History of the breed

The Plummer Terrier Club 

Welcome to the Plummer Terrier Club website. We hope you enjoy this introduction to the early beginnings and ensuing development of the breed. If you own or are considering owning one of these sporting terriers or simply wish to know more about them, then read on.
The breeds creator the late Dr David Brian Plummer was a teacher by profession working in several of the toughest schools in the Midlands during the 1970s and 80’s. He had a passion for working dogs stemming from his childhood in the mining valleys of South Wales during the early post-war years. The local rough coated terriers of the time that many of the colliers used on a variety of quarry were his inspiration as he witnessed them ratting in the filthy brooks near his parent’s terraced home. That fascination with working dogs stayed with him and after several years spent working his way around Europe in the late 50’s and early 60’s, for a short time as a gamekeeper in Germany, he finally opted for a teaching career in England. He eventually settled at Huddlesford near Lichfield in the 1970’s in a run- down cottage, where he went on to run his own motley pack of Jack Russell type terriers used primarily to hunt rats. His early blood lines included the Joan Begbie strain of Seale Cottage Russells brought in to improve voice and nose, but his early breeding programme had been by his own admission haphazard and counter- productive, paying the price of too close an in-breeding programme. Some of his early litters revealed evidence of hydrocephaly and cleft palate. Patella luxation and weak mousey heads were also becoming problematic. His scientifically trained mind led him to consider out-crossing using specific dog breeds to introduce genetic improvements. Keen to further improve scenting ability and fix coat type he introduced beagle blood. In one of his many books; The Sporting Terrier,1992, he stated that though earlier attempts to make improvements had helped to eventually eliminate some faults in his lines, the proto breed was,
“fixed so to speak only when beagle blood was introduced into the lines”.
Also, the beagle blood was easily absorbed into terrier strains in that though the advantages gained were fixed (e.g. the fiery red/tan blanket coat) the anatomical stamp of the hound was bred out after three generations.
A bull terrier known as the “Hacket White” was used to improve the weak heads and jaws and Fell terrier blood (c.1980, Hinchcliffe and Nuttall lines), to refine shoulders and to help subdue the overly aggressive behaviour that the bull blood had evidently created.
Eventually, the type began to level out into a small terrier that we would recognise today as a Plummer. Brian worked a large pack of these to rat for nigh on twenty years at the substantial chicken farm owned by his close friend and fellow author David Hancock of lurcher breeding fame. These hunts became legendary with huge hauls of rats taken on a weekly basis. His Plummers were created primarily to hunt and kill rats. Yes, they would bush for rabbits all day long or account for foxes if entered properly but they excelled at ratting with their superb scenting abilities and lightning reactions. Early owners like Curtis Price, Mossman and Alker helped to establish early breeding lines and Plummers slowly began to take hold as a new breed of working terrier as other enthusiasts developed their own breeding lines.
Brian’s health slowly deteriorated following a near fatal heart attack in 1985 and he eventually gave up teaching, dispersed his remaining terriers and settled in Caithness, Scotland, to concentrate on other projects including his prolific writing.
In 1994 the first Plummer breed club had been formed, the Plummer Terrier Association. Interest in the terriers grew and a further two clubs came on to the scene. Recent years have undoubtedly seen the rapid development of Plummer terriers as a breed, but it must be acknowledged that the politics involved with the running of these clubs has reared its ugly head on a regular basis, to the detriment of the breed’s anticipated progress. Tensions borne out of arguments over the best way forward escalated again in 2017 centred mainly on differences of opinion over key issues like KC recognition, out-crossing and DNA profiling to help tackle health issues linked with genetic faults evident in the breed. Factors like these must be addressed via a clear vision incorporated in a sound, scientific-based breeding programme focussed on improving the gene pool. Recent occurrences of small, maverick out-cross programmes in parts of the UK and Ireland have not helped the cause, creating yet more division.
To address these issues exhaustive talks took place between the Plummer Terrier Association and Plummer Terrier Club of Great Britain and finally agreement was secured on the best way forward. The two clubs were then dissolved and a new club, The Plummer Terrier Club was formed on November 1st of this year following a historic and successful Champion of Champions Plummer joint show held at Alrewas in Staffordshire on October 15th.
Remarkably, within a couple of weeks, a major split developed during committee business; some members resigned. The club teetered on the brink but remaining members swiftly rallied round and secured its future.
The club is dedicated to securing the future of the Plummer primarily as a working terrier bred for function and fit for purpose. They make excellent pets and competitive agility dogs but require plenty of daily exercise and stimulation. Novice owners should take note of this. Like most terrier breeds they require assertive management, being boisterous by nature. The club provides information and advice on all aspects of the breed. Dr Plummer admitted to wanting his name secured for perpetuity via his terriers as some of his many books will attest to. He died after a brave battle with cancer in 2003 aged 66. We owe it to his memory to ensure that his wish is realized. The PTC   will strive to secure the welfare of these sporting terriers for future generations to enjoy. We will encourage all owners to make the most of these superb little dogs and always encourage member participation in decision making. Ultimately it is their club.

Phillip Kettle, on behalf of the Plummer Terrier Club.