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Pointing Dogs Volume One


TABLE of CONTENTS: Acknowledgments ............................................................................ iv

German Wirehaired Pointer......................................................... 257

Dedication .......................................................................................... v

Small Munsterlander..................................................................... 269

Preface..............................................................................................viii

Large Munsterlander..................................................................... 277

Introduction ...................................................................................... xi

Cesky Fousek.................................................................................. 285 Slovakian Rough-Haired Pointer................................................. 295

PART 1: POINTING DOGS....................................................... 2

Hungarian Vizsla............................................................................ 305

Origins................................................................................................. 3

Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla....................................................... 313

Progress............................................................................................... 9 Order and Expansion...................................................................... 13 Trenches............................................................................................ 15 Papers ............................................................................................... 17 Proof.................................................................................................. 19 Chronology....................................................................................... 23

PART 2: SOUTH AND WEST................................................ 26 Pachón Navarro................................................................................ 29 Burgos Pointer.................................................................................. 37 Majorcan Pointer.............................................................................. 45 Portuguese Pointer........................................................................... 53 Bracco Italiano.................................................................................. 61 Spinone.............................................................................................. 69 French Spaniel.................................................................................. 77 Pont-Audemer Spaniel.................................................................... 85 Brittany.............................................................................................. 93 Picardy Spaniel............................................................................... 103 Blue Picardy Spaniel...................................................................... 111 Saint-Usuge Spaniel....................................................................... 119 Braque Francais.............................................................................. 127 Braque du Bourbonnais................................................................ 135 Braque Saint Germain................................................................... 143 Braque d’Auvergne......................................................................... 151 Braque de l’Ariège........................................................................... 159

PART 4: OUTLIERS.................................................................. 322 Turkish Pointer............................................................................... 323 Galician Pointer.............................................................................. 324 Larzac Spaniel................................................................................. 334 Wesslpointer................................................................................... 325 Pointing Labrador.......................................................................... 326

PART 5: LOST AND FORGOTTEN................................... 328 Boulet Griffon................................................................................. 329 Guerlain Griffon............................................................................. 330 Braque Dupuy................................................................................. 331 Braque de Mirepoix....................................................................... 332 Braque Charles X........................................................................... 332 Braque d’Anjou............................................................................... 332 Hertha Pointer................................................................................ 333 Vogelhund....................................................................................... 333 Braque Belge................................................................................... 333 Swiss Setter...................................................................................... 333 Braque du Bengale......................................................................... 334 Polish Waterdog............................................................................. 334 Russian Setter................................................................................. 335 Württemberger............................................................................... 336

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon........................................................ 167

APPENDICES............................................................................... 338

Drentsche Patrijshond................................................................... 179

The Right Dog For You.................................................................. 339

Stabyhoun....................................................................................... 187

Coat Type/Color............................................................................. 341 Size................................................................................................... 343

PART 3: NORTH AND EAST............................................... 194

Population....................................................................................... 345

Old Danish Pointer........................................................................ 197

Range............................................................................................... 347

German Longhaired Pointer......................................................... 205

Speed and Gait................................................................................ 349

Stichelhaar....................................................................................... 213 German Shorthaired Pointer........................................................ 221

Glossary........................................................................................... 353

Pudelpointer................................................................................... 233

Bibliography.................................................................................... 357

Weimaraner.................................................................................... 243

Index................................................................................................ 361

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PREFACE

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ILLIAM ARKWRIGHT WAS A WEALTHY ENGLISHMAN OBSESSED

with gundogs. In 1906 he published a remarkable book called The Pointer and His Predecessors - An Illustrated History of the Pointing Dog from the Earliest Times. In the preface to the first edition, he wrote: About nine years ago I said in my haste, ‘I will write a complete history of the Pointer.’ Ever since I have been hunting up the materials at home and abroad. Reading those words today, I feel a certain kinship with Mr. Arkwright. But I am not a wealthy Englishman. I’m a middle-class Canadian with a credit card. However, I do share Arkwright’s obsession for pointing dogs, and I have spent years—12, in fact—hunting up materials at home and abroad. Me and my first dog, Félix, in the goose blind. Photo: Dustin Leader

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t all started innocently enough. After getting my first dog, a Weimaraner, I quickly become fascinated with every aspect of hunting over pointing dogs and tried to learn everything I could about them. I haunted local libraries and bookstores. I watched videos and television programs. And I began spending way too much time on the brand new thing called the internet. But it soon became apparent that what John Henry Walsh, a.k.a “Stonehenge”, wrote in 1887 is still true today: … But let anyone seek for specific information upon several points connected with even well-marked and generally recognized kinds, and he will soon be brought to confess that he is lost in doubt and uncertainty….the hound and the Greyhound, the Pointer and the Setter, as well as many of the foreign varieties of the dog, have been favored with special treatises; but beyond them the ground is almost untrodden, or else it is choked with weeds and rubbish… 1 For some breeds, the ground certainly is “untrodden”; it is difficult to find any information about them beyond their written conformation standards—if that. For other breeds, the ground truly is “choked with weeds and rubbish”. A lot of it is due to the fact that many books, articles and websites about hunting dogs are actually written by non-hunters. In fact, entire so-called breed bibles have been penned by people who have never set foot in the field, let alone actually shot game over “their” breed. I’ve even read books and articles that were clearly written by someone who had never even seen, in the flesh, the breed they were describing. But that doesn’t mean there are no good books on pointing dogs; there certainly are. Perhaps the greatest of them all is Les Chiens d’Arrêt by Jean Castaing. It is an absolutely monumental work of over 400 pages written by a truly great cynologist. Published in 1960, it covers all of the pointing breeds known to exist at the time and several that had gone extinct. Unfortunately, Les Chiens d’Arrêt has long been out of print and, as far as I know, was never translated into English. Copies can still be found through used book dealers, though, and it makes a fine addition to any library. A more recent work, the superb Enzyklopädie der Jagdhunde by Hans Räber, covers almost all of the pointing breeds, as well as other hunting breeds, from Basset Hounds to Water Spaniels. But it is in German and, as far as I know, is not available in English. And despite having a fairly good selection of photographs, there are not many that feature dogs in actual hunting situations. In English, there have been a few good books written about pointing dogs over the years, but most cover less than half of the pointing breeds in the world today. The so-called dog encyclopedias published in the US and the UK may cover a good number of breeds but, in terms of content, they are not much more than collections of conformation standards, studio photographs and generic comments about each breed’s energy level and grooming requirements. So, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to read a book that provided accurate information on the aspects of pointing breeds that are most important to hunters, I’d have to write it myself. And if I wanted it to include photographs of the dogs in action, I would have to take them myself, as well.

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Lisa and me with Zsófia Miczek near Budapest. Photo: Hana Dufkova

I decided to focus first on the large extended family of pointing breeds developed in Continental Europe. But I knew that I could not just rely on the information gathered from books, articles and websites. I would have to find and interview true breed experts. And that would mean, at the very least, a hefty long-distance phone bill and a lot of time exchanging email messages. And if I also wanted to take photos of their dogs, I’d have to travel—far. That meant plane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. Fortunately, my wife and I love to travel. We also have a great travel agent and, most importantly, an understanding banker who knows we will make good on our travel loans—eventually.

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o that’s how it all got started; if I wanted to read a book that did not exist, I’d have to write it myself. But it wasn’t long before I found other sources of motivation for a project that would eventually take me well over a decade to complete. Myth-busting was one of them. As soon as I started digging into the literature and speaking to real experts, I was shocked at how much misinformation is out there about the pointing breeds. Some of it is sheer nonsense. I’ve read everything from Weimaraners being created to hunt cougars (there have never been cougars in Germany), to the Vizsla being over a thousand years old (no breed on earth is older than about 200 years), to the Pont-Audemer Spaniel being extinct (there is one laying at my feet as I write this). So I’ve done my best to set the record straight or, at the very least, offer a reasonable best-guess alternative to some of the more popular myths still floating around. I was also inspired by the thought of helping hunters who are looking for a new four-legged hunting buddy. If this book helps even one of them find their ideal dog, I will be a very happy camper indeed. And if what I have written can help anyone avoid the mistake of getting a pup from a breed that is not well-suited to their hunting conditions or if it saves them the anguish of ending up with a pup that simply lacks the natural ability to do its job, then I will consider my efforts worthwhile. And, finally, I wanted to raise awareness for some of the lesser-known breeds, some of which are in dire straits. If their numbers are not increased in their homeland and support not found in other countries, they may very well disappear. It is my hope that by bringing them to the attention of a wider public, they will get a much needed boost from hunters willing to lend them a helping hand.

Stonehenge (John Henry Walsh), The Dog in Health and Disease, iv

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INTRODUCTION

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Pointing Dogs Volume One


IN

INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION THIS VOLUME FOCUSES ON AN EXTENDED FAMILY OF DOG BREEDS KNOWN AS CONTINENTAL POINTING DOGS, VERSATILE HUNTING DOGS, HUNT POINT RETRIEVE (HPR) BREEDS OR ALL-AROUNDERS. SOME OF THE BREEDS ARE VERY WELL-KNOWN AND FOUND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. OTHERS ARE STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE. SOME HAVE GONE EXTINCT. I’VE DONE MY BEST TO DESCRIBE THEM ALL WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION GIVEN TO THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO HUNTERS.

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IN

INTRODUCTION

SOURCES

MOST OF THE INFORMATION I

present in this book has been gathered through interviews and personal correspondence with experienced hunters and breeders, often in a language other than English. I have also consulted a great deal of the classic literature on the subject, much of which is also in a foreign language. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine.

DOGS

THE DOGS FEATURED IN THE

photographs range from humble hunting buddies to field trial allstars and hunt test champions. I’ve deliberately avoided identifying most of the individual dogs by name so that they may stand as a representative of their particular breed and symbolize the hunting spirit shared by all pointing dogs.

PHOTOGRAPHS

UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED,

all the photographs in this book are mine. Many were taken during actual hunts. In fact, a few of them were snapped while I held my camera in one hand and my shotgun, unloaded of course, in the other.

The remainder of the photographs were taken at field trials, hunt tests or during training sessions. In only a very few cases—during the nesting season or where natural cover was not available— was I obliged to stage a photo. I also did my best to avoid excessive image manipulation and heavy retouching, preferring to show the dogs as they are, warts and all.

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Pointing Dogs Volume One


IN

INTRODUCTION

NAMES

DENOMINATING THE BREEDS

described in this book should have been straightforward; each one has a name in the language of its homeland and in most cases, the FCI provides an official English translation of it. However, deciding which name to use was anything but straightforward.

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he first challenge involved the FCI translations themselves. Quite often, the English version provided by the FCI is never actually used by English speakers. For example, FCI Standard #119 is for the “German Shorthaired Pointing Dog”. But no one uses that name. To English speakers around the world, the breed is the German Shorthaired Pointer, or GSP. For some breeds, English speakers don’t use any English version of the name at all, official or not. Instead, they use the name as it is in the country of origin. This applies to all of the various Braques of France as well as to the Bracco Italiano, Cesky Fousek, Pudelpointer, Weimaraner, Stichelhaar, and Vizsla. 2

But it is the other way around for the épagneul breeds.2 English speakers generally use its translation, “Spaniel”, for the Picardy, Blue Picardy, Pont-Audemer, French, Saint-Usuge and Larzac—but not for the Brittany. The spaniel part of that breed’s name was officially dropped by the AKC and KC in the 1980s. The majority of breeders and owners in those countries now refer to their dogs as Brittanies—unless, of course, they breed or own the French version, in which case they use the French name Épagneul Breton! And that brings us to another issue surrounding breed names—which version of the breed are we talking about? In some parts of the world, especially in North America, some of the Continental pointing breeds are present in two (or more) versions. Typically one is a modified or “Americanized” version usually registered with the AKC. The other is generally identical to those in the breed’s home country and registered with the parent club there. So, in order to quickly communicate which version is being discussed, two different breed names—one English, and one in the language of the country of origin—are sometimes used. For example, if a North American breeder advertises a litter of Deutsch Drahthaars, it is a good indication that he or she belongs

to the German club (VDD) and participates in its breeding and testing programs. If, on the other hand, the pups are advertised as German Wirehaired Pointers, the breeder is likely a member of the AKC-affiliated German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America and may participate in events offered by that club or other North American organizations. This same sort of unofficial naming system is used to differentiate German Shorthaired Pointers from Deutsch Kurzhaars, German Longhaired Pointers from Deutsch Langhaars and Brittanies from Épagneul Bretons. It is important to note that the choice of name may go beyond simply indicating which club a breeder belongs to. In fact, the whole twonames-for-one-breed concept is a reminder that many people believe that the two versions are no longer even the same breed. But that debate is well beyond the scope of this book and is one of many such things in the world of gundogs that will probably never be resolved. Be that as it may, for each breed I use the name most commonly heard in English speaking countries. In the “What’s In a Name” sidebar accompanying each breed chapter ]I also provide an approximate pronunciation of the breed name in the language of its home country.

See page 28 the South and West section for more information on the term épagneul.

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IN

INTRODUCTION

HISTORY

IN THE WORLD OF PUREBRED DOGS,

there are different approaches to writing the history of a breed. One is to find a fuzzy outline of a fuzzy dog in a dusty old painting and leap to the conclusion that the breed traces directly back to the kennels of King Tut. Another is to establish a plausible time line based on a careful review of the available evidence and then fill in any gaps with well-reasoned conjecture. In the history section of each chapter, I’ve done my best to use the latter approach. Naturally, I cannot provide an exhaustive history of each breed, but I have tried to offer a concise and, as much as possible, accurate summary. I’ve chosen to focus mainly on the modern period—from about 1850 to the present day—since the historical record from that era can be reasonably verified. For the years prior to that time, I can only offer my best guess based on the evidence available today. j

Pointing Dogs Volume One

SELECTION & BREEDING

IN THIS SECTION, I PROVIDE AN ESTIMATE OF

the breed’s overall population and/or the numbers of pups produced annually in its native land and beyond. I summarize the differences among the various types within a breed in terms of look and performance and offer information on any official or unofficial crossbreeding that may have occurred.

Health All gundog breeds have their fair share of genetic health issues. The most common are hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and immune problems. In this section I note the diseases that are reported to be more common and/or unique to the breed.

Clubs, Tests and Trials In this section I describe the more important tests or trials sponsored by parent breed clubs as well as the most common all-breed hunting tests or field trials that breeders use to evaluate their breeding stock.


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INTRODUCTION

FORM

THE DESCRIPTION OF EACH BREED’S FORM

is based on its FCI standard and, in some cases, the standards published by other major clubs or registries. I also point out any significant differences between different types— show-bred vs. field-bred, for example—that may exist within a breed, as well as my impressions of the breed’s look based on what I’ve seen of them in the field.

Size, Coat and Color The size, coat and color descriptions provided are based primarily on the standards published by the parent club in the breed’s native land, most of which are accepted by the FCI.

FUNCTION

THIS SECTION WILL EXPLORE THE ASPECTS OF

each breed’s performance that are most important to hunters. Where appropriate, I will mention aptitudes for other related activities such as field trials or protection duty. Field Search In the Field Search section I describe how the breed is expected to run (or in some cases, trot) while seeking game, and the speed and range that is more or less typical for the breed when working in open terrain and/or in tighter cover. In this context, terms such as “pattern”, “quartering” or “questing” could also apply. I will also point out any significant differences in pace and range that may exist between types within the breed. Please note that the range is given in meters and is only a rough indication of the distance from the hunter the dog may work at.

Pointing Pointing is an innate reflexive response to the presence of game. It is the main characteristic shared by all the breeds described in this book. In the pointing section I indicate the average relative strength of the pointing instinct across the breed, whether it develops early or later and any differences that may exist between types within the breed. I also describe the typical posture of the dog when it is pointing and any unique aspects of the breed’s pointing style.

Retrieving In describing the retrieving instinct of a breed, I will try to indicate how strong the instinct is and how early it can develop in the breed.

Tracking All of the Continental pointing breeds are expected to track. However, the kind of tracking they’ve been selected for and are trained to do varies greatly from country to country. Generally speaking, all breeders select for at least some ability and desire to recover wounded birds, hares or rabbits. In some regions, however, tracking big game before and after the shot is considered an essential function of any hunting dog, including the breeds that point. Some breeders, therefore, select for dogs that show a greater inclination and ability to track. They may also select for dogs that give voice on a hot trail. In other areas, pointing breeds are rarely, if ever, used to do that sort of thing since trailing and blood tracking is considered the job of specialist tracking breeds. Where necessary, I will mention what kind of tracking skills breeders select for and what kind of innate tracking abilities the breed is expected to have.

Water Work Most, but not all, of the Continental pointing breeds are selected to have at least some willingness to work in water. In this section I indicate how well the breed typically takes to the water and what types of water work, if any, it is selected for.

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IN

INTRODUCTION

CHARACTER

WHILE THERE IS OFTEN MORE

variation between individuals within a breed than between the breeds, this section describes what kind of character or personality is considered typical for each breed. Training One of the most important aspects of all the pointing breeds is a highly cooperative, biddable nature. However, there are differences in the ways that breeds respond to various training styles. In this section I provide information I have gathered from breeders, owners and professional trainers who have worked extensively with the breed.

Protection Most dogs have at least some tendency to protect house and home. For some, a strong protective nature is an important aspect of their character and is specifically selected for by breeders. In others, it is quite the opposite; breeders select for soft, friendly dogs that wouldn’t hurt a fly. This section describes the breed’s degree of protectiveness and its suitability for guard dog duty.

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INTRODUCTION

MY VIEW

ALTHOUGH I OFFER SOME

of my own observations and opinions in other places throughout the text, I have tried to confine most of them to this section. I make absolutely no claim of objectivity and readily admit that I write like a hunter who has yet to meet a breed of dog he does not like.

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have my own tastes in gundog breeds and I have my own experiences of them all. My perspective may in fact be unique. I have no way of knowing it, but I may be the only person in the world to have actually seen every single one of the Continental pointing breeds, in action, in their native lands. I also make it a point to speak with hunters who breed, train, trial, test and hunt—a lot. So, naturally, while most of the dogs I’ve seen and photographed for this book are of a fairly high caliber, some are absolutely world-class. So the personal observations I provide are often based on what I’ve seen among the cream of the crop and may paint a more flattering picture of the breed than if I had seen more average individuals. Nevertheless, my goal was to see all of the various breeds with my own two eyes, and to follow the example of the great French dog expert Ernest Bellecroix who wrote the following lines in his book Les Chiens d’Arrêt Français et Anglais published in 1881:

I’ve tried to tell the truth, nothing but the truth. I’ve done my best to compare the abilities between them; I’ve said how they act in the field and everything I have written is an expression of the convictions given to me by long experience. I borrowed nothing from anyone; I’ve said what I’ve done and what I’ve seen.

Risk Profile All things being equal, a good dog from any of the breeds described in this book can make a decent hunting companion. Of course, all things are nowhere near equal. Some breeds are still firmly in the hands of dedicated hunters who breed them for other hunters. Others have been almost completely co-opted by non-hunters who now breed them for the show ring and/ or the companion animal market. Some breeds have huge populations spread across much of the globe. Others are as rare as hens’ teeth or are only available in isolated areas where language and distance can make them hard to find. Some are fairly old and well-established. Others are comparatively young and are still very much works in progress. Despite this, I maintain that it is possible to find a good dog in just about every breed described in this book. The great equalizer is homework—if you do enough of it, you will have a decent chance of finding a good dog. If you don’t, you may end up with a pig in a poke, no matter what the breed. But finding a dog of any breed is still somewhat of a gamble. So I give each breed

a risk rating based on the ratio of good to poor performers in the breed, the ratio of hunters to non-hunters breeding them, availability, population, health issues and other variables. LOW: No breed is given a rating of Low. There are simply too many variables and too much risk associated with finding just the right gundog that saying any breed represents a low risk is, well, too risky. MODERATE: This rating is given to breeds in which the odds are fairly good that you can find a decent hunting dog in a high percentage of litters. With a bit of homework and a reasonable amount of caution, any hunter should be able to find a good pup from a breed with a Moderate rating, perhaps even locally, and for a good price. HIGH: This rating is given to breeds that present additional risks or challenges when it comes to finding a good one. The breed may be deeply split between show and field lines. It may be relatively rare or isolated to only one or two countries where travel and communication difficulties may come into play. Finding a good hunting prospect among these breeds is not overly difficult but it may require more caution or a greater investment of time, effort and money than in a breed with a Moderate rating. EXTREMELY HIGH: This rating applies to breeds that may show a much higher than average incidence of genetic health problems or are dominated by show and pet breeders. It could also apply to breeds that are extremely rare, are in the process of revival or are in sharp decline.

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PONT-AUDEMER SPANIEL

PONT-AUDEMER SPANIEL É PAGNE U L DE P O N T- A U DE M E R

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N WESTERN FRANCE, BETWEEN BRITTANY TO THE SOUTH AND PICARDY

to the north, lies the region of Normandy. It is known for its rich butter, apple cider and Camembert cheese. For North Americans, it will always be associated with the D-Day landings and the subsequent battles of the summer of 1944. But for much of the 19th century, it was known as the destination for well-heeled English sportsmen. One of the richest hunting grounds was the Vernier marsh where the Seine River flows into the sea. Magnificent hunting lodges can still be seen there today, and some of the most beautiful are found just outside the town of Pont-Audemer.

HISTORY

DESPITE A BRIEF MENTION IN A 12TH

century manuscript of some kind of “marshdog” from the area of Pont-Audemer, the “Ponto” (as it is affectionately known in France) is not a particularly old breed. It was developed in the 19th century in much the same way as the other épagneul breeds: local hunting dogs where bred to Pointers and Setters brought over by English sportsmen. What sets the Ponto apart is that its creators also bred their dogs to English and Irish Water Spaniels. In so doing, they created one of the most unusual Continental breeds; a breed with a unique look and hunting style.

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n the mid-1800s, the Pont-Audemer Spaniel was known as an excellent marsh dog and enjoyed a good reputation among waterfowlers. It was also a favorite partner of poachers in the forests outside the city of Rouen.

But by the 1880s, for a variety of reasons, interest in the Pont-Audemer Spaniel had declined, and the breed was struggling to stay afloat. Eventually, in an effort to revive and protect the Ponto and other at-risk breeds, a club was formed in 1881. Headed by the great French cynologist James De Coninck, the Société Canine Havraise managed to increase the numbers and quality of Pontos through a program of selective breeding and crossing to ancestral breeds. Unfortunately, 60 years later the devastating effects of two world wars had once again reduced the breed to near extinction. In 1949, Mr. Gréaume, then president of the Pont-Audemer club, is said to have acquired an English Water Spaniel and bred it into his line of Pontos. The results were apparently very encouraging. Under his leadership, club membership and the number of breeders eventually increased. Unfortunately, the upturn was not long-lived. By the 1960s the breed was once more in decline. By 1980 there were not even enough pups being whelped each year for the Pont-Audemer club to retain its official status within the French kennel club. It was therefore amalgamated with the Picardy Spaniel club, where it remains to this day. The continentals

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he Pont-Audemer Spaniel is still in a precarious position. There are only about 400 of them in the entire world, with fewer than 40 pups whelped per year. Very few Pontos are seen in the hunting fields of France and fewer still compete in any sort of field trial or test. Even in the town of Pont-Audemer itself, the breed is almost completely unknown.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

Ay-pan-yull deh pawnt oh da mair Épagneul de Pont-Audemer is a bit of a tongue-twister, even for some French speakers, so it is often shortened to “Ponto” (pawn-toe). The breed is sometimes referred to as le clown du marais which means “clown of the marsh”.

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Pointing Dogs Volume One

But all is not doom and gloom for the breed. Despite the many challenges it has faced in the past and the difficult road ahead, I can confirm that there are some very good, and even great Pontos still to be found. In 2002, a young female named Rage de Vaincre des Coteaux de Yannijean (Rage) qualified to compete in the prestigious Coupe de France field trial. Running against some of the best Brittanies and German Shorthaired Pointers in the nation, Rage took second

place overall. She is also the breed’s first and only spring field trial champion, a fall field trial champion, and a heck of a good hunter. I had the privilege of hunting over her in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada. I’ve also watched her run in the vast winter wheat fields of northern France. She is an excellent example of what can be achieved with the breed and hopefully represents the future of the Ponto. Rage’s breeder, Yannick Molès, along with his father Jean and sister Karine, are among the few breeders of Pontos in the world still selecting for working qualities. With a very modest production of two or three litters per year, they have managed to retain and improve the hunting abilities of the breed and are making great strides towards improving the overall conformation and consistency of their line.


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SELECTION AND BREEDING

THE PONT-AUDEMER SPANIEL IS A MIX OF POINTING, FLUSHING AND WATER DOG

breeds. Achieving consistency in type and hunting ability has therefore always been a challenge. So, naturally, over the last 100 years breeders have occasionally resorted to crossing to related and/or ancestral breeds in order to strengthen certain qualities they felt were in decline.

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he most common crosses have been to Irish Water Spaniels. They were apparently done in the early 1900s and again after the Second World War. Recently, another infusion of IWS blood was made and, so far, the results have been promising. The coat quality has improved and there has been a significant gain in the overall size and strength in the line. In order to retain or enhance the Ponto’s pointing instincts, other crosses have been attempted over the years. It is likely that Brittanies and Picardy Spaniels have been used and more recently, like many other Êpagneul breeds, the Ponto has also benefited from an infusion of blood from the English Setter. A stronger point and bigger, faster run may now be seen in some lines. Fortunately, despite all of the tinkering with the genetic base of the breed, the unique character and look of the Ponto is still very much intact.

Most Pont-Audemer Spaniel litters are whelped in France. There have been one or two litters bred in Germany and, more recently, in Finland. So far, no Pontos have been bred in North America.

Health In addition to the usual health concerns common in all breeds, Ponto breeders have had to deal with a few that occur mainly in the curlycoated breeds. Chief among them is a sort of genetic pattern baldness known as hypotrichosis. It manifests itself as patches of baldness or very thin hair along the back of the hind legs and rump. Although rare, it can show up from time to time in some lines. While not strictly a medical health issue, it is an undesirable genetic trait that should be avoided. Known carriers of the condition should not be bred.

Tests and Trials Over the last 20 years, a very small number of Pont-Audemer Spaniels have been run in field trials in France. They have achieved a surprising level of success considering how few of them there are. Very occasionally, one or two Pontos may also be tested in Germany at the VJP or HZP level. As of this writing none have been run in a NAVHDA test or a competitive event in North America. The continentals

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FORM

COMPARED TO THE ELEGANCE OF THE LONG-HAIRED BREEDS AND THE ALL-

business look of the short-hairs, the Ponto’s curly coat makes it look like every day is a bad hair day. But there is a certain appeal to its unusual Clown of the Marsh appearance. Personally, I find Pontos quite attractive. With their brown and white curls and disheveled topknot they look like members of an ’80s “hair band” and, if the light is just right, their almond-shaped eyes are as sweet as the melody of a rock and roll power ballad.

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he official breed standard describes the Pont-Audemer as a:

Stocky and vigorous dog with legs that must be rather short, the dog being rather low to the ground, yet without falling into the Cocker type.

The head is quite distinctive. The muzzle is fairly long and arched in the middle, tapering to a gentle point at the nose. The ears are set low on the head and covered in long curly hair. The nose is brown and the eyes are dark amber. The curly topknot makes the dog look as though it is wearing some sort of powdered wig. r

Pointing Dogs Volume One

Size

Coat and Color

Males: 52 to 58 cm Females: 52 to 58 cm

The Ponto’s coat is curly or, at the very least, quite wavy. The most common pattern is brown and white roan but a solid brown coat is also acceptable. Both coat patterns can have red-brown “dead leaf glints”. Black or tan markings are faults. The hair on the face is short. The topknot can take up to five years to fully develop. Most Pontos have docked tails. Tails that are left intact are usually wellfeathered like that of a setter, although it is not unheard of for a Ponto to have the shorthaired “rat-tail” of an Irish Water Spaniel.

The breed standard allows for the same range of sizes in males and females. In general, a Ponto should be bigger than a Brittany, but smaller than an Irish Water Spaniel. In the past, there were issues with too many Pontos being at or near the bottom of the height standard. Recently, breeders have made some progress in producing slightly larger dogs that are more towards the middle of the standard.


PAS

PONT-AUDEMER SPANIEL

FUNCTION

THE PONTO WAS ALWAYS CONSIDERED TO BE A CLOSE-WORKING DOG ESPECIALLY

suited for hunting the wetlands. Recently, however, there has been some modification to the way the dog works, especially when it comes to speed and range. Field Search

Pointing

Tracking

The working standard for the breed requires a fast, animated search, typically within gun range. My wife’s Ponto, Uma, and Uma’s cousin, Vinnie, have exactly that kind of search. Vinnie’s owner, Ross Cornish, describes him as:

Despite the flushing breeds in their family tree, Pont-Audemer Spaniels are pointing dogs. Yannick Molès explains that:

Among Ponto breeders in France, there really isn’t much interest in selecting for tracking abilities. However, several Pontos have passed the HZP in Germany, proving that they can indeed track fairly well. Our Ponto has tracked her fair share of wounded pheasants and grouse, but she would not be my first choice for tracking deer or boar.

...fast, birdy and an awesome ruffed grouse dog. He is not a big runner. In open terrain his casts are rarely more than 100 meters. In the forest, he works closer, but always at a very quick pace. He is really light on his feet and just weaves through the trees. (pers. comm.) In the past, one or two wider running Pontos have done well in spring time field trials. Nevertheless, the average Ponto remains a fast, but close, worker.

Retrieve Many Pontos have a fairly strong retrieving instinct that can develop early. Others are less enthusiastic retrievers but can easily be trained to perform at an acceptable level.

Some older descriptions of the breed describe it as both a flusher and a pointer. In the past, many Pontos probably were used to flush ducks in the morning and point partridges in the afternoon. There was even a time just after World War II when some people felt that the breed belonged in the FCI Group 8 for flushing, retrieving and water dogs instead of Group 7 for pointing dogs. (pers. comm.) Today, most Pontos are generally used to point game. All of the Pontos I’ve hunted over point well, but for some it required a bit of training to overcome their urge to flush. Pontos point standing up but some may “set” (lie down). This is probably due to a fair dose of Setter blood not too far back in the line. Some Pontos back naturally, but most need to be trained to do so.

Water Work Traditionally, water work was considered the breed’s strong suit. Pontos were specifically developed to work the marshes of northwestern France. Today, however, very few of them are used for anything beyond the occasional duck hunt. I know of one or two that are owned by hunters near the town of PontAudemer itself and hunt in the Vernier marsh, but they are the exception. The small number of Ponto breeders still active in France do not seem to place as much emphasis on water work as in the past. That being said, all of the Pontos I’ve seen swim well, and some would make decent early-season waterfowl dogs.

Part One: Pointing Dogs

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PAS

PONT-AUDEMER SPANIEL

CHARACTER

NOT ONLY CAN A PONTO BE A GOOD

gundog, its easygoing, mellow personality makes it an ideal pet for busy homes, families with kids or even apartment living. Training I have found that working with a Ponto is like working with a bit of string. You can pull all you want, but you cannot push. The most effective training methods are therefore those that emphasis fun and excitement, not force. According to Ponto owner Jude Gerstein, who also has Pudelpointers that she runs in German tests: Pontos are natural bird dogs that generally only require exposure to game to develop into decent workers. Training them for the higher levels of testing in NAVHDA or JGHV could be a challenge, but if mainly positive methods are used in training, I believe they could do well. (pers. comm.)

Protection As far as sharpness goes, the Ponto is probably the least likely of all the pointing breeds to ever stand up to a robber or kill a fox. Lisa had this to say about our Ponto’s protection instinct: If someone tried to break into our home our Weimaraners would put their lives on the line to protect us, but Uma would probably just watch it all from the couch while enjoying a glass of red wine and some cheese.

MY VIEW

I LIKE PONT-AUDEMER SPANIELS. LISA LIKES THEM, TOO. IN FACT WE WERE BOTH

so charmed by the breed that, in 2003, we welcomed a Ponto pup into our home. Now, a half-dozen hunting seasons later, I can say that our little Uma is, in many ways, the embodiment of all the strengths and weaknesses of the breed.

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ma is obsessed with birds. She is a daughter of the top field trial performer in the breed’s history and shares her mother’s intense drive and athleticism. Around the house, she is the lowest maintenance dog we’ve ever known. In fact, she and her cousin Vinnie could probably live in the library of an old folks home—and not be noticed!

When our other dogs were young pups, they were given the same treatment but they quickly figured out that they could not catch the birds, so they stopped chasing them and started pointing. Not Uma.

But Uma has her fair share of quirks. She is affectionate and independent at the same time. Training can be straightforward or require a trip to the library to find some books on canine psychology.

The more she bumped and chased, the more she enjoyed it. She was so driven to play this game, I was concerned that she would run till she dropped dead. Eventually, by adjusting my training methods, I managed to bring out her pointing instinct while discouraging her impulse to flush. Uma is now a very reliable pointer and even backs other dogs on her own.

Uma lives to run and runs for fun. To her, pointing birds is great sport. But so is flushing and chasing them. When she was young, I tried to cure her of bumping and chasing in the same way I cured our Weimaraners. I took her to a field loaded with meadowlarks and let her chase for as long as she wanted. But it didn’t work.

I now believe that what Uma showed me early on was the basic conflict in the genetic makeup of the breed. With training, she learned to listen to her pointing instinct and ignore the urge to flush. However, it could have gone the other way. It would have been very easy to train her to work like a Springer Spaniel.

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here are fewer than 400 Pontos in the entire world. Finding a good one is not impossible, but the future of the breed seems to be in the hands of about a dozen people. Genetically, some lines have a fairly high inbreeding coefficient, while others have been crossbred to ancestral breeds, but with little follow-up. In addition, the parent club’s support for the Ponto seems to be half-hearted.

Despite this bleak picture, I am cautiously optimistic about the breed’s future. In recent years, the few remaining breeders in France have made some significant progress. They have been joined by breeders in Finland and hopefully soon, in North America. Personally, I would love to see more hunters in Europe and North America take an interest in the breed for the unique combination of qualities it offers.

AT A GLANCE Like the Pudelpointer, the Pont-Audemer Spaniel is a combination of a curly-coated water dog breed and a pointing breed. But the Ponto has never had a rich patron or a dynamic club to ensure its overall development and improvement. And for much of its history the breed has straddled the line between pointing dog and flushing spaniel. Its traditional niche, hunting in the wetlands, is now dominated by Labs and other retrieving breeds. In the uplands, it faces stiff competition from other pointing breeds that have managed to carve out a larger portion of the market. PROS • Unique look • Easygoing personality • Very birdy • Close but animated search CONS • Extremely low population, very few breeders • Some coat issues (alopecia, hypotrichosis) • Narrow gene pool • Curly coat is a bur magnet DETAILS Name: Épagneul de Pont-Audemer, Pont-Audemer Spaniel, Ponto Country of Origin: France Parent Club: Club de l’Épagneul Picard, du Bleu de Picardie et du Pont-Audemer Population: Less than 400 worldwide Availability: Poor Health Issues: Alopecia, hypotrichosis Size: Medium/small Coat: Curly or very wavy, solid liver or liver and white ticked Range: Close to medium. Pace: Quick, lively gallop Retrieve: Fair to good Water Work: Fair to good Suitability for Protection Duty: Next to none Versatility Rating: 6. A good Ponto is a fun and effective upland gundog. Some can also be fairly decent water dogs and retrievers. Risk Profile: Extremely high Good Choice for: Upland game and early season waterfowl hunting

Part One: Pointing Dogs

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BB

BRAQUE DU BOURBONNAIS

BRAQUE DU BOURBONNAIS

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Pointing Dogs Volume One


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BRAQUE DU BOURBONNAIS

D

OG BREEDS COME AND GO. SOME TAKE CENTURIES TO DEVELOP

and others are created almost overnight. Some slowly fade away and others disappear in the blink of an eye. For a very few breeds, there can even be a sort of resurrection. The Braque du Bourbonnais is one such breed. There are references to it as far back as the 16th century but, by the 1960s, it had disappeared. Yet today, thanks to the efforts of a group of breeders led by a man of vision, it has returned.

HISTORY

A LOT OF BREEDS ARE SAID TO BE AS

old as the hills, but not many have any real proof of their ancient heritage. For the Braque du Bourbonnais, however, there is a fairly compelling document that does seem to prove that dogs matching its description have been around since at least the late 1500s.

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t is an illustration by the renowned Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi that shows a dog with a striking resemblance to the modern Braque du Bourbonnais. It is titled Canis sagax ad coturnices capiendas pantherinus, which means “keen scented pantherlike (i.e., spotted) dog for catching quail”. In one of his manuscripts, Aldrovandi also mentions a Canis Burbonenis (dog from Bourbonnais). Naturally, breed enthusiasts point to these references as proof that the Braque du Bourbonnais is one of the oldest breeds of short-haired pointing dogs. But they do concede that, like all short-haired pointing dogs, it ultimately traces back to the original stock from southern France and northern Spain. As for the origins of the Bourbonnais dog, which is a short-tailed breed, there is no need to look anywhere else than at the large brown Braque, the first, most ancient of our breeds. Once this is admitted, it is no longer doubtful that families where individuals are always born with a short tail have in their veins the pure and precious blood of the primitive breed from which they descend.1 Until the mid-1800s, the tail-less pointing dogs of the Bourbonnais region of France were more or less unknown in the rest of the country. But as the dog scene developed, the Braque à queue courte (shorttailed braque) soon became a standard fixture at dog shows and gained a good number of converts among French hunters. But the breed’s good fortunes did not last very long. By the early 1900s, it was obvious that breeders had become fixated on its unique coat color and its naturally short tail. Alarmed by an increasing number of deaf, infertile or even albino individuals appearing in the breed, the great dog expert Pierre Mégnin warned of breeding too tightly among a very limited number of families. Fortunately, sensible breeders heeded his advice and began crossing to other breeds, principally English Pointers. 1

Adolphe de la Rue, Les Chiens d’Arrêt Anglais et Français, 18.

An extraordinary document survives from that era and offers insight into what the situation was like. It is an article written by Mr. E. Dubut, a self-described vieux fervent de notre brave Bourbonnais (long-time enthusiast of our brave Bourbonnais). It was published in the Bourbonnais Club bulletin in 1933, and details Dubut’s efforts to reverse the errors of the past. When I started breeding Braques du Bourbonnais 30 years ago, the dogma of absolute purity of the breed was the official, intangible doctrine of dog breeding, and the greatest achievement was to blend together all the champions of the breed, or at least their offspring. In a few years, I had assembled in my kennel the blood of all the kings and queens of the breed, but the more I concentrated my aristocratic stew, the more troubling faults I saw. Such a high level of inbreeding quickly becomes dangerous. Some of the few famous individuals of the breed, even though they are champions, have physical or mental faults that make it very dangerous for any linebreeding or inbreeding. That was the situation in my kennel around 1908. It was obvious to me that only crossbreeding could improve, revive, save my Braque du Bourbonnais.

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nfortunately, despite the measures taken by Dubut and others, the breed continued to struggle throughout the early 1900s and was almost wiped out during the First World War. But in 1925, the remaining supporters managed to create a club for the breed and establish a formal written standard. For the next decade, things improved as breeders worked to overcome the difficulties of the past. Then the Second World War dealt an even more devastating blow and the postwar years did not prove much easier. Infighting among club members over the coat color and other minor details eventually caused so many problems that the club fell apart, breeding ground to a halt and registrations fell to a trickle. In 1967, Jean Castaing wrote that he had probably seen the last of the breed. Then, in the 1970s, the man who would lead the effort to recreate the breed entered the scene. Today Michel Comte is known as the father of the modern Braque du Bourbonnais, but back then he was considered a dreamer, attempting the impossible. I come from a family of hunters. My father and grandfather hunted mainly with running hounds, but we had a Braque d’Auvergne as well. When I was about 16 or 17 years old, I got the idea that it would be nice to have a Braque du Bourbonnais. I was fascinated by the unique lilas passé color of its coat. I dreamed for many years about owning such a dog. But everyone told me not to bother; the breed was dead. Then one day I just said: To heck with them, I will recreate it! (Michel Comte, pers. comm.) The continentals

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SRHP

SLOVAKIAN ROUGH-HAIRED POINTER

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SRHP

SLOVAKIAN ROUGH-HAIRED POINTER

SELECTION & BREEDING

THE MAJORITY OF SLOVAK POINTERS ARE BRED IN SLOVAKIA

where approximately 30 to 50 pups are whelped annually. There are also breeders in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, France and the UK.

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ince its very beginning, breeders have sought to combine the qualities of the Weimaraner, the German Wirehaired Pointer and the Cesky Fousek in one breed. After nearly 60 years, they have succeeded in producing excellent all-around hunting dogs and a national pointing dog breed for Slovakia.

But in many ways the Slovak Pointer remains a work in progress. Breeders are still trying to stabilize the quality and color of the coat and struggling with certain health issues. Performance aspects are also undergoing some modifications as some breeders work toward faster, wider-ranging dogs while trying to maintain the SRHP’s excellent reputation as a tracking and retrieving breed. The club has therefore kept an open mind in terms of allowing crosses to the original founding breeds and others. Michal Urban, secretary of the national breed club, explains: It is only in Slovakia that we are allowed to breed to the original breeds. There are very strict rules in the program. We opened the register because we needed to create a wider base for the breed. We only keep the best working dogs with the appropriate look. We use mainly German Wirehaired Pointers and Weimaraners. We try to avoid too much Cesky Fousek because of problems with the coat (alopecia). We have also used German Shorthaired Pointers and Pudelpointers in the past. In 2005, we started to work out the new line for this breed as a combination of three foundation breeds, like it was at the beginning. All this work is strictly organized by our club in keeping with FCI regulations allowing these crossings to be done only in the country of origin. (pers. comm.) Nicolas Elder, a breeder in Ireland, adds: Hunting in Continental Europe is far more structured and traditional than in the UK and Ireland. Each country would have a hunting union that would police and protect the hunting and, in some countries, ensure that there are dogs available. These unions would organize dog training, give out proficiency certificates, keep records of their pedigrees and generally ensure that all the working ability in the breeds were maintained. They were

not restrained by kennel club rules and the desires of people showing the dogs. If a bit of hybrid vigor was needed to improve things, then crossbreeding was accepted. (pers. comm.)

Clubs The breed’s parent club in Slovakia is the Klub Chovateľov SHS (Slovakian Wirehaired Pointer Breeders Club). It organizes performance tests similar to those run by German and Czech clubs and oversees a breeding program designed to widen and stabilize the Slovak’s gene pool. There are also clubs for the breed in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France and the UK.

Tests and Trials In Slovakia, dogs are evaluated in non-competitive breed tests that are similar to German JGHV type tests. In order to qualify for breeding, our dogs must pass a fall breeding test which includes field and water work with a search of live duck. They must also receive a rating of at least “very good” in a conformation exam and have a complete set of teeth. Our club organizes two tests each year: a spring test in April and a Club Trophy test in August. The Club Trophy test includes eight water events and 15 field events run on the same day. (Michal Urban, pers. comm.) Some breeders in Slovakia are also beginning to run their dogs in FCI sanctioned competitive field trial events. I think that international competition is good for the breed. We have some breeders who like to participate in them and some dogs that do very well in trials. So some of us are interested in dogs that have more speed and range for these kinds of trials. Of course we do not want to lose the other abilities, and we do not want our dogs to turn into English Pointers. But we like a strong search and a dog that will cover the proper amount of ground, depending on the field and the game it is hunting. (Michal Urban, pers. comm.)

WHAT’S IN A NAME If there were a contest for the hardest breed name to pronounce, the Slovenský Hrubosrstý Stavac would probably win. Despite my Ukrainian heritage, I had a heck of a time learning to properly pronounce it. But when I was in Slovakia, I discovered that a shot of the local whiskey, Slivovica, loosened my tongue just enough to help me get around the rolled r’s. So, you may want to pour yourself a stiff drink first, and then say:

Slo-VEN-skee H’roo BOSS risty STAV atch. Slovenský means “Slovakian”. The literal translation of Hrubosrstý is “strong”, but in this context it means “wire-haired” and refers to the breed’s harsh coat. Stavac is the Slovak word for “pointing dog”. In some publications the word Ohar , the Czech word for “pointing dog”, appears in brackets after Stavac. Its inclusion in the breed name reflects the fact that, until 1992, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were one nation—Czechoslovakia—with two official languages. According to the FCI, the official name for the breed in English is Slovakian Wirehaired Pointing Dog. But breeders and owners in England and the US refer to it as the Slovakian RoughHaired Pointer, abbreviated to SRHP.

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LM

LARGE MUNSTERLANDER

FORM

DESPITE THEIR NAME,

Large Munsterlanders are not particularly large. They are actually near the middle of the pointing breed pack in terms of height. Size Males: 60 - 65 cm Females: 58 - 63 cm LMs bred in North American tend to be slightly smaller and lighter than LMs bred in Germany.

Coat and Color A Large Munsterlander’s coat is black and white, medium long and relatively dense. The head is usually solid black and covered with smooth, short hair. Some dogs may have a white blaze or star on the forehead. No specific kind of marking is selected for, so a variety of patterns are seen. They range from a black “mantle” that covers the back of the dog like a cape, to a lightly ticked coat to a more roan pattern. The ideal LM coat is sleek and flat-lying, never curly or coarse. The front and hind legs are well feathered, as is the tail. The tail on most LM’s is left intact. Traditionally, the last quarter of the tail was docked and the option is still available for breeders. Joe Schmutz explains: Breeders have the option of doing so. A bloody tail can be a real problem and we have a few owners who had to have the tail seriously treated or amputated later. With the new animal care laws in Germany, and especially Switzerland, they need special permission to dock tails. For LMs in Germany, I don’t know how many actually do it; I suspect not that many. (pers. comm.)

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Pointing Dogs Volume One


FUNCTION

THE BREED STANDARD FOR THE LARGE MUNSTERLANDER INDICATES THAT IT IS

a “versatile, useful multi-purpose gundog”. And that “his strength is in his work after the shot”. Field Search LMs are medium speed, close to medium range workers. Their usual gait is a medium gallop with occasional periods of trotting. On average, they range out from 50 to 150 yards in open terrain but naturally work in closer when the cover is heavy.

Pointing All of the LMs I have seen have been excellent pointers. Some were natural backers. An analysis of NAVHDA’s Natural Ability Test scores for Large Munsterlanders shows that: In the 1990s the largest difference was that LMs were below the average in pointing (down 0.6) but above by the same amount in tracking. This is consistent with the reputation the LM held and still holds in Europe; a sound all-around 6 Sheila

dog but excelling in work after the shot. However, when scores for the Utility Test were reviewed, the difference in pointing between LMs and other breeds disappeared. This would seem to indicate one of two things. Either the pointing instinct in the breed develops somewhat slower than other breeds or that LMs, like other breeds that excel at tracking, need time to find the right balance between working with a high nose (pointing) and a low nose (tracking). 6

Retrieve The breed is known to have a strong natural inclination to retrieve. Most Large Munsterlanders start to retrieve at a very early age. According to most of the breeders I have spoken to, hard mouth is not unheard of in the breed, but is rarely an issue.

Tracking The breed has a good reputation as an excellent tracker of game. In Germany, many Large Munsterlanders are used to hunt deer and boar in the forest. Giving voice on track and/or on sight is a valued trait and is a requirement for breeding in that country. In North America, the breed’s tracking talents are used more for the recovery of game birds, waterfowl and small game.

Water Work Large Munsterlander breeders on both sides of the Atlantic place a great deal of emphasis on selecting dogs for water work. As a result, LMs are generally strong swimmers that take to water early on. The long coat is said to provide good protection and warmth while working in colder water.

and Joseph Schmutz, The Large Munsterlander Club of North America, Thirty Years, 19-20

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PGP

PORTUGUESE POINTER

CHARACTER

THE PORTUGUESE POINTERS WE MET SEEMED TO BE MORE “PEPPY” THAN THEIR

Spanish cousins. Their movements were faster, they were more excitable and as we headed to the field to let them run, their eyes absolutely glowed with anticipation.

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hen I asked Luis Carlos Fonseca, the president of the breed club in Portugal, about the typical character of the breed, he said they were muito afetuosa (very affectionate).

They are generally calm dogs, very sociable, but they can be moody sometimes. Above all, they become very attached to their owner and his family. That is why they are such good hunting dogs. They hunt with you, like a partner. (pers. comm.)

Temple DaSilva adds that: I have never met a more affectionate, people-oriented gundog. This breed lives for its people more than any other I’ve ever known, and I’ve lived with Labs, GSPs, GWPs and Pointers. The females are way more mellow than the males but they aren’t really keen on other dogs. Males love everything and everyone. (pers. comm.)

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Training They very intelligent and curious. They want to learn and they want to hunt, so training them is easy. You should not use too much force; they can be soft dogs, but they can be stubborn. In any case, the best way to train them is to take them hunting. (Luis Carlos Fonseca, pers. comm.)

Protection None of the breeders or owners I spoke with would recommend the breed as a guard dog. They all said that their dogs were far too friendly to do anything more than bark to announce a visitor.


AT A GLANCE The Portuguese Pointer is an interesting breed with an interesting history. It has a unique look, good temperament and is still bred mainly by hunters for hunters. PROS • Lots of point • Good retrieve • Unique look • Relatively close-working (some can run wider) CONS • Relatively small population • Short coat is not the best choice for cold water work DETAILS Name: Perdigueiro Português, Portuguese Pointer Country of Origin: Portugal

MY VIEW

Parent Club: Associação do Perdigueiro Português

THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE WHEN YOU SEE A

Portuguese Pointer is its resemblance to the English Pointer, and, in some ways, to the Boxer. But when we spent the day photographing them in Portugal, what stood out more than anything else were their eyes. The dogs there that day had the most expressive eyes we had ever seen.

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henever Lisa and I meet with breeders of gundogs, I warn them to count their dogs before we leave since Lisa always carries a purse big enough to smuggle a puppy or two out of the kennel with her. Of course, everyone knows I am joking, but when we were in Portugal, I was not so sure. I had the sneaking suspicion that if she’d been left alone for a few minutes, she just might have turned into a puppynapper! And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I would have turned her in if she had. We both really took a shine to the breed. Of course, the views we formed were nowhere near objective. We saw some of the best dogs in the breed running across the gentle hills of a beautiful cork tree plantation in central Portugal. We were in the company of three of the most experienced members of the breed club and we’d just been served one of the most delicious picnic lunches we’d ever had. The dogs were

super affectionate, calm in their kennels, but all business in the field. They pointed hard, backed each other and retrieved every bird to hand. And those eyes! They were so striking they gave some of the dogs a near-human expression. It must be the way that the dark pigment around the eyes, nose and lips contrasts with the yellow/brown coat. Lisa said that some of them looked like they had a sort of Coleoptera eyeliner thing going on.

Population: Approximately 250 pups whelped per year in Portugal, 40 to 50 in the US and 25 to 30 in France. Availability: Fair Health Issues: Hip dysplasia Size: Small to medium Coat: Short, solid yellow-brown, or with white Range: Close to medium Pace: Medium gallop Retrieve: Good Water work: Good Suitability for Protection Duty: Poor Versatility Rating: 7 Risk Profile: Medium to high. Finding a decent Portuguese Pointer should not be difficult, but since there are not many breeders outside of Portugal, it could require some patience and/or shipping a pup across the ocean. Good choice for: Small game in just about any terrain

Back at our hotel, we reviewed the photos we’d taken in the beautiful cork plantation. They were some of our best work yet and only added to the positive impression that the breed had made on us. We talked about how great the day had been. We’d seen some very nice dogs, enjoyed charming company and beautiful weather. There was only one disappointment. Somehow, Lisa had resisted temptation: there were no puppies in her purse! Part One: Pointing Dogs ac


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APPENDICES

POPULATION

ON THE RIGHT IS A CHART THAT ILLUSTRATES THE APPROXIMATE AVERAGE

numbers of pups born per year in each breed. However, care must be taken to consider the figures in context since, like skimpy bathing suits, statistics reveal a lot but they also hide the important parts. FOR HUNTERS, POPULAR DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN GOOD: There are vast

numbers of Weimaraners pups whelped every year—over 10,000 in North America alone—but less than 10% are from proven working lines. Conversely, the number of Pudelpointer pups born each year is fewer than 600, yet 99% of them are from parents that have been selected for the field. So, for a hunter seeking a decent gundog, there are actually about the same number of Weimaraner and Pudelpointer pups from field tested and proven parents available each year, despite the fact that Weimaraners are nearly 20 times more “popular”.

BREEDS ARE NOT UNIFORM: Among the over 15,000

GSPs born each year, there are many different types. In the US alone, there are probably a half-dozen different types of ad

Pointing Dogs Volume One

GSPs and four separate clubs representing the breed. I’ve seen GSPs in almost every country we have visited, and they’ve ranged from classic, traditional style GSPs in Germany and Eastern Europe, to a more “modernized” version in France and Italy, to all-age field trial GSPs in North America. The vast majority of them are good to excellent gundogs, but they may have very different hunting styles and looks.

BREED POPULARITY VARIES FROM PLACE TO PLACE: Fewer than half of the

Continental breeds still being bred today have sustainable populations outside of their native land and fewer still have been recognized by all the major canine registries. Some breeds are extremely popular outside their homelands, but that popularity varies from country to country. For example, there are well over

15,000 Brittany pups whelped per year in the world, including 5,000 in France alone. Yet, in the UK, the Brittany is hardly even on the radar. Only about 100 Brittanies are registered by the Kennel Club per year.

POPULATIONS RISE AND FALL: The chart is noth-

ing more than a snapshot of pointing breed populations circa 2000-2010. If it had been drawn up a century ago, it would be very different. Some breeds would be much higher up, others lower, and many not even on the list. Even if it were drawn up only 20 years ago, the relative standings would be different. As for what it will look like 20 years from now, who knows what breeds will be the next big things, which ones will decline, and which ones may actually disappear?


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APPENDICES

POPULATION BREED

Average number of pups whelped per year worldwide < 50

100

250

500

1,000

2,500

5,000

10,000

15,000

20,000

Braque de l’Ariège Stichelhaar Pont-Audemer Spaniel Majorcan Pointer Slovakian R-H Pointer Braque Saint Germain Saint Usuge Spaniel Braque Français (Gascony) Pachón Navarro Stabyhoun Old Danish Pointer Burgos Pointer Picardy + Blue Picardy Portuguese Pointer Braque du Bourbonnais Braque d’Auvergne Wirehaired Vizsla Drentsche Patrijshond Pudelpointer Cesky Fousek Large Munsterlander Bracco Italiano French Spaniel GLP Braque Français (Pyrenean) Spinone Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Small Munsterlander GWP Vizsla Weimaraner Brittany GSP

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Pointing Dogs Volume One: The Continentals