A forefather of mine was a naval officer and sailed on North America at the beginning of his career. In a letter to his brother, dated in southern Sweden , he tells that he lacked a woman to marry and jokes about his Newfoundland bitch Lady for being his only loyal friend. According to local dog books it is long before the breed is noticed on the Swedish ground. But there are no reasons to believe that Lady was completely unique. According to an otherwise rather imaginative description on Wikipedia, it is the result of crossings in Britain between the Canadian water dog and the St.
Bernard and the Mastiff at the end of the nineteenth century. The intention was to radically increase the size of these dogs and like most other descendants of the Canadian water dog it is mainly designed in Britain. He was an active shooting man and most probably Lady was used for shooting purposes. Getting its modern shape.
These Retrievers quickly became popular and breeders were active all over Britain. There was no dog registry at that time and breeders had of course a full freedom to cross to any other breed.
But anyone who have tried to breed a first class working dog of any breed knows about the challenges. And when the old Flatcoat pedigrees show known dog names, they were wavy coated for sure. Although single Labradors are named in these early pedigrees, they were most likely imported Canadian water dogs and not what is called the Labrador today. Several early pedigrees extend back to the s. But the named wavy coats figuring in the first generations and early pictures of quite typical Flatcoats indicate that similar dogs had been around many generations before.
The individual breeder who played the foremost role when the Flatcoat was formed was Sewallis Shirley, coming from an old noble family.
Like most other men from the British nobility he devoted himself to various sports. He was active in arranging some of the first dog shows and he was judging some of the first Field trials organized in the s. He founded The Kennel Club inviting a small group of men to set uniform rules for the dog shows and to establish a registry for purebred dogs. He played a leading role when the Flatcoat got its current type and his Moonstone f.
But given the excellent type and quality shown by Moonstone and his grandson Darenth its likely to believe that these crosses had taken place much earlier.go
Field Spaniel Books
In addition to those the neighbouring gentry had strains of their own that Mr Shirley made use of when founding his kennel. He had a rather complete at least six-generation pedigree behind him. Among these dogs, no other breeds appear with the exception for some dogs far behind described as Labradors and most likely being, more or less, "purebred" Canadian dogs.
And the dogs that were used as the foundation of the post-war Flatcoat are correspondingly linebred to the stars of the thirties. The visible changes that must be obvious for anyone is that the show dog has gradually changed into a somewhat heavier, higher, longer dog with a heavier coat and feathering than the old time Retrievers, being shaped by the timeless demands of the shooting field.
The Field Spaniel - A Complete Anthology of the Dog
Early Flatcoats around the world. According to Wikipedia the Swedish King Oscar II initiated the first pheasantries on royal shooting grounds just outside Stockholm in , followed by a few noble estates in southern Sweden. However, all these attempts failed and it was not until when the industrialist and dog man, the Baron Oscar Dickson, made a successful attempt on his shooting grounds in western Sweden. Dickson had a Scottish family background and strong business connections with England.
He was introduced in the British noble class and saw the Prince of Wales as a shooting friend. He must have seen numerous Flatcoats on the British shooting grounds and he probably had god options to obtain the very best blood when importing the first Flatcoats to Sweden. Dickson was a passionate dog man, he knew the Flatcoat man and Kennel Club founder Mr Sewallis Shirley and he became one of the founding fathers for the Swedish Kennel Club in Just like Mr Dickson he established a large shot with reared pheasants and arranged shooting parties with the King and the Princes arriving in chartered trains from Stockholm.
He owned a number of beautiful Flatcoats but when he became bankrupt in he had to sell his dogs and the breed became extinct for about fifty years in Sweden. When I got in touch with his granddaughter many years ago she could expose a family album with beautiful pictures of the most typical working Flatcoats.
According to the notations in this photo album there were early Flatcoats in Norway and we know there were Flatcoats in Denmark as well at that time. There were quite many Flatcoats exported to USA from the beginning of the century until the end of the nineteen forties. But as it seems there were no attempts to establish the breed and very few litters were born.
The birth of the modern US strains could be dated to when Pewcroft Prefect and a few others was exported from Britain and serious breeding programs were started. Early Field trials.
In all ambitious gundog breeding programs, the logic is that stud dogs should be well tested at relevant gundog tests and having proved first class gundog qualities. From experience and by genetical logics breeding results are significantly improved if the same goes for previous generations. Good individuals from strong work merited lines produce better and more even litters than dogs with a poor or mixed background from a working point of view. These are facts that are obvious when you look at the British gundog scene. You can easily follow the good gundog lines from generation to generation as far back as to the beginning of the last century, when the retriever was stabilized in different breeds.
Even in the working Flatcoat numerously small working lines have been maintained over the decades. Thus, a good working standard has been kept despite the low odds compared with the breeding of the strongly dominating working Labrador and the working Golden.
The latter being smaller in numbers but still competitive when it comes to the top honours in the field. Field Trials, mostly running on pheasants or partridge but occasionally on rabbits, hare, duck, woodcock and snipe, set high demands when it comes to steadiness to shots and fallen game. Dogs are tested on a shooting line where handlers, dogs, judges and guns are either walking or standing in line.
Game is either walked up by the line or driven by beaters towards the line. Shot game can drop either close to the line or on relatively long distances. The dog is sent with hand signals to the fall and is asked to hunt the proper area discretely and quietly supported by his handler to avoid any unnecessary disturbances to unshot game.
To manage all different requirements and be successful a dog must be able to walk at heel without a lead and without any oral or physical corrections from its handler. The handler as well as the dog must be fully free to concentrate on the shooting situation and to mark fallen game with precision. The dog must be quiet and any squeaking or barking will immediately disqualify the dog from the trial.
When sent for a retrieve the dog is supposed to hunt the given area at a high speed, in an efficient hunting pattern, with a focused nose work and when needed in close dialogue with its handler giving signals to send the dog to a new area. The dog is supposed to react rapidly to the whistle and, with a positive attitude, follow a new hand signal.
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When game is found the dog is supposed to pick it up directly, carry it with a soft and steady mouth and deliver it rapidly to its handler. A stylish dog is built for work, with a conformation and size supporting a quick and easy moving action.
The constantly wagging short tail, shown by a stylish worker, completes the picture of a thoroughbred working gundog. So called working tests, on dummies or cold game, are used for training, as preparatory tests, to show the qualities of well-trained retrievers to the public, or just as a thrilling type of competition during spring and summer when no proper field trials take place. Working tests are not considered to give the full picture about the dogs working qualities and consequently they are considered by the British to be of less value for the breeding of high quality gundogs compared to the proper Field Trial.
But knowing the limited number of Flatcoats entered at proper trials I believe that well-planned and demanding cold game tests could add considerable knowledge about individual dogs and litters, to be used for further evaluations and be beneficial for the breeding of the working retriever.
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The first gundog Field Trial in Britain took place as early as but proper Field Trials for retrievers were established when ten dogs, one Irish Water spaniel, two Clumber Spaniels, one Field spaniel, one Curly Coat and five Flatcoats were entered at a two-day Field Trial with three Flatcoats at the top.
In the year The Retriever Society was established with the aim to act as main body for Field trialling and from then on, a gradually increasing number of Field Trials have been arranged every year, with very few exceptions. The first Retriever Championship was arranged in Even if Field Trials in some ways have been changed over the years parts of the current set of rules were written for the first Field Trial arranged by the Retriever Society in The Flatcoat was the dominating retriever in working circles at the end of the nineteenth century and up to , when the Labrador retriever entered the scene with an immediate success.
Fifteen Flatcoats, three Labradors and two other dogs were entered at the Kennel Club All Aged Stake and the three top honours were conquered by the Labs.
The Labrador rapidly became the major working Retriever a position that has been maintained since then and, with very few exceptions, Labradors have won the British Retriever Championship every year until today. A liver Flatcoat, Meeru, won it in and was second in fierce competition with a card full of Labradors.
The most ambitious trainers obviously choose the Labrador.