LUCAS TERRIER HISTORY
BY IAN McGROTHER.
Sir Jocelyn Lucas had always had a passion for game, sporting terriers. So on his return to England in 1919 after spending some time as a prisoner of war in Holland he set about building up a suitable pack. This he achieved by purchasing from the then Master of the Pembrokeshire Fox Hounds, Captain Jack Howell, a dozen small Sealyham terriers and some time later he purchased a number of similar Sealyhams from Mr Gladdish Hulke who had used them to hunt stoats. These terriers went on to form Sir Jocelyn's famous Ilmer strain of Sealyhams.
Sir Jocelyn wanted terriers that would not only go to ground in pursuit of their quarry but would hunt as a pack pushing game from cover towards waiting guns. These Sealyhams proved ideal being non-aggressive towards each other, having short legs making them easy to keep up with in the field and possessing harsh coats which protect them when pushing through dense cover. The Sealyham however, began to change as show breeders began to favour bigger dogs with heavy bone, massive heads and longer softer coats and Sir Jocelyn and his business partner/kennel manageress, The honourable Mrs Enid Plummer found that when show type dogs were mated to their smaller bitches whelping problems occurred on a regular basis. To get round this problems they decided to look for a smaller type of dog for the bitches to have their first litter with. After much thought they decided on the Norfolk terrier called Colonsay Duffer owned by Miss M MacFie. Sir Jocelyn was so impressed with the resulting progeny that he continued to breed them and so the Lucas terrier was born.
Sir Jocelyn died in 1980 and the Hon Mrs Plummer in 1986 and by this time there were a number of Lucas Terriers spread across the UK and a few which had been exported to the USA. So in 1987 an informal club was formed by Mrs J Irwin and Miss Anne (Jumbo) Frost to help promote the dogs and assist Lucas owners who wished to breed from their dogs. They were later joined by Mrs P Harrow. Together they did a lot of fine work promoting the Lucas Terrier and trying to improve the type which was becoming very Yorkshire Terrier like. To this end they called upon Dr Brian Plummer, a renowned terrier breeder and creator of the Plummer terrier, who also has a depth of knowledge on genetics, to organise a breeding programme which would eliminate the faults creeping into the Lucas Terrier.
At the same time Dr Plummer set about his own breeding programmer to try to recreate the old fashioned type of terrier favoured by Sir Jocelyn. He started with a black Fell terrier bitch and mated this to a Plummer Terrier, the resulting progeny, Raggy Doll and Dotty Patch, were used to continue the programme with Dotty Patch being mated to the best Lucas Terrier dog around at the time, Polo, owned by Mr Jason Barnes and Raggy Doll being mated to a Plummer Terrier which produced Gram who was in turn mated to Polo. So the Raggengill line was form named after Dr Plummer's kennels.
This began the divide between what was seen by some as the traditional Lucas terrier, but was seen by many as becoming too cloddy in build with long soft coats and a far cry from those originally bred by Sir Jocelyn, and the more work-like Raggengill type. As a result of this divide Mr Paul Hawke's, full-time terrier man with the Tynedale Foxhounds, enlisted the help of myself and a number of like minded Raggengill Lucas owners and together we formed the Sporting Lucas Terrier Club in 1999.
We very soon realised that although we were very enthusiastic, all had some knowledge of working terriers and a very good idea of the direction in which we wished to take the Sporting Lucas Terrier, we would need expert help to achieve our aims. We were very fortunate to enlist as honorary members/advisors Dr Plummer and Colonel David Hancock, who is regarded by many as one of the world’s leading authorities on breed conformation and many other canine matters. Col Hancock was asked by us to draw up a breed standard that was as close to the original Lucas Terries bred by Sir Jocelyn as possible and which would promote a terrier capable for the task it was intended for. This is now the official breed standard for the Sporting Lucas Terrier.
It calls for a small, stiff coated, sturdy, well boned, strong headed working terrier with a height at the withers of 11”-13” for dogs and 10”-12” for bitches and a weight of 14lb - 18lb for dogs and 11lb - 13lb for bitches. We do not have any known genetic problems and we are keeping a very close eye on any occurrence of luxating patella. All breeders are requested to have their dogs checked by a vet prior to breeding and only pups from parents that have been checked and cleared will be allowed on our breed register. We have a small but dedicated committee who are always ready and willing to assist Sporting Lucas owners to find the most suitable stud dogs to bring about any improvements in the breed that we can.
These little terriers are excellent workers. They are less aggressive than most terriers so will hunt as a pack if needed, they have tremendous noses and will work both above and below ground. In the UK they are worked to a variety of quarry from rats, mink and fox and in tracking wounded deer so they can be humanely dispatched. They are instinctive and willing retrievers and quite a few are making names for themselves on partridge and pheasant shoots. They are equally at home as charming, affectionate family pets being especially fond of children whilst a few have even been enjoying some success in agility trials.
One problem we faced from the outset was the rather limited gene pool we had to work with and so with this is mind we took advice from Dr Plummer and Col Hancock and decided, after consulting our membership, to re-introduce additional Norfolk terrier blood. This decision was not taken lightly as this will inevitably alter the shape of the terrier for a few generations. To assist us we have set up a separate register for the progeny of this outcross, which we have called the Hancock line, and have put a limit of no more than 50% Norfolk terrier blood in any individual dog. In this way we hope to widen the gene pool and bring about some improvements to coat type and also revive some of the colours which have been lost.
We have recently been accepted for registration with American based United Kennel Club and are very excited and proud to be associated with this fine organisation. We decided to go with the UKC rather than the English kennel club because the UKC caters for functional, working dogs and not simply those that look good in the show ring. The Sporting Lucas Terrier Club is growing steadily and since launching our website we have had quite a bit of interest from USA with a number of people looking to obtain dogs.
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