Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

breed has often been a matter of notice ; and, as has been often correctly remarked, the purer the breed the greater the difference. Crossing increases the height of bitches, but not so much so that of the dogs. I do not believe in crossing; but, if it be resorted to, the best cross, there can be no question, is that with the Russian Wolfhound, a very pure bred dog, and of an analogous breed. Improvement in Greyhound shape might certainly be looked for, and the chief defects to be expected are the soft, silky coat and

[graphic][merged small]

the white colour. But plenty of material is at hand nowadays, if breeders will have the courage not to neglect good strains simply because they are not of very large size."

It must not be imagined that the breeders enumerated by any means exhaust the list of those who are entitled to rank as among the more noteworthy even. No article upon the Scotch Deerhound would be complete that did not give credit to the brothers Bell, of Forgandenny, for the many fine hounds produced within their kennels; or to the indefatigable Mr. Hood Wright, who has laboured so long for the breed whose cause he has chiefly espoused, and who, moreover, has shown all those practical qualities that go to make a successful fancier. Like the Bells, his name has been associated with a host of good dogs, of which Selwood Morven, that afterwards passed into the hands of Mr. Harry Rawson, Selwood Dhouran, and Selwood Boy are but a trio that come readily to mind. Mr. W. H. Singer, too, at one time owned and bred some noteworthy specimens, of which Champion Swift was the best known. Of other names writ large on the scroll of Deerhound fame, those of the Duchess of Wellington, Mr. W. Evans, Mr. G. E. Crisp, Mr. Morse Goulter, Mr. W. B. Gibbin, Mr. W. C. Grew, Major Davis, Dr. and Miss Rattray may be named. Fig. 37 illustrates Champion Selwood Dhouran, a dog that has had a most remarkable show-ring career. He stands over 31 in. at shoulder, and is by Champion Swift (30,617) out of Selwood Morag (37,981).

Mr. Hickman has already referred to the good qualities of the Deerhound as a companion, and he certainly does not at all colour the picture. Of recent years the Kennel Press has received many testimonials from ladies testifying to the full to the hounds' excellent qualities. What has been said in respect of the Irish Wolfhound as regards details of management, colour of puppies, etc., apply equally to the Scotch hound, which only needs to be better known to be more highly appreciated.

The following excellent description of the Scotch Deerhound was drawn up by Mr. Hickman and Mr. Hood Wright, and it received the approval of the Scottish Deerhound Club in 1892 :—

Head. —The head should be broadest at the ears, tapering slightly to the eyes, with the muzzle tapering more decidedly to the nose. The muzzle should be pointed, but the teeth and lips level. The head should be long, the skull flat, rather than round, with a very slight rise over the eyes, but with nothing approaching a stop. The skull should be coated with moderately long hair, which is softer than the rest of the coat. The nose should be black (though in some blue-fawns the colour is blue), and slightly aquiline. In the lightercoloured dogs a black muzzle is preferred. There should be a good moustache of rather silky hair, and a fair beard.

Ears.—The ears should be set on high, and, in repose, folded back like the Greyhound's, though raised above the head in excitement without losing the fold, and even, in some cases, semi-erect. A prick ear is bad. A big thick ear, hanging flat to the head, or heavily coated with long hair, is the worst of faults. The ear should be soft, glossy, and like a mouse's coat to the touch, and the smaller it is, the better. It should have no long coat or long fringe, but there is often a silky, silvery coat on the body of the ear and the tip. Whatever the general colour, the ears should be black or dark-coloured.

Neck and Shoulders.—The neck should be long—that is, of the length that befits the Greyhound character of the dog. An over-long neck is not necessary, nor desirable, for the dog is not required to stoop to his work like a Greyhound, and it must be remembered that the mane, which every good specimen should have, detracts from the apparent length of neck. Moreover, a Deerhound requires a very strong neck to hold a stag. The nape of the neck should be very prominent where the head is set on, and the throat should be clean-cut at the angle and prominent. The shoulders should be well sloped, the blades well back and not too much width between them. Loaded and straight shoulders are very bad faults.

Stern.—Stern should be tolerably long, tapering, and reaching to within I Jin. of the ground, and about igin. below the hocks. When the dog is still, dropped perfectly straight down, or curved. When in motion it should be curved when excited, in no case to be lifted out of the line of the back. It should be well covered with hair, on the inside thick and wiry, underside longer, and towards the end a slight fringe not objectionable. A curl or ring tail very undesirable.

Eyes.—The eyes should be dark, generally they are dark brown or hazel. A very light eye is not liked. The eye is moderately full, with a soft look in repose, but a keen, far-away look when the dog is roused. The rims of the eyelids should be black.

Body.—The body and general formation is that of a Greyhound of larger size and bone. Chest deep rather than broad, but not too narrow and flat-sided. The loin well arched and drooping to the tail. A straight back is not desirable, this formation being unsuitable for going up-hill, and very unsightly.

Legs and Feet.—The legs should be broad and flat, a good broad fore arm and elbow being desirable. Fore legs, of course, as straight as possible. Feet close and compact, with well-arched toes. The hindquarters drooping, and as broad and powerful as possible, the hips being set wide apart. The hind legs should be well bent at the stifle, with great length from the hip to the hock, which should be broad and flat. Cow hocks, weak pasterns, straight stifles, and splay feet very bad faults.

Coat.—The hair on the body, neck, and quarters should be harsh and wiry, and about 3in. or 4m. long; that on the head, breast, and belly is much softer. There should be a slight hairy fringe on the inside of the fore and hind legs, but nothing approaching " the feather" of a Collie. The Deerhound should be a shaggy dog, but not overcoated. A woolly coat is bad. Some good strains have a slight mixture of silky coat with the hard, which is preferable to a woolly coat, but the proper coat is a thick, close-lying, ragged coat, harsh or crisp to the touch.

Colour.—Colour is much a matter of fancy. But there is no manner of doubt that the dark blue-grey is the most preferred. Next come the darker and lighter greys or brindles, the darkest being generally preferred. Yellow and sandy-red or red-fawn, especially with black points—i.e. ears and muzzles—are also in equal estimation, this being the colour of the oldest known strains, the McNeil and the Chesthill Menzies. White is condemned by all the old authorities, but a white chest and white toes, occurring as they do in a great many of the darkest-coloured dogs, are not so greatly objected to, but the less the better, as the Deerhound is a self-coloured dog. A white blaze on the head or a white collar should entirely disqualify. In other cases, though passable, yet an attempt should be made to get rid of white markings. The less white the better, but a slight white tip to the stern occurs in the best strains.

Height of Dogs.—From 28m. to join., or even more if there be symmetry without coarseness, but which is rare.

Height of Bitches. —From 26in. upwards. There can be no objection to a bitch being large, unless too coarse, as even at her greatest height she does not approach that of the dog, and, therefore, could not have been too big for work, as over-big dogs are. Besides, a big bitch is good for breeding and keeping up the size.

Weight.—From 85Ib. to 1051b. in dogs; from 65Ib. to 8olb. in bitches.

CHAPTER XII

THE BORZOI, OR RUSSIAN WOLFHOUND

If for nothing else, we have at least one thing to be grateful for to Russia—she has given us the Borzoi, one of the most beautiful of the canine race, combining at once strength, symmetry, and grace. The manner in which in recent years the Borzoi has steadily advanced in the public favour, while other foreign breeds, and unfortunately some of our own (e.g. the Mastiff) have gone to the wall, is in itself sufficient evidence that this breed, at all events, has come to stay.

Some fifteen or twenty years ago an occasional specimen was shown in variety classes, but it was then generally catalogued as a Siberian Wolfhound. Nowadays every show worthy of the name provides classes for the breed. In March, 1892, the Borzoi Club was founded—of which more anon—with the Duchess of Newcastle as President. Indeed, in a great measure the Borzoi owes its present position in the English dog world to her Grace, who takes a keen and active interest in the welfare of the breed, and who is acknowledged to be the best judge of the variety we have. Her Grace, between the years 1889 and 1892, laid the foundation of her now famous kennels, importing, among others, Champion Ooslad, Kaissack, Champion Milka, Oudar, Champion Golub, and others, all pillars of the stud book. It was not, however, until the year 1894 that Borzois received a separate classification in the Kennel Club Stud Book (Vol. XXL).

In England, of course, the Borzoi is kept chiefly for companionship and exhibition purposes, although there is no reason why the dog should not be more generally used for coursing. A friend of the writer's owns a bitch which, when ten years old, successfully competed against trained Greyhounds. In their native country they are used for wolf-hunting, and regular meetings (or trials) are also held, much after the style of our own coursing events.

The trials take place in an enclosed place—i.e. with high fence all the way round— and the wolves are brought on to the scene in similar carts to our deer-carts. The hounds are always slipped in

129

couples on a wolf, and judging takes place on the performance of the brace let loose on the wolf. The whole merit of the course is where the two hounds can overtake their wolf and pin him down so that the keeper can secure him alive. It means, therefore, that if in a brace one dog should prove faster and stronger than the other, he would not add any more points to the score, as he would be working alone, and alone would be quite incapable of tackling a wolf. In order to win, one has to have two good dogs as equal as possible, but of course at the same time fast and powerful. Of late it is a very, very rare occurrence for any brace of Borzois to succeed in holding a wolf at all.

Some of the first specimens imported were not all that could be desired as regards temper, and people fought shy of the breed as "vicious." "One swallow does not make a summer," neither do two or three ill-tempered dogs constitute a breed a " vicious " one. That idea is now, however, happily exploded, and it may truthfully be said that the writer has never possessed a "vicious" Borzoi, and he can only remember seeing two that could fairly be described as such. On the contrary, a Borzoi properly reared—not dragged up, chained to a kennel, a method of procedure warranted to spoil the temper of any dog-—invariably turns out an affectionate and intelligent dog, devoted to those he knows. At the same time, the nervous system in the Borzoi appears (whether from inbreeding or other causes it is impossible to say) to be very highly developed, and a puppy's temper may easily be ruined by any undue harshness. A highly bred Borzoi puppy is. a mass of nerves, and if beaten, either becomes a miserable, cowed brute or a snappy, badtempered one, and the same applies in a lesser degree to the adult hound. There is probably no breed of dog less quarrelsome than the Borzoi. In the writer's kennel there are invariably a large number running loose together, both dogs and bitches, and kennel fights are few and far between. If attacked, however, their strength of jaw and rapidity of movement make them very unpleasant antagonists. Bitches, as a rule, are more inclined to quarrel than dogs.

The Borzoi makes an excellent house-dog, taking up little room, in spite of his size. He is a thorough aristocrat, quiet and dignified in his manner, never rushing about to the detriment of the "household gods," and seldom given to unnecessary barking. In fact he is, as the advertisements say, "an ornament fit for any nobleman's drawing-room."

In constitution the Borzoi is hardy, and may safely be kept in any good outdoor kennel or stable, provided his quarters are dry, and a plentiful supply of straw be allowed in winter. The colder the weather, the better the dogs seem to like it. Damp, of course, must be avoided.

« ForrigeFortsett »