CHAPTER XXV. THE SPORTING SPANIEL

HEAD—Should be quite characteristic of this grand sporting dog, as that of the Bloodhound or the Bulldog; its very stamp and countenance should at once convey the conviction of high breeding, character and nobility; skull well developed, with a distinctly elevated occipital tuberosity, which, above all, gives the character alluded to; not too wide across muzzle, long and lean, never snipy nor squarely cut, and in profile curving gradually from nose to throat; lean beneath eyes, a thickness here gives coarseness to the whole head. The great length of muzzle gives surface for the free development of the olfactory nerve, and thus secures the highest possible scenting powers. EYES—Not too full, but not small, receding or overhung; colour dark hazel or dark brown, or nearly black; grave in expression, and bespeaking unusual docility and instinct. EARS—Set low down as possible, which greatly adds to the refinement and beauty of the head, moderately long and wide, and sufficiently clad with nice Setter-like feather. NECK—Very strong and muscular, so as to enable the dog to retrieve his game without undue fatigue; not too short, however. BODY (INCLUDING SIZE AND SYMMETRY)—Long and very low, well ribbed up to a good strong loin, straight or slightly arched, never slack; weight from about 35 lbs. to 45 lbs. NOSE—Well developed, with good open nostrils, and always black. SHOULDERS AND CHEST—Former sloping and free, latter deep and well developed, but not too round and wide. BACK AND LOIN—Very strong and muscular; level and long in proportion to the height of the dog. HIND-QUARTERS—Very powerful and muscular, wide, and fully developed. STERN—Well set on, and carried low, if possible below the level of the back, in a perfectly straight line, or with a slight downward inclination, never elevated above the back, and in action always kept low, nicely fringed, with wavy feather of silky texture. FEET AND LEGS—Feet not too small, and well protected between the toes with soft feather; good strong pads. Legs straight and immensely boned, strong and short, and nicely feathered with straight or waved Setter-like feather, overmuch feathering below the hocks objectionable. COAT—Flat or slightly waved, and never curled. Sufficiently dense to resist the weather, and not too short. Silky in texture, glossy, and refined in nature, with neither duffelness on the one hand nor curl or wiriness on the other. On chest under belly, and behind the legs, there should be abundant feather, but never too much, and that of the right sort, viz., Setter-like. The tail and hind-quarters should be similarly adorned. COLOUR—Jet black throughout, glossy and true. A little white on chest, though a drawback, not a disqualification. GENERAL APPEARANCE—That of a sporting dog, capable of learning and doing anything possible for his inches and conformation. A grand combination of beauty and utility.

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VII. THE ENGLISH SPRINGER.—It is only quite recently that the Kennel Club has officially recognised the variety known by the name at the head of this section. For a long time the old-fashioned liver and white, or black Spaniels, longer in the leg than either Sussex or Field Spaniels, had been known as Norfolk Spaniels, and under this title the Spaniel Club has published a description of them. There had, however, been a considerable amount of discussion about the propriety of this name of “Norfolk,” and the weight of the evidence adduced went to show that as far as any territorial connection with the county of that name went, it was a misnomer, and that it probably arose from the breed having been kept by one of the Dukes of Norfolk, most likely that one quoted by Blaine in his Rural Sports, who was so jealous of his strain that it was only on the expressly stipulated condition that they were not to be allowed to breed in the direct line that he would allow one to leave his kennels.

But, when this old breed was taken up by the Sporting Spaniel Society, they decided to drop the name of “Norfolk,” and to revert to the old title of “Springer,” not, perhaps, a very happy choice, as all Spaniels are, properly speaking, Springers in contradistinction to Setters. The complete official designation on the Kennel Club's register is “English Springers other than Clumbers, Sussex, and Field,” a very clumsy name for a breed. There is no doubt that this variety of Spaniel retains more resemblance to the old strains which belonged to our forefathers, before the long and low idea found favour in the eyes of exhibitors, and it was certainly well worth preserving. The only way nowadays by which uniformity of type can be obtained is by somebody having authority drawing up a standard and scale of points for breeders to go by, and the Sporting Spaniel Society are to be commended for having done this for the breed under notice, the fruit of their action being already apparent in the larger and more uniform classes to be seen at shows.

As the officially recognised life of the breed has been such a short one, there are naturally not very many names of note among the prize-winners. The principal breeders and owners have so far been Mr. W. Arkwright, Mr. Harry Jones, Sir Hugo FitzHerbert, Mr. C. C. Bethune Eversfield, and Mr. Winton Smith.

They are undoubtedly the right dogs for those who want Spaniels to travel faster and cover more ground than the more ponderous and short-legged Clumbers, Sussex, or Field Spaniels do, but their work is hardly equal in finish and precision to that of either of the two former breeds.

The following revised description of the English Springer has been issued by the Sporting Spaniel Society:—

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