« AnteriorContinuar »
thing in reality. Strong bony stifle-joints and hocks, with great length between them and from the stifle to the hip, united with a short leg, constitute the perfection of form in the hind quarter, if, as is almost always the case, the muscles covering them are strong enough to put them in action.
The FORE QUARTER is composed of the shoulder, the upper arm (between it and the elbow), the fore-arm (below the elbow), the knee, the leg, and the foot. The shoulder should be oblique, well covered with muscles, and moving freely on the ribs, which it seldom does if the two blades are kept wide apart at their upper edges by the tub-like form of the chest, described under that head. Hence we should examine, and anxiously look for, length of shoulder-blade, which cannot exist without obliquity; freedom of play, without which the fore quarter is not protruded in the gallop as it ought to be; and muscular development to bear the shocks to which this part is subject. The arm also should be long, so as to raise the point of the shoulder high enough to make the blade lie at an angle of 45° with the horizon, and to throw the elbow well back to take the weight of the body. With regard to the elbow itself, the joint must be placed in the same plane as the body; that is to say, the point of the elbow should not project either inwards or outwards. In the former case the feet are turned out, and then there is a want of liberty in the play of the whole shoulder, because the elbow rubs against the ribs, and interferes with the action. This is called being “ tied at the elbow,” and is most carefully to be avoided in selecting the greyhound, as well as all other breeds. The arm should be straight, long, and well clothed with
muscle. The knee should be bony, and not bent too much back, which is an element of weakness, though seldom to such an extent as to be prejudicial to real utility. The leg, or bones below the knee, should be of good size, the stopper (or upper pad) well united to it, and firm in texture, and supported upon a foot of the formation recommended under that head.
The COLOURS commonly met with among high-bred greyhounds are black, blue, red, fawn, brindled, and white, variously mixed. There are also sometimes seen cream, yellow, brown, dun, and grey dogs. When a plain colour is speckled with small white marks, the dog is said to be ticked. The black, red, and fawn are the most highly prized by most coursers, especially when the last two have black muzzles. Some people are partial to blue dogs, of which several good specimens have been met with, as may also be said of the brindled colour, but, as before remarked, the general opinion is in favour of black, red, and fawn. I believe that black, red, and white may be considered as the primary colours, and that the others arise out of their mixture in breeding. Thus a black dog and a white bitch will produce either blacks, whites, black and whites, blues, or greys; while a red dog and white bitch will have red, white, fawn, red and white, yellow, or cream puppies. Black and red united together make the red with black muzzle or the black brindle, while the blue and fawn give rise to the blue brindle ; or sometimes we see the black or blue-tanned colour, as we meet with commonly enough in the setter, spaniel, and terrier. Mr. Thacker was of opinion, with some of the early writers on the greyhound, that the brindle was a mark of the descent from the bulldog ; but, as nothing is known of the time when the colour first appeared, no reliance can be placed on the hypothesis.
The texture of the coat is the last point upon which any reliance is placed, but, as far as my experience goes, there is little to be gained from it. Nevertheless, I should always discard a very soft woolly coat as being an evidence of a weak constitution, unable to bear exposure to weather, and, on that account, unfit for the purposes of the courser. The old breeds were, many of them, very bald about the cheeks and thighs, and this used to be considered a mark of good blood; but, since the intermixture of the rough greyhound, most of our best sorts have been free from this peculiarity, and many of them have had hard rough coats, quite unlike the fine and thin hair, which was formerly so highly prized. My own impression is in favour of a firm, glossy, and somewhat greasyfeeling, coarse coat, which stands wetting well, and at the same time looks healthy and handsome to the eye.
Various DISTINCT BREEDS or STRAINS have long been known as the Newmarket, Wiltshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and smooth Scotch greyhounds; but these are now so completely amalgamated that it is useless to attempt a description of them. Twenty years ago, the Newmarket dog was a distinct animal from that used in Wiltshire, but it would be wholly impossible in the present day to find a single specimen of either uncrossed with the blood of some other variety. If, however, any of my readers wish, from motives of curiosity, for a definite description of these strains, it may be found in “ The Greyhound,” where they are all described most minutely. Public coursing has now reached such a pitch, that those who indulge in it take care to select the best blood which is to be obtained, and readily send two or three hundred miles for it. Hence, locality has now little to do with it, and throughout Great Britain and Ireland the public greyhound is the same animal. Newmarket, which used to be the grand centre of the coursing world, is now fallen from its high position, and neither produces first-class dogs, nor coursing meetings of a corresponding character. Scotland, on the other hand, which formerly had its own breed of smooth greyhounds, has lately taken up the mantle fallen from the shoulders of Newmarket, and has not only usurped her breed of dogs, but has established most numerously supported meetings in various localities. Almost all her modern strains are thence descended, but some are also dependent upon old Lancashire blood, as, for example, Mr. Borron's “ Bluelight” strain, and Mr. Wilson's “King Lear.” It is true that there is an infusion of old Scotch blood in nearly all of these dogs, but that of the south and midland district greatly preponderates; as, for instance, Mr. Gibson's “Sam,” “ Jacobite,” and “Caledonian ;” Mr. Wilson's “King Lear," and sisters; the various descendants of “Japhet,” “Baron,” and “Hughie Graham," as well as of Sir James Boswell's “ Jason,” and Mr. Sharpe's “Monarch ;” all of southern descent. Lancashire has still some strains peculiar to herself, which have suffered no intermixture for many years, and the same may be said of the Yorkshire blood; but these are exceptions to the general rule, for ninete-nths of the greyhounds in these districts are now crossed with Scotch or Newmarket blood, through “King Cob,” or “ Jason,” or some of their descendants. Indeed, it is now extremely rare to meet with any
first-class breed of greyhounds which has not the name of one or other of these dogs in their pedigrees; and, as in former years it was thought necessary to trace every dog if possible up to “Snowball,” so now, if it can be asserted that a favourite is descended from “King Cob,” it is considered that a good claim to high breeding has been made out.
In the CHOICE OF A GREYHOUND I have already observed that we must be guided by other considerations besides make and shape, depending greatly upon the precise object which the intending possessor has in view, since, although the high-bred and low-bred greyhounds are alike externally, yet there is in their internal structure some difference beyond the ken of our senses. But, as it is found by experience that in this particular " like produces like,” it is only necessary to be assured that the parents possessed this internal formation, whatever it may be, in order to be satisfied that their descendants will inherit it. Thus we arrive at the necessity for“ good breed,” or “pure blood,” as the same thing is called in different language, both merely meaning that the ancestors, for some generations, have been remarkable for the possession of the qualities most desired, whatever they may be. Hence, in selecting greyhounds to breed from, the pedigree for many generations is scrutinised with great care, and if there is a single flaw it is looked at with suspicion, because the bad is almost sure to peep out through any amount of good blood.
The modes of breeding, managing, breaking, and using the greyhound are entered into in the next part.