Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

descending abruptly to the eyes. These should be of middle size, but soft and intelligent-looking; muzzle square, broad, and deep, with flews, but not pendent; ears thin and soft, tolerably long, and set on low and forward, so as to be close to the cheeks; neck of good length, round, and free from dewlap-that is, not "throaty;" body of good length, but well ribbed up, and the back ribs deep, while the whole chest is round and barrel-like ; loin strong and deep ; shoulders slanting, and the blades long, reaching well up above the spine; elbows low, and neither in nor out; fore legs straight and long, not set back at the knees, with good round feet, not spreading, and having thick soles ; hind legs well bent at the stifles, full of muscle, and with strong bony hocks; tail thick at the root, but at once becoming fine and tapering off to a sharp point. It should be quite free from curve, and should be lashed against the sides in working. Colour-black, liver, lemon, or black and tan, variously mixed with white. The self colours look very handsome, but are not sufficiently visible in the field, and generally white dogs with coloured heads, and a spot or two on the body, are preferred, especially if clearly marked with the colour in the mode called “ticked.”

SETTERS (ENGLISH, IRISH, AND RUSSIAN). Setters are classed of three sorts—the English, the Irish, and the Russian. The two first of these are very much alike, but the true Irish being invariably of a rich red colour, are easily known from all but English dogs of a similar shade. In other respects they differ only in being somewhat longer on the leg, and straighter as well as longer and finer in the muzzle; but I believe that many reputed English setters of a red colour are descended from Irish ancestors, all being most probably derived from the spaniel.

The English Setter now generally stands when pointing, in which act he closely resembles the pointer; but before the invention of the flint-gun, he was taught to set or crouch, to allow of the net being drawn over him, that being the only mode of taking winged game then known; but as the method of shooting flying became general, he was gradually bred to stand as high as the pointer, and in the present day there is little difference in the attitudes of the two. The setter is more light and airy than the pointer, and generally works at a faster pace, but there are some strains of the latter which will beat a field out quite as soon. There can be no doubt, however, that he bears cold and wet better than his smooth rival, and for work on marshes he is superior, while his feet and legs being more clothed with hair, he is also better able to stand the friction of heather. Hence he is generally preferred for snipe shooting, and for the moors wherever a setter can be met with possessing a good nose and steady withal, he is selected as the best dog for that kind of work. Generally, however, he yields to the pointer in these qualities; and unfortunately, although he may appear to be thoroughly broken to-day, yet next week he will show a want of steadiness which is most provoking. The latter defect is not so common now as formerly, nor is it so general amongst high-bred English setters, as among those in this country which are of inferior strains, or especially among Irish dogs, which are peculiarly headstrong, though possessed of great powers of endurance, and of delicate noses. There is seldom a want of speed in this dog, and more frequently he is too fast rather than too slow.

In general appearance there is little difference between the English and Irish setter, but by a good and careful observer the one may readily be distinguished from the other. Still, the difference is so slight that it is difficult to describe it; and with the exception of the rich red colour of the Irish dog, which is not often met with in those of pure English blood, the superficial observer would fail to detect any prominent point by which he might distinguish them. The head of each is of medium heaviness, between that of the true old pointer and the foxhound, but still showing the square muzzle of the former to a certain extent. is brighter than that of the pointer, showing a degree of merriment seldom seen in that dog; ear long, thin, and clothed with wavy hair; neck longer and straighter than that of the pointer, and without the roundness of the nape peculiar to that dog; ribs flatter, and loin seldom so strong, there being a great tendency to slackness like that of the Newfoundland; hips ragged; shoulders generally loose and

The eye

oblique, with the elbows well let down; legs straight and well feathered; feet round, and soles strong, with a good deal of hair between the toes; hind quarter scarcely so muscular as in the pointer, but the stifles are well bent, and the hinder parts well feathered, like the fore legs; stern or flag long, and clothed with a brush of hair, which should come to a point, and resemble altogether a pointed sword, slightly curved upwards. If the hair stands out sideways in a bushy form, or if the tail itself is curled over the back, it is a sign of a cross with the Newfoundland or sheep dog. The colour of the Irish dog is always a rich red, slightly approaching to mahogany colour on the head, down tlie back, and along the flag. The English dog may be black, or black and tan, or liver-coloured, or yellow, or lemon, or red, or any of these mixed with white. The Duke of Gordon breed is much admired, being black and white, with tan on the cheeks and eyebrows, and also spotted down the legs. The coat should not be too thick or curly; as it is apt in that case to heat the dog too much, and render him incapable of working without access to water. The English and Irish setters are represented in the annexed engraving.

The Russian Setter, which is also exhibited in the illustration accompanying this article, is similar in shape to his English congener, but being clothed in a much more woolly coat, very long over the eyes and nose, his exact form can scarcely be recognised. Still, in spite of this apparent drawback, I have known these dogs stand heat almost as well as the English dog. Some years ago there was an opinion prevalent among sportsmen, that the Russian dog was endowed with a better nose than either of our indigenous varieties, and many of them were imported and used by good sportsmen; but experience has shown that there is no foundation for this opinion, and at present the breed is extremely rare. From the great length of their hair, they are very difficult to keep clean, and become liable to mange and surfeit if they are at all mismanaged. The engraving represents the peculiarities of this dog very well, and it is scarcely necessary to describe them more minutely. Generally their feet look too flat, but their soles are thick, and they stand work as well as any other kind of dog.

« PreviousContinue »