CHAPTER XXV. THE SPORTING SPANIEL

SKULL—Long and slightly arched on top, fairly broad, with a stop, and well-developed temples. JAWS—Long and broad, not snipy, with plenty of thin lip. EYES—Medium size, not too full, but bright and intelligent, of a rich brown. EARS—Of fair length, low set, and lobular in shape. NECK—Long, strong, and slightly arched. SHOULDERS—Long and sloping. FORE-LEGS—Of a moderate length, straight, with flat strong bone. BODY—Strong, with well-sprung ribs, good girth, and chest deep and fairly broad. LOIN—Rather long, strong, and slightly arched. HIND-QUARTERS AND HIND-LEGS—Very muscular, hocks well let down, stifles moderately bent, and not twisted inwards or outwards. FEET—Strong and compact. STERN—Low carried, not above the level of the back, and with a vibratory motion. COAT—Thick and smooth or very slightly wavy, it must not be too long. The feathering must be only moderate on the ears, and scanty on the legs, but continued down to the heels. COLOUR—Liver and white and black and white (with or without tan), fawn and white, yellow and white, also roans and self colours of all these tints. The pied colours are preferable, however, as more easily seen in cover. GENERAL APPEARANCE—An active compact dog, upstanding, but by no means stilty. His height at shoulder should about equal his length from the top of the withers to the root of the tail.

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VIII. THE WELSH SPRINGER.—Like the English Springer, the Welsh Springer has only very recently come into existence—officially, that is to say; but his admirers claim for him that he has existed as a separate breed for a long time, though not beyond the bounds of the Principality, where he is referred to as the Starter.

When his claims were first put forward they were vigorously contested by many who could claim to speak and write with authority upon the various breeds of Spaniels existing in these islands, and it was freely asserted that they were nothing but crossbreds between the ordinary Springer and probably a Clumber in order to account for the red or orange markings and the vine-leaf-shaped ears. Even if they are a new breed, they are a most meritorious one, both in their appearance, which is eminently sporting and workmanlike, and for the excellence of their work in the field, which has been amply demonstrated by the record earned at the field trials by Mr. A. T. Williams and others, but those who have seen them at work have nothing but good to say of them, and for working large rough tracts of country in teams their admirers say they are unequalled.

In appearance they are decidedly attractive, rather more lightly built than most Spaniels, small in size, indeed very little larger than Cockers, invariably white in colour, with red or orange markings, and possessing rather fine heads with small Clumber-shaped ears. Their general appearance is that of extremely smart and active little dogs.

The Welsh Springer is described by the Sporting Spaniel Society as follows:—

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SKULL—Fairly long and fairly broad, slightly rounded with a stop at the eyes. JAWS—Medium length, straight, fairly square, the nostrils well developed, and flesh coloured or dark. A short, chubby head is objectionable. EYES—Hazel or dark, medium size, not prominent, not sunken, nor showing haw. EARS—Comparatively small and gradually narrowing towards the tip, covered with feather not longer than the ear, set moderately low and hanging close to the cheeks. NECK—Strong, muscular, clean in throat. SHOULDERS—Long and sloping. FORE-LEGS—Medium length, straight, good bone, moderately feathered. BODY—Strong, fairly deep, not long, well-sprung ribs. Length of body should be proportionate to length of leg. LOIN—Muscular and strong, slightly arched, well coupled up and knit together. HIND-QUARTERS AND HIND-LEGS—Strong; hocks well let down; stifles moderately bent (not twisted in or out), not feathered below the hock on the leg. FEET—Round, with thick pads. STERN—Low, never carried above the level of the back, feathered, and with a lively motion. COAT—Straight or flat, and thick. COLOUR—Red or orange and white. GENERAL APPEARANCE—Symmetrical, compact, strong, merry, active, not stilty, built for endurance and activity, and about 28 lb. and upwards in weight, but not exceeding 45 lb.

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IX. THE COCKER SPANIEL.—For the last few years the popularity of this smaller sized branch of the Spaniel tribe has been steadily increasing, and the Cocker classes at most of the best shows are now remarkable both for the number of entries and the very high standard of excellence to which they attain.

A short time ago black Cockers were decidedly more fashionable than their parti-coloured relatives, but now the reverse is the case, and the various roans and tricolours have overtaken and passed the others, both in general quality and in the public esteem. The reason for this popularity of the breed as a whole is not far to seek. The affectionate and merry disposition of the Cocker and his small size compared with that of the other breeds pre-eminently fit him for a companion in the house as well as in the field, and he ranks among his admirers quite as many of the fairer sex as he does men—a fact which is not without a certain element of danger, since it should never be lost sight of that the breed is a sporting one, which should on no account be allowed to degenerate into a race of mere house companions or toys.