GREYHOUND. A well bred greyhound is characterized by a symmetry of form superior to any other known dog. His general appearance bespeaks great swiftness in running, which is rendered more evident by a minute examination of those different points by which sportsmen form a judgment previously to trial. If we take the hare for a model, a greyhound will be found to assimilate with her in some peculiarities of shape, as, in the nearness of the shoulder-blades upwards ; the depth of the chest; the length, muscle, and sweep of the thighs. and the formation of the hind legs and feet: and these are allowed to be the points of speed.
The greyhound, also, has a long neck and fine sharped head and nose, with small ears; is rather low and thin at the shoulder, and short between the knee and the fore foot, the latter being round and close like a cat's. The lowness in front affords a facility in picking up or killing at speed, while the short joints and round feet give strength, which enables the animal to stop and turn with the hare in a small compass. The best winded dogs are observed to be well hooped in the ribs; by which they are more capable of sustaining a long or severe course, as the action of the lungs is less confined or restricted than in animals which are flat-sided. Broad and muscular loins are, also, essential to support and give effect to the strong impelling power of the hinder legs and thighs. The thigh bones, upwards, are wide apart and prominent ; and the tail is fine and long, and shows itself low from its insertion, so as to allow a greater degree of freedom in the action of the haunches in running. These points in a greyhound should be always preferred, because they are not only proofs of good breeding, but it is notorious that dogs so formed have obtained the highest celebrity from their performances in the field. With respect to colour, it is quite a matter of fancy, and, consequently, not worth attention.— Good dogs have been produced of all complexions, and every gentleman may indulge his taste in this particular without prejudice to his kennel.
Breeding.—To breed greyhounds with success requires considerable judgment. A kennel may be easily filled, but it is extremely difficult to procure a convenient number of good dogs. A considerable knowledge of the subject of breeding, and great attention, aided by peculiar facilities, are scarcely sufficient to insure the possession of a superior dog; as, notwithstanding the numbers that are bred from the best blood, few prove beyond mediocrity in qualifications. To reduce this risk as much as possible, a dog and bitch should be selected with a good pedigree, both of which can or have run well, of a fine and perfect symmetry, with good constitutions, and free from disease; if the bitch be aged, take a dog of three years old; but if the dog be aged, select a bitch of two or three years old.
In the choice of puppies, when very young, there is not any criterion by which we can judge, as the points cannot be discovered at so early a period; a bitch should not be allowed to bring up more than four, or she will be inclined to wean them too soon. Puppies whelped between the middle of February and the middle of April, thrive better than at any other time of the year ; as they obtain strength before the heat of summer can affect them ; and, from being bred early, they are more capable of bearing, and, consequently, less liable to be injured by the cold in winter.
A greyhound dog may be considered equal to his most powerful performances at three years old: some published opinions state " the best age to be four years;" but, at three, he is unquestionably in the greatest perfection as to speed, strength, courage, and activity ; and, therefore, can never be able to support a course with more effect than at that age, provided his owner has previously done him full justice in training, &c. Bitches are generally more forward, and may be considered as reaching their meridian at two years and a half old: some examples may be selected not exactly favourable to these opinions J but they are confined to particular cases, and relate to extraordinary dogs who ran their most celebrated courses after that age. These instances, however, may have been entirely accidental, and are by no means to be regarded as proofs of superiority in the animal at a more advanced period. A practical observation of general or frequent results will produce the most advantageous conclusions for the formation of a correct judgment.
Proper Age to enter Greyhounds. —Puppies should not be entered before they are fifteen months old, either dog or bitch; and special care should be taken (if they prove worth preserving) to treat them with great lenity during the first season; otherwise, they are liable to contract injuries, from which ligamentary enlargements may arise that destroy all future expectation of excellence.
Running false, or cunning.—It is well known that all greyhounds, after having been much used, acquire a habit of waiting to kill, without using their best exertions in speed; this lurching is termed " running cunning," and, according to the regulations of coursing is always discountenanced. Cunning rarely occurs in young dogs, but is usually the result of experience, and is often brought on earlier by injudicious working: a greyhound may, occasionally, run two courses in one day; but such practices should not be frequent when the courses are severe. Great attention must be paid to valuable dogs, as they may be often preserved for an additional season with proper caution in this particular: frequent change of field is also desirable; by constantly running over the same ground, dogs obtain a knowledge of the direction in which hares will go, and frequently make for the covert instead of pursuing the animal in a direct line, which is another trick of " cunning" practised by them. Whenever such propensities are observed in a greyhound (let his former excellence have been ever so great), he is never to be depended upon afterwards in running matches. with small red worms, or indeed almost any kind of bait. It is fond of gentle streams with a gravelly bottom; and measures generally from five to six inches in length. Before angling for gudgeon, the bottom should be well stirred up, to rouse them and collect them in shoals together. Gudgeon should not be struck on the first motion of the float, as they commonly nibble the bait before they swallow it. Gudgeon will take a bait from March to October, but are in the greatest perfection in the spring.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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