Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

and there. These dogs ought, however, to be well feathered nearly all the way down their legs, and their feet especially ought to be well clothed with hair. When thus feathered they have always plenty of hair on their flags; but if these are bushy sideways, and not presenting a flat fanlike form, they are to be considered imperfect in this point, though, nevertheless, the individual possessing such a stern may be a good dog.

The Scotch or Gordon Setter is of a black tan, or black tan and white colour, in other respects resembling the English dog, except in some few minute points. This breed has lately become fashionable in England, where it is as common as its southern competitor.

The bitch setter, like the pointer, is lighter and smaller, especially about the head, which is not so square and deep in any of its proportions.

THE RUSSIAN SETTER.

This dog was at one time, that is, about twenty years ago, considered to be superior to our English breed, and many of them were then introduced into the kennels of our best sportsmen, but they are now almost lost sight of again. In the year 1841, the late Mr. Lang, well known as a first-rate shot both at game and pigeons, and as a breeder of pointers and setters, wrote to the Editor of the “Sporting Review” a letter warmly in praise of them, from which the following is an extract:

“In the season of 1839 I was asked, for a week's shooting, into Somersetshire, by an old friend, whose science in everything con.

nected with sporting is first rate. Then, for the first time for many years, I had my dogs, English setters, beaten hollow. His breed was from pure Russian setters, crossed by an English setter dog, which some years ago made a sensation in the sporting world, from his extraordinary performances : he belonged to the late

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

Joseph Manton, and had been sold for a hundred guineas. Although I could not but remark the excellence of my friend's dogs, yet it struck me, as I had shot over my own old favourite setter (who had himself beat many good ones, and had never before been beaten) for eight years, that his nose could not have been right, for the Russians got three points to his one. I therefore resolved to try some others against them the next season ; and having heard a

gentleman, well known as an excellent judge, speak of a brace of extraordinary young dogs he had seen in the neighbourhood of his Yorkshire moors, with his recommendation I purchased them. I shot to them in August last, and their beauty and style of performance were spoken of in terms of praise by a correspondent to a sporting paper. In September I took them into Somersetshire, fully anticipating that I should give the Russians the go by : but I was again disappointed; I found, from the wide ranging of my dogs, and the noise consequent upon their going so fast through stubbles and turnips (particularly in the middle of the day, when the sun was powerful and there was but little scent), that they constantly put up their birds out of distance, or, if they did get a point, that the game would rarely lie till we could get to it. The Russians, on the contrary, being much closer rangers, quartering their ground steadily-heads and tails up—and possessing perfection of nose, in extreme heat, wet, or cold, enabled us to bag double the head of game that mine did. Nor did they lose one solitary wounded bird ; whereas, with my own dogs, I lost six brace the first two days of partridge-shooting, most of them in standing corn.

“My old friend and patron, having met with a severe accident while hunting last season, determined to go to Scotland for the next three years. Seeing that my dogs were well calculated for grouse-shooting, as they had been broken and shot to on the moors, and being aware of my anxiety to possess the breed of his Russians, he very kindly offered to exchange them for mine, with a promise that I would reserve a brace of Russian puppies for him. Although I had refused fifty guineas for my brace, I most gladly closed with his offer. Since then I have hunted them in company with several dogs of high character, but nothing that I have yet seen could equal them. If not taken out for six months, they are perfectly steady, which is a quality rarely to be met with. Every sportsman must know, that the fewer dogs he can do his work with properly, the better : for if they are in condition they cannot be too frequently hunted ; and their tempers, style of working, &c., become more familiar to him. On this the whole comfort of shooting depends. Upon these grounds I contend that, for all kinds of shooting, there is nothing equal to the Russian or halfbred Russian setter, in nose, sagacity, and every other necessary qualification that a dog ought to possess.”

Since then, however, Mr. Lang lost the breed, and, I believe, for some reason or other, had also lost confidence in them. They are now very scarce in this country, of pure blood, and even the cross with the English setter is seldom seen. .

The actual form of the Russian setter is almost entirely concealed by a long woolly coat, which is matted together in the most extraordinary manner, and which would lead to the supposition that he would be unable to stand heat even as well as our curly setters; but, on the contrary, he bears it almost like a pointer. He has the bearded muzzle of the deerhound and Scotch terrier, but the hair is of a more woolly nature, and appears to be between that of the poodle and the water spaniel, or perhaps the ordinary setter, but far thinner than either, which may account for the sustenance of heat. The legs are straight and strong, and the form of the body well adapted for the pace which the setter has to keep

up; but this dog is not very fast, though quite sufficiently so for all sporting purposes. The feet are generally rather flat, but the · soles are stout, and stand work well, while the quantity of hair on them fits them to bear the friction of heather or other rough work. I have never tried one of these dogs myself, but I have always heard the highest character of their nose and sagacity, as well as of their powers of endurance.

THE FIELD SPANIEL.

· The field spaniel is distinguished from the toy dog by his propensity to hunt game, and by his size and strength, which are sufficient to enable him to stand the work which is required in making his way through the briars and thorns of a thick covert, where he is chiefly employed. Although not used for water, where the water spaniel is pre-eminent, his coat must be of such a thick nature as to bear long-continued wet, inasmuch as he is generally soaked with it, either from the snow on the briars, or from moisture hanging to them in drops, caused either by rain or dew. Hardihood, therefore, is essential, and though a little dog may possess it, there are few instances of anything under 12 or 14 pounds being able to stand the wet and labour of a day's covert shooting. The nose of the spaniel must be exquisite, or he will be unfit to perform his duties, which require him to follow out the pheasant, woodcock, or hare, to the well-concealed retreat in or under a thick bush, which either of them may have chosen. A good and somewhat musical tongue was, by the old school of sportsmen, con

« AnteriorContinuar »