Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


otherwise, exist mainly for hunting or work- ing, with nary a competitive event within its scope. This writer has been very fortunate to have observed a variety of the Sporting breeds doing what they were bred to do in natural surroundings, with average game bird hunters enjoying a morning or after- noon of shooting over their faithful canine partners—only to enjoy the spoils of a day’s outing at the dinner table or preparing their take for freezer storage and future consump- tion. There’s nothing quite like spending time on a South Georgia hunting plantation watching an English Setter ranging to find scent and then set (point) in a frozen position upon a covey of quail—only to be released to slowly creep up on the birds and set them in flight, ready for the hunter’s gun. Seeing a Brittany range an Iowa or Nebraska field and lock up on point after scenting a pheasant is a sight to behold. Sensational were the morn- ings when I’d pass various waterfowl congre- gation areas on my way to work in southern Delaware, only to hear a rifle shot and see a flash of a dead grass-colored dog plunge into the water to retrieve a downed duck; a Chesa- peake Bay Retriever doing what it was bred to do. I have sat patiently in a blind next to a work colleague and his Labrador Retriever, waiting for a duck to come within range and for a successful shot to be fired—only to see his Lab shine with life as she went out to retrieve her duck for her master. These hobby hunters were not, apparently, concerned with style, yet all had dogs that did their jobs effi- ciently and suited the hunters’ interest in a specific type of hunting companion. The thrill of experiencing dogs doing what they were bred to do is utterly satisfying, if not intoxicating, to me. It is as exhilarating as the melody of hounds on a scent line! The Fédération Cynologique Interna- tionale (FCI) has divided this grouping of gundogs—all found in the AKC Sporting Group—mainly into two distinct Groups: Pointers (FCI Group 7); and Retrievers (FCI Group 8). Within FCI Groups 7 and 8 are various AKC-recognized breeds, listed below, as well as FCI-only-recognized breeds. Those breeds whose names appear in italics are not subject to a working trial in order to obtain an International Show Championship (C.I.E.) Within FCI Group 7, Section 1, are the Continental Pointing Dogs, which includes the German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Weimaraner, Vizsla (shorthaired), Wirehaired Vizsla, Brittany, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Spinone Ital- iano, and the Bracco Italiano. The Bracco is, currently, in the AKC Miscellaneous Group.

The thrill of experiencing dogs doing what they were bred to do is utterly satisfying, if not intoxicating, to me. It is as exhilarating as the melody of hounds on a scent line!

Within Group 7, Section 2, comprised of the British and Irish Setters and Pointers, are the Pointer (English), English Setter, Gordon Setter, Irish Setter, and the Irish Red and White Setter. FCI Group 8 consists of three sections: Section 1, Retrievers; Section 2, Flushing Dogs; and Section 3, Water Dogs. Within Group 8, Section 1, Retrievers, are the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Comprising Group 8, Section 2, Flushing Dogs, are the Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel (English), Cocker Spaniel (American) , English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel, and the Nederlandse Kooi- kerhondje . Group 8, Section 3, Water Dogs, is comprised of the American Water Span- iel, Barbet (French Water Dog), Irish Water Spaniel, and the Lagotto Romagnolo . The Setter breeds that are the subject of this installment in the series obtained their general name of “setter” due to the habit of moving into a still and crouching stance when game was scented. The game birds of interest avoid potential predators by conceal- ing themselves, rather than by taking wing. The game was, and still is, generally, pheas- ant, quail, grouse or other game birds that tend to spend time hiding on the ground. Before the widespread use of the wheel lock (later, flint lock and rifling guns), these types of dogs were used for the purpose of trap- ping game birds by flinging a net over the birds. Prior to the use of nets was the use of falcons to swoop down on the game bird, set in flight by the dog upon command of the hunter. Some literature indicates that a setter-like dog was developed as early as the 15th century in the UK. According to writings by Johannes Cai- us, the progenitor setter-type dogs (setting Spaniels) were thought to have originated in France and made their way to the UK in the 1570s. By the 1600s, setters were found throughout Britain, although it was not until later, in the early-to-mid-1800s, that the different types—and, later, distinct Setter breeds—were developed.

Changes occurred in sporting affairs following the end of the First World War, especially those concerning the method of shooting and the role of the gundog. World War II accelerated the changes, and “walking up” game was superseded by “driving” and craft in the field through marksmanship. The gundog soon became the canine of choice for recovering dead or wounded birds. This is not to say that the Setters go without use in today’s bird sport. One often finds Setters (and Pointers) accompanied on quail hunts by some breeds of Retrievers, fresh from the wagon to fetch the downed bird after the Setter has demonstrated its endurance and acuity by scouring the fields in search of sitting birds. The modern English Setter was devel- oped, in large part, first by Edward Laverack in the mid-1800s and, then using Laverack’s dogs, by Purcell Llewellin in the mid-1800s to early 1900s. In fact, English Setters at the time were often referred to as Laverack or Llewellin Setters. Edward Laverack wrote in The Setter (1872), “...the Setter is but an improved Spaniel.” During that time, it was concluded that the Setter was, in large part, derived from an old Land Spaniel. As recently as the mid-1980s, this author’s then employer, a veterinarian and gundog enthusiast who maintained a kennel of these dogs, referred to them as “Llewellin Setters.” The English Setter is the smallest and most moderate of the Setter breeds today. Field-type and show-type English Setters appear almost as separate breeds while still being of the same origins. The field-type English Setter is a smaller, lighter-boned, and much lighter-feathered dog with a tighter skin over a head that is not as pronounced in its planes from any direction. Its hindquar- ter angulation is not nearly as pronounced as the show-type English Setter and its tail car- riage is at almost 12 o’clock when on point. Photographs of national specialty winners from the early to mid-1930s show a closer approximation to that of today’s field-type English Setter. Occasionally, English Setters become dual champions (bench and field) and


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