the Scottie breed standard and relayed the numerous complaints he had received from his correspondents in Britain about the variety of sizes being bred and noted that he definitely wanted to keep the Border from becoming too big. This issue becomes somewhat more confused and disputed when the expression “in hard working condition” is added. Miss Orme wrote to Dr. Pope about her bitch Nancy, who regularly went out to work with a pack of hounds. Nancy would leave her weighing 16 pounds and return at the end of the summer in hard working condition weighing 12 1/2 pounds. Nevertheless at that time Pope thought 14 to 16 pounds was pretty big. In his mind whether the Border could bolt a fox easily was more important than the ability to follow a horse. He preferred a 12 to 14 pound Border: “The Border should always be bred and judged as a working terrier. That is the only sane basis for the standard. (Scottie people have lost sight of it)”.
Dr. Pope also wanted to omit th1e 14-inch height limit. He felt it was better to stress balance or relation between height and back length, as Miss Orme did. He gives Miss Orme credit for his description of the body of a Border as ” deep and narrow, ribs carried well back with strong loins. Withers to tail head should be 1″ to 1 1/2″ shorter than the height”. (There is no mention of relative body weight). Pope also suggests that “the whole appearance [of the Border is that of] being of a fearless, alert, very active dog, capable of squeezing through narrow apertures and rapidly traversing any kind of terrain”.
With regard to the Border head, Pope would, he said, insert the descriptive phrase “like that of an otter…. That would be an unfailing criterion.” The description of the ears in the British standard was okay, he felt, but he wanted the addition of “alert but set on lower than that of a Fox Terrier”. (It would become the theme of many of the collaborators on this standard that the Border Terrier should not resemble a Fox Terrier.) With regard to teeth, Pope noted he would drop the word “undershot” and substitute “uppers fitting over lowers in a scissors bite”. Finally, he would drop the description of the Border temperament as described, would describe the forelegs as being not too heavy in bone, and add the phrase “[tail] may be down only when at ease”.
William MacBain also put forward some interesting suggestions. For one, he felt that the skull should be described as square shaped on top and “not whiskery”. Dr. Pope did not understand the first, nor agree with the second. MacBain felt scissors bite should be preferred, but flush teeth should not be a fault. The eyes should be described as dark and small and deep set with a kindly expression. The nose should be black and “largish.” Ears were to be V shaped, close to head, pointed forward and small. The neck strong and not too long. The back should be moderately short. Shoulders he described as well laid back – “oblique.” The latter word was not clear in meaning to Dr. Pope, nor did MacBain clarify it in any way. MacBain described the hindquarters as strong in order to help push ahead while digging and added that the hocks should be “a fair bend”. He wanted a height limit of approximately 14 inches and weight 13 1/2 to 15 pounds in dogs, 13 to 14 pounds in bitches. He suggested a tail length of six to eight inches, set fairly high and not too gay. Ribs, he noted, should not be over sprung but fairly deep. The Border hide should be thick “especially behind neck” with a soft undercoat and a harsh straight outer coat – slow growing and about 2 inches long when grown. The Border expression he described as alert, quizzical when head was held in a certain way, but when ears are held back, the skull will look like an otter’s. He would describe Border’s nature as quiet, friendly, fearless and able to hold his own in any company up to 10% over his weight – perhaps more.
There are obvious points of difference between Pope and MacBain – the question of height limit, tail size, and how a square head could look like that of an otter. The only really controversial point in Mr. MacBain’s suggestions, however, is the description of the eye as dark and small. The small dark eye would be opposed by a number of commentators who did not want the small dark piercing eye of the Fox Terrier. The two do agree in terms of weight, but disagree on whiskers.
Mrs. Nicolson took these comments (and we assume others), rewrote the standard, and sent it to the members for approval in January of 1948. In the revision which followed their comments, we can clearly see the impact of Dr. Pope’s comments and those of Mr. MacBain: the forward includes several of Pope’s suggestions such as the first mention of the otter head, there is no height limit (which was Pope’s recommendation), and Orme’s measurements of back were in and would stay there, despite some objection, in the final product. We also now have MacBain’s “oblique angle to shoulder” included. There is an also a refinement of the description of neck length, and forelegs (as per MacBain’s suggestion) are now described as moderate in bone. Hindquarters are now described as strong as well as racy (MacBain), and the weight limits have been lowered as per MacBain’s recommendation and Pope’s desire for a smaller Border.
While the comments of Pope and MacBain are obvious in the revision, there are also some changes, perhaps arising from member comments, which we cannot account for, such as the statements that it should not be necessary to strip a Border more than once a year, that a coat that needs expert trimming is not considered good, and the description of teeth as large in proportion to dog.
At any rate, the comments were put together in the revision of January 27, 1948 and sent out by Mrs. Nicolson to the British Border Terrier clubs asking for their comments. The revised document is quoted in full below:
Border Terrier STANDARD
- Foreword. The Border Terrier is essentially a working terrier, and as it is necessary for him to be able to follow a horse, must combine activity with gameness. He must be fearless, alert, and capable of squeezing into narrow apertures and rapidly traversing any type of terrain. By nature the Border is good tempered, affectionate, obedient and easily trained (although harshness in training may ruin a dog as they are unusually sensitive). In the field, he is hard as nails, as game as they come and driving in attack.
- Weight: Dogs: 13-15 1/2 lb Bitches: 11 1/2 to 14 lb
Back: Withers to tail should be 1″ to 1 1/2″ shorter than dog’s height
- Color: Red or reddish, grizzle, wheaten, blue and tan (rare, but keeps the dark strain)
- Body: Deep and narrow, back moderately long and straight, ribs not over sprung carried well back; a strong loin giving an almost straight underline; ribs capable of being spanned with both hands behind the shoulder.
- Coat: Harsh and dense, thick undercoat, hide thick, especially back of the neck. It should not be necessary to strip a Border more than once a year. (A coat that needs expert trimming is not considered good.)
- Head: Wide between ears, broad flat skull – similar to that of an otter.
- Ears: Dark, small, V shaped, of moderate thickness and dropping forward close to cheek, set on the side of the head, lower than that of a Fox Terrier.
- Eyes: Dark, kindly, giving an alert appearance
- Muzzle: Strong, short, few short whiskers helps to improve the expression
- Nose: Black
- Teeth: Scissors bite preferred but flush teeth not a fault – large in proportion to size of dog.
- Neck: Strong – nice proportionate length.
- Shoulders: Well laid back – oblique from brisket to withers
- Forelegs: Straight moderate in bone
- Feet: Cat like, strong pads
- Hind Quarters: Strong – “racy”
- Hocks: Short set low with a fair bend – not straight
- Tail: Set fairly high thick at root and tapering, carried gaily, not much over back. When at ease Border may drop tail.
Several British breeders responded quickly to the request for comments. The most wide- ranging were those of Captain F. Gorell Barnes of Dronfield Kennels. He was John Nicolson’s brother-in-law, a breeder of Fox Terriers before the war (WW II), a headmaster, an active member of the Southern Border Terrier Club and an exporter of several Borders to the states. He was later to leave the dog scene and teaching because of ill health and – always the breeder – retire to a small farm to raise pigs. (Miss Orme was to complain that after retirement all he wrote to her about was the pedigrees of pigs).
Captain Barnes was a thoughtful man who played a major part in the formation of the standard because he took the invitation to offer suggestions seriously and followed through with carefully worded and thoughtful suggestions whenever Dr. Pope sought them. His comments on the first draft deserve to be quoted in full:
- Foreword O.K. Suggested additions: It should be the aim of Border Terrier Breeders to avoid such over-emphasis of any point in the standard as might lead to unbalanced exaggeration.
- Weight Dogs: 13-15 1/2 pounds. Bitches 11 1/2 – 14 pounds. Are appropriate weights for Borders in show condition but slight tolerance may be allowed provided the general shape and size of the Terrier does not render him unsuitable for his work.
- Head: Similar to that of an otter. Moderately broad and flat in skull with plenty of width between the ears and between the eyes- A slight, moderately broad curve at the stop rather than a pronounced indentation-Cheeks slightly full.
- Ears: Not large, V-shaped and of moderate thickness-Not set high on the head but somewhat to the side and dropping close to the Cheeks.
- Eyes: Dark and full of fire and intelligence, moderate in size without being prominent.
- Muzzle: Short and strong giving in conjunction with the keen eyes and body poise at the alert, a look of fearless and implacable determination Characteristic of the breed.
- Teeth: Strong and as nearly as possible level-i.e. The upper teeth closing over the lower in a scissor bite.
- Nose: Black
- Neck: Clean, fairly muscular and of sufficient length to afford a good reach and a well-balanced appearance-gradually widening to the shoulders.
- Shoulders: Well laid back and of good length, the blades converging to the withers as gradually as conforms to a not excessively narrow brisket.
- Forelegs: Straight and not too heavy in bone-On no account must a Border be leggy nor must he be too short in leg.
- Feet: Small and compact with moderate arched toes and thick pads.
- Body: Deep fairly narrow and of sufficient length to avoid any suggestion of clogginess or lack of range and liberty-Ribs carried well back and not over-sprung in view of the desired depth and narrowness of the body which should be capable of being spanned, or nearly so, by both hands behind the shoulders.
- Back: Strong but laterally supple-may be very slightly arched over the loin toward the stern but must not be roached.
- Tail: Stern Moderately short and thick at the base, then tapering. Set on fairly high and carried gaily when at the alert but not over the back or curled. When at ease a Border may drop his stern.
- Hindquarters: Racing, with thighs long and nicely molded-not straight in stifles-hocks fairly near the ground.
- Coat: The harsher the better, and dense with a close undercoat- The top coat should lie close though it may be somewhat broken, but it may not show any tendency to curl or wave. Thus, a Border should be able to be exhibited almost in his natural state, nothing more in the way of trimming being needed than a tidying-up of the head, neck and feet.
- Hide: Very thick
- Action: Straight and rhythmical before and behind with good length of stride and flexing of hocks.
- Color: OK
A quick review of Captain Barnes’ suggestions and the final breed standard submitted to the AKC shows the great influence he had on the standard from the beginning. He is the first to discuss movement, the shape of the tail, and very interestingly, he is the first and only one to suggest the somewhat controversial description of the back permitting a slight arch over the loins. Dr. Pope used this description in several drafts of the standard despite the disagreement of many. While Barnes introduced it because he felt that many Borders with the slight arch were being penalized in the show ring in Britain, Pope saw it as a logical conclusion that the Border should have a slight arch because such a conformation was necessary if the Border was to be able to keep up with a horse and run with the hounds. Only later in the final go around for British breeder input would this point be dropped. Barnes himself retracted the statement because he feared (as did others) that judges would exaggerate the importance of an arch and you would have a roached back Border.
A second very influential British commentator was Miss Hester Garnett-Orme. The breeder of Raisgill borders, of which Dr. Pope had several, she had been an officer of the Southern Border Terrier Club, an unofficial historian of the breed, and a longtime correspondent of Dr. Pope. She wrote several articles and supplied many of the photographs of British dogs found in the early yearbooks of the Border Terrier Club of America and often acted as an intermediary between Dr. Pope and other British breeders. Miss Orme was very interested in the Border as a working terrier and had had several in her kennels over the years.
Miss Orme, as already mentioned, had earlier had some influence on Dr. Pope in the section of the standard concerned with body type and the relationship of height at the withers to the length of the back. In her response to the draft she indicated that she did not think it wise to use the word “rare” in relation to the color blue and tan. It was not her experience in Britain, and she thought this might prejudice the judges against it. With regard to ear color, she would insert “dark preferred, but not essential”. She disagreed with the statement “flush teeth not a fault”. There were too many bad mouths in the breed already, she noted, and in her opinion, the only correct bite was the scissors bite.
Miss Orme was also doubtful about using “strong” in describing the hindquarters. “strong loin” was already there and a Border could be too strong in quarters – “they want to be muscular but not rounded”. To her, “strong” and ‘racy’ contradicted each other. She thought “muscular and racy” more meaningful. Finally, she would take out the word “much” regarding the tail over the back. There would be a lot of argument over how much is too much, or how gay is gay, she noted, adding that in any case once a bad tail gets into the line it is very difficult to get rid of it.
Two other well-known breeders, Robert Hall and Wattie Irving, responded as well. Robert Hall was relatively new person on the Border scene in Britain, but he was an outstanding breeder and competitor. He later had the unique privilege of being the first judge to judge the BTCA Specialty twice. Wattie Irving went much further back in the breed and for many years was the Secretary of the Border Terrier Club. He too was a successful breeder. He was also the father of Andrew Irving and the grandfather of W. Ronald Irving – all three became successful Border Terrier breeders and judges.
Mr. Hall was against the suggested one weight for the dog and bitch with tolerance for each. Like Miss Orme, he disagreed with the description of the color blue and tan as rare and wanted to use the term “preferred” when talking about the desired dark ear on the Border. More importantly, he wanted the head of the Border to be described as a “moderately broad flat skull”. This wording was adopted by Dr. Pope along with his suggestion of the use of the expressions “well developed, with stifles well bent” and that the tail should not be “curled over the back”.
Wattie Irving made several points. He thought the weight standard was not necessary if the Border was well balanced. He thought that instead there should be a height standard of 12 to 13 inches with bitches less. He wanted to describe the head as “moderately” wide between the ears (adopted by Pope). Finally, he wanted the ears to drop “forward” close to the cheek and note that the forelegs should not be set like a Fox Terrier’s – both points, which Pope adopted. However, here as with other commentators, Pope rejected a height standard, as he considered weight to be more important for a working terrier.
Dr. Pope , before sending his proposed standard overseas, had submitted it to Mr. MacBain for his final comments.
MacBain made several suggestions. He wanted the statement dark eyes preferred. He also wanted to lower the weight limits to 14 pounds for dogs ( Pope compromised at 15). He also recommended dropping the last phrase “but slight tolerance may be allowed provided it does not render him unsuitable for work”. (Others had recommended the same. They did not trust the judge’s judgment.) He wanted the word “thickening” put back to describe the neck rather than “widening”. He wanted added “Ribs deep, fairly narrow and “body of sufficient length to avoid….
Miss Orme would later disagree and this addition would be reversed. He also wanted the word agility to replace liberty in the description of the body. In a housekeeper move, he recommended that the wording on height versus back measurements be moved to the section on general description.
Most of MacBain’s suggestions were adopted by Pope with several to be reversed later at the suggestions of British breeders when this draft of the standard was sent overseas. But it was a sign of Dr. Pope’s respect for Mr. MacBain that he gave him the last word before the final revision was submitted to his committee at Pittsfield, and he also sought MacBain’s approval by mail of the standard to be sent to British breeders and dog experts.
The BTCA was almost home. A tentative standard had been written with input from British breeders. The initial phase was complete. Dr. Pope composed the following letter, which was approved by his committee sent with the draft to British breeders and dog experts:
Dear Sir or Madam:
As you possibly know, the American Border Terrier Club is in the process of formation and we need your help. We are starting practically from scratch. None of us has had extensive experience with the breed and our judges know it mainly from your British Standard. We find that standard vague in many respects and have been unable to determine, from it alone, what a good Border should be. But through the good offices of a number of old breeders in Britain, we have amplified the British Standard with the suggestions, which we have received and believe that, for our purpose, it will serve as a more useful guide for our breeders and judges.
One hesitates to tinker with the “ancient land marks”, and we have done our best to keep the essence of the old Standard in an effort to make ours intelligible and usable to the tyro, be he breeder or judge. If we have failed we want to know it. We shall welcome criticism, be it destructive or constructive, but we hope that a modicum of the latter will come our way.
May we ask you to go over the enclosed draft carefully and note:
- points, which you may consider incorrect
- points, which may well be stated better
- additions, which you think, would enhance the usefulness of the Standard
Such changes as you wish to make might be written in and returned or, if you prefer, an extended comment may be sent to the writer. To make this favor as nearly painless to you as possible, your suggestions might be handed to your honorable Secretary to be transmitted to me.
May we have the pleasure and profit of you counsel? We shall be most grateful.
For the Committee.
(signed) Merritt M. Pope
R.F. D. 1, Box 110
The following revised draft of the standard was attached:
Border Terrier STANDARD
Since the Border Terrier is a working terrier able to follow a horse, his conformation should be such that he be ideally built to do his job. No deviations from this ideal conformation should be permitted which would impair his usefulness running his quarry to earth and in attacking it therein. For this work he must be alert, active and agile, and capable of squeezing through narrow apertures and rapidly traversing any kid of terrain. His head, “like that of an otter”, is distinctive, and his temperament ideally exemplifies that of a terrier. By nature he is good tempered, affectionate, obedient, and easily trained. In the field he is hard as nails, “game as they come” and driving in attack.
- General Appearance: He is a racy terrier of medium bone, strongly put together, suggesting endurance and agility, but rather narrow in shoulder, body and quarter. The body is covered with a rather short, close-fitting and intensely wiry jacket. The characteristic “otter” head with its keen eye, combined with a body poise which is at the alert,” gives a look of fearless and implacable determination characteristic of the breed. The proportions should be that the height at the withers should be slightly greater that the distance from the withers to the tail; i.e. by possibly 1 – 11/12 inches in a 14 pound dog.
- Weight: Dogs, 13-15 pounds. Bitches 11 1/2 – 14 pounds, are appropriate weights for Border Terriers in hard working condition.
- Head: Similar to that of an otter. Moderately broad and flat in skull with plenty of width between the eyes and between the ears. A slight, moderately broad curve at the stop rather than a pronounced indentation. Cheeks slightly full.
- Ears: Small, v-shaped and of moderate thickness, dark preferred. Not set high on the head but somewhat on the side, and dropping forward close to the Cheeks.
- Eyes: Dark preferable and full of fire and intelligence. Moderate in size without being prominent.
- Muzzle: Short and” well filled”. A few short whiskers improve the expression.
- Teeth: Strong, with a scissor bite, large in proportion to size of dog.
- Nose: Black, and of a good size.
- Neck: Clean, fairly muscular and of sufficient length to afford a good reach, gradually thickening to the shoulders to give a well-balanced appearance.
- Shoulders: Well laid back and of good length, the blades converging to the withers gradually from a brisket not excessively narrow.
- Forelegs: Straight and not too heavy in bone and placed slightly wider than in a Fox Terrier.
- Feet: Small and compact. Toes should point forward and be moderately arched with thick pads.
- Body: Ribs deep, fairly narrow and body of sufficient length to avoid any suggestion of lack of range and agility. Ribs carried well back and not over-sprung. In view of the desired depth and narrowness of body, the body should be capable of being spanned, or nearly so, by both hands behind the shoulders. Back strong but laterally supple; may be very slightly arched over the loin towards the stern, but must not be roached.
- Tail: Moderately short; thick at the base, then tapering. Set on fairly high and carried gaily when at the alert, but not much over the back or curled. When at ease, a Border may drop his stern.
- Hindquarters: Racing, with thighs long and nicely molded. Stifles well bent and hocks well let down.
- Coat: A dense under coat (sic) covered with a very wiry topcoat, which should lie closely, but it must not show any tendency to curl or wave. With such a coat a Border should be able to be exhibited almost in his natural state, nothing more in the way of trimming being needed than a tidying-up of the head, neck and feet.
- Hide: Very thick.
- Movement: Straight and rhythmical before and behind, with good length of stride and flexing of stifle and hock. The dog should respond to his handler with a gait, which is free, agile and quick.
- Color: Red, Grizzle and Tan, Blue and Tan, or Wheaten.
Scale of Points
Head, ears, neck and teeth . . . . . . . . .20
Legs and feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Coat and skin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 10
Shoulders and Chest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Eyes and expression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Back and loin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . … .10
Hindquarters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Tail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
General appearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . .100
One of the first British commentators to respond to Dr. Pope was our friend Hester Orme. She warned Pope that he must be wary of the Fox Terrier eye. In her opinion a Border’s eye should not be the black eye of some terriers, but very dark hazel. She suggested the addition “dark hazel preferable…not the piercing eye of the Fox Terrier.” She also recommends the substitution of “bolting it[the fox] from there” rather than “attacking it therein”, as the Border Terrier working with the hunt was not supposed to kill the fox but to bolt it. Of course, as she further points out, in the old days when farmers used Borders, they did not mind if the Border killed the fox.
With regard to body type she suggested a return to the old version before MacBain’s changes, i.e. “Deep” ribs carried well back… in the second sentence of the description of the body. She explained that some people in Britain thought that Borders could not be too deep in brisket, while others, like herself, liked a fairly straight underline. She did not like the underline cutting up behind the last rib. Many did, but she did not think that it was the shape of the old Border. In her opinion this tuck up came from the ribs not being carried far enough back; one saw it in most short backed Borders. If the brisket were too deep, she added, it would have to be too narrow in order to be spanned by a person’s hands.
The next to respond was Captain Barnes in the first of several exchanges on the standard. Captain Barnes’ earlier suggestions had been almost completely incorporated into Pope’s proposed standard – a fact he himself mentions in the second sentence of his letter. He was taking his task seriously.
He began by suggesting that as the standard was worded there was a danger of giving the idea of an excessively racy terrier and thus getting the long drawn out, weedy variety. The words “rather narrow in shoulder, body and quarters” should be omitted. In any case “rather narrow in shoulder” was capable of several undesirable interpretations. Captain Barnes unfortunately did not expound upon these interpretations and we have no idea of what he meant.
He also felt that the words “somewhat broken” in the description of the coat as “A somewhat broken though closely fitting and intensely wiry jacket” was essential in order to avoid giving the impression of a close fitting coat like that of a smooth Fox Terrier. In his opinion a coat could be close fitting without being flat and dead straight like a Smooth Fox Terrier and “somewhat broken covers this.
Another concern of his was the lessening of the maximum weight from 15 1/2 pounds to 15 pounds. The question of weight, in his opinion, was a bugbear, but fitness for the job should be given greater weight rather than less as long as it was not allowed to “run riot”. He saw two dangers. The first would be the excellent terrier being overlooked because of a pound or two over weight, especially when” well done”. This he felt applied particularly to dogs. It also applied to some extent to bitches, especially the good-bodied “roomy” type that, if well made, “often proves a most valuable matron”. The second and opposite danger is too much elasticity where 20 pound dogs are allowed to do big winning. This was happening in Britain, in his opinion, where the big dog is far better than his competition in every way except for size. “It was an extremely difficult question – where it should stop.” Therefore, although he would hesitate to ask for the maximum to be increased, he would not want it lessened. Dr. Pope responded, as one might expect, that he objected to the wide range of size allowed in Britain. He felt it made more difficult the task of fixing a definite standard type. For him a “large” Border would seem to be unable to do the work it is supposed to do. “I’d say breed from big ones if you want to take chance, but don’t let them win.” However, the maximum weight limits were not lessened in the final standard.
Captain Barnes also stressed the avoidance of a light eye. They could creep in all too easy anyhow. He recommended deleting “preferable” and not giving the judge more encouragement than he is pretty sure to give himself when The light eyed beauty presents itself”. Dr. Pope agreed quickly. For him light eyes were an abomination.
Captain Barnes had several other concerns. He really didn’t want whiskers encouraged by the standard, as they were often accompanied by a soft coat and the softer coat often led to the temptation to trim and shape the Border. In Britain, he felt there were exhibitors taking advantage of this type of coat and whiskers to make a snipey foreface look strong. He also preferred the word widening rather than thickening when discussing shoulders, as the latter leaves one with the idea of coarseness at the withers, which was most undesirable. Pope agreed, as he also agreed to Barnes’ suggestion to include the statement “dark muzzle is characteristic and desirable”.
The final and most important point to be made by Barnes was his retraction of his original suggestion that the words slight arch over the loins be added to the standard. He felt this should not be emphasized. He had mentioned it in his original draft because several quite good Borders had it and it occurred to him that some judges “especially experts in other terrier breeds (e.g., wire and smooth Fox Terriers, Welsh and Lakeland) might treat it as a fault when it occurs.” In fact it should be penalized if it is too pronounced. Dr. Pope, who had thought the slight arch logical for a dog that was to run with hounds and behind a horse, responded that perhaps it should be dropped, as several of his correspondents had insisted on a straight top line. Perhaps the expression “the appearance of a slight arch over the pelvis due to set on of tail slightly lower than a Fox x Terrier.” Captain Barnes responded that he agreed with this approach. However it never got into the standard for fear of exaggeration by judges, leading to a roach. But there is also nothing of a straight back – just no dip behind the withers.
Another view was expressed by Mrs. Twist (Hallborne), who was very interested in the working side of the Border Terrier. We do not have copies of her correspondence with Dr. Pope, so do not know her reasoning on the suggestions she made, but they had an impact. Like Barnes, she felt the weight maximum should not be lessened. She felt that the dog weight could go to 16 pounds. She recommended the phrase “ears should not break above the skull level”.
She also recommended the wording “whiskers improve the expression” . For her, unlike Barnes, the more whiskers they have, “the nicer”. She did not feel a liver nose should be a disqualification – just discouraged. She wanted “loose” added to the description of hide. For her the Border “should be like a thoroughbred pony in many ways more than other terriers.”
Miss Barbara Eccles presented yet another point of view. A breeder of Borders (Chalkcroft) with a deep commitment to the working terriers, she had written several articles on the working Border for the early American yearbooks. This is the first time we hear from her regarding the standard. Dr. Pope reported that Miss Eccles thought a “dark eye essential” and as “dark as possible”. For her hazel was too light and you got a yellow gleam in strong sunlight. She believed in a “straight strong back”. It was her belief that white on the feet should be penalized but a small white patch on the chest allowable. Miss Orme had agreed with this point as did Dr. Pope. He incorporated it into the final version of the standard.
Dr. Pope received several other brief notes from British breeders, each with a suggestion or two, all of which he considered. He incorporated several into the standard.
Dr. Lillico recommended the change under general appearance to” active” from “racy”. Wattie Irving suggested the addition of “man’s hands” as the standard for spanning a Border. This was accepted by Dr. Pope only when the AKC also made it one of their recommendations when the standard was finally submitted for their approval. Mrs. Eileen Stoney wanted the feet to be described as round and catlike. She wanted a roach back listed as a disqualification, and she, like Mrs. Twist, wanted the words “loose fitting” added to the description of the hide. Mrs. Mulcaster would raise the weight limits to 16 1/2 pounds for dogs – 14 1/2 being the ideal; the bitches going to 14 pounds – the ideal being 13 pounds. She wanted the eye described as “dark hazel, moderate in size. The small black beady eye is definitely wrong in a Border.”
The end of the task of developing the standard was fast approaching. A final draft was written and submitted to the American Kennel Club for its approval on May 31, 1949. Mr. H.D. Bixby, Executive Vice-President, responded. He himself was a Norwich Terrier man and it had been he who had originally recommended that the club keep the British Standard. In the name of the AKC, Mr. Bixby suggested two changes. The first we have already mentioned- he felt that a man’s hands should be used as the standard for spanning. He was also concerned about the description of the Border’s neck. The Border was a working terrier and the pictures he had seen of Borders would indicate to him a powerful neck and by no stretch of the imagination could the neck of the working Border Terrier he saw be described as “of sufficient length to afford good reach”. “Reach” was a word not often used in dog standards; it was distinctly a horse term. It was always his understanding that it meant “noticeably a lean neck such as on a Fox Terrier”. (It was somewhat ironic, as well as a testament to the difficulty of writing a standard which could not be misinterpreted, that a non-Border Terrier man should interpret part of the standard to be more appropriate for a Fox Terrier).
Dr. Pope responded that he thought the point well taken as long as the short and muscular neck would not give an exaggeration, which would throw the dog out of balance. He suggested the revision “Clean, muscular and only long enough to give a well balanced appearance. It should gradually widen into the shoulders.” The changes met with Mr. Bixby’s approval and he requested a final revised copy be submitted to him so that he could in turn submit it to the Board of Directors (12/2/49).
The following standard was approved by the American Kennel Club March. 14, 1950:
THE BORDER TERRIER BREED STANDARD
Since the Border Terrier is a working terrier of a size to go to ground and able, within reason to follow a horse, his confirmation should be such that he be ideally built to do his job. No deviations from this ideal conformation should be permitted which would impair his usefulness in running his quarry to earth and in bolting it there from. For this work he must be alert, active and agile, and capable of squeezing through narrow apertures and rapidly traversing any kind of terrain. His head, “like that of an otter” is distinctive, and his temperament ideally exemplifies that of a terrier. By nature he is good tempered, affectionate, obedient, and easily trained. In the field he is hard as nails, “game as they come” and driving in attack.
It should be the aim of Border Terrier breeders to avoid such over-emphasis of any point in the Standard as might lead to unbalanced exaggeration.
General Appearance: He is an active terrier of medium bone, strongly put together, suggesting endurance and agility, but rather narrow in shoulder, body and quarter. The body is covered with a somewhat broken though close-fitting and intensely wiry jacket. The characteristic “otter” head with its keen eye, combined with a body poise which is “at the alert”, gives a look of fearless and implacable determination characteristic of the breed. The proportions should be that the height at the withers should be slightly greater than the distance from the withers to the tail; i.e. by possibly 1 – 1 1/2 inches in a 14 lb dog.
- Weight: Dogs, 13 -15 1/2 pounds. Bitches, 11 1/2 – 14 pounds., are appropriate weights for Border Terriers in hard working condition.
- Head: Similar to that of an otter. Moderately broad and flat in skull with plenty of width between the eyes and between the ears. A slight, moderately broad curve at the stop rather than a pronounced indentation. Cheeks slightly full.
- Ears: Small, V-shaped and of moderate thickness, dark preferred. Not set high on the head but somewhat on the side, and dropping forward close to the cheeks. They should not break above the level of the skull.
- Eyes: Dark hazel and full of fire and intelligence. Moderate in size, neither prominent nor small and beady.
- Muzzle: Short and “well filled”. A dark muzzle is characteristic and desirable. A few short whiskers are natural to the breed.
- Teeth: Strong, with a scissor bite, large in proportion to size of dog.
- Nose: Black, and of a good size.
- Neck: Clean, muscular and only long enough to give a well-balanced appearance. It should gradually widen into the shoulder.
- Shoulders: Well laid back and of good length, the blades converging to the withers gradually from a brisket not excessively deep or narrow.
- Forelegs: Straight and not too heavy in bone and placed slightly wider than in a Fox Terrier.
- Feet: Small and compact. Toes should point forward and be moderately arched with thick pads.
- Body: Deep, fairly narrow and of sufficient length to avoid any suggestion of lack of range and agility. Deep ribs carried well back and not over sprung in view of the desired depth and narrowness of the body. The body should be capable of being spanned by a man’s hands behind the shoulders. Back strong but laterally supple, with no suspicion of a dip behind the shoulder. Loin strong and the underline fairly straight.
- Tail: Moderately short, thick at the base, then tapering. Not set on too high. Carried gaily when at the alert, but not over the back. When at ease, a Border may drop his stern.
- Hindquarters: Muscular and racy, with thighs long and nicely molded. Stifles well bent and hocks well let down.
- Coat: A short and dense undercoat covered with a very wiry and somewhat broken topcoat, which should lie closely, but it must not show any tendency to curl or wave. With such a coat a Border should be able to be exhibited almost in his natural state, nothing more in the way of trimming being needed than a tidying-up of the head, neck and feet.
- Hide: Very thick and loose fitting.
- Movement: straight and rhythmical before and behind, with good length of stride and flexing of stifle and hock. The dog should respond
to his handler with a gait, which is, free, agile and quick.
- Color: Red, Grizzle and Tan, Blue and Tan, or Wheaten. A small amount of white may be allowed on the Chest but white on the feet should be penalized.
Scale of Points
Head, ears, neck and teeth . . . . . . . . . .20
Legs and feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Coat and skin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Shoulders and Chest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Eyes and expression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Back and loin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .10
Hindquarters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Tail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
General appearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . . .100
There have been few changes since AKC acceptance of this final draft. While there was some discussion in 1965 of a revision to raise the weight standard to reflect more closely what was being shown in the ring, it got no support from BTCA members.
The American Kennel Club suggested that BTCA reformat the standard in 1991. This was approved by the Board of the BTCA as it meant no changes, deletions, nor the addition of anything new in the standard. It was just reorganized to meet the new format standards adopted by the world kennel clubs.
In looking back over the four-year process of developing the American breed standard, it is evident that the difficult goal of accurately enlarging and clarifying the original British Standard had been met. Thanks to the British breeders who responded to the call of the Border Terrier Club of America for their help, the American Breed Standard had evolved into a precisely enlarged restatement of the British Breed Standard in terms familiar to the American fancier.
Without question, we owe the breed standard’s existence to the drive, enthusiasm and skills of Dr. Merritt Pope. If any one person deserves the credit for the standard it is he: the standard reflects his philosophy as a breeder, his abilities at organization, and his choices among the conflicting suggestions made by the authorities .
The philosophy of the standard governs the actions of the Border Terrier Club of America and its members to this day. Like the Border Terrier whose welfare it is designed to promote, it is unique in many ways, all of which would have been very pleasing to Dr. Pope.
III: GROWTH: EARLY SPECIALTIES, BREEDERS, AND BORDERS, 1949 – 1980
As the year 1949 approached, work on the standard was nearly completed. Dr. Pope wrote Miss Van der Veer, then acting secretary, on December 31, 1948 that he thought a more permanent organization was needed. He had already discussed the formation of the club with Mr. Bixby of the AKC, who had sent him a sample constitution.
In January of 1949, Miss Van der Veer sent a letter out to all members of the club, with a membership list, asking for nominations for a slate of officers. Dr. Pope was elected President, John C. Nicholson, Vice President, Mrs. Claira Nicholson, Treasurer, and Miss Marjory Van der Veer, Secretary. The Border Terrier Club was officially organized.
With the increase in registrations and in the number of dogs being shown, it was only natural that there should be interest in an AKC-approved club show, which required that the club demonstrate its readiness to do so by first presenting two formal AKC-sanctioned matches. In 1957 the opportunity to hold the first came in the form of an invitation from Mrs. Marion duPont Scott to present it at Montpelier, her historic Virginia estate, now owned by the National Historic Trust. The judge was Heywood R. Hartley, and twenty dogs were entered. Best in Match was Dalquest Derry Down, owned by Carroll K. Bassett. The second match was held a year later at the Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, Long Island, New York. The judge was Frank B. Brumby and 13 Borders were entered. Shelburne Jonesie, owned by Warner L Jones, was Best in Match.
Having successfully completed two Plan “A” matches, the club made application to the American Kennel Club for permission to hold its first Specialty Show in 1959 in conjunction with the Ladies Kennel Association of America show at Garden City, Long Island, New York . Mr. Heywood R. Hartley was judge of that first Specialty, in which 31 Borders were entered. The Best of Breed was the import Ch. Portholme Mhor of Dalquest, owned by Margery Harvey and Marjory Van Der Veer.
From the beginning, challenge trophies for Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, and Best of Winners were offered at the Border club shows. The club also offered a trophy for the Highest Scoring Border Terrier in the obedience trial classes and numerous trophies in the breed classes, a tradition which has continued to the present time.
In 1964, after a disappointing 1963 Specialty, the BTCA held its Specialty in Connecticut, in conjunction with the Greenwich Kennel Club. Five years later at the Greenwich show the Specialty presented its first English breeder-judge, Mrs. Barbara Holmes of Wharfholm kennels.
In 1972, the Border Terrier Specialty moved to Woodstock, Vermont, which remained its location annually through 1988. With the move to Woodstock, the Border Terrier as a breed showed growth both in numbers and visibility in the show ring. As one might expect, there was also a marked increase in membership in the BTCA. The year 1972 also saw the first group win by a Border, British import Am. Ch. Wattie Irving of Dalquest, and the first Utility Dog and Tracking Dog obedience titles earned by a Border, Am. Ch. Chief of Lothian, UDT, CG (Lothlorian). Group wins and placements became more common, reaching their peak on the historic day in 1977 when Br Am Ch. Workmore Waggoner, (owned by Kate J. Seemann) went Best in Show. The next year, 1978, saw the Border becomes the first terrier breed to become an Obedience Trial Champion (OU Ch. Pete, UD, owned by Floyd Timmons).
Also in 1972, the first Border to earn an American Working Terrier Association Certificate of Gameness appeared, American-bred Am. Ch. Bandersnatch Snake, CD, CG., bred by Marg Pough.
The seventies also saw the establishment of the first regional Border Terrier Clubs – the Border Terrier Fanciers in the West (1976) and the Midwest Border Terrier Club (1977).
1980 began a decade of spectacular growth. After several years of discussion and negotiations, the American Kennel Club accepted the Border Terrier Club of America as a member club, and membership in the BTCA grew to over 300. Several new breeder judges were added to the AKC approved judges list, which for so many years had held the name of only one breeder-judge, Miss Van der Veer.
1986 saw the first Specialty of the BTCA to be held on the West Coast. Supported and organized by the Border Fanciers of the West, it was held in conjunction with the Kern County Kennel Club Show. 1986 thus becomes the first year to see two Border Specialties held in one year. Clearly, the BTCA had made marked advances in the forty years since its inception at the benches of the Westminster Club Show in New York City in 1946.
A breed history, however brief, would be remiss if it did not include a tracing of the contributions of the kennels and dogs, which produced it. The Register of Merit Award is emphasized in the tracing presented here since these sires and dams have very literally shaped the Border Terrier in America.
Of the kennels of the early days in the US [William MacBain’s Diehard kennels, Emerson Latting’s Balquhain kennels, Captain and Mrs. Jack C. Nicholson’s Dronfield kennels, and George Beckett’s Dour kennels] only the Philabeg kennels of Dr. and Mrs. Merritt Pope were still active in the 1950s. In the late forties, the Pope’s Philabeg kennel finished Am. Ch. Philabeg Red Mill and Am. Ch. Raisgill Romper of Philabeg and in the early fifties they finished Am. Ch. Philabeg Accent, Am. Ch. Philabeg Actress, and Am. Ch. Ribbleside Racketeer of Philabeg.
As the older kennels, which began the establishment of the Border Terrier in the United States, were phasing out, three new kennels appeared on the scene which have had tremendous impact on the breed, two of which have remained active almost to the present day. These were Dalquest, Shelburne, and the kennels of Mrs. Marion duPont Scott, which never had a prefix.
Perhaps the most productive of the three kennels has been the Dalquest kennels of Miss Marjory Van der Veer and Miss Margery Harvy. The impact of these dedicated Border breeders on the Border Terrier in America has been enormous. Originally breeders and exhibitors of Dalmatians (hence the name Dalquest), Miss Harvey and Miss Van der Veer got their first Border, Am. Ch. Philabeg Red Bet, from Dr. and Mrs. Pope. Since that first Border, Dalquest was to own, or breed, over 44 American champions before retirement from the Border ring in 1983.
Dalquest acquired a number of imported dogs. Am. Ch. Portholme Matilda (Ch. Portholme Manly Boy x Ch. Portholme Mamie) arrived in 1953 and was soon followed by two others, Am. Ch. Portholme Max Factor (Ch. Carahall Cornet x Portholme Marcorine) and Am. Ch. Portholme Meroe (Ch. Portholme Manly Boy x Tina O’Kim ). Max Factor, or Geordie as he was called, sired ten Champions – three with Am. Ch. Dour Dare, four with Am. Ch. Golden Fancy, and two each with Am. Ch. Carahall Cindylou and Am. Ch. Dalquest Smokey Tigress.
Among the champions out of Am. Ch. Portholme Meroe was the Silver ROM winner Am. Ch. Dalquest Dauntless. Both Geordie and Meroe were made up within a year, no easy task when exhibitors had to travel far and wide to find enough Borders to make the necessary major wins for a championship.
Two years later (1955) came Am. Ch. Portholme Mhor of Dalquest (Portholme Mustard x Ch. Portholme Mirth). A real showman, Mhor was Best Border at the first Border Specialty in 1959. He sired 13 champions to earn his Gold Register of Merit.
The next and most famous Portholme Border to come to Dalquest was one which Miss Van der Veer and Miss Harvey purchased themselves, Br. Am. Ch. Portholme Macsleap of Dalquest (Portholme Mask and Brush x Ch. Portholme Mirth). Having already sired three champions in England, he came to the United States at the age of four and a half and went on to sire 10 more champions in this country. In addition he won the 1965 Specialty, arriving in the US only two days beforehand, and finished his American championship in four shows within four months. Mhor sired the first Border group winner Am. Ch. D.G. Wattie Irving of Dalquest, as well as Mex. Am. Ch. Bandersnatch Brillig, CD, and Am. Ch. Rose Bud of Lothian, later to join the Town Hill kennels of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Mosle.
Another very productive kennel, that of Mrs. Marion duPont Scott , (which has never had a prefix), produced a number of outstanding ROM winners. Mrs. Scott died in 1984 but the Borders of her kennels continue under the able direction of Damara Bolte, who with the help of others interested in maintaining this line, continues to show and breed Borders. Mrs. Scott, along with Carroll Bassett, had a number of champion Borders in the fifties and sixties. Her first ROM winner was Am. Ch. Carahall Cindylou (Ch. Carahall Cornet x Carahall Charm), bred by Mr. Goodsir in Britain. Her most outstanding ROM Borders were the famous duo of Am. Ch. Rob Roy Buckler and Am. Ch. Shuttle, both Gold ROM winners. Buckler was sired by Mrs. Scott’s British import Am. Ch. Farmway Dandyhow Likely Lad out of Tweeds Easter, daughter of Falcliff Target. Am. Ch. Shuttle was sired by Mrs. Scott’s Am. Ch. Bull Run out of Katie, a daughter of Br. Am. Ch. Falcliff Tantalizer.
Together with Buckler, Shuttle produced American champions Nonstop, Delta, Scooter, Buckshot, Concorde, Express, Razzle, Dazzle, and Ransom, Contrail, Supersaver, Standby and Piper Cub. The champions from this potent pair continued their parent’s tradition of producing many champions.
The third important kennel with marked influence in the post-Second World War period is the Shelburne kennel of the Webb family. Shelburne and the Webb family have been associated over the years with the Shelburne Hunt, the earliest recognized private hunt in the USA, which was organized in 1903 by J. Watson Webb and remained active until 1953. Among other hunt terriers, the Webbs kept Borders for work with the Shelburne hunt. The Webbs had imported several Borders over the early years, and upon joining the family after her marriage to Harry Webb in 1947, Kate recognized and appreciated the versatility of the Border Terriers, who were great with kids, sturdy, good house pets, and readily adaptable to the hunt, to retrieving, and to hunting woodchucks or even lizards when something more appropriate was not available. Kate bred, exhibited, worked, wrote about, and promoted Borders steadily under the Shelburne prefix from the time she was given her first two as a wedding gift. In the early days she was active in the BTCA as well, serving as vice president(1957-59) and succeeding Dr. Pope as president(1960-65). The first American-bred Shelburne champion was Am. Ch. Shelburne Slipper, a Bottles daughter, out of Ch. Golden Fancy, a British import bred by Mrs. Ormston. Fancy herself had finished her championship with three five-point major wins. The second important Shelburne champion was Br. Am, Ch. Lucky Purchase (Ch. Future Fame x Fully Fashioned) bought from Adam Forster.
The list of influential Borders imported by this kennel over the years and to the present day is remarkable in quality and extent and includes, though the decades before the present one, Am. Ch. Chalkcroft Blue Peter, Am. Ch. Golden Fancy, Br Am, Ch. Dandyhow Bitter Shandy, Br. Am. Ch. Brieryhill Gertrude, Br. Am. Ch. Jonty Lad, Am. Ch. Covington Eagle, Am. Ch. Dandyhow Sarah, Am. Ch. Deerstone Tylview Dusty, Br. Am. Ch. Deerstone Debrett, Am Ch. Monty of Essenhigh, Am. Ch. Redridge Ramona, Am. Ch. Elandmead Psalm, Br. Am. Ch. Workmore Waggoner, WC, Am. Ch. Redridge Russet, Br. Am. Ch. Cannybuff Cloud, Am. Ch. Workmore Tristar, and Am. Ch. Starcyl March On.
The most famous of this impressive group of Shelburne Borders was Br. Am. Ch. Workmore Waggoner, WC (Solway Cawfields Duke x Workmore Queenie) bred by G. and C.M. Walker) who was Best of Breed in the first BTCA Specialty in which he participated, and in the subsequent four Specialties as well, winning his last Specialty coming from the Veterans Class. Although not used a great deal by breeders outside of Shelburne until his later years, he produced 25 American champions. Wag was especially productive with the ROM winner Am. Ch. Redbridge Russet, imported by Shelburne from J.R. Goodfellow, and additionally, with Silver ROM Am. Ch. Highdyke Alpha (Am. Ch. Dandyhow Bertie Bassett x Clipstone Cider Rose) owned by Oldstone, and her niece Bronze ROM Am. Ch. Highdyke Tish of Cymri Hill (Am. Ch. Brockett Hurdle x Am. Ch. Highdyke Twiglet) owned by Cymri Hill Kennels. It is interesting that in their pedigrees all three of these bitches are strongly influenced by Dandyhow breeding and Ch. Dandyhow Shady Knight in particular.
In addition to the continuing active presence of these three major kennels, the decade of the seventies saw the establishment of several now well known kennels who joined in laying the foundation for the growth in popularity of the Border terrier in the last twenty years.
The first of these is the Trails End kennel of Nancy Hughes. The three best known Borders imported by Trails End were Br. Am. Ch. Workmore Brackon, imported in 1972, and co-owned with Nancy Kloskowski; Br. Am. Ch. Final Honour, imported in 1973, co-owned with David Kline; and Ch. Duttonlea Autocrat of Dandyhow, imported in 1982.
Final Honour’s daughter, Gold ROM winner Am. Ch. Trails End Peaceful Bree, the foundation bitch of Lothlorien kennels, has produced 12 champions. Final Honour’s son, Gold ROM winner Am. Ch. Little Fir Gremlin of Ariel, owned by Kenneth Klothen and David Kline, produced 11 champions.
Ch. Duttonlea Autocrat of Dandyhow (Ch. Dandyhow Grenadier x Ribbleside Morning Dew) has produced 44 champion get. Six of these champions were out of another British import, Ch. Dandyhow Forget-Me-Not.
David Kline, besides co-owning Br. Am. Ch. Final Honour and Am. Ch. Little Fir Gremlin of Ariel, bred three ROM winners in his own kennel, Little Fir. In addition to Little Fir Gremlin of Ariel, there was the Gold ROM winner Am. Ch. Little Fir Kirksman (Am. Ch. Llanishen Senator x Am. Ch. Little Fir Autumngold) who produced 10 Champions for Mrs. Finley’s Woodlawn kennels, and Am. Ch. Little Fir Autumn Gold (Am. Ch. Falcliff Target x Am. Ch. Rhosmerholme Belinda), who produced four champion get.
Two other Midwestern kennels making an impact upon the breed beginning in the seventies were the Woodlawn kennel of Mrs. Betsy Finley and Ketka kennel of Miss Carol Sowders. A prolific breeder, Mrs. Finley’s kennel was
the home of a number of ROM winners in the seventies. The most outstanding in terms of number of champions produced were Gold ROM Am. Ch. Little Fir Kirksman bred by David Kline, with 10 champions; Am. Ch. Edenbrae Dusky Maiden (Elandmead Prospect x Tarka May Princess) bred by Miss M. Edgar, co-owned with Mary C. Pickford, with nine champions.
Am. Ch. Rob Roy Buckler x Am. Ch. Little Fir Rob Roy’s Robin, CG, owned by Miss Sowders, produced 15 champions, and Am. Ch. Ketka Gopher Broke (Am. Ch. Beaverwood’s Bold Blaze, CD, CG x Dalquest Ketka Critter), co-owned by Miss Sowders with David Tinker, has nine champions. Both of these kennels reach their peak of impact in the next two decades.
The Eastern seaboard of the USA has been the historic stronghold of the Border Terrier in the United States. Here were found the early kennels of Diehard, Balquhain, Dour and Philabeg, and then the later kennels of Dalquest, Shelburne, and of Mrs. duPont Scott . Here, too, we find several other kennels with multiple ROM winners who helped lay the foundation for the success of the Border Terrier in the United States.
The Bandersnatch kennels of Margaret and Harvey Pough have had a relatively long history in breeding Borders in the United States. A small kennel, Bandersnatch produced the ROM winning bitches Mex. Am. Ch. Bandersnatch Brillig, CD (Am. Ch. Portholme Macsleap of Dalquest x Dalquest Jody of Town Hill, CD); Bandersnatch Beamish, full sister of Brillig, owned by Louanne Hammett; and Ch. Bandersnatch Jubjub Bird, CDX (Am. Ch. Bandersnatch Snark, CD x Am. Ch. Bandersnatch Border in Blue CD), owned by Grizella Szilagi. Marg, a BTCA member since the early seventies, has always been an active member of the Border Terrier Club. She was BTCA Vice President for a number of years and President from 1993 to 1996.
Camilla Moon’s Highdyke kennel has been very successful too despite its small size. Her foundation bitch, Clipstone Cider Rose (Int. Br. Ch. Clipstone Guardsman x Br. Ch. Llanishen Ilse of Clipstone), bred to a Ch. Dandyhow Shady Knight son from Oldstone kennels (Am. Ch. Dandyhow Bertie Bassett), produced only one litter, which included ROM winners Am. Ch. Highdyke Alpha and Highdyke Twiglet. Twiglet in turn bred to Am. Ch. Brockett Hurdle (a son of Ch. Step Ahead, and himself a ROM winner) produced the bronze ROM winner Am Ch. Highdyke’s Tish of Cymri Hill, the foundation bitch of Kate Murphy’s Cymri Hill kennels. Camilla has also been active in the BTCA, chairing one of its Woodstock Specialties and serving as a member of the BTCA Board of Directors for many years.
Another small kennel active in this period, new to Borders, but well known for Sealyhams and Airedales, was the Seabrook kennel of Barbara and Lesley Anthony, which has had strong success in both exhibition and breeding. Am. Ch. Concorde (Am. Ch. Rob Roy Buckler x Am. Ch. Shuttle), a Bronze ROM winner, produced Am. Ch. Seabrook Spriggan, himself a Bronze ROM winner. Concorde was the first owner-handled, American-bred Border Terrier to win a Best in Show. Concorde’s daughter, Am. Ch. Seabrook Galadiel, has also the distinction of having won a Best in Show.
Joann Frier-Murza’s Lothlorien kennel has been closely associated with the obedience ring and the working trials of the American Working Terrier Association as well as the development of the AKC field trials. Lothlorien’s foundation bitch, Am. Ch. Trails End Peaceful Bree, UD, was acquired from Nancy Hughes. A daughter of Br. Am. Ch. Final Honour out of Br. Am. Ch. Workmore Brackon, Bree produced 12 champions by several different dogs.
Included among these was Am. Ch. Lothlorien Jollymuff Tickle, herself a Bronze ROM winner, owned by Diane Jones’s Jollymuff kennel. Tickle produced Am. Ch. Jollymuff Crispy Critter, another ROM winner, owned by Kendall Herr. Over half of Breeds offspring went on to get obedience degrees. One of them, Am. Ch. Lothlorien Easy Strider, UD, owned by Nancy Hiscock Savage, went on to get his utility degree, as did Bree herself.
The Oldstone kennels of Robert and Ruth Ann Naun began with the acquisition of a bitch puppy, Am. Ch. Borderseal Bessie (Int. Br. Ch. Clipstone Guardsman x Chuck Wuca) in 1972 while on holiday in Britain. However, it was not until another puppy, Am. Ch. Dandyhow Bertie Bassett (Ch. Dandyhow Shady Knight x Polo Mint), was acquired on a second trip to Britain in 1975 that Oldstone began to show some progress in a breeding program. Bertie, a Bronze ROM winner, bred to Borderseal Bessie produced the Gold ROM winner Am. Ch. Oldstone Ragrug. With Clipstone Cider Rose Bertie produced two ROM winners, Am. Ch. Highdyke Alpha, who lived at Oldstone, and Highdyke Twiglet. In all, Am. Ch. Oldstone Ragrug produced 12 champion get to six different bitches.
Henry Mosle, Townhill, imported and bred several champions during this period. A great storyteller, Henry as president, 1966-75, made everyone feel welcome. Many to this day have fond memories of lunch at Henry and Jane Mosley’s for all the Border people after the Northwestern Connecticut D.C. show. Henry initiated the process for the BTCA to become a member club of the AKC. Unfortunately he did not live to see the process completed.
The twenty years following the seventies have seen the establishment of many Border kennels, which have had a significant influence on the breed. Most, if not all, had their foundation on one of the kennels we have discussed.
Their still-ongoing contributions to the breed will become the subject of a later chapter in the history of the American Border Terrier.
A CONCLUDING NOTE
In relation to the history of purebred dogs in the United States, the history of the Border Terrier is a brief but revealing one. Both the breed’s beginnings and its growth demonstrate how completely a numerically small breed is dependent on the insight and dedication of its breeders. The future of the Border Terrier in America still lies directly in their hands.
APPENDIX: BTCA MILESTONES, 1930-1979
1930 February, first Border registered with the AKC, Netherbyers Ricky (Hewat). March, second Border registered with the AKC, Barney Boy (Henry S. Cram).
1931 First American-bred litters registered by G Gordon Massey. Mullach ex Always There, whelped April 1, 1931; Mullach ex Dryffe Judy, whelped July 28, 1931.
1934 Weddie (Trooper ex Fairloans Fly, owner E. E. Hume) shown at National Capitol KC 1935 G. Gordon Massey enters 11 Borders at Talbot KC show.
1941 First AKC Champion, Ch. Pyxie O’Bladnoch (bitch):Diehard Kennels (MacBain)
1942 First Am-bred and first dog Champion, Ch. Diehard Dandy, Balquhain Kennels (Latting)
1946 First Am-bred bitch champion, Ch. Philabeg Red Miss (Pope).
Capt. John C. Nicholson and Dr. Merritt N. Pope discuss possibility of a breed club 1947 Westminster KC, embryo club organized, Dr. Pope, Chairman.
1948 Club accepts standard and submits it to the AKC.
1949 January, Border Terrier Club of America formally founded. President, Dr. Merritt N. Pope, Vice President, Capt. John C. Nicolson, Treasurer, Mrs. Clara Nicolson, Secretary, Miss Marjory L Van der Veer.
First Constitution and By-Laws.
1950 March 14, AKC accepts the Breed Standard (published April, 1950, AKC Gazette)
1952 First Border to Place in Group, Ch. Raisgill Romper of Philabeg (dog), (Pope) and 1954 First breed book published. Editors: Margery B. Harvey, Dr. Merritt N. Pope, Marjory L. Van der Veer
1956 First British & American Champion, Br. Am. Ch. Lucky Purchase (Webb)
1957 First Plan A AKC-Sanctioned Match, Montpelier Station, Montpelier, VA – Heywood R. Hartley, judge; entry of 20.
1958 Second Plan A Sanctioned Match, Locust Valley, Long Island, NY – Frank B. Brumby, judge; entry of 13.
1959 Second Breed Book published. Editors: Marjory L. Van der Veer, Merritt Pope, Margery Harvey and Kate J. Webb
First Specialty with Ladies Kennel Association. Judge: Mr. Heywood Hartley. BOB: Ch. Portholme Mhor of Dalquest (Harvey / Van der Veer).
1960 First Am-Bred dog wins a Specialty, Ch. Bruce (Scott)
1961 First bitch to place in Group: Br. Am. Ch. Dandyhow Bitter Shandy (Webb) First Border to become Canadian and American Champion, Can. Am. Ch. Glenluffin Pomona (bitch), (C. M. June Watson).
1962 Third Breed Book published. Editor: Marjory L. Van der Veer.
1964 First Am-bred bitch to win Group, Ch. Cinjola Aurentia Red (Barker).
First AKC champion to earn CD, Ch. Mied Auburn Lass’s Heather CD, (Shaw)
1965 First Border to win two Specialties, Am-bred Ch. Toftwold Toffee (Bassett)
1967 First Border to earn an AKC obedience title, Can. Ch. Deerstone Danby Am. Can. CD (C. M. June Watson).
1968 First Border to earn AKC & Mexican championship, Mex. Am. Ch.
Bandersnatch Brillig CD (Pough).
1969 First British Breeder/Judge to judge at Specialty, Mrs. B. S. T. Holmes. BOB: Ch. Dandyhow Shady Lady (Webb).
First CDX title, Ch. Cinjola Toluidine Daisy (bitch) (Hoyne).
1971 First Border CDX, Ch. Chief of Lothian (Hughes).
1972 First Border to win Terrier Group (dog, Am-bred) Ch. D.G.s Wattie Irving of Dalquest (Gourlie).
Fourth Breed Book published. Editors: Marjory L. Van der Veer & Margaret B. Pough
First Border Tracking Dog Title, first Border Utility Dog Title, Ch. Chief of
Lothian UDT (Hughes).
First Border to earn A. W. T. A. CG, Ch. Bandersnatch Snark, CD CG (Pough).
1973 First Border Brace to Win Group First Brace, (E. Fraser MacLean )
1974 Twenty fifth Anniversary of BTCA. Specialty judge: W. Ronald Irving.
BOB Br. Am. Ch. Final Honour (Hughes & Kline).
First Sweepstakes with Specialty, Samuel E. Ewing III, judge. Best in Sweeps: Little Fir Honor Guard (Kline).
Leona Cross suggests newsletter name, The Borderline. David Kline made first editor 1975 First Am-Bred Border bitch to Win Terrier Group : Ch. Shuttle (Scott).
First Border to become AKC, Mexican and Canadian champion: Am. Mex. Can. Ch. Cheviot’s R-U Ready Lois (Am-bred, bitch) (Ready & Goulie).
First Border to become AKC, Bermudan & Canadian champion: Am. Bda. Can. Ch. Llanishen Rebet (UK) (Leighton).
First homebred to become AKC & Bermudan champion: Am. Bda. Ch. Sugar
Town Dalquest Blue Hawk (Jensen & Egan).
1977 First Border to win Best in Show, Br. Am. Ch. Workmore Waggoner (Seemann).
Patricia Quinn becomes Borderline editor.
First Border to earn A.W.T.A. WC, Ch. Avim Dainty Girl WC, CG (Quinn).
1978 First Terrier and first Border to earn an AKC Obedience Trial championship, OT Ch. Pete UD (Timmons).
First AKC Border champion to earn title at an FCI World Championship show : Am. Can. Mex. Int. World Ch. Bannerdown Blue Grass (UK) (Berg).
First Am-bred AKC champion to earn title at World Show, Am. Mex. World Ch. Cheviot’s Bidde Midge V Ready (Barleman & Watson).
1979 Fifth Breed Book published. Editor: Margaret B. Pough.