Ratting Terriers

Known in former times as 'Toy Black & Tan'; later as 'Miniature Black & Tan Terrier', a final name change came about in 1960 to the 'English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)'.

We have to look back to the early C18 to the time of the Industrial Revolution which attracted people from rural areas to better their lot, or so they thought - most in reality exchanging their rural poverty for hard labour in the 'dark satanic mills' of the North and its crushingly overcrowded city slums.  Migrants from the Country would take their dogs with them: lively little terrier types skilled in keeping farmyards and barns clear of vermin.
It was in these cities, particularly London, that this little Terrier would  come into prominence and to the attention of 'sportsmen' who saw a great opportunity for both entertainment and a wager by matching dog against dog in 'rat pits', very often staged in back rooms of the taverns. This sport became quite a big business until eventually coming to an end with the growing awareness about animal welfare.

The Black & Tan Terriers proved themselves especially suited to this role and achieved some remarkable and heroic results.
Jack Black who was Official Rat Catcher and Mole Destroyer to Queen Victoria was especially fond of the little Black & Tan Terriers, which he bred himself and declared that "As rat killing dogs there's no equal to that strain of Black & Tan Terriers."

This prowess has been passed down through the years and certainly has not deserted our modern English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan) and many owners can testify to the ability of their pets in catching vermin or even picking up a rabbit if presented with the opportunity.

For a full account of the history and development of the breed read only book about the breed:
'English Toy Terrier (Black and Tan)' at £18.95 inc p&p (UK only) available only through this website.

Tiny The Wonder working in a rat pit.

From Rat Pits to Show Rings

The forerunners of our dog shows of today also started life in some of the taverns; sometimes as preliminaries to the main entertainment provided in the rat pits. These 'leads' as they were called grew in popularity and developed into fledgling shows, although being completely unsupervised until the Kennel Club staged its first show in 1859 and who since then has gradually gained control of all apects of the British show scene, ultimately taking over Crufts  following the death of Charles Cruft himself. 

It could well have been that the closure of the rat pits, followed by a fad for bantamising and coupled with indiscriminate breeding by back street breeders, may have led to the 'Toy Black & Tan Terrier' becoming extinct. It was probably only through the efforts of those dedicated breeders and showmen of that time that the breed survived at all and has developed over the years into the stylish and elegant dogs that can be seen around today; and so the clamour of the anti-pedigree dog front, who decry dog shows and seek to mongrelise all recognised breeds, is shown up as foolish nonsense.

An example of an early dog meeting or 'lead' in a London Tavern

The Book