|Classical history: a British gentleman farmer, enjoying the leisure that leaves him his condition of retiree of the navy, becomes a rabid hunter. Only the discipline that he practices, hunting the otter, requires dogs with special qualities. Since he does not find any, he tries to select his own lineage.
Without doubt, across the Channel, many other enthusiasts created their own Terriers, but in most cases their fame did not exceed the limits of their village. Captain John Owen Tucker Edwardes; the village of Sealyham, located, as the name suggests, near the Seal River and, as it does not indicate, in Pembroke County, near Haverfordwest, in the heart of Wales; he had more luck and a greater talent.
Around 1851, he began to shine in the pursuit of the otter with a pack of Otterhounds, long-haired and large dogs, specialists in this aquatic predator, but to which their imposing size did not allow to follow the otter in his last retrenchment: Edwardes thus added to his pack a few local Terriers, certainly very different in appearance, but with a temper sufficiently hardened to face a well-armed animal that can measure 1 meter long for a weight of ten kilos.
To ensure their strength of character, Edwardes employed a method as simple as rigorous. He first took the puppies to reconnoitre the hunting grounds with two of the most experienced Terriers. If a young man was being abused by old folks, if he showed an ounce of shyness at their touch, the Captain did not make any sense: a gunshot ended his career. Those who had overcome this first test were trained to hunt the rat. Around the age of one year, a new test awaited them: this time, the opponent was a polecat.
The young Terrier was first to follow the track of the said polecat across the fields, which was his "warm-up"; When he arrived at the pit where the stink was shut up, he must, without hesitation, enter it, all fangs uncovered. If that were not the case, whether he hesitated for a moment, or was wanting to fight, the outcome was clear: Pan! Obviously, this methodical man (and his brother, because it seems that they were two to carry out this business) soon had a pack of a really inflexible courage. Regarding the physics of his students, his selection criteria, which he considered less important, are also known. His Terriers had to be low-legged (to be able to follow the otter to the end) and, at the same time, as powerful as possible, equipped, of course, with a formidable jaw. In addition, he wanted them to be dressed in a rough coat, preferably white or almost entirely white, so that they could easily follow their evolutions in the thick thickets of the banks.
The requirements of Edwardes seem so clear. However, it would be difficult to put a name of race on the various Terriers he put to work to create what would become the Sealyham; we only know that the dog that served as his point of departure was named Duck. The reason for this uncertainty is simple: at that time, most breeds of Terriers were still in the making.
We can guess that those who served him were like the Scottish Terriers, especially Westie (for the white color) and Dandie Dinmont: like the latter, the Sealyham is indeed endowed with a strong bass voice, which may be the index of a certain proportion of hound (running dog) in his blood. Edwardes was able to use a basset form of the Otterhound, a breed with which he hunted first, and so perhaps he did not need to go to Scotland to find his "ingredients". It has been said that he used the Corgi, a cowherd and short-legged dog widely prevalent in Pernbrokeshire, but this fact seems questionable. On the other hand, that he has resorted to some "old version" Bull Terriers is surely more likely.
The new line of Terriers soon enjoyed a certain renown in his county, to hunt otters as well as badgers, foxes and even wild cats. The Captain regularly offered his friends, farmers and sportsmen some of his dogs. But when he died in 1891 he had not had the chance to see his efforts officially recognized. He probably did not count on it, and there is general agreement that he never intended to really create a new breed of Terrier. His work was not vain. Thus, about ten years later, her daughter-in-law took over her breeding. When she became a widow, she remarried with Sir Victor Higgon, who showed a keen interest in these Terriers and decided to make them known. In 1903, these dogs, naturally named Sealyham Terriers, were introduced to Haverfordwest. In 1908, Fred Lewis, another breeder, created the first club to promote the breed.
These efforts culminated in 1911 in the official recognition of the Sealyham by the Kennel Club. At the end of that year, dog breeders were able to see the breed compete at the Great Joint Terrier Show, which named the top two champions: a male named St. Bride's Demon and a female named Chawston Bess Back. The Sealyham was starting a new career, that of show dog.
It was then that the groomers seized him to find him a "look" that would highlight the compact power of the breed. His neck and upper part of his head were unblocked to bring out the abundant trimmings that made his formidable jaws even more impressive. The hindquarters, very powerful, was shaved, in contrast with the fringes left to the limbs and the lower part of the body, which made more apparent the compactness of the race. Thus dressed, the Sealyham met a great success in the twenties and thirties. But did he still correspond to the original type desired by Edwardes? And what became of his working qualities?
From the first years of the century, the Sealyham also settled in the United States. In this country, a slightly lower height was preferred: the standard is 27 centimeters maximum. Parallel to his career on benches (benches) exhibition, even in spite of it, the race kept amateurs everywhere for its great hunting qualities. For example, after the Second World War, Sir Jocelyn Lucas of Ilmer employed him in a pack.
In France, he was also appreciated as a digging dog. A specimen of the race "behaved honorably in the contests of the immediate post-war period and, in the Dordogne, a digger regularly took up until recently with dogs of this race," said R. Depoux , an expert in the field, in 1957.
Nevertheless, it is as a pet and beauty dog that he is known today. Very rough and biting at the beginning, he has long since become a true gentleman. It is calm, balanced, flexible character, sociable. He is sure of himself, like all Terriers, but without a trace of impudence. He knows he is strong, brave (see also his long and wide jaws, very heavily armed), which makes him a peaceful dog, not a barker. At times, he can be very playful, even mischievous. It has the temperament of a large dog, although its size is very reasonable (from 8 to 9 kilos maximum, for a height of 31 centimeters maximum). Although its appearance is more rustic than that of Westie, its bet is as neat and requires an equivalent grooming. We must wish the Sealyham to see the favor of the public be a little on him, because he deserves it amply. And the person who made this choice will certainly not regret it.