Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

attention to the breed. Daniel, in his “Rural Sports," vol. ï. p. 290, gives a copy of a bond, signed by John Harris, on Oct. 7, 1485, in which he covenants to keep for six months, and break, a certain spaniel to “set partridges, pheasants, and other game,” in consideration“ of ten shillings of lawful English money.” Thus it can be shown, that as early as the fifteenth century, a dog similar to a spaniel, and therefore not a pointer, was used for setting game; and there is reason to believe that at that time, and for a long period subsequently, the setter did actually drop and not stand as the pointer does; but how this change was effected we do not exactly know, though there can be no doubt of the fact. The following may be hazarded as the most probable explanation of this change which has taken place in the position of the setter. Prior to the introduction of the flint-gun it was impossible to shoot flying, and these dogs were used in aid of the net which was drawn over both dog and game, and hence a crouching setter was more useful than a standing pointer; but, when the gun came into general use, the pointer, from being more visible as he kept his upright posture, was selected in preference, and the setter rejected, until in course of time certain breeds of that dog were known to imitate the pointer in the standing position, and after a still further lapse the old crouching style of setting was lost. Thus, I believe, it came to pass that the English setter imitated the pointer; but whether it was effected by crossing with that dog it is difficult to say. We know now by experience that the first cross between the two, commonly called “ a dropper,” is a very useful dog, possessing the properties of each, but it does not

answer to go on breeding from it, either on the side of the sire or dam; and therefore, judging from analogy, the effect has not been produced in this way.

The peculiar characteristics of the English and Irish setters, as displayed in the field, are great speed, activity, endurance, capability of bearing cold and wet, and of standing the rough work of the moors, in all of which good qualities the Irish setter is even better than the English. He not only has these in perfection, but he also exaggerates the wilfulness and want of steadiness so remarkable in the setter as compared with the pointer, while, at the same time, he is just as incapable of bearing the heat of the sun without water. Indeed some rough-coated setters, both Irish and English, cannot work at all when their skins are dry, and, unless they can run into a pool every half-hour at least, they blow like porpoises, and are utterly useless. Hence it is that, in the south, the pointer, who fulfils all the requisites for partridge-shooting, is preferred to the setter as a general rule; while, in the north, the latter is adopted, because he will range wider and faster, stand more work, and bear the vicissitudes of the weather so common in Scotland, as well as the rough heather, which distresses the more delicate feet and legs of the highbred pointer. In point of nose it is commonly supposed that the pointer is also superior, but I believe that if both are in condition, and neither of them distressed by heat, there will be little or no difference in this respect. A moderately slow dog will always appear to have a better nose than a very fast one, and will put up less game; but, if too slow, he will lose a great many points which are taken from him by his faster competitor.

mo

e a se

OL

Hence it follows that there is a medium in point of speed which may be possessed by either breed, and a selection need not be made on that account. The setter is, however, acknowledged to be more difficult to break than the pointer, and when once broken he is more apt to require a second series of lessons, whereas the pointer rarely forgets himself unless encouraged to do so by a careless or incompetent master.

The points of the English and Irish setters are nearly the same, but there is a peculiar look about each, which, though not exactly capable of being described, readily distinguishes the one from the other. Both have moderately heavy heads, but not so much so as the pointer; and their muzzles also are not so broad, nor are they nearly so square in profile, the lower angle being rounded off, but the upper being still nearly a right angle. The eye is similar to that of the pointer, but not so soft, being more sparkling and full of spirit. The ear long, but thin, and covered with soft silky hair, slightly waved. The neck is long, but straighter than that of the pointer, being also lighter and very flexible. The back and loin are hardly so strong as those of the pointer, the latter also being rather longer; the hips also being more ragged, and the ribs not so round and barrel-like. The stern, or flag, is usually set on a little lower, is furnished with a fan-like brush of long hair, and is slightly curved upwards towards the tip, but it should never be carried over the back, or raised above the level of its root, excepting when standing, and then a slight elevation is admired, every hair standing down with a stiff and regular appearance. The shoulder-blade is very long and fine, and the

[ocr errors]

TO

rance.

[ocr errors]

8

chest not being so wide as that of the pointer, it plays very freely upon the ribs. The true arm should be very long, and the elbow, when in perfection, is placed so low as to be fully an inch below the brisket, making the fore arm appear very short, as seen in the beautiful illustration which heads this article. The bone of the leg is very large, and the feet round, thick, and their soles hard, while they, as well as the back of the legs, being clothed with long hair, are well protected from all kinds of friction. The hind quarter is not usually so muscular as that of the pointer; but the thighs being longer, and the hucks usually stronger, the power is quite as great. The hind feet and legs are clothed with hair, or “ feathered," as it is called, in the same way as the fore legs, and the amount of this beautiful provision is taken into consideration in selecting the dog for his points. In all these the English and Irish dogs are alike, except that the latter are rather more leggy, but are very powerful nevertheless, and are quite as enduring. The colour of the Irish should be a rich blood ved, with muzzle of the same shade. Sometimes this is actually black, but more often a rich mahogany, the same dark shade running down the back to the stern, which has the short hair as dark as the muzzle, but this deeper stain is objected to by most breeders. Many strains have more or less white about their limbs, but the mouth should always be black, and, unless they are white and red, the less white the better. On the other hand, the English setter has almost always, like the pointer, a foundation of white, with black, livercoloured, yellow, red, or lemon-coloured head, and much of the same colour, with or without ticks, about them. Some are pure black

or pure white, others black and tan; and others, again, black and white, with the tan spots over the eyes, and tanned cheeks, described under the head of the pointer. The coat of the setter is of the greatest importance to attend to in selecting the breed, since there is a great difference in this respect; and while those with thin coats are equally capable of bearing heat with the pointer, the rough, curly, and oily-coated dogs are utterly useless in hot weather. The best kind of hair is one which is composed of the same silky text

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

ure throughout (that is, without an under coat of a woolly nature), and which, without any decided curl, has a trace of a wave here

« AnteriorContinuar »