Tiny the Wonder

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Rat-Catching at the 'Blue Anchor' Tavern, Bunhill Row, Finsbury, London. Oil on canvas, 1850–52. Museum of London, London.[1]
Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, where Tiny the Wonder fought in the rat pits underneath

Tiny the Wonder was an English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan) famous in the City of London in the mid-19th century for being able to kill 200 rats in an hour in the city's rat-baiting pits.[2][3] At the time, the world record for killing 100 rats was 5 minutes, 30 seconds, held by a Bull and Terrier named Billy.[4]


Tiny's pedigree was by Old Dick out of Old Nell,[5] and in 1848 or 1849 he weighed five and a half pounds and was owned by Jemmy Shaw, the innkeeper of the Blue Anchor Tavern (now the Artillery Arms) in Bunhill Row in the City of London.[2] Shaw brought in rats from Essex for the rat pits under the pub, as they were healthier than London sewer rats, and kept as many as 2,000 rats there.[2][6] Tiny was so small that he wore a woman's bracelet instead of a collar.[2] He once held the rat killing record, with 300 dead in just under 55 minutes.[7]

Tiny appears in a c. 1850–1852 oil painting, Rat-Catching at the Blue Anchor Tavern, Bunhill Row, Finsbury, where he is depicted trying to kill 200 rats in an hour. Tiny succeeded twice, on 28 March 1848 and 27 March 1849, "having on both occasions time to spare".[6]


Tiny the Wonder handkerchief, circa 1850[8]

During the 1840s rat-baiting reached its climax in popularity in London. Jemmy Shaw invented the no-touch rule, meaning neither the rat nor the dog could be removed from the pit before completion of the match.[9]


Tiny has been described as being an example of a dog close to today's English Toy Terrier. The breed was developed to produce a more evenly matched contest between the dog and the rats.[10] The breed's narrow head and lack of pronounced zygomatic arches allowed it to kill a rat with one bite and not waste any time chewing.[10] The dog's spotting pattern, especially the tan spots on its face brighter than its black eyes, could confuse the rats and also protect the dog's eyes from being bitten.[10]


Tiny's life is one of those being celebrated from 5 April 2019 in an exhibition titled, "Beasts of London" at the Museum of London.[2]


  1. ^ Rat-Catching at the 'Blue Anchor' Tavern, Bunhill Row, Finsbury, London. The man in the middle with a pocket watch is Jemmy Shaw. Archived 2019-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Art UK. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Thorpe, Vanessa (31 March 2019). "Small wonder: tiny Victorian dog that killed 200 rats an hour". The Observer. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Ratting Terriers". Amalek English Toy Terriers. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  4. ^ Fleig, D. (1996). History of Fighting Dogs. pp. 105–112 T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0-7938-0498-1
  5. ^ "The travesties competing in the Terrier category at Crufts" by Jeremy Clarke, The Spectator, 14 March 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019. (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b Rat-Catching at the Blue Anchor Tavern, Bunhill Row, Finsbury: 19th century. Archived 2019-04-01 at the Wayback Machine Museum of London. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  7. ^ Peter Brown (27 November 2012). Toy Manchester Terrier: A Comprehensive Owner's Guide. CompanionHouse Books. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-62187-078-4.
  8. ^ Collinson, Alwyn (4 April 2019). "Meet the Beast: Tiny the Wonder Dog". Museum of London. Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Ratfink Days in Merrie England". Sports Illustrated. 4 July 1966. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Richardson, John R. F. "The Evolution of the English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan): The Perspective of History". English Toy Terrier Club. Retrieved 31 March 2019.