Stonehenge’s “The Dog”: The Setter. One of the most important documents of the canine European literature of all time

Caccia Oggi Internazionale

1In my young days the use of the setter was almost confined to the moors of Scotland, Wales, the North of England, and Ireland. Almost every grouse-shooter had his own particular breed or strain, but the five I have alluded to in process of time absorbed all the rest. Gradually the setter was spread over England, but in most cases preference was given to dogs resembling those which are now par excellence called English, that is to say, setters with no marked difference from the type of their kind, either in colour or shape. About sixty years ago the late Mr. Laverack of Manchester began to be noted for his breed, which was derived from a single pair, and he alleged that ever since that time he bred “in and in ” to them without outcross of any kind. These two were named ” Ponto ” and ” Old Moll,” bred by the Rev. A. Harrison, near Carlisle, and he had kept the breed pure for thirty-four years, so that, if Mr. Laverack’s account is true, the Laverack setter has been bred ” in and in ” far a hundred years. Fearing a bad result, he said that he had at various times crossed his bitches with external blood, but always finding a falling off in the produce, had gone back to his old stock. Probably, however, he occasionally made a slip in his memory, and certainly there was a curious admixture of colour in his kennel, if we are to believe his account. In other cases of inbreeding, even of much less stringency and duration than his, I have always remarked that the colour and markings were almost repeated throughout the strain, but Mr. Laverack’s dogs were of all colours with a white ground, some being white and red, some white and blue, some white and black, and others again white, black, and tan. Latterly the blue Belton (a thickly ticked white and black) was the pre-vailing colour, but even with these a whole litter never appeared alike. His celebrated ” Countess ” was of this colour, but her brother and sister were black and white in large patches. It h not, however, denied that his strain vere very much inbred, and by carefully selecting dogs with a strong tendency to natural point, his breed showed the same condition of the nervous system, and would, like the Frenchman’s pointer, fall into attitude at the ” toho.” Unfortunately this close breeding produced a great many idiots and delicate constitutions, -and if only a Laverack puppy had his senses, his limbs of good formation, and escaped the ills of teething, distemper, &c., he was sure to be a good dog in the field when well broken, but he required a deal of this, being naturally wild and headstrong.

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