CHAPTER XXV. THE SPORTING SPANIEL

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.

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VI. THE FIELD SPANIEL.—The 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.”