Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

often very beautiful; they seem particularly suited as companions and pets for ladies. They are, however, not quite as saleable as the whites and blacks, as the general public have hardly got used to them yet as true Poodles colours. They are becoming more popular every year, and have greatly improved in quality and type since they were introduced; but when the classes are for " Poodles, any variety," they have to put their best feet foremost to be placed over good specimens either white or black.

Any one with a desire to take up these interesting and highly intelligent dogs would be well advised to, at any rate, commence with a black, of course taking care that it is black, and, as before stated, if possible seeing the parents. Any mixture of other tints on any part of the coat will greatly depreciate the value of a specimen from a fancier's point of view. There are even different shades of black itself; the shade most preferred in Poodles is a glossy, bright, intense, bluish-black, without any tendency to rustiness, which is too often seen in some of the coats, and handicap such specimens in the show-ring.

There is an offshoot of the Poodle that is turned to good account as a truffle hunter. The actual constituents of the little dog that one occasionally meets with in truffle "country " are not known; but it is fairly safe to say that he partakes largely of Poodle and Terrier. In weight he is little above that of a decent Fox-terrier, and in colour variable. Black-and-white, white with liver markings, with black mouth and lips are the colours most liked. There is little or no tail. In Wilts, Hants, and Dorset these dogs are oftenest found; but the owners are very chary about parting with them, as they constitute their living. As is well known, from November onwards to Christmas prices for the underground fungi popularly called truffles are very high, and given a truffle country—chalky soil and plenty of oak and beech trees—and a well-trained dog, success should attend the efforts of the hunter.

As the dogs are often employed upon estates much game preserved, and early and late, they necessarily have to be carefully broken as well as trained to their legitimate work, while the owner must of course be above suspicion. So far these dogs have not made their appearance at shows; but they would undoubtedly prove an interesting exhibit, especially too if they could be shown at work.

To train a dog with a good nose to such work should not be difficult. The first thing, of course, is to get an obedient dog, and next to get him to retrieve small objects. This done, accustom him to the peculiar smell of the fungus, and also to fetch it when thrown. Next, the truffle should be lightly buried where the dog cannot see it, and the animal be told to seek. Gradually the dog will get accustomed to the peculiar scent given off by the truffle, and will find it when buried. The depth at which the fungus should be buried will be increased until the dog is able to "point" the place, at say 4m. to 6in., the latter representing perhaps the maximum depth at which the esculent would be found growing. If a young dog could be allowed to work with an expert animal, of course the lessons would be still more readily imparted. The truffle hunter proper, once the dog has indicated a place, removes the fungus by means of a fork.

CHAPTER L

THE CHOW-CHOW AND HAIRLESS DOG

In China there are several different breeds of dogs showing a marked contrast to one another. The one that has become best known and is most commonly to be met with in this country is that which was, until recently, known as the Edible Dog, but which has now a separate section in the Kennel Club Stud Book allotted to it under the definition of Chow-Chow. It is difficult to say whence this name originated, as the breed is apparently not known by any such name in its native country, where it is, however, sometimes called the Wolf-dog, probably on account of its being used in packs for hunting purposes in the North of China.

To the casual observer this dog, although larger, somewhat resembles a coarse or half-bred Pomeranian, but a closer inspection shows that there are many points in which the two breeds essentially differ. It is not, however, improbable that the Chow-Chow and Esquimaux are related, as there are certain characteristics common to both breeds. Moreover, it has been proved beyond doubt that typical specimens of either variety can be bred by crossing the two breeds together.

In these Chinese dogs the forehead is broad, the muzzle pointed, but not so pointed as in the Esquimaux, the ears are small, rounded, and carried pricked well forward, the eyes are small and jet-black, the body is short and compact, the hocks are straight, the coat is thick and harsh, with good under-coat, and the tail well curled. For many years the only recognised colours were a deep red and a jet-black, but more recently encouragement has been given to the exhibition, and, as a natural consequence, the breeding, of any colour. The result is that dogs that would have had no chance of winning prizes a few years ago on account of their bad colour are at the present time able to do so, classes being specially provided at some shows for dogs of any colour, other than red or black. No doubt this innovation tends to increase the number of entries at shows, and makes the breeding of prize dogs so much the easier, for every breeder, whatever variety he may be interested in, knows the difficulty of obtaining correct colour and markings, where these are characteristics of a breed. The argument used in favour of providing these classes is that dogs of all sorts of colour are to be found in China; but the same argument might be used for encouraging the exhibition of dogs lacking the principal feature of the breed—a black, or rather a bluishblack, tongue—because Chinese dogs are to be met with having red tongues. The King at one time owned a very fine specimen of a deep red colour, which won several prizes in Foreign classes, although he had a red tongue; but this was before Chow-Chows had classes to themselves, and would afford no excuse for classes being provided for dogs having this defect. It is to be regretted that of late years there has been a tendency on the part of breeders, when they have found themselves unable to breed the correct thing, to urge Committees to provide separate classes for their dogs, and in many cases Committees, anxious to secure additional entries, have shown too much readiness to do so.

One of the most typical dogs of this breed that has come under the writer's notice was a black-and-tan dog, purchased at the Dogs' Home some years ago, but which was never exhibited on account of its colour. As there was no means of knowing how the dog was bred, it is impossible to say whether this colour was the result of a cross between a black and a red; but if so, it is contrary to the usual result of crossing the two colours, as generally the puppies will be found to partake of one colour or the other. The colour of the tongue is peculiar to the breed, and the fact of a dog having a black or partially black tongue would be a sure indication that there had been at some time a Chow-Chow cross, although the dog might not resemble the breed in any other respect.

Among the poorer classes of China these dogs are used as an article of food, and when required for this purpose are fed largely on rice. We have been informed by a gentleman who resided many years in Hong Kong that they are eaten when quite young, and then only the fore feet and paws are used, the black dog being much preferred. This fact is also mentioned by Archdeacon Gray in his interesting book on China, wherein we are told that placards are commonly to be seen over the doors of restaurants in Canton patronised by mechanics and others, stating that the flesh of black dogs and cats can be served at a moment's notice. He also gives a translation of a bill of fare, in which the following appears :—

Cat's flesh, one basin 10 cents

Black cat's flesh, one small basin ... ... 5 cents

Black dog's grease I tael 4 cents

Black cat's eyes, one pair 4 cents.

[graphic]
« ForrigeFortsett »