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when I was a young man in the 'Fifties, mine were the best anywhere.
Mr. A. T. Williams, of Ynisygerwm, to whom I also addressed an inquiry, replied :
This dog is of very ancient origin ; he is probably the oldest of all the spaniel breeds now in Great Britain. With comparatively little care or breeding he has preserved his type and valuable working qualities. These spaniels have never been kept for the show-bench, but have been bred and kept purely for work by sportsmen-principally in South Wales—and notably by such old shooting families as those of Colonel J. Blandy-Jenkins of Llanharan, Sir John T. D. Llewelyn of Penllergaer, Colonel Henry Lewis of Greenmeadow, and others. These families have possessed these dogs for upwards of a hundred years. The Welsh spaniel is a distinct variety, and differs from all other breeds in type and other respects; writings and pictures, dating back some hundreds of years, describe and depict this spaniel. When field trials for spaniels were established the Welsh springer very speedily came to the front, and proved himself a most excellent worker and a great winner at the trials. The Kennel Club has placed the variety in the Stud Book as a distinct breed, and classes are provided for them at their show, and also at many others. The colour is red (of varying shades) and white, and a standard of points has been adopted for the variety by the Kennel Club. In Wales the ground to be worked comprises some of the very roughest and densest character, and necessitates a very high-couraged, active, and persevering dog ; not only must he be able to work ground of this description, but he must be able to do so all day, and day after day. I work a team of ten or twelve of these spaniels at one time, and without them should not find half of my game. They are fast, merry workers, will face the thickest covert, have rare noses, and the most extraordinary powers of endurance in work. In short, there is no doubt the breed are the best working spaniels, and at the same time very handsome. The Kennel Club went deeply into the matter, and decided the Welsh spaniel was a distinct breed of the most valuable description.
A third correspondent—a lady much interested in the breed—to whom I wrote, replied :
As regards Welsh springers, their colour is red and white,
although orange is allowed. They have existed in the kennels of some old Welsh families for a hundred and fifty years. All the best seem to come from South Wales, as all the best Welsh terriers seem to come from North Wales. There has been a great controversy over the Welsh springer, but they have won the day, and got a separate classification from the Kennel Club. The principal breeders, such as Mr. A. T. Williams and Mr. W. H. David, are with difficulty induced to show, but at Shrewsbury in 1903 the Welsh spaniel classes were said to be quite the feature of the show.
From an interesting article by Baron Jaubert, which appeared in the Illustrated Kennel News, I extract the following particulars :
There are many valuable strains of dogs in England which never appear at shows, and are consequently ignored. Their owners --- true sportsmen -- preserve their dogs with care, and despise perpetual changes and fashions. Welsh spaniels, dogs intended for sport, and not prepared like modern dogs, would not have the least chance at a show of beating the inordinately long and low new type of spaniel which has been in favour for some time. Therefore the Welsh owners did not show them.
The Sporting Spaniel Society (which was founded to bring back spaniels from the “dogs of fancy," into which dog shows had gradually transformed them, to a type more suitable to a working dog) succeeded in obtaining at exhibitions a special class for “working type spaniels.” And then a Welsh dog was brought out at Birmingham in December 1899, which made a sensation. This was Corrin, belonging to Mr. A. T. Williams, a magnificent red and white dog. Mr. Purcell-Llewellin gave him first in a class of twenty-four ; the dog afterwards won at many other of the very first shows, including a championship at the Crystal Palace.
All this time ink was flowing freely. The pillars of the ordinary breeds of spaniels would not admit the Welsh ; the dog could not, ought not, to exist. Endless letters appeared in the newspapers, but the last word has been said by the Kennel Club, which has recognised the Welsh spaniel as a separate breed. He comes victorious out of the struggle ; not only does he exist, but he is of perfectly pure blood and more ancient breed than certain other spaniel strains.
There are a few kennels that have kept the pure strain of Welsh spaniels for over a hundred and fifty years; I will mention
those of Mr. Jones of Pontneath, Sir John Llewelyn of Penllergaer, Colonel Lewis of Greenmeadow, and Mr. A. T. Williams of Ynisygerwm. The breed of spaniels has existed at the latter kennels since 1750. The grandfather of Mr. Williams used to go shooting in the years from 1805 to 1850 with a team of twelve to fourteen dogs trained by himself. Mr. Williams' father carried on the sport from 1845 to 1894, working with eight dogs, also trained by himself. Now Mr. Williams uses teams of from three to eight dogs, trained by a keeper. Two guns walk about 32 yards to the right and left of the keeper, who directs the dogs.
Colonel Lewis and Mr. David of Neath also keep these dogs, and their kennels confirmed my impression that they were a distinct variety, very consistent in type, very uniform, and sharply defined by shape and coat. The latter is of a warm brick-red colour, though orange is allowable, sometimes inclining to wine-colour, a specially distinctive shade. The ear is rather small, though quite long enough for a sporting dog ; the body well off the ground, but not so much that the dog can be called “leggy." It is obvious that a dog built like this could gallop and jump as could none of the “long and low" show dogs, wittily defined, in the course of the recent polemics, as “living drain-pipes," for whom “ vast halls and long corridors ” are necessary. The Welsh "starters ” — a term more frequently employed in Wales than “springers "--show amongst themselves similar differences of height and weight to those seen amongst pointers, where members of the same litter may be classed, some as large and others as small pointers. The scale of points indicates a sufficiently wide margin, ranging from 30 to 43 lbs. Below 30 lbs. we find the Welsh cocker, which is entered in the ordinary cocker class at dog shows, but proves its Welsh origin by its red markings.
We had an opportunity of seeing these spaniels hunt the steep slopes of the Neath valley. The ground was a bed of matted bracken, which hid completely the fallen stones, and made walking very difficult. Large rocks rose, isolated, from this gilded covert, in which there were sometimes strong brambles and interwoven dead branches ; at any time one may find one's self entangled in invisible ruins. These are just the places where one or two cockers are invaluable to dislodge the rabbits that double into them as if in a stack of faggots. In a country like this the two teams we saw at the field trials worked for six consecutive hours. The dogs swarmed round their men as lightly and gaily as if in a stubble-field ; they showed as much energy at the close of the
day as they had done at the beginning. They proved themselves to possess excellent noses and great keenness. They reconciled
-a necessary point in teams—the greatest activity with perfect immobility at the flushing of game or the sound of a gun. The sixty-six head of game to four guns certainly gave us more pleasure than 400 head would at a battue. We began the day with the before-mentioned prize-winner Corrin, who, despite his ten years, showed an energy and a dash as great as those of the puppies--a proof that the breed is sound.
Mr. A. T. Williams has very kindly supplied me with a description of his “ideal” Welsh springer spaniel, and from this and the very full description of Corrin, who forms the subject of one of my illustrations, and an inspection of those illustrations, the reader will be able to form his own opinion as to whether to agree with the decision of the Kennel Club or that of the Spaniel Club, as recorded at the beginning of this section.
MR. A. T. WILLIAMS' IDEAL WELSH SPANIEL.—The old Welsh breed is not affected by shows, but has been bred and kept by shooting sportsmen for its working properties. A spaniel full of intelligence, and that, with the mere sight of a gun, instantly brims over with delight. His greatest pleasure is to set to work immediately, and force out for the gun whatever there may be in the shape of game or rabbits.
The ideal Welsh spaniel must be exceedingly active and strong, able to negotiate the most difficult as well as the thickest places, and to last out the longest day. His colour must always be red and white, the red deepening with age. His head fairly long and strong, but not settery type. Ears should be small, offering a minimum of resistance and opportunity to gorse and briars ; eyes dark and full of spaniel expression ; body very muscular, not long on any account, with thick coat, not curly ; stern down, never above the line of his back, with plenty of movement ; legs medium length, with plenty of bone and good round feet. And for disposition he must possess utter devotion to his master, high courage, and not afraid of a fight if imposed upon him, but not quarrelsome. If whipped, never sulky, but ready to start off working again instantly. Always a pleasure to the master to have the dog with him, whether in actual work or at home.
My illustrations depict Corrin and Fanny of Gerwm —to my eyes a pair of as beautiful working spaniels as any one could wish to see, looking at them from an artistic point of view.
Corrin, the property of Mr. A. T. Williams, was bred by Colonel J. Blandy-Jenkins, by Dash out of Busy, and was whelped in June 1893. He is of medium height, weighs 42 lbs., and of the correct red and white colour. His eyes are dark hazel, not prominent, and without haw; ears small and set fairly low; tail, low carriage and very lively motion ; coat dense and straight ; excellent bone ; moderately feathered ; strong body and well-sprung ribs, with length of body proportionate to that of leg ; loin muscular and very strong, slightly arched and well coupled up; feet round, with thick pads ; general appearance symmetrical, compact, strong, and active; built for endurance and activity. Is beyond doubt the most typical Welsh spaniel living, and the sire of all the best spaniels now being exhibited. Won championship at Birmingham and Crystal Palace, and other prizes too numerous to mention.
Fanny of Gerwm, the property of Mrs. H. D. Greene, was bred by Mr. A. Treherne, by Dash out of Fan, and born in September 1899. She has won various prizes, and is described by her former owner, Mr. Williams, as “perfect in head, legs, body, coat, and colour.” She is the dam of many first class spaniels, some of which have been seen at the trials, and all proved themselves wonderful workers.