KATHLEEN, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE, was President of the Wire Fox Terrier Association during the years 1916-19 and a member of the Association until her death in 1955. She had a long and illustrious career as a breeder, exhibitor and judge of wire fox terriers. It is true to say that her renowned "of Notts" strain of wires were the foundation of some of the most successful pedigrees of the early 20th century and, therefore, played a major role in the development of the modern wire fox terrier. When we compiled our centenary calendar, the Association used Comedian of Notts to illustrate one of the leading dogs at the turn of the last century. This dog was the sire of Ch. Chunky of Notts who was the grandsire of Int. Ch. Welwire Barrington Bridegroom, whom many regard as the father of the "modern" wire. Bridegroom was the grandsire of Ch. Talavera Simon. The most sensational dog of 1916 was Ch. Common Scamp of Notts, who won his first challenge certificate at the Association's Championship Show in that year. Her Grace must have had a most enjoyable show because her bitch, Ch. Cocoatina of Notts won our Grand Challenge Cup.
As a tribute to a truly great breeder of wire fox terriers the following extract, from an article published in 1928, is shown again: the advice given applies equally today as when it was first written.
THE CHOICE OF A SIRE by Her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle
With regard to wire breeding, my idea is that the same points apply in the breeding of all livestock. Before choosing a sire I write out both his pedigree and the female's. I then put them together as though I were writing the pedigree of their progeny and then I try to visualise the different terriers whose names I see before me. If I see bad coats, thin feet, large ears, light eyes, short, thick heads and hindquarters on many, I know what to expect!
A successful sire is nearly always a very dominant dog with some points strongly accentuated, and in his pedigree you will find a careful crossing of the best lines of the grand or great-grand parents.
Coats, feet and hindquarters, all want great attention. We have evolved a very high class quality animal in the present-day wire, but I am beginning to ask myself, are we getting too far away from the old standard?
"Bone and strength in small compass" a terrier should stand "like a cleverly-made hunter".
Well, I believe we are getting terriers too much like a great slashing blood horse of the Aintree type, not a fox catcher and I am sure with too much size. So, in choosing a sire, this must all be considered, both in the dog himself and his back pedigree.
All our best terriers up 'til now seem to have been bred by returning to the best and strongest lines in their back pedigrees, but this has been going on for so long so that I am wondering "what about robustness?"