DOGS WHICH GREATLY INFLUENCED WIRES AS WE KNOW THEM TODAY
Although early fanciers thought they would produce a terrier capable of keeping up with hounds, this fad was, fortunately, short lived because a too large and cumbersome animal was developing - it was overly large to go to ground and not sufficiently fleet of foot to keep pace with the pack. The first wire fox terrier which is authentically recorded was OLD TIP (left). He was bred by the Master of the Sinnington Hounds in Yorkshire around 1866. The dog was never shown but was bred and used solely for work. Although his actual pedigree is unknown Old Tip is the source from which all our present-day wires emanate. Old Tip sired three champion sons from dams of unknown breeding - one of these, PINCHER, born 1869, (above right), was destined to fame in the history of wires. He was mated to his own daughter and this union produced OLD JESTER (left) in 1875 who was shown but did not appear on the bench until he was 5 years old. Old Jester in turn produced many winners but we have cause only to remember YOUNG JESTER born 1880 (right). When Young Jester sired KNAVESMIRE JEST (below left) in 1886 the wire, as a breed, was beginning to show improvement, heads were lengthening, ears and conformation improving. Knavesmire Jest sired the great stud dog, MEERSBROOK BRISTLES (right) in 1892 who was the first famous sire to show the hound markings which are so beloved to this day. Bristles sired many winners and was eventually sold to a Mr. Keyes of Boston, USA for £500 - an enormous sum of money at that time. Bristles' greatest son was MEERSBROOK BEN (below left), born 1894, who was the grandsire of CACKLER OF NOTTS (below right) b. 1898 and he sired more than 100 winners. It is doubtful that there is a wire fox terrier living today whose parentage does not trace back to this dog. The suffix "of Notts" will for ever have its place in fox terrier history belonging as it did to probably the most famous breeder ever of wires and smooths, Kathleen, Duchess of Newcastle. CAESER OF NOTTS, sired by CACKLER OF NOTTS, was the favourite and constant companion of King Edward VII and did much to popularise the wire fox terrier at the beginning of the 20th century.
CH. TALAVERA SIMON
Another famous dog to make an indelible mark in fox terrier history was CH. TALAVERA SIMON whose ancestry can be traced right back to Old Tip. Born in 1924, it is fair to say that every wire fox terrier living today can trace his ancestry back to Simon - a truly great dog in every sense of the word. Irving C. Ackerman wrote in his book "The Complete Fox Terrier" ....
An amusing letter from Simon's owner, Captain Phipps, tells something of the dog's early history. The Captain was riding in the spring of 1923 when he encountered a man exercising a very beautiful young wire bitch which he tried, unsuccessfully, to buy. The man was A.J. Foster and the bitch was Kingsthorp Donah which, the following year, was destined to be bred to Ch. Fountain's Crusader, which mating produced Talavera Simon.
Captain Phipps went to view the litter of five whelps but was unable to persuade Mr. Foster to part with any one of them. He subsequently went to see them again when they were around 5 months old by which time they had developed into a pack of incorrigible little fighting tigers. He still wished to purchase one but the owner would not sell. Eventually, Mr. Foster approached Captain Phipps and offered to sell any one of the pups - not because he was anxious to part with them - but because they had developed into such demons that there was no doing anything with them and it seemed inevitable that they would all die fighting. When the Captain was choosing his puppy he hit upon Simon, not as an outstanding specimen, but as a rather likely youngster and one that both he and his wife considered, perhaps, a shade better than the rest. His eminence was not anticipated and he was even permitted to risk his life on the roads whilst exercising behind Captain Phipps' horse.
As Simon matured he was exhibited with indifferent success. Not only was the dog not ready but his demonic behaviour spoiled whatever chances his good structure might have given him. His first championship show was at Windsor in 1925 where he behaved so badly in the ring that he could not be fairly examined by the judge and was rightly defeated. It was at this show that Captain Phipps turned him over to Bob Barlow in an effort to turn a devil into a dog. By whatever legerdemain great handlers posses over their charges, within the space of a few months Barlow had transformed Simon into not only a fox terrier but a gentleman after which he never looked back either in the show ring or at stud.
A letter from Captain Phipps written in the summer of 1937 assured Irving Ackerman that the "old dog" was still fit and very active. Although the Captain says he personally never considered Simon a really great show dog, he achieved his British championship status in competition with the best dogs of the day and when his progeny began to appear and his marvellous qualities as a stud dog became obvious, the shrewdest of the British breeders began to enter their best bitches in Simon's date book. It does not detract one whit from his rightful reputation as a stud force to be reckoned with that he had been bred to the greatest bitches: no stallion, however great, can consistently produce fine progeny out of indifferent females, but Simon had the opportunity and he made the most of it.
PEDIGREE OF CH. TALAVERA SIMON
CH. ZELOY EMPEROR
CH. ZELOY EMPEROR, bred by Ernest "Robby" Robinson in March 1960, had an enormous influence on the breed. He was the sire of 22 British champions and 33 US champions, as well as siring numerous champions throughout Europe, Japan and Australia. He must surely be considered the greatest-ever producer of wire fox terrier champions. Ch. Zeloy Emperor represented the culmination of two decades of Robby Robinson's breeding. This he achieved through an enormous amount of skill and dedication because all the Zeloy dogs were generally owner conditioned and handled - something virtually unheard of in the 60's and 70's. Robby began exhibiting his wires in 1939 and although it took 20 years for him to produce his first CC winner in 1959, his successes thereafter were manifold but the jewel in his crown must surely be Emperor.
Billy, as he was known, first appeared in the showring at Cruft's in February 1961 where he won a puppy class of 14; he also won the Undergraduate class with 7 entries and Graduate with 8 entries. The judge, John Hamilton of the Burntedge Wires, made the following comments:
...This puppy is most attractively hound marked, short coupled, nice head, good reach of neck, uses his ears very well indeed, is possessed of good bone and feet. I thought that this could be my ultimate winner but he has not yet the maturity to warrant this, but unless I am very much mistaken this is a rod in a pickle.
Billy was beaten in the challenge at Cruft's by Ch. Penda Peerless and Ch. Crackwyn Cockspur - two of the top winners of that period. He won his classes in his next three outings and achieved Reserve CC at both the Scottish and West of England Club shows in April but at Bath in May, under Mrs. Josephine Creasey, he gained his first CC and was awarded Best of Breed. Billy continued to win his classes in his next seven shows but failed to gain a second CC. At this point, he was handed to the talented professional handler, Tommy Brampton, who "finished" him in the summer of 1962 . He quickly gained 4 more CC's - all six of them with best of breed. Billy was shown once more in 1968 when he was eight and a half years old, and was Best of Breed at the Scottish Kennel Club under the American judge, Mrs. Augustus Riggs IV. On this last occasion he was handled by Robby.
At this point in his life Billy had an enormous and respected reputation as a sire and it is claimed that Robby Robinson refused sums of £1,000 and more for Billy on many occasions, even in his later years, but he could never be persuaded to part with his favourite. It is true that some things are beyond price. On many occasions he frequently competed with his progeny one particular bitch being Ch.& American Ch. Zeloy Mooremaides Magic who, later in her career, achieved Best in Show at Westminster in New York in 1966.
When Robby died in 1972 Billy left England to live out his remaining years in Holland as the house pet of the van der Hoevens, long-time wire fanciers of the Pickwick Kennels which already had Ch. Zeloy Select and Ch. Zeloy Escort in residence. In tribute to Billy, Mrs. van der Hoevens wrote...
Billy was a sensible dog. He was soon accustomed to his new life and nothing was more appreciated than a walk in the fields or a drive to the woods. He liked to accompany me when shopping. He was eager to examine everything and twice he saw his chance to snatch a bun or some sweets. Owing to his excellent disposition, everybody was fond of him. In March 1973 a sudden stroke put an end to his happy life. A great sire had passed away and I am proud that I could give Billy a comfortable and happy old age.
Mrs. van der Hoeven had a mausoleum built for Billy which can still be seen in Holland.
It is now over thirty years since the first champion from Emperor emerged and since then, nearly three quarters of those champions in the UK carry one or more lines to him. In the United States his champion descendants number many hundreds. No dog has had a greater influence on the breed in modern times.
The article on Zeloy Emperor, has been modified from Terrier Type's special issue on the Fox Terrier in 1983 and also from the Wire Fox Terrier issue in 1995