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In the Eyes of the Artist – The Field Spaniel

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266 – April, 2018

Text and illustrations by Ria Hörter

Bird Dogs

A common type of dog in 15th-century Europe was the so-called bird dog, a small gun dog of spaniel type, used for hunting (netting) birds. The bird dog pointed the game, then pressed itself to the ground so the hunters could throw their nets over dog and birds. The gun was not yet in general use for hunting, so ingenuity played a role. The bird dog was also used in falconry. After the dog jumped the game, the released falcon would catch the bird in flight.

Bird dogs can be seen in miniatures illustrating the famous manuscript Le Livre de Chasse (1387-9) by Gaston de Foix (Gaston Phoebus). He described “the Bird Dogs called Spaniels” as “dogs with a large body, a sturdy head and a beautiful white or spotted coat.”

There’s a bird dog in the early- 15th-century Devonshire Hunting Tapestry, and they can be seen in old depictions of hunting with nets.

The old European bird dog has evolved into breeds such as the German Münsterlanders and the Dutch Drentsche Patrijshond.

The bird dogs development was a long process of breeding for various functions and eventually accepting the different types as breeds. By the turn of the 18th to 19th century, British land spaniels had their own appearances and descriptions, which we now call breed standards.

Click here to read the complete article
266 – April, 2018

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=142288

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