IF the black spaniel, as seen at our modern shows, can be taken as a distinct variety—and I think that it can—we must consider him as a comparatively recent introduction. None of the old writers mention him, nor have old artists drawn him. It may be safely said that he is bred for show purposes alone—his sleek, silken coat, glossy and bright even as the sheen on the raven's wing, making him a most attractive creature as an ornament. . For actual hard work and use in the field he has many superiors. As a fact, such dogs as gain the chief prizes on our show benches are kept for that purpose alone. They are brushed and groomed methodically and with as much regularity as a maiden will attend to her own toilet. A ramble in the rain, or a gallop in the fields, a scurry after the rabbits in the covert, are not the part and parcel of the education of the black spaniel, at any rate during that time of life he is in his prime, when mooning and

sleeping away the dreary hours on the show
Of late years so much attention has been given
these black spaniels that there are men who have
actually attained a form of celebrity on account
of the skill they display in obtaining a perfectly flat
coat and a shining one. This a good specimen
must have. Then his ears cannot be too long, well
clothed with hair and fringed at the tips; his head,
too, may be an exaggeration, long, with not the
most peculiarly pleasing spaniel expression and eye
that one would like to see. Some of our heavier
black spaniels have enormous heads, square and
untypical, with eyes displaying a haw that would not
be out of place in a bloodhound. I need scarcely
say that when dogs of this kind are given prizes, the
judges who make such awards are wrong.
Length of body, shortness of leg, and enormous
bone are again produced to an exaggeration; crooked
forelegs have followed, and the black spaniel, once
perhaps a useful and active animal, has now fallen
into the heavy, slow ranks of the Clumber, but by
no means so interesting a creature, and may be
taken as a sound example of what can be done in
the matter of breeding “for show points.”
Now, I have always taken my line as to what
a black spaniel should be from that simply charming

[ocr errors][graphic]

bitch, Nellie, Mr. P. Bullock used to show when he resided near Bilston. Afterwards she passed into the hands of Captain Arbuthnot, of Montrose. Nellie was simply perfect in her line, sweet in expression, lovely in size and hang of ears, straight in coat (not so flat as that of to-day), active and Smart, not too heavy in bone, short on leg, or long in back, and, from her appearance, would have been a lovely bitch to shoot over. Her weight I would take to be about 35lb. She was by Young Bob out of Flirt, and, through the latter, went back to Mr. F. Burdett's old strain, which, indeed, is found more or less in all the best spaniel blood of to-day. Mr. Burdett had been the secretary of the earlier Birmingham shows, and his spaniels, which seldom went over about 30lb. weight or so, he had originally from a Mr. Footman, who lived near Lutterworth in Leicestershire. After the death of Mr. Burdett, the strain went into the hands of Mr. Jones, of Oscott, Mr. P. Bullock, a d others, and that it proved extremely valuable the stud books attest. It crossed well into other strains of whatever colour, and from them our field spaniels are what they are now, excepting that the real Sussex has been kept as free from the black blood as possible. Following Messrs. Burdett, Bullock, and others, came Mr. H. B. Spurgin, of Northampton; Mr. W.

« ForrigeFortsett »