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The Pointer








It has never been made quite clear in history why the Spaniards had
a dog that was very remarkable for pointing all kinds of game. They
have always been a pleasure-loving people, certainly, but more
inclined to bull-fighting than field-craft, and yet as early as 1600
they must have had a better dog for game-finding than could have been
found in any other part of the world. Singularly enough, too, the
most esteemed breeds in many countries can be traced from the same
source, such as the Russian Pointer, the German Pointer, the French
double-nosed Griffon, and, far more important still, the English
Pointer. A view has been taken that the Spanish double-nosed Pointer
was introduced into England about two hundred years ago, when
fire-arms were beginning to be popular for fowling purposes. Setters
and Spaniels had been used to find and drive birds into nets, but
as the Spanish Pointer became known it was apparently considered that
he alone had the capacity to find game for the gun. This must have
been towards the end of the seventeenth century, and for the next
fifty years at least something very slow was wanted to meet the
necessities of the old-fashioned flintlock gun, which occupied many
minutes in loading and getting into position. Improvements came by
degrees, until they set in very rapidly, but probably by 1750, when
hunting had progressed a good deal, and pace was increased in all
pastimes, the old-fashioned Pointer was voted a nuisance through his
extreme caution and tortoise-like movements.

There is evidence, through portraits, that Pointers had been
altogether changed by the year 1800, but it is possible that the
breed then had been continued by selection rather than by crossing
for a couple of decades, as it is quite certain that by 1815 sportsmen
were still dissatisfied with the want of pace in the Pointer, and
many sportsmen are known to have crossed their Pointers with Foxhounds
at about that time. By 1835 the old Spanish Pointer had been left
behind, and the English dog was a perfect model for pace, stamina,
resolution, and nerve. The breed was exactly adapted to the
requirements of that day, which was not quite as fast as the present.
Men shot with good Joe Mantons, did their own loading, and walked
to their dogs, working them right and left by hand and whistle. The
dogs beat their ground methodically, their heads at the right level
for body scent, and when they came on game, down they were; the dog
that had got it pointing, and the other barking or awaiting
developments. There was nothing more beautiful than the work of a
well-bred and well-broken brace of Pointers, or more perfect than
the way a man got his shots from them. There was nothing slow about
them, but on the contrary they went a great pace, seemed to shoot
into the very currents of air for scent, and yet there was no
impatience about them such as might have been expected from the
Foxhound cross. The truth of it was that the capacity to concentrate
the whole attention on the object found was so intense as to have
lessened every other propensity. The rush of the Foxhound had been
absorbed by the additional force of the Pointer character. There has
been nothing at all like it in canine culture, and it came out so
wonderfully after men had been shooting in the above manner for about
forty years.

It was nearing the end of this period that field trials began to
occupy the attention of breeders and sportsmen, and although Setters
had been getting into equal repute for the beauty of their work, there
was something more brilliant about the Pointers at first. Brockton's
Bounce was a magnificent dog, a winner on the show bench, and of the
first Field Trial in England. Newton's Ranger was another of the early
performers, and he was very staunch and brilliant, but it was in the
next five years that the most extraordinary Pointer merit was seen,
as quite incomparable was Sir Richard Garth's Drake, who was just
five generations from the Spanish Pointer. Drake was rather a tall,
gaunt dog, but with immense depth of girth, long shoulders, long
haunches, and a benevolent, quiet countenance. There was nothing very
attractive about him when walking about at Stafford prior to his
trial, but the moment he was down he seemed to paralyse his opponent,
as he went half as fast again. It was calculated that he went fifty
miles an hour, and at this tremendous pace he would stop as if
petrified, and the momentum would cover him with earth and dust. He
did not seem capable of making a mistake, and his birds were always
at about the same distance from him, to show thereby his extraordinary
nose and confidence. Nothing in his day could beat him in a field.
He got some good stock, but they were not generally show form, the
bitches by him being mostly light and small, and his sons a bit high
on the leg. None of them had his pace, but some were capital
performers, such as Sir Thomas Lennard's Mallard, Mr. George
Pilkington's Tory, Mr. Lloyd Price's Luck of Edenhall, winner of the
Field Trial Derby, 1878; Lord Downe's Mars and Bounce, and Mr. Barclay
Field's Riot. When Sir Richard Garth went to India and sold his kennel
of Pointers at Tattersall's, Mr. Lloyd Price gave 150 guineas for
Drake.

The mid-century owners and breeders had probably all the advantages
of what a past generation had done, as there were certainly many
wonderful Pointers in the 'fifties, 'sixties, and 'seventies, as old
men living to-day will freely allow. They were produced very
regularly, too, in a marvellous type of perfection.

Mr. William Arkwright, of Sutton Scarsdale, Derbyshire, has probably
the best kennel in England at the present time. He discovered and
revived an old breed of the North of England that was black, and bred
for a great many years by Mr. Pape, of Carlisle, and his father before
him. With these Mr. Arkwright has bred to the best working strains,
with the result that he has had many good field trial winners. For
a good many years now Elias Bishop, of Newton Abbot, has kept up the
old breeds of Devon Pointers, the Ch. Bangs, the Mikes, and the
Brackenburg Romps, and his have been amongst the best at the shows
and the field trials during the past few years. There are, of course,
exceptions to the rule that many of the modern Pointers do not carry
about them the air of their true business; but it would appear that
fewer people keep them now than was the case a quarter of a century
ago, owing to the advance of quick-shooting, otherwise driving, and
the consequent falling away of the old-fashioned methods, both for
the stubble and the moor. However, there are many still who enjoy
the work of dogs, and it would be a sin indeed in the calendar of
British sports if the fine old breed of Pointer were allowed even
to deteriorate. The apparent danger is that the personal or individual
element is dying out. In the 'seventies the name of Drake, Bang, or
Garnet were like household words. People talked of the great Pointers.
They were spoken of in club chat or gossip; written about; and the
prospects of the moors were much associated with the up-to-date
characters of the Pointers and Setters. There is very little of this
sort of talk now-a-days. Guns are more critically spoken of. There
is, however, a wide enough world to supply with first-class Pointers.
In England's numerous colonies it may be much more fitting to shoot
over dogs. It has been tried in South Africa with marvellous results.
Descendants of Bang have delighted the lone colonist on Cape partridge
and quails, and Pointers suit the climate, whereas Setters do not.
The Pointer is a noble breed to take up, as those still in middle
life have seen its extraordinary merit whenever bred in the right
way. As to the essential points of the breed, they may be set down
as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Should be wide from ear to ear, long and slanting from the top
of the skull to the setting on of the nose; cheek bones prominent;
ears set low and thin in texture, soft and velvety; nose broad at
the base; mouth large and jaws level. NECK--The neck should be very
strong, but long and slightly arched, meeting shoulders well knit
into the back, which should be straight and joining a wide loin. There
should be great depth of heart room, very deep brisket, narrow chest
rather than otherwise, shoulders long and slanting. LEGS AND
FEET--Should be as nearly like the Foxhound's as possible. There
should be really no difference, as they must be straight, the knees
big, and the bone should be of goodly size down to the toes, and the
feet should be very round and cat-shaped. HIND-QUARTERS--A great
feature in the Pointer is his hind-quarters. He cannot well be too
long in the haunch or strong in the stifle, which should be well bent,
and the muscles in the second thigh of a good Pointer are always
remarkable. The hocks may be straighter than even in a Foxhound, as,
in pulling up sharp on his point, he in a great measure throws his
weight on them; the shank bones below the hock should be short.
COLOUR--There have been good ones of all colours. The Derby colours
were always liver and whites for their Pointers and black breasted
reds for their game-cocks. The Seftons were liver and whites also,
and so were the Edges of Strelly, but mostly heavily ticked.
Brockton's Bounce was so, and so were Ch. Bang, Mike, and Young Bang.
Drake was more of the Derby colour; dark liver and white. Mr.
Whitehouse's were mostly lemon and whites, after Hamlet of that
colour, and notable ones of the same hue were Squire, Bang Bang, and
Mr. Whitehouse's Pax and Priam, all winners of field trials. There
have been several very good black and whites. Mr. Francis's,
afterwards Mr. Salter's, Chang was a field trial winner of this
colour. A still better one was Mr. S. Becket's Rector, a somewhat
mean little dog to look at, but quite extraordinary in his work, as
he won the Pointer Puppy Stake at Shrewsbury and the All-Aged Stake
three years in succession. Mr. Salter's Romp family were quite
remarkable in colour--a white ground, heavily shot with black in
patches and in ticks. There have never been any better Pointers than
these. There have been, and are, good black Pointers also. HEIGHT
AND SIZE--A big Pointer dog stands from 24-1/2 inches to 25 inches
at the shoulder. Old Ch. Bang and Young Bang were of the former
height, and the great bitch, Mr. Lloyd Price's Belle, was 24 inches.
For big Pointers 60 pounds is about the weight for dogs and 56 pounds
bitches; smaller size, 54 pounds dogs and 48 pounds bitches. There
have been some very good ones still smaller.





Next: The Setters

Previous: The Harrier And The Beagle



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