Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

aggerated all over, and so was not a good head. He was both “lippy” and “jowly,” his skull was very wide, still proportionate with his muzzle, and he was but little undershot. However, he, winning prizes, was used very much at stud, and continued, with that perverseness so marked in many instances, to transmit his very defects to his progeny, and any good points he had—well, he kept them to himself. Crown Prince was a straight-hocked dog, and a very moderate mover, nor were his fore-legs and feet nearly so good as they might have been. The following communication is from one of the leading exhibitors and breeders of mastiffs at the present day, and the opinions expressed therein so thoroughly coincide with my own, that I have not the slightest hesitation in publishing it, however it may grate on the feelings of those who during recent years have tried to produce an abnormal head at the expense of good limbs, lengthy body, and other important attributes : “There can be little doubt that with the advent of Crown Prince came a new era in the history of the mastiff. In him we had a dog of a very striking personality, not by any means confined to his peculiar and ugly colour. Crown Prince was probably a more compact, shorter-bodied, shorterfaced, and more massive-headed mastiff than almost any dog of the race that had preceded him. The novelty of his appearance, it is to be presumed, caused an enormous demand for his services at stud, and it is only to be regretted that mastiff breeders at that time should have so neglected nearly every other dog. Thus we are now placed in the unenviable position of being absolutely compelled to inbreed to an alarming extent or to introduce some other strain with which to invigorate our modern blood. That Crown Prince and Beau together are responsible for the present fashionable type of head is evident, but it is to be feared the former also gave us a lighter eye and a shorter body, as well as those disfiguring straight hocks, which were so prevalent—and are still too often met with—a few years ago. The loss of density or blackness of face markings, too, may also be traced to him.

“But the faults we got from Crown Prince were unquestionably emphasised by the rush upon the dog, to the neglect of almost all others; and had his services been sought a little less exclusively, we might not now have to regret many of the faults of our present dogs—inbreeding having developed them — or that the means of breeding at all are so difficult.

“In a great number of cases where Crown Prince was probably used to suitable bitches, he proved himself the progenitor of some of our very best mastiffs—best, not only because of successes on the show bench, but because they exhibited his good qualities with few of his bad ones. This was strikingly shown in the case of Dr. Turner's The Lady Isabel, in Mr. T. W. Allen's Montgomery, in Capt. J. L. Piddocke's Toozie, and others.

“One cannot pick up a catalogue of even four or five years ago without noticing how the number of entries in the mastiff classes have fallen off. That this is in any way due to decadence in the mastiff's popularity I do not for a moment believe. Even in so short a period dog shows have enormously increased in number, with the result that exhibitors can now pick their shows, with the almost inevitable result that the classes do not fill so well, although the total number of mastiffs exhibited has possibly decreased but very little. Then the general body of owners still required education in the requisite points, and, pending this, did not hesitate to show their dogs, adding, if not to the quality, to the quantity, and the “tail” of the classes.

“Latterly, whether our mastiffs, as a breed, be better or worse than in the days of Lukey and his contemporaries, the general type has become more uniform, and in consequence owners of those dogs which would appear to be mastiff only in colour, have learnt the futility of showing them. “It is, perhaps, not too much to say that the Description of the Mastiff,’ issued by the Old English Mastiff Club, and given on another page, has, as a description of a perfect dog, never been approached, and if it were but possible now to produce a mastiff as a living model of the des. cription, we should be able to point to it as deserving of admiration from the fancier, the artist, and from him who keeps his mastiff as companion and friend. “But there is one point which has no place in the required show points of the mastiff. Still it is, in all dogs, and more especially in a large, powerful creature, of fundamental importance. It is the temper. Now, so long as the owner remain merely the exhibitor, keeping a dog as a machine with which to win prizes, bestowing no pains upon the education of his puppies, or, at most, leaving any tuition in the hands of an indifferent kennelman, so surely will the inherent courage, docility, and beauty of temper of the mastiff gradually become mere history of the past. “Dog shows unquestionably tend to develop excitability, and if this be fomented by neglect and carelessness at home, we must not wonder if the would-be owner of a mastiff requires some further proof of the trustworthiness of the breed than a discussion in the public prints, no matter how much in favour of the dog it may be. “But, two show-points have some bearing on the question of temper; not that either is any actual indication as to what it may be, although they certainly give an impression with regard to it. The first is the colour of the eye. Is it possible to regard the dog owning a pair of light eyes, glaring out from a black or dark face, without feeling considerable doubt of his amiability ? I think not. The second point is the undershot jaw. While this gives an awe-inspiring and imposing character to the head, it destroys all benignity of expression, even to a greater extent than the light eye, and, necessary as I consider the extreme power of a mastiff's under-jaw to be, its strength should lie in its width and depth rather than in its elongation to any great extent beyond the upper jaw. We have seen this extreme development of under-jaw very evident in Mr. T. W. Allen's Montgomery, Mr. W. K. Taunton's Beaufort, Capt. Piddocke's Toozie and Jubilee Beauty, Ogilvie and Lord Clive, and in many others, and I venture to think all these extremely good headed dogs would have been even

« ForrigeFortsett »