James Hinks
James Hinks
James Hinks`s bulldog Old Madman
James Hinks`s bulldog Old Madman


Most dog breeds were developed after hundreds of years

of evolution and lengthy selection by breeders.

However,some breeds owe their existence to just one person.


James Hinks (1829-78) was born in the city of Mullingar,

 the county town of Westmeath, one of the poorest places

 in Ireland. His parents were John Hinks – a shoemaker

– and Charlotte Callew. In those days, a shoemaker earned

only enough to keep his family from starvation.

Typhus, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases were

 widespread; contaminated water caused cholera

outbreaks throughout the 19th century.

James’s father spent some time in the army and because

 the family lived at various locations in the vicinity of barracks,

 he may have been a military shoemaker.

By around 1851, the Hinks family had moved to Birmingham,

an industrial town described as “an immense workshop,

 a huge forge, a vast shop. One hears nothing but the sound

 of hammers and the whistle of steam escaping from boilers.”

Not surprisingly James began his career as a brass founder

– by 1840, more than 3,500 people were working

 in Birmingham’s foundries and living in small,

dark workers’ houses with poor sanitation and shared by several

 large families. Still, Hinks was in a privileged position:

he had a job and an income.






In January 1851, James Hinks married Elizabeth Moore

in Birmingham. Their first son, James II, was born in

December; daughter Mary was born in 1853, followed

by Frederick in 1854. During this period, Hinks

became a “higgler” (trader) and poultry dealer. These

professions were obviously a little higher up the social

lader, because Hinks became a registered trader in the

Market Hall and was also breeding foreign and

domestic birds and rabbits. His Bulldog, ‘Old Madman,’ was

born in 1855, so apart from birds, rabbits and poultry,

he became a dog breeder and dealer.

James Hinks was no goody-goody; several times in

his life he came into conflict with the law. We know that

around 1855 he served a few months in prison for

 selling rabbits stolen from the vicar’s garden. Another

conviction followed when a policeman asked him to remove

a crate of chickens from a walkway and Hinks punched

the man. Still, he was making progress in life and became the

 owner of premises close to the Market Hall.

Several times, he and his family moved to more

spacious accommodation.

The Hinks family grew rapidly – their fourth child

was born in 1855, and their eighth and last in 1864. Al-

though Hinks had been selling dogs since the mid-

1850s, he was never identified as a dog dealer on his

children’s birth certificates. Only later, in the mid-1860s,

was he listed as a “bird and dog dealer”

in a Birmingham street directory.

In 1865, the Hinks family moved to 53 Worcester St.,

taking over the Sportsman Alehouse. We know this

address from the “Great Annual Exhibition of Sporting

and Other Dogs” show catalogue.

In 1877, Hinks contracted tuberculosis and died in

May 1878, only 49 years old and leaving a widow and

eight children, aged 13 to 26. In his lifetime, he had

lifted his family from the slums and accumulated an

estate worth £450.




In writing about Bull Terrier history, one must

mention the early history of Bulldogs and terriers. From the

13th century, dogs had been used for bullbaiting,

a spectacle enjoyed even in the highest circles. To make

the show more interesting, breeders began crossing

Bulldogs for strength, and terriers for their speed,

fierceness and versatility.

Bull-, bear- and badger-baiting was banned in Britain

in 1835, but illegal fights continued in pubs and secret pits.

 By the 1860s, vigilant police forces had eliminated the pits

from the cities and the fights moved to

remote areas. Kevin Kane, Hinks’ biographer,

believes that Hinks was never involved in dog fighting –

why should he risk his show dogs in a pit where they could

be killed or mutilated?

As a dog dealer, Hinks sold many breeds – Mastiffs,

Pointers, Bloodhounds, King Charles Spaniels, Pugs,

Black and Tan Terriers, Dalmatians and Italian Greyhounds

– but Bulldogs and terriers were his favourites.

We know little about his activities as a breeder when

he laid the foundation for a ‘modern’ Bull Terrier. Hinks

was certainly not the first to cross Bulldogs and terri-

ers and it’s possible that in the beginning there was lit-

tle difference between Hinks’ dogs and other Bulldogs

or Bull-and-terriers in the show ring.




We don’t know which breeds Hinks used for his

creation, let alone in what order, although we do know that

a Bulldog, smooth-coated terrier, Dalmatian and

possibly a Greyhound were part of the mix.

It is certain, however, that his white Bulldog

Old Madman (Crib x Smit) ,born in 1855 and exhibited

in 1860, in Birmingham played an important role.

 “Idstone” (Rev. Thomas Pearce) described Old Madman

 as “One of the first Bulldogs exhibited which was worthy

of the name belonged to Mr. James Hinks of Birmingham.

He was a white dog; and gained first prize in Mr. Hinks’

native town in 1860.” Puss, later Old Puss (Rebel x Wasp) ,

born in 1861 and regarded as the first official white

Bull Terrier, was exhibited in Cremorne Gardens

(Chelsea, London) in 1863.

It has to be emphasized that the all-white

Bull Terrier was favoured by not only Hinks but those

who bought his “white cavaliers.” As a result, coloured

Bull Terriers weren’t developed until after 1900.

By the 1860s, dog fanciers and writers were noticing

that Hinks was breeding a new type of Bull Terrier,

eliminating many of the Bulldog’s undesirable physical

 characteristics while preserving its courage. He

added ‘nobility’ – a longer neck, head and legs. It’s said

that he used the Dalmatian to strengthen general

appearance and the Greyhound for longer legs. To this

day there are four types in Bull Terriers: a terrier type,

Dalmatian type and Bulldog type,

and a middle-of-the-road type that’s considered

 the ideal type by experts, having just enough

of the three other types to be a good Bull Terrier.

Slowly but surely the Bull Terrier entered the show

scene. The first show with classes for the breed was in

Leeds, in 1861.




Exhibiting a dog was almost always an indication that

the dog was for sale. In 1864, Hinks valued Puss at £25

and Madman at £100. Old catalogues list the dogs

entered by Hinks, but unfortunately they aren’t a

reliable source of information. There could be several dogs

of the same breed with the same name and Hinks’

entries were almost certainly made verbally. However,

it is correct that in a class of Bull Terriers over 10 pounds

at the Cremorne show in 1864, Hinks won a first prize

with Madman (Old Madman x Old Puss) , a second with

Puss (Old Madman x Old Puss) and a third with

Old Puss (Rebel x Wasp).

 In the years to come, Hinks dominated the show ring

and a year after his death, Vero Shaw wrote:

“To the late Mr. James Hinks of Worcester Street,

 Birmingham is due the credit for bringing

the breed before the notice of the public in its later and

more desirable form, and with his well known Old

Madman and Puss he farmed our leading shows for

a long period.”

Between 1862 and 1870, Hinks attended 82 shows.

Considering the way people travelled over a century

ago, his trips must have been true undertakings. Around

1870, Hinks stepped back from breeding and

exhibiting Bull Terriers, on the one hand because other

breeders were successfully using his line, and on the other

because he was paying more attention to his alehouse.

It’s possible that he earned more money drawing beer

than breeding and showing dogs.

Hinks disappeared from the dog scene around 1870,

but the mark he left on the breed is huge. His creation

is familiar all over the world and his first dogs – Old

Madman, Madman and Puss – are regarded as the start

of the Bull Terrier. As for all the breeds Hinks used for

his creation, the mystery is only partly resolved. Even

his sons didn’t know exactly the combinations he used,

or the names on the pedigrees of his first dogs.

Possibly, Hinks himself didn’t know or remember.

In the 1930s, when he was over 80 years old,

James Hinks II wrote an article for the American magazine

Dogdom. In it he stated that his father had used

 a Dalmatian, a Bulldog and White English Terriers

 to create the breed. How he created a breed, can be read in

Kevin Kane’s book: “… in the fact that he created, what

was basically a mongrel and presented it to an unsuspecting

world as The Bull Terrier. The judges of the

day showed a preference for his strain of Bull Terrier.”




Idstone used the type from “Hinks strain” as

 a blueprint for ‘The Points of The Bull Terrier,’

the forerunner of the breed standard, first published in 1888,

10 years after Hinks’ death.

Can it be explained why James Hinks’ strain was so

successful and how it happened that this man

singlehandedly created the breed? The first crossings between

Bulldogs and terriers were made long before Hinks

started doing it and they were not handsome at all!

A simple explanation is that Hinks was the right man,

in the right place, at the right time. He formed the link

between the old miners’ fighting dog in Staffordshire

and the modern show and companion Bull Terrier. The

dog from the pit became the “white cavalier.”

James Hinks’ sons, James II and Frederick,

continued their father’s work. In 1933, 82-year-old James II

visited the Birmingham show for the 70th time.

Carleton Hinks, a son of James II, bred Bull Terriers

until his death in 1977.


 by Ria Hörter


• MarilynDrewes.All About the Bull Terrier and Miniature

Bull Terrier, Alpine, 2005.

• Kevin Kane. James Hinks, Master Craftsman, Scotland, 2001.

• Alice van Kempen. Bull Terriers in Nederland, Holland, 2005.

• V.K.Shaw. The Illustrated Book of the Dog, London,1881.

A breeder/exhibitor/judge and retired bookseller and publisher,

Ria Hörter is a contributing editor of De Hondenwereld,

 the national dog magazine of Holland.


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