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The Spanish Pointer.—The Modern English Pointer.—The Portuguese Pointer.
- The French Pointer.— The Dalmatian and Danish Dogs.— The English and Irish Setters. — The Russian Setter.-- The Ordinary Field Spaniel, including the Springer (Clumber, Sussex, and Norfolk breeds), and the Cocker (Welsh and Devonshire).— The Water Spaniel (English and Irish).
THE SPANISH POINTER.
As in the case of the species itself, so in this and most other varieties of the dog, a great difference of opinion exists as to the
origin of each. By most writers the Spanish pointer is thought to be descended from the hound, but from being kept to one particular kind of work he has gradually become fonder of it than of any other, and those particular faculties which are employed in it have become developed. No dog requires a more keen sense of smell, and in none are tractability, patience, and a kind of reasoning power, more imperatively demanded. Hence we require a large brain, and a well-developed nose, in order to endow the possessor with the attributes I have enumerated. The first thing, therefore, which was formerly sought for was the full head, large in all its dimensions, and the wider nose, with the pendent flews which generally accompany a high sense of smell, and which, being met with also in the hound, have led to the belief of the descent of the pointer from that variety of the dog. But, accompanying this form of head, there was produced a heavy and unwieldy formation of the body; and, what is very remarkable, it differed in shape from that of the hound, so that there is strong reason for believing that the two are altogether distinct, and have been kept so from the earliest ages. Indeed, their style of hunting differs so much, that it alone would lead one to suppose them to have had a distinct origin, inasmuch as the hound always drops his nose to the ground in feeling for a scent, while the pointer carries his head in the air, and tries for the body scent as it is wafted on the breeze. The true old Spanish pointer is hardly to be met with now in a pure state, and I therefore insert a copy of an old and well-known portrait of the animal, which is acknowledged to be correct, and gives his points with great fidelity, showing also how much he exceeds the
modern breed of dogs in size of head and nose, and in depth of ear. It will be seen that this is a very heavy and somewhat clumsy dog, incapable of ranging far and fast, as is required in wild beats for the partridge, and in most cases for grouse. Our ancestors were satisfied and pleased to walk with their dogs in beating for game, but in these modern times sportsmen like to take it easy, and make, their pointers or setters do their work for them, so that pace and lasting powers to keep it up are now much more required; and hence the modern English pointer has been bred, partly by crossing with the foxhound or greyhound, and partly by selecting the lightest and quickest of the old breed.
The Spanish pointer is characterised by great height and weight, large bones, and altogether heavy limbs, large and rather spreading
feet, a small stern, which in the engraving is represented as cropped, • that being the universal practice in former days with the pointer;
muzzle broad, head large and heavy, ears full and pendent, but not so wide as those of the hound. In hunting he was slow and lumbering, lashing his “stern ” with great vigour, and, from his weight, soon tiring himself, or wearing his feet through till he became lame. Three or four hours' work in the day was quite as much as could be got out of this dog, which is therefore now almost entirely superseded by the modern breeds.
This is now one of the most beautiful of all our sporting dogs, dividing with the setter the admiration of all those who enjoy the pleasures attending on the use of the gun. The above engraving is from a dog possessing the extreme degree of development of the head and muzzle that is now sanctioned, but uniting with it a very different frame, legs, and feet from those of the Spanish pointer. Such a dog is a very fast galloper compared with the old-fashioned dog, and will beat out a moderate-sized field while his master is crossing it at a moderate pace. If extreme speed is obtained, many
single birds must be passed over, and on bad scenting days coveys even will be run in to from the dog being unable to stop himself in time, after he catches the scent, which then does not reach beyond a few yards. I have seen and owned pointers almost as fast as a slow greyhound, but though some are able to do wonders, considering the pace they gó, I am satisfied that a brace of good dogs of the above shape are able to do all that can be required, in point of pace, and at the same time will not run in to a twentieth part of the game which will be put up by a faster dog. The trace of the foxhound in these heavier specimens of the modern pointer is very slight if any; and I am inclined to believe that they are descended from the Spanish pointer in all his purity, but, by constant care in the selection of the lightest specimens to breed from, so altered in shape as to appear like different animals. All this is, however, purely conjectural, as the pedigrees of our pointers seldom extend beyond two or three generations, and even Mr. Edge in his day could hardly have gone further, nor could the breeders of the present time trace their pointers sufficiently far back to settle the question. The pedigrees of those bred by Lord Sefton are probably as well made out as any in the kingdom, but even they are far from leading to what is desired. If a dog is traced up to any one of Mr. Edge's kennel, all is done which is now thought necessary, and indeed all that can be useful to the sportsman, however interesting a further investigation might be to the naturalist.
The points desirable in the pointer are, a moderately large head, wide rather than long, with a high forehead, and an intelligent eye