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§tløtti Jogs of (5ttat oritain.

C H A P T E R I.

QUITE recently a somewhat interesting correspondence has taken place in the Field regarding what some contributors called the “deterioration of the mastiff,” implying by these words that the old English mastiff of the present day was not equal to what it had been, say, twenty-five years or so ago. Whether this is the case or not it would be difficult to determine from what was written by those engaged in the controversy, for, as is always the case with ordinary newspaper discussions, the general reader was about as wise at its termination as he was at the beginning. . There is, however, no doubt that the modern mastiff breeder, in allowing a craze for huge heads and great skulls to get the better of him, has, as a rule, produced these exaggerations to the sacrifice of the body, loins, legs, and general symmetry of the animal. This was, however, so marked about two years ago that even those who had been the means of causing such retrogression noticed the error they had made, and are now, I fancy, doing their best to remedy their mistake. So, possibly in a couple of years more, our race of mastiffs will have become more symmetrical, will have lost their cow-hocks, crooked fore legs, and hollowed backs, which combined render their gait an awkward rolling movement, more like that of an aged shorthorn going into the byre than that which ought to be possessed by a leading family of the canine race. Some of our modern mastiffs of the Crown Prince strain would, I am afraid, have made but sorry protectors for an English warrior who lay grievously wounded on the field of Agincourt. Although considerable diversity of opinion has existed, and will always exist, as to the origin of the mastiff, there is little doubt that it is the oldest variety of dog connected with Great Britain, and upon this most authorities appear to be agreed, though there are occasional admirers of the bulldog who would have us believe that that variety of

the canine race was one of the original dogs of the British Isles. History has told us that during

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