IF there be one study in connection with dogs more interesting than another, it must be that which has reference to the gun dogs and the coursing dogs of the world. Since time immemorial, dogs have been used by man for certain purposes and those which he has bred, maintained and improved for his services, have kept time with the ever-changing methods whereby the human is able to obtain and have for himself the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. The first men who went after game hunted it for food; and they very soon found out the most suitable dogs for their purposes and they bred and produced dogs for different kinds of work. It is fair to write that no domestic animals are better represented throughout the world than are thoroughbred dogs of one kind or another. The pure-breeds are to be found in countries that are foreign to their varieties, and what is more, they are highly and justly prized by their owners and even the very community in which the imported dog has' its new being. For let it be known, there are less distinctions than owning a superior dog, and as these dogs are capable of reproducing themselves, and both the males and females are prolific breeders, there is almost at once, or within one year, established in the kennel of the new land the high-blooded and moreover most useful dogs of other nations. And that is the reason that wherever we may go we shall probably find the particularly good gun dogs of Great Britain. These consist of the pointer, the English, Irish and Gordon setters, the retrievers and the Labrador or Lesser Newfoundland dogs, and the various spaniels, which have all been practically made perfect in the British Isles and distributed to the four corners of the earth. Dogs have been produced that will hunt as well in one country as another; but one can generally find that dogs - gun dogs and coursing dogs - are mostly chosen with an eye to the environment in which they will have to hunt.
Both the pointer and the spaniel originally came from Spain, so it is said. But the original Spanish pointer was too heavy and slow in his pace for the English gunner, so he was crossed with the lighter foxhound, and it is even said with the greyhound, so that he should be more active and able to cover his ground better. Furthermore, the heavy-headed Spanish pointer had the kind of head and lips that proclaim a hunting dog that is inclined to keep his nose to the ground, rather than carry it highly and thus better obtain the body scent of birds and other game in the distance. The setter was originally the large spaniel, and was taught to "set" or sit down when he had come upon birds, so that the game could be encompassed by the fall-net, or the hawk or falcon might have the better opportunity to fly at her quarry. When the small pellets of lead were invented and the shotgun first used then the setters of the netters and falconers became gun dogs, and as such we will find pointers, setters, retrievers and spaniels of English origin in every country where the sportsman may be found. Gun and coursing dogs are not only imported into America as workers but as show dogs, and in the great majority of cases these dogs are thoroughly broken or trained as well as being good to look upon. Then these gun dogs may compete at the various field trials now run off all over Europe, the United States and Canada, or even South Africa, or at the coursing meetings in every country of the world. The coursing dog is found most useful in Canada, especially in the prairie provinces, where coyotes are destructive and a curse to the sheepman and even the horse breeder, for a pack of prairie wolves will attack and kill a foal. As a part and parcel of the farm, the ranch, the station and estancia the gun dog and the coursing dogs are invaluable. Pointers, setters, spaniels and retrievers are useful under all circumstances, and they perform the same work in all climates and under the various and dissimilar conditions. In some countries pointers are preferred to setters; but, on inquiry, it will generally be found that the alleged fitness of one variety of dog over the other, is merely a matter of taste or "fancy." A man who owns setters prefers setters; the individual who possesses pointers has a preference for pointers. 'Tis his fancy - his hobby, and that gentle leaning towards one breed often means the fellow's antipathy to another breed.
A Fine Group of Gun Dogs.
The Hunter and His Dog.
In a land or country that has been indifferently cultivated or is wild, there are several kinds of burrs that inconveniently fall at the very time when the hunting or shooting season begins. Some say that the pointer, because of his short coat, will not be so troubled with these prickles as will the long-coated setter, which is feathered on the legs and picks up the burrs wherever he may go. On the other hand, the setter admirer avows that the feathered and better protected foot of the setter saves him from being lamed so often as the clean and unprotected footed pointer. So it will be seen that these preferences are mostly imaginary and may be traced to fancy.
On the Continent of Europe we find many kinds of most useful dogs; but both the pointers and setters are only modifications of the old hunting dogs that came from Spain. There are rough-haired and smooth-coated pointers in Germany, and they are very handsome animals with excellent formation and with hunting qualities of the highest order. The griffons of France, Holland and Belgium are particularly good dogs; rough and ready in appearance, with excellent brains and great scenting powers. In him we will recognize a lot of hound blood which may have come from the otterhound or the hounds of Vendee. But they are just the sort of dogs that a man wants for rough-shooting in the woods or swamps. The griffon is an active dog, does not throw his tongue when immediately close to game or in sight of it, as does the hound. The griffon makes a good woodcock, "partridge" and duck dog; and as such he has been found of the greatest use in America. The griffon is a good dog in the water as well as on land, and in this way he proves himself a thoroughly serviceable all-round sporting dog. The wolf-hounds of Russia are most useful dogs, and as their name foretells, they are used as wolf-coursing dogs. Three are slipped to the wolf after he has been driven from cover by foxhounds or beaters. When they come up with their game they bump into the quarry and at the right moment lay hold of the beast by the neck and hold him until the hunter arrives and either dispatches the game with a pistol or knife, or placing a stick in the wolf's jaws, twists a rope around the muzzle and neck, and thus preventing him from accomplishing any harm, captures the creature alive and practically uninjured. The Russian wolf-hound is the best killer of any of the coursing dogs. Like a bulldog, he holds on to what he seizes; his jaws are very powerful, and it is because of this tenacity that the Russian wolf-hound, or borzoi, as he is frequently called, is used for crossing purposes on the English greyhound and the Scottish deerhound or on the progeny of these two breeds, for the purpose of producing what is known as the "long dog" of the Canadian prairies, where he is used principally for coursing and killing the coyote. The Russian wolf-hound has also been successfully crossed on to the deerhound in Australia, either for straight out kangaroo dogs or dingo killers. The Russian wolf-hound goes to the throat of his enemy, and such a dog is required for the prompt killing of dingoes. The long and strong limbs of the kangaroo are means of defense, both as propelling powers in his long and swift bounds or jumps and for fighting when it comes to the more serious defense as against dingoes or the domesticated dogs, hence the kangaroo dog is taught to attack from behind.