"Our Dogs" December 14, 1934
I have seen many of the new faces in Irish Wolfhounds during the past year, and while I have viewed several good ones, they did not give me the impression that the best has been made of the good blood available. I think much of the cause is through lack of deep thought. Often I have heard excuses for breeding from certain hounds such as thisbreeding to get some particular point more strongly accentuated from hounds which, although they possessed those points, have come from stock whose parents and near ancestors did not carry them prominently. The only reliable way to ensure those desirable points appearing more pronounced is to make sure that the stock being used comes from lines where those points are dominant. I know quite well that even with all these precautions one has sometimes to wait for another generation or two before the wanted improvements appear.
In looking back to 1890 from 1934, I do admit there have been many very great improvements effected in the breed. Another point I feel is very vital to the well-being of the breed is this: Many of our judges appear to have their special likes and dislikes, and unfortunately their values of those good or bad points vary very much. I think it would be of the greatest value if we could get together and in some way come to a more generally accepted opinion as to these values. There are some judges who appear to consider a good head outweighs to a great extent some fault which an animal may possess, and which from a utility point is much more vital. For instance, I think we all admire a really typical Irish Wolfhound head very much (that is, those who have gone to the trouble of finding out the ideal head), but at the same time it is, I submit, of more importance to have a good body and limb formation and placement. I do not suggest that just "any old head" will do, if the body and limbs are good, but a head less good than an outstandingly good one should be tolerated if the rest of the hound is better. Yes, I do feel we need to agree more closely as judges on the good and bad points.
Having a chat one day with the late Mr. Fred Gresham (a very wonderful judge of many animals and of most breeds of dogs included), he said: "Judge the animal according to his legitimate job". If that advice had been carried out more thoroughly, many of the present monstrosities on the benches would never have existed in many breeds of animals. Much of the diversion of opinion can unconsciously come through some of our own hounds having some points which we admire, and so we are apt to favour hounds who possess those points, and overlook to some extent the less good ones. I do think some great benefit could come from a well-thrashed out discussion on the subject.
PROMISING HOUNDS OF 1934
A reasonable indication of the progress or otherwise of a breed are shows, which, I suppose, are a pretty fair test. We will start with last December. At Birmingham, 1933, there was no new face of outstandingly great merit. There were some good hounds, but nothing new. Mr. J.C. Shepherd, of Witchampton, brought out a home-bred youngster, Moira of Mellery. She was of Brabyns blood. Unfortunately, she contracted distemper and died, I believe, after two shows, at both of which she did quite well, although still being only about 12 months old. I thought this hound would rapidly gain her title, and this, I feel positive, would have happened had she lived. She was a very promising, well-balanced animal all round. She gave promise of plenty of size, good head, neck, body, and bone, and well-placed limbs. I never saw her with a heavy coat, but I am told she carried plenty when not changing it. Miss Croucher produced a very nice youongster in Rippingdon Daydream. If she continues to grow on, she should be exceedingly good, if she is not spoilt during the maturing process. This, I fear, can and does happen when, as youngsters, hounds are overfed with fattening foods. They will get very loaded shoulders and "podgy" generally, and permanently carry some coarse lines, which, alas! spoil the chances of what might have been an outstanding specimen. The breeder of the above hound, Mrs. C. Allen, brought out a sister, in Rippingdon Dawn, which is on very similar lines to her sister, and there is practically nothing between them but a little difference in action.
Miss Kearn's "new face", Rippingdon Dan of Southwick, is litter brother to the above two bitches, and I prophesy a bright future for him, if he continues his early promise. Last month, at Harrogate, he won his first challenge certificate in good company. He is a nice size, with plenty of substance, very typical, and a nice shower; a well-balanced hound, my chief complaint about him is that I don't own him. These three last hounds were in one littera good performance for sire and dam. The former I owned, and the latter was the property of Mrs. C. Allen, being Rippingdon Rathgallion.
Mr. J.V. Rank's latest new face, Fethard of Ouborough, has had a very successful show career so far, as as he is now only about 14 months old, it is only natural to expect him to do a whole lot more furnishing and growing, and when this has happened, he will be another "nut to crack". One cannot expect our breed at this age to be matured, as they are generally well over two years before they become "adults". Mrs. Nagle's Sulhamstead Krona will not be a giantess, although she will be large enough. She is still very young and our breed alter so much after 18 months. Krona is a very interesting young lady, and I shall be much surprised if she does not come quite into the limelight later; what she lacks in substance she makes up in quality and type. There are some very unknown quantities yet to be benched in the North in the property of Mrs. Parker, of Stalybridge, who has four young hounds, which, when I saw them, I liked very much indeed. When last I saw them, I was rather strongly impressed with two of them, and quite felt that this pair would do great credit to their breeder. Another late furnisher who will work her way well to the front is Miss Watson's Hough-end Kylie. She stands 34 inches on dead straight legs, and she has very typical head connected to a body of good length by a very good, clean-throated neck, and is covered by an ideal coat. Another unshown good one is litter brother, named Hough-end Cathmore, to the above bitch; he is a sandy brindle dog, belonging to Mr. G.D.A. Price, of Prestbury. He needs time to make up and then there will be another to be reckoned with. Many of these young hounds I have very carefully gone over more than once. Miss Ansell during the year has bred and brought out a brace of youngsters, and I shall quite expect these, or at least the bitch, to give a good account of herself presently. These also are only about a year old, and have done some nice winning. This brace in a year's time should be well amongst the winners.
No doubt there are some other hounds who at the moment I have forgotten, but these examples show that there are plenty of the right animals to use if rightly selected. I do feel that all owners are not pulling their weight in the matter of bringing out new ones, for it is only in this way the breed will continue to improve.
It is very gratifying to hear of the many successes of hounds sent out to the U.S.A. during the past 12 months. There have been several "best of all breeds" won by hounds sent out from England, and many lesser wins, too. Representatives of our breed during the past year have found homes in U.S.A., India, Kenya, Sweden, Norway, France, Denmark, and Czecho Slovakia. All this is encouraging, and it can only continue by our breeding from the right stock and rearing the hounds intelligently, and not making them into "hot-house" animals. We don't know how long we may be privileged to lend a hand with this glorious animal, so let us, who are putting plenty of work into them, carry on with all available energy, and to those who have been just nibbling round the fringe of it, start right now and get busy in earnest.
TAMPERING WITH TYPE
May I once again remind our breeders of the danger of tampering with the type of our breed. There is that everlasting trend to alter type; sometimes it has done good, but more often harm. Beware in our breed of the awful square-muzzled, narrow-skulled, untypical heads, deep narrow briskets, roach backs, flat or hollow backs, short couplings, tails set on high, straight, sticky hindquarters, too long or too short necks, and thin, fenceless coats.
In a few words, I would like to give an idea of a typical head: of fair length, with the muzzle giving the impression of being a bit cut under, although the teeth are level, fairly well filled in before the eyes, the muzzle to be a bit pointed rather than giving the idea of squareness, skull reasonably strong, but not coarse, eyebrows, beard and eyelashes of good length and profuse, ears set on fairly high, of thin texture, folded back in repose and semi-erect when watching distant objects.
If I can be of any assistance to anyone genuinely interested in this breed with advice as to feeding, breeding or housing problems, I shall be very pleased indeed to give results of a rather long experience (over 44 years) with this breed. I shall also be happy to help anyone with advice, although my time is pretty much taken up, so that in some cases replies might not come to hand for a few days.
In closing, may I wish all my fancier friends a healthy, happy Christmas and a New Year loaded with success and satisfaction.