Mervyn Pickering, the late long-standing past vice president and president of the Welsh Terrier Association, and distinguished breeder in Neath, Wales, wrote an observation on Welsh Terrier coat and color for the association’s Year Book in 1975 that is interesting to compare with present day conditioning and presentation around the world:
“The Welsh Terrier Committee has asked me to write a few comments about colour and coat of the Welsh Terrier. The following comments will, I hope, be of interest to new people coming into the breed and I hope the experienced breeders will go along with my effort.
The Welsh Terrier Club was founded in 1885 in North Wales, but there had been black and tan terriers in Wales for centuries prior to that, in fact, I think the Welsh Terrier of today is a direct descendant of the old English black and tan broken-coated terrier, which was England’s first recorded Welsh Terrier apart from the obvious improvement in make and shape, there has also been an improvement in coat and furnishings. The original Welsh had very little leg hair, in fact, the coat and furnishings looked more like the Irish terrier of today. With selective breeding and evolution, I think today’s Welsh, on the whole, have a better coat and more furnishings, i.e., leg hair and whiskers, plus improved shape, make it more prepossessing for the show ring.
The standard says a Welsh should be black and tan, or grizzle and tan. I think a true black and tan looks more attractive than grizzle, but, if the grizzle is of a dark rich colour and the quality of the coat is good, I don’t think a grizzle and tan should be handicapped against a true black and tan, as the standard reads today, except if the grizzle is a ‘washed out’ bluish coloured grizzle, which is usually accompanied by a light tan and soft coat, which is undesirable.
I find it hard to define the word ‘tan.’ Some of the present day Welsh sport what I would call auburn, others are a chocolate colour. These deep rich shades of tan are favoured by most of the top breeders. Tan can vary from very light to very dark brown. Anything resembling wheaten, I think, is undesirable, so too is a very dark brown tan. If it is too dark, there isn’t enough contrast with the black and this can make a dog look plain. The ideal colour, I would say, is a rich red tan bordering on light auburn.
The correct trimming of a Welsh is most important to the colour. When trimming a Welsh ‘from scratch,’ the procedure is to trim different parts at different times, for example, start trimming the top of the dog’s neck to just past the withers, at the same time take off the hair at the side of the body and the inside of the tail. A month later, the shoulders and top of the body should be trimmed. Two weeks after this you trim the head and underside of the neck and front. This trimming is done solely with the finger and thumb, the idea being that on the day of the show, the dog will have a new coat all over at different lengths, thus emphasizing its shape. With leg and face hair, the procedure is to comb the hair straight out from the leg and pull out the longest hairs all the way down the leg, by doing this at weekly intervals there will be a continual growth of new hair. The theory is, when an old hair is pulled out a new one starts to grow from the follicle. The long hairs must be pulled out regularly and it is important not to pull out bunches of hair, but to pluck out the individual hairs all the way down the leg. If you can get around 1 1⁄2” of new hair, at different lengths, it should be good and dense and no artificial aids, such as Vaseline and sawdust should be needed to make the hair look thick. The method of plucking hair will not improve the colour, it will only show the true colour, but by repeatedly cutting dead hair, the colour will fade.
The above method of trimming is popular on the Continent, they do not have as many shows as we have in England and the time lapse between shows enables them to trim this way. In this country with shows coming frequently sometimes three in a week, you have to get a dog to its peak and keep it there.
This can only be achieved by what is known as ‘breaking down the coat,’ then you adopt the same procedure as with leg hair. The coat is combed against the grain and the long hairs topped.’ At this point, most people resort to trimming tolls, consequently the colour fades. If you try to tone up with coloured chalk, the judge will assume (any Championship Show Judge worth his salt can tell) that the dog’s colour is not good enough to be shown naturally, and will penalize it as a poor coloured one.
It would not be fair to mention any of todays’ dogs as being examples of the correct colour and coat, but there are two dogs in the past I admired for their ‘jackets,’ namely, Champion Felstead Futurist, who had a gorgious [sic] colour and his coat, although dense and hard, could be ‘topped’ continually. The other one was Champion Sandstorm Saracen, he had a wonderful hard dense jacket and his leg hair was of the same quality, and plenty of it, combination like this does not come along very often.
I think the right amount of undercoat is essential when looking for the correct jacket for a Welsh. If there is not enough undercoat, the coat appears very tight and single and it usually lacks furnishings. On the other hand, there are many terriers with a wealth of coat and furnishings, but no texture whatsoever. Usually, if this type of coat is examined in the rough, you will find along the top of the neck and back, the hair is of good quality. This is their top coat and, as with the single coated one, they are all top coat with no undercoat. I think with the fluffy ones, it is all undercoat with no top coat. These two extremes of coat are bad, and no trimming techniques or hair preparations will ever make a good coat. Then, as good colour can be spoilt by wrong trimming, so a good coat can be spoilt if it is cut with any sharp instrument, as there will be a built up of under-coat and this will spoil the texture.”*