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Archive for May, 2007

Field Spaniel

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Field SpanielThe modern Field Spaniel may be divided into two classes. Indeed, we may almost say at this stage of canine history, two breeds, as for several years past there has not been very much intermingling of blood between the Blacks and those known by the awkward designation of “Any Other Variety,” though, of course, all came originally from the same parent stock.

The black members of the family have always been given the pride of place, and accounted of most importance, though latterly their parti-coloured brethren seem to have rather overtaken them.

Among the really old writers there is one mention, and one only, of Spaniels of a black colour. Arcussia speaks of them, and of their being used in connection with the sport of hawking, but from his time up to the middle of the nineteenth century, though many colours are spoken of as being appropriate to the various breeds of Spaniels, no author mentions black.

The first strain of blacks of which we know much belonged to Mr. F.  Burdett, and was obtained from a Mr. Footman, of Lutterworth, Leicestershire, who was supposed to have owned them for some time.  Mr. Burdett’s Bob and Frank may be found at the head of very many of the best pedigrees.

At his death most of his Spaniels became the property of Mr. Jones, of Oscott, and Mr. Phineas Bullock, of Bilston, the latter of whom was most extraordinarily successful, and owned a kennel of Field Spaniels which was practically unbeatable between the dates of the first Birmingham Show in 1861 and the publication of the first volume of the Kennel Club’s Stud Book in 1874, many, if not most, of the dogs which won for other owners having been bred by him. His Nellie and Bob, who won the chief prizes year after year at all the leading shows, were probably the two best specimens of their day.

Another most successful breeder was Mr. W. W. Boulton, of Beverley, whose kennel produced many celebrated dogs, including Beverlac, said to be the largest Field Spaniel ever exhibited, and Rolf, whose union with Belle produced four bitches who were destined, when mated with Nigger, a dog of Mr. Bullock’s breeding, to form the foundation of the equally if not more famous kennel belonging to Mr.  T. Jacobs, of Newton Abbot.

It was Mr. Jacobs who, by judiciously mating his Sussex sires Bachelor, Bachelor III., and others with these black-bred bitches, established the strain which in his hands and in those of his successors, Captain S. M. Thomas and Mr. Moses Woolland, carried all before it for many years, and is still easily at the top of the tree, being the most sought for and highly prized of all on account of its “quality.”

If Black Spaniels are not quite so popular at present as they were some years ago, the fault lies with those breeders, exhibitors, and judges (the latter being most to blame) who encouraged the absurd craze for excessive length of body and shortness of leg which not very long ago threatened to transform the whole breed into a race of cripples, and to bring it into contempt and derision among all practical men. No breed or variety of dog has suffered more from the injudicious fads and crazes of those showmen who are not sportsmen also.

At one time among a certain class of judges, length and lowness was everything, and soundness, activity, and symmetry simply did not count. As happens to all absurd crazes of this kind when carried to exaggeration, public opinion has proved too much for it, but not before a great deal of harm has been done to a breed which is certainly ornamental, and can be most useful as well. Most of the prize-winners of the present day are sound, useful dogs capable of work, and it is to be hoped that judges will combine to keep them so.

The coloured Field Spaniel has now almost invariably at the principal shows special classes allotted to him, and does not have to compete against his black brother, as used to be the case in former years.

The systematic attempt to breed Spaniels of various colours, with a groundwork of white, does not date back much more than a quarter of a century, and the greater part of the credit for producing this variety may be given to three gentlemen, Mr. F. E. Schofield, Dr.  J. H. Spurgin, and Mr. J. W. Robinson.

In the early days of breeding blacks, when the bitches were mated either with Sussex or liver and white Springers or Norfolk Spaniels, many parti-coloured puppies necessarily occurred, which most breeders destroyed; but it occurred to some of these gentlemen that a handsome and distinct variety might be obtained by careful selection, and they have certainly succeeded to a very great extent.

The most famous names among the early sires are Dr. Spurgin’s Alonzo and his son Fop, and Mr. Robinson’s Alva Dash, from one or other of whom nearly all the modern celebrities derive their descent.

Those who have been, and are, interested in promoting and breeding these variety Spaniels deserve a large amount of credit for their perseverance, which has been attended with the greatest success so far as producing colour goes. No doubt there is a very great fascination in breeding for colour, and in doing so there is no royal road to success, which can only be attained by the exercise of the greatest skill and the nicest discrimination in the selection of breeding stock.

At the same time colour is not everything, and type and working qualities should never be sacrificed to it. This has too often been done in the case of coloured Field Spaniels. There are plenty of beautiful blue roans, red roans, and tricolours, whether blue roan and tan or liver roan and tan, but nearly all of them are either cocktailed, weak in hind-quarters, crooked-fronted, or houndy-headed, and showing far too much haw.

In fact, in head and front the greater number of the tricolours remind one of the Basset-hound almost as much as they do in colour. It is to be hoped that colour-breeders will endeavour to get back the true Spaniel type before it is too late.

The points of both black and coloured Field Spaniels are identical, bar colour, and here it must be said that black and tan, liver and tan, and liver are not considered true variety colours, though of course they have to compete in those classes, but rather sports from black. The colours aimed at by variety breeders have all a ground colour of white, and are black and white, blue roan, liver and white, red roan, liver white and tan, and tricolours or quadri-colours (i.e.), blue or red roan and tan, or both combined, with tan. The Spaniel Club furnishes the following description of the Black Field Spaniel:

HEAD —Should be quite characteristic of this grand sporting dog, as that of the Bloodhound or the Bulldog; its very stamp and countenance should at once convey the conviction of high breeding, character and nobility; skull well developed, with a distinctly elevated occipital tuberosity, which, above all, gives the character alluded to; not too wide across muzzle, long and lean, never snipy nor squarely cut, and in profile curving gradually from nose to throat; lean beneath eyes, a thickness here gives coarseness to the whole head. The great length of muzzle gives surface for the free development of the olfactory nerve, and thus secures the highest possible scenting powers.

EYES —Not too full, but not small, receding or overhung; colour dark hazel or dark brown, or nearly black; grave in expression, and bespeaking unusual docility and instinct.

EARS —Set low down as possible, which greatly adds to the refinement and beauty of the head, moderately long and wide, and sufficiently clad with nice Setter-like feather.

NECK —Very strong and muscular, so as to enable the dog to retrieve his game without undue fatigue; not too short, however.

BODY (INCLUDING SIZE AND SYMMETRY)–Long and very low, well ribbed up to a good strong loin, straight or slightly arched, never slack; weight from about 35 lbs. to 45 lbs.

NOSE —Well developed, with good open nostrils, and always black.

SHOULDERS AND CHEST —Former sloping and free, latter deep and well developed, but not too round and wide. 

BACK AND LOIN —Very strong and muscular; level and long in proportion to the height of the dog.

HIND-QUARTERS —Very powerful and muscular, wide, and fully developed.

STERN —Well set on, and carried low, if possible below the level of the back, in a perfectly straight line, or with a slight downward inclination, never elevated above the back, and in action always kept low, nicely fringed, with wavy feather of silky texture.

FEET AND LEGS —Feet not too small, and well protected between the toes with soft feather; good strong pads. Legs straight and immensely boned, strong and short, and nicely feathered with straight or waved Setter-like feather, overmuch feathering below the hocks objectionable.

COAT—Flat or slightly waved, and never curled.  Sufficiently dense to resist the weather, and not too short. Silky in texture, glossy, and refined in nature, with neither duffelness on the one hand nor curl or wiriness on the other. On chest under belly, and behind the legs, there should be abundant feather, but never too much, and that of the right sort, viz., Setter-like. The tail and hind-quarters should be similarly adorned.

COLOUR —Jet black throughout, glossy and true. A little white on chest, though a drawback, not a disqualification.

GENERAL APPEARANCE —That of a sporting dog, capable of learning and doing anything possible for his inches and conformation. A grand combination of beauty and utility.

Sussex Spaniel

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Sussex SpanielThis is one of the oldest of the distinct breeds of Land Spaniels now existing in the British Islands, and probably also the purest in point of descent, since it has for many years past been confined to a comparatively small number of kennels, the owners of which have always been at considerable pains to keep their strains free from any admixture of foreign blood.

The modern race of Sussex Spaniels, as we know it, owes its origin in the main to the kennel kept by Mr. Fuller at Rosehill Park, Brightling, near Hastings. This gentleman, who died in 1847, is said to have kept his strain for fifty years or more, and to have shot over them almost daily during the season, but at his death they were dispersed by auction, and none of them can be traced with any accuracy except a dog and a bitch which were given at the time to Relf, the head keeper.

Relf survived his master for forty years, and kept up his interest in the breed to the last. He used to say that the golden tinge peculiar to the Rosehill breed came from a bitch which had been mated with a dog belonging to Dr. Watts, of Battle, and that every now and then what he termed a “sandy” pup would turn up in her litters.

Owing to an outbreak of dumb madness in the Rosehill kennels, a very large number of its occupants either died or had to be destroyed, and this no doubt accounted for the extreme scarcity of the breed when several enthusiasts began to revive it about the year 1870. Mr. Saxby and Mr. Marchant are said to have had the same strain as that at Rosehill, and certainly one of the most famous sires who is to be found in most Sussex pedigrees was Buckingham, by Marchant’s Rover out of Saxby’s Fan.

It was from the union of Buckingham, who was claimed to be pure Rosehill—with Bebb’s daughter Peggie that the great Bachelor resulted—a dog whose name is to be found in almost every latter-day pedigree, though Mr. Campbell Newington’s strain, to which has descended the historic prefix “Rosehill,” contains less of this blood than any other.

About 1879 Mr. T. Jacobs, of Newton Abbot, took up this breed with great success, owning, amongst other good specimens, Russett, Dolly, Brunette, and Bachelor III., the latter a dog whose services at the stud cannot be estimated too highly. When this kennel was broken up in 1891, the best of the Sussex Spaniels were acquired by Mr.  Woolland, and from that date this gentleman’s kennel carried all before it until it in turn was broken up and dispersed in 1905. So successful was Mr. Woolland that one may almost say that he beat all other competitors off the field, though one of them, Mr. Campbell Newington, stuck most gallantly to him all through.

Mr. Campbell Newington has been breeding Sussex Spaniels for over a quarter of a century with an enthusiasm and tenacity worthy of the warmest admiration, and his strain is probably the purest, and more full of the original blood than any other. His kennel has always maintained a very high standard of excellence, and many famous show specimens have come from it, notably Rosehill Ruler II. (a splendid Sussex, scarcely inferior to Bridford Giddie), Romulus, Roein, Rita, Rush, Rock, Rag, and Ranji, and many others of almost equal merit.

Colonel Claude Cane’s kennel of Sussex, started from a “Woolland-bred” foundation, has been going for some seventeen years, the best he has shown being Jonathan Swift, Celbridge Eldorado, and Celbridge Chrysolite.

The breed has always had a good character for work, and most of the older writers who mention them speak of Sussex Spaniels in very eulogistic terms. They are rather slow workers, but thoroughly conscientious and painstaking, and are not afraid of any amount of thick covert, through which they will force their way, and seldom leave anything behind them.

A well-bred Sussex Spaniel is a very handsome dog. Indeed, his beautiful colour alone is enough to make his appearance an attractive one, even if he were unsymmetrical and ungainly in his proportions.

This colour, known as golden liver, is peculiar to the breed, and is the great touchstone and hall-mark of purity of blood. No other dog has exactly the same shade of coat, which the word “liver” hardly describes exactly, as it is totally different from the ordinary liver colour of an Irishman, a Pointer, or even a liver Field Spaniel. It is rather a golden chestnut with a regular metallic sheen as of burnished metal, showing more especially on the head and face and everywhere where the hair is short. This is very apparent when a dog gets his new coat. In time, of course, it is liable to get somewhat bleached by sun and weather, when it turns almost yellow. Every expert knows this colour well, and looks for it at once when judging a class of Sussex.

The description of the breed given by the Spaniel Club is as follows:

HEAD — The skull should be moderately long, and also wide, with an indentation in the middle, and a full stop, brows fairly heavy; occiput full, but not pointed, the whole giving an appearance of heaviness without dulness.

EYES — Hazel colour, fairly large, soft and languishing, not showing the haw overmuch.

NOSE — The muzzle should be about three inches long, square, and the lips somewhat pendulous.  The nostrils well developed and liver colour.

EARS — Thick, fairly large, and lobe shaped; set moderately low, but relatively not so low as in the Black Field Spaniel; carried close to the head, and furnished with soft wavy hair.

NECK — Is rather short, strong, and slightly arched, but not carrying the head much above the level of the back. There should not be much throatiness in the skin, but well marked frill in the coat.

CHEST AND SHOULDERS — The chest is round, especially behind the shoulders, deep and wide, giving a good girth.  The shoulders should be oblique.

BACK AND BACK RIBS — The back and loin are long, and should be very muscular, both in width and depth; for this development the back ribs must be deep. The whole body is characterised as low, long, level, and strong.

LEGS AND FEET — The arms and thighs must be bony, as well as muscular, knees and hocks large and strong, pasterns very short and bony, feet large and round, and with short hair between the toes. The legs should be very short and strong, with great bone, and may show a slight bend in the forearm, and be moderately well feathered. The hind-legs should not be apparently shorter than the fore-legs, or be too much bent at the hocks, so as to give a Settery appearance which is so objectionable.  The hind-legs should be well feathered above the hocks, but should not have much hair below that point. The hocks should be short and wide apart.

TAIL — Should be docked from five to seven inches, set low, and not carried above the level of the back, thickly clothed with moderately long feather.

COAT — Body coat abundant, flat or slightly waved, with no tendency to curl, moderately well feathered on legs and stern, but clean below the hocks.

COLOUR — Rich golden liver; this is a certain sign of the purity of the breed, dark liver or puce denoting unmistakably a recent cross with the black or other variety of Field Spaniel.

GENERAL APPEARANCE — Rather massive and muscular, but with free movements and nice tail action denoting a tractable and cheerful disposition. Weight from 35 lb. to 45 lb.

Clumber Spaniel

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Clumber SpanielThe Clumber Spaniel is in high favour in the Spaniel world, both with shooting men and exhibitors, and the breed well deserves from both points of view the position which it occupies in the public esteem. No other variety is better equipped mentally and physically for the work it is called upon to do in aid of the gun; and few, certainly none of the Spaniels, surpass or even equal it in appearance.

As a sporting dog, the Clumber is possessed of the very best of noses, a natural inclination both to hunt his game and retrieve it when killed, great keenness and perseverance wonderful endurance and activity considering his massive build, and as a rule is very easy to train, being highly intelligent and more docile and “biddable.” The man who owns a good dog of this breed, whether he uses it as a retriever for driven birds, works it in a team, or uses it as his sole companion when he goes gunning, possesses a treasure.

The great success of these Spaniels in the Field Trials promoted by both the societies which foster those most useful institutions is enough to prove this, and more convincing still is the tenacity with which the fortunate possessors of old strains, mostly residents in the immediate neighbourhood of the original home of the breed, have held on to them and continued to breed and use them year after year for many generations.

As a show dog, his massive frame, powerful limbs, pure white coat, with its pale lemon markings and frecklings, and, above all, his solemn and majestic aspect, mark him out as a true aristocrat, with all the beauty of refinement which comes from a long line of cultured ancestors.

All research so far has failed to carry their history back any further than the last quarter of the eighteenth century. About that time the Duc de Noailles presented some Spaniels, probably his whole kennel, which he brought from France, to the second Duke of Newcastle, from whose place, Clumber Park, the breed has taken its name. Beyond this it seems impossible to go: indeed, the Clumber seems to be generally looked upon as a purely English breed.

From Clumber Park specimens found their way to most of the other great houses in the neighbourhood, notably to Althorp Park, Welbeck Abbey, Birdsall House, Thoresby Hall, and Osberton Hall. It is from the kennels at the last-named place, owned by Mr. Foljambe, that most of the progenitors of the Clumbers which have earned notoriety derived their origin. Nearly all the most famous show winners of early days were descended from Mr. Foljambe’s dogs, and his Beau may perhaps be considered one of the most important “pillars of the stud,” as he was the sire of Nabob, a great prize-winner, and considered one of the best of his day, who belonged at various times during his career to such famous showmen as Messrs. Phineas Bullock, Mr.  Fletcher, Mr. Rawdon Lee, and Mr. G. Oliver.

There has been a great deal of lamentation lately among old breeders and exhibitors about the decadence of the breed and the loss of the true old type possessed by these dogs. But, despite all they can say to the contrary, the Clumber is now in a more flourishing state than it ever has been; and although perhaps we have not now, nor have had for the last decade, a John o’ Gaunt or a Tower, there have been a large number of dogs shown during that time who possessed considerable merit and would probably have held their own even in the days of these bygone heroes. Some of the most notable have been Baillie Friar, Beechgrove Donally, Goring of Auchentorlie, Hempstead Toby, and Preston Shot, who all earned the coveted title of Champion.

The Field Trials have, no doubt, had a great deal to do with the largely augmented popularity of the breed and the great increase in the number of those who own Clumbers. For the first two or three years after these were truly established no other breed seemed to have a chance with them; and even now, though both English and Welsh Springers have done remarkably well, they more than hold their own. 

The most distinguished performer by far was Mr. Winton Smith’s Beechgrove Bee, a bitch whose work was practically faultless, and the first Field Trial Champion among Spaniels. Other good Clumbers who earned distinction in the field were Beechgrove Minette, Beechgrove Maud, the Duke of Portland’s Welbeck Sambo, and Mr.  Phillips’ Rivington Honey, Rivington Pearl, and Rivington Reel.

The points and general description of the breed as published by both the Spaniel Club and the Clumber Spaniel Club are identical. They are as follows:

HEAD: Large, square and massive, of medium length, broad on top, with a decided occiput; heavy brows with a deep stop; heavy freckled muzzle, with well developed flew.

EYES: Dark amber; slightly sunk. A light or prominent eye objectionable.

EARS: Large, vine leaf shaped, and well covered with straight hair and hanging slightly forward, the feather not to extend below the leather.

NECK: Very thick and powerful, and well feathered underneath. BODY (INCLUDING SIZE AND SYMMETRY)–Long and heavy, and near the ground. Weight of dogs about 55 lb. to 65 lb.; bitches about 45 lb. to 55 lb.

NOSE: Square and flesh coloured.

SHOULDERS AND CHEST: Wide and deep; shoulders strong and muscular.

BACK AND LOIN Back: straight, broad and long; loin powerful, well let down in flank.

HIND QUARTERS: Very powerful and well developed.

STERN: Set low, well feathered, and carried about level with the back.

FEET AND LEGS: Feet large and round, well covered with hair; legs short, thick and strong; hocks low.

COAT: Long, abundant, soft and straight.

COLOUR: Plain white with lemon markings; orange permissible but not desirable; slight head markings with white body preferred.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Should be that of a long, low, heavy, very massive dog, with a thoughtful expression.