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History of the Plummer Terrier

The Plummer Terrier created by DR. David Brian Plummer. Plummer terriers were conceived through the mixture of Jack Russell terrier, Fell terrier, Bull terrier and Beagle blood.

Plummer terriers were primarily created to work rats and rabbits. Aptly named after their creator - the Plummer terrier was realised in the 1960 s and has been bred true to type for over 15 years.

The combined effort of members of the European Plummer Terrier Society, Plummer Terrier Association and the Plummer Terrier Club of Great Britain have largely achieved the realisation of David Brian Plummer. It is such a pity that Brain who died in September 2003 after a courageous fight with cancer did not live long enough to witness the culmination of his dream. Nevertheless his legacy is being and will be realised, thanks to past and present Plummer terrier owner enthusiasts and committee members of all clubs concerned.


The late Dr. David Brian Plummer


In the late 1960 s and throughout the 70 s Brian Plummer worked as a somewhat reluctant teacher of several schools throughout south Yorkshire and the Midlands. A self confessed rustic eccentric and seemingly frustrated academic, Brian's passion was hunting rats with what was then his motley pack of Russell type terriers. On settling in the Midlands, living in a run down cottage in the countryside surrounding Lichfield, he continued teaching and in his spare time hunted rats relentlessly.

Brian Plummer continued his passion and soon was established as a leading author of books on hunting with lurchers and terriers. An expert regarding the science of genetics, he strove to produce a unique strain of terrier using the aforementioned bloodlines with Jack Russell terriers from seal cottage lines as his foundation. These terriers were worked hard and as the breed developed so too did Brian Plummers reputation as a breeder of hardy terriers that bred true to type.

During this frenetic period of Brian's life the Plummer terrier continued to flourish. The now legendary dogs of this time consisted of Vampire, who died in 1980 aged 9, this Plummer terrier was a veteran of the weekly rat hunts at the local battery hen farm. His brother Warlock, sister Beltane (who Brian regarded as the "matron" of his terrier team and indeed the prototype of the breed) and probably most famous Omega, bred by her sire Vampire to his own daughter Janey. Brian dedicated a whole book to the hunting abilities of Omega. All of these terriers showed the characteristic looks of what we now regard as Plummer terriers...

The Beagle used in the 60 s was out of the Russet show-bred strain and came from some USA imports owned by Philip Ainstay, a fellow teacher friend of Brian's, brought to the UK to tidy up British exhibits. Further outcrosses were introduced. The addition of Fell terrier blood, Jaeger from Nigel Hinchcliffe's lines and Flint from Brian Nuttal's lines, both noted working lines, and most likely descending from Cyril Brea's stock. Infused refinement of shape and to a certain extent contributed to fixing type, Pagan, a black and tan terrier is acknowledged as one of the early pillars of the breed. Further additions included a Jack Russell terrier known as Eric Forsyth's Pip, Alan Thomas's Hamish and pip from the Chiddingfold and Leconfield foxhound kennels. Unknown bull terrier blood was added to improve the head and strength of jaw and to improve general toughness/ durability in the field. Brian later admitted to the PTA that this was his biggest mistake as fighters were rife amongst his stock. The addition did little to improve heads etc and unfortunately brought about undesirable traits such as patella luxation and rose ears.

It must be noted that performance as an earth dog was and is an expected prerequisite of most if not all terrier breeds and Plummers are no exception to this rule. At this point it has to be said that two distinct types began to develop, the smaller more snipey nosed form and the more bully stronger headed type. At this point Brian opted for the latter, but it is now acknowledged that in the long term it did the breed no favours. Further out crossing to bull blood lines was stopped and due to several years of painstaking discipline regarding choice preferable blood lines a distinct and recognisable type was finally secured.

In the early 80s during one of the many TV documentaries (Rat hunting man and Lone furrow) about Brian Plummer and his terriers he said that one day he would like his terriers to be known as Plummer terriers and recongnised by the Kennel Club. In 1985 he suffered a near fatal heart attack which resulted in the dispersal of his substantial pack of terriers to trusted friends.

He eventually moved to a remote croft in caithness in Scotland and began to write full time. His terriers were ultimately spread far and wide but a few dedicated individuals ensured Brian's legacy continued. By the early 90 s most of the packs important gene pool was found and regrouped, albeit on a smaller scale. Work continued and other lines were sort widening the gene pool enough to be able to limit inbreeding.

The commitment of the EPTS/PTA/PTCGB committee's to breed to standard terriers has established some order regarding the evolution and development of the breed and it's gene pool. This has seen the creation of some outstanding individual Plummer terriers that have stamped their mark on the development and consolidation of the breed. Vampire, Welsh Viper, Stanhill Billy, Coalville Billy, and more recently the first ever PTA supreme Champion Wyremead Cereberus were all instrumental in the type of Plummer seen today.

Of course most breeds have their faults and the Plummer is no exception. Problems encountered by the Plummer Terrier Association in the early 90 s such as Patella Luxation and Perthes Syndrome are currently running below 2% in the population. Other problems such as undershot jaws and colouration patterns etc are now quite rare but are always a possible fault to look for when breeding too closely.

In a relatively short period of time the breed and it's guardians have come a very long way and are looking forward to the future.

  © European Plummer Terrier Society 2006 - 2008