by David Hancock





Chapter 1: Dog meets Man
Origins and Ancestry
Before there were Breeds
Dogs on the Move
How Pure is Pure-bred
The Victorian Contribution
Victims of Fashion

Chapter 2: Hounds
Classifying Hounds
Hunting by Speed:
Heavy Hounds: Hunting Mastiffs
Big Game Hounds
Hunting the Stag
Lesser Known Hounds; French, American, etc.

Chapter 3: Gundogs
20th Century Gundogs
HPRs: German, Braques, Epagneuls, Dutch, etc.
English Water Spaniel
Decoy Dogs

Chapter 4: Terriers
Early Terriers 
Terriers of England
Terriers of Scotland
Terriers of Wales
Terriers of Ireland
Other Terriers

Conclusion: Conserving the Packhounds
Can the Sporting Dog Survive?




 Generally speaking, in the world of dogs, kennel clubs keep the breeds going and sportsmen keep the functions alive. Our Kennel Club does stage field trials, working tests, agility and obedience events but it's sportsmen who use hounds, gundogs and terriers as sporting assistants. They rely on the KC to bring structure and discipline to the breeding and trialling of dogs. But some canine body really should sort out nomenclature in breeds of dog, it affects not just their grouping but also their future design.
The Great Dane, better described as a German Mastiff (the Danish Mastiff is the Broholmer), will always be a hound, whatever group some official body places it in. But then the hound group is badly served anyway: there were always four types of hound, never just scenthounds and sighthounds. A more precise division would be a fourway split identifying: Hounds which hunt by speed (sighthounds), those which hunt by stamina (scenthounds), those which hunt 'at force' (parforce hounds, like the Great Dane and the Rhodesian Ridgeback) and the heavy hounds, the holding dogs, perpetuated today by the brachycephalic mastiff breeds. The FCI now acknowledges 'dogues' or mastiffs separately from 'molossers'.
The molossian dog is well recorded by the ancient Greeks who described two forms: the huge shepherd's dog or flock guardian, usually white, and a giant hound, sometimes referred to as the Suliot Dog, from Epirus. The heavy hounds, or dogues, used in boar hunting to close with the quarry and 'hold' it, as opposed to just pursuing it, they called 'Indian dogs', linking them with Hyrcania, near the Caspian Sea. The holding or gripping dogs are the true mastiffs, with both the words Fila and Perro de Presa in breed titles translating as 'seizing, gripping or holding'.
In Germany in the 19th century, German regiments patronised parade-dogs at their head, rather as the Irish Guards favour the Irish Wolfhound as a regimental emblem. These were boarhounds with their stature increased by the blood of Suliot Dogs, used as outpost sentries in the eastern campaigns. Boarhounds were usually around two feet at the withers in the central European hunt, not truly giant. Breed history should give you the breed and its title. The Dalmatian may well be the medieval 'dama-chien' or deer-dog and a genuine hound.   
Munsterlanders and Poodles are identified, within their breed title, as embracing separate breeds by size. German pointers, Weimaraners, Fox Terriers, Vizslas and Collies can be differentiated by coat. Dachshunds are divided by coat and size to form six breeds. If the group called Sporting Terriers was renamed Earth-dogs it could embrace the Dachshund too. Dachshund means badger-dog; the badger-hound is the Dachsbracke. Aren't Schnauzers and Pinschers, perhaps the Smoushond too, terriers? Should the ear-set of Norfolk and Norwich Terriers be enough to divide a small genepool? Emergent terrier breeds like the Plummer and the Sporting Lucas Terriers, and minor breeds like the Fell and the Patterdale  remain unrecognised despite their numbers excelling some recognised terrier breeds.
Kennel clubs the world over have never understood the difference between water dogs and water spaniels. Water dogs have an astrakhan coat, making the Irish Water 'Spaniel' and the Curly-coated Retriever both water dogs. Water spaniels have a marcelled coat, exemplified in the American Water Spaniel and the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Coat texture reveals ancestry and function, both important in breed identity. We now have Portuguese, Spanish and Italian Water Dogs on parade here, the French Water Dog (Barbet) has now been introduced; the German Water Dog or Pudel has been here a long time. The Dutch Water Dog or Wetterhoun appears at world dog shows but is mainly a sporting breed. One day we might even get our English Water Spaniel, once recognised by the KC, restored to us!
Nowadays, disappointingly, far too many newly published books on dogs perpetuate falsehoods and romanticise fanciful tales of a breed's origin, usually about shipwrecks or Phoenician forays. Recent glossy books on the Mastiff still make the wholly false claims that the Romans found Mastiffs here on arrival and that they even had an official to oversee their export to Rome. One expensive publication on the mastiff breeds includes the Tibetan Mastiff entirely because of its incorrect breed title. Thankfully, writers of books on spaniels don't include the Tibetan Spaniel and writers of books on terriers don't include the Tibetan Terrier!
The famous bas-reliefs of Assurbanipal's hunting mastiffs have been featured in recent books on the Rottweiler, the Great Dane, the Mastiff, the Neapolitan Mastiff and even the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Any smooth-coated hunting dog from the Mediterranean with tuck-up and bat-ears is immediately and automatically associated by today's writers with the Pharoahs. One book on the Neapolitan Mastiff falsely identifies statues of big cats as portraying this breed of dog in order to claim ancient origins.  But does it really matter, getting a breed's history or its original function wrong? I believe it does and that accurate histories can have value for the dogs of today.  
Is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever descended mainly from two shipwrecked Newfoundland-like dogs or, as I believe, really the old rust-coloured marcel-coated Norfolk Retriever relocated by colonists in Norfolk, Virginia, at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. This would give the breed a much larger gene pool and a better source for an outcross if one were ever needed. Is the Kerry Blue rooted in a Tralee shipwreck survivor or does it descend from the Harlequin Pinschers of the soldiers of the House of Hesse who served in Ireland? Might it therefore possess a semi-lethal merle gene in its make-up?
From time to time, a quite outstanding book will appear, written by someone with knowledge, insight and flair. The Coppingers' masterly contribution Dogs (Scribner, 2001) is one such publication.  Some of the most valuable reference books that I have are unlikely to be replicated, as coffee-table type books are increasingly favoured. Truly invaluable books like the under-rated Scottish writer James Watson's 1906 two volume The Dog Book or Edward Ash's 1927 heavyweight Dogs, Their History and Development, are becoming purely archival. This book is a sequel to my The Heritage of the Dog of twenty years ago; it has been inspired by precessors with similar titles such as James Wentworth Day's eternally valuable The Dog in Sport of 1938. May this publication bring as much pleasure.