Working ability in Deerhounds

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8 years 10 months ago #18992 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty created the topic: Working ability in Deerhounds
Sticky topic coming up..so all those of you with a grumpy disposition please think before attacking me or anybody else it's only a topic to get a discussion going.
Do people think that when a dog's reason for existing eg catching Deer or hares etc becomes illegal and therefore working ability becomes obsolete as a requirement in bloodstock that a breed suffers in its abilities? If so how long would it take? Would foreign blood be used? Does it matter anyway as it's temperament and looks that count in a dog?
It would be ineresting to see what people think but be nice,as we dont want a repeat of the "houndy incident".... B)
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8 years 10 months ago #18994 by Robb
Robb replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Good dicussion topic HairyBeast. I often ponder this and think my DH looks bored a lot of the time and I feel a bit guilty that I can't find him some Deer or something as challenging to chase. He really seemed to come alive when he chased Deer at Cannock Chase when he was younger.

He seems to come alive when there is something worthwile to chase but that is not very often now especially this weather, I couldn't let him continue chasing Deer as we would have got into bad trouble.

Chasing the odd squirrel and rabbit seems to stimulate him but for most of the time he's just sniffing scents when we're out walking. Also the trouble with Rabbits and Squirrels is that there's not much of a chase as a rabbit is never far from a hole and a squirrel always legs it up the nearest tree.

There's always lure coursing, but mine seems to know the lure's not worth catching although he would enjoy running with the other dogs.

A DH who is not chasing worthwile prey will definately lose something vital and I would think that this would eventually translate into something changing in the genes, although I would think that it may take many generations to translate into any easily observable change in the dogs appearance or behaviour.

Rob B
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8 years 10 months ago #19001 by Murph the Magnificent
Murph the Magnificent replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I agree with Robb. It's definitely both a nature and nurture thing.

We just got a rescue ex-racing greyhound. Racing greyhounds, like all other hounds, are not only genetically predisposed to hunt small furries but are also trained since very young, which really just enhances what comes naturally. (She came very close to taking out our cat tonight, who bravely peeked her head around the living room door).

I do think that if our deerhounds were trained to the same extent from birth they would also have this heightened prey instict.

However it's fair to say that the instict would probably lay dormant unless it was deliberately enhanced through practice with live "prey" or a lure. I think it's latent within all hounds and would take many, many generations to disappear, if ever - because it's simply their nature.

That said, the only way that this would manifest in changes in appearance down the line would be through human intervention, pursuing a shape more suited to the ring than the hunt.

Just look at the very obvious differences in shape between working and show hounds - particularly greyhounds.
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8 years 10 months ago #19005 by Jacobite
Jacobite replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
What an interesting topic. I have to agree with what's been said already, I think that all hounds have the hunting instinct but the prey drive is stronger in some that others. We've had some that would instantly chase anything that moved (mostly bunnies and hares) and others who watched a few times before having a go. If you watch three or four of them playing in a large enough area they do course each other.

Will this instinct disappear if they are not officially allowed to hunt, well I don't think so. It may lay dormant in some hounds but given the right circamstances it will surface. Unfortunately that might be the neighbours cat or pet rabbit, then you just have to do what a friend of ours did: bury the evidence and deny all knowledge!! I also know someone who won't feed her Deerhounds any meat in case this encourages the hunting instinct, but I don't believe this would have any effect at all. I also don't think it'a good for the dogs as they should have meat whatever our own preferences are.

Btw we also have an ex recing Greyhound and I wouldn't trust her with anything small and fluffy.

Looking forward to hearing what others have to say about this.

Pam

Pam and Dave Moffitt

Jacobite Deerhounds
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8 years 10 months ago #19010 by Nat
Nat replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
This isn't going to win me any friends, but I feel that a Deehound without a strong prey-drive is just a shaggy grey dog.

A strong prey drive is part of the Deerhounds temperament. We must find a way to keep the prey-drive high in our breeding dogs, or the most integral part of our breed will be gone.

I know that the shape and sizes of Deerhounds change depending on what game they are bred to hunt now that deer hunting is illegal. ie a smaller, lighter dog will be more efficient at hunting rabbits and foxes, than say, a larger slightly heavier dog that might be used for hunting kangaroo. (All of which is illegal, I am just giving random examples).

But a high prey-drive is what makes our breed what it is, and certainly the forebears of our breed hundreds of years ago would roll over in their graves if they knew we were breeding dogs without drive. A Deerhound without drive would not have seen it's first birthday back then!

Glascu Deerhounds
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8 years 10 months ago #19013 by Lurch8252
Lurch8252 replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I must say we have never 'taught' our dog to hunt, he just has the natural ability. My other dog a terrier and him work together in harmony on our walks, like they are saying to each other, you go right and i will go left, to close in, it really is amazing. I could never walk my dog off lead all the time, yet there is a 2 year old DH near me that is never walked on a lead and has no huning skills what so ever. There is also a 4 yr old DH in our village who is walked in local parks with lots of other dogs, shows no hunting skills and no interest in going over to other dogs either, mine would want to say hello to everyone and everything.
~We used to keep and race Greyhounds until 2004 and the last, Meg was always walked off lead and never chased anything or any other dog.
I do notice that if it is a non eventful walk to somewhere boring with nothing to chase, Murphy looks quite sad, yet over the golf course, he looks alert and happy.
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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #19014 by Spring
Spring replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Have to agree with Nat.
I think prey drive is very important. Both our hounds lure course and I think they do it to keep us happy (ie lets chase this plastic bag for a while and get lots of praise at the end).
However, it's a very different kettle of fish when they chase something live. They are both much more committed and focused, whether its chasing after a bunny or if they spy a muntjac (I know but if they see it before I do and are off, their recall goes right out the window!)
Spring
Last Edit: 8 years 10 months ago by Spring.
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8 years 10 months ago #19050 by verenav
verenav replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
What a nice topic - very sorry , but I just realised , that my input is wayyyy too long ...( and I am even leaving lots out ) !
Where I walk all hounds can be usually off leash and we have hiked with up to 8 deerhounds together ( all free ), of all makes and models ( different lines from different continents ) , ages , genders and I have found huge differences .
I personlally never really would like to own one without any preydrive , as I think , it is essential for their mental and physical health to get that adrenalind rush and strain their muscles , use their brains and bodies - lurecoursing , imo , is a very nice " hobby " for them , not in any way close to hunting though , at least not for a large game hunter like a deerhound is supposed to be .
A little thought though comes to me once in a while , I mean , that perhaps the more desinterested " dear-hounds " ( as I call them in distinction to the real deal , the deerhound ) have an easier life in our modern society - their owners do have this for sure .
Ok , back to the preydrive and skills - it doesn't qualify , in my eyes , for them to just run after things ( rabbits or whatever ) , any dachshud will do this for hours
( had some ! ) , they need a lot of courage +skill+the right conformation to actually tackle the job they were originally bred to do .
Of my 5 deerhounds so far ( all females ) 2 would for sure not be able to /or willing to go in for a kill on any larger game - one even not only doesn't have the physique but lacks preydrive ( she was really interested in lurecoursing alas and got her adrenalin and muscles going there , with really good success , retired last year ) . A too tall , narrow deerhound with one of those extremely arched spines ( now called a good topline ) , which tend to be rather stiff , bad feet and overangulated in the rear and underangulated in the front , weak (swan)neck , with not enough muscletone and a weak muzzle will never be able to truly follow , let alone bring down any form of large prey . The muscling does not only depend on exercise - 2 of mine never developed a lot , despite having the exact same exercise as the other 3 - it is in their lineage , spindly , narrowly build girls , whom I love and adore to no end anyways. The other 3 are flexible , good width , not too tall ( 29"ish being by far the tallest ) with tons and tons of muscles , not only thighs and neck , but also very well muscled shoulders ( at best ) and the back /spine " cushioned " in musculature , not sticking out as with the other 2 . This musculature also allows them , e.g. , to tumble and not get terribly injured ( or not at all ) .
I feel very blessed to have seen so many different types and lines of deerhounds within the few I know personally and such being enabled to form my own opinion , based on what I see works out here in our harsh , mountainous wilderness and what doesn't . Not even to speak of the very , very strong spirit a deerhound needs to be a good huntress/hunter ; this is a whole different story ...
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8 years 10 months ago #19058 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Murph the Magnificent wrote:

I agree with Robb. It's definitely both a nature and nurture thing.

We just got a rescue ex-racing greyhound. Racing greyhounds, like all other hounds, are not only genetically predisposed to hunt small furries but are also trained since very young, which really just enhances what comes naturally. (She came very close to taking out our cat tonight, who bravely peeked her head around the living room door).

That said, the only way that this would manifest in changes in appearance down the line would be through human intervention, pursuing a shape more suited to the ring than the hunt.

Just look at the very obvious differences in shape between working and show hounds - particularly greyhounds.


Thats interesting on the nature/nurture thing. Your g/hound is a threat to yor cat but a racing lure is not live prey. My deerie catches rabbits all night long but is happy to lie in front of the fire with the cats.It could be said that's down to his upbringing but I found him tied to a post on a gypsy camp at a year old.Still cant tie him up outside the shops.....
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8 years 10 months ago #19059 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Murph the Magnificent wrote:

I agree with Robb. It's definitely both a nature and nurture thing.

We just got a rescue ex-racing greyhound. Racing greyhounds, like all other hounds, are not only genetically predisposed to hunt small furries but are also trained since very young, which really just enhances what comes naturally. (She came very close to taking out our cat tonight, who bravely peeked her head around the living room door).

That said, the only way that this would manifest in changes in appearance down the line would be through human intervention, pursuing a shape more suited to the ring than the hunt.

Just look at the very obvious differences in shape between working and show hounds - particularly greyhounds.


Thats interesting on the nature/nurture thing. Your g/hound is a threat to yor cat but a racing lure is not live prey. My deerie catches rabbits all night long but is happy to lie in front of the fire with the cats.It could be said that's down to his upbringing but I found him tied to a post on a gypsy camp at a year old.Still cant tie him up outside the shops.....
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8 years 10 months ago #19131 by Richard
Richard replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
<<Do people think that when a dog's reason for existing eg catching Deer or hares etc becomes illegal and therefore working ability becomes obsolete as a requirement in bloodstock that a breed suffers in its abilities? If so how long would it take? Would foreign blood be used? Does it matter anyway as it's temperament and looks that count in a dog?>>

One could say that from the very moment that the Scottish Deerhound entered the show ring the process, as stated above, started to develop. Not only was hunting instinct neglected, but physical ability took second place to size. Currently the Scottish Deerhound is roughly at the height Captain Graham was aiming for with his modern, re-created Irish Wolfhound, i.e. 33 inches (he later set the standard for the male IW at 32-35"). That size and weight carries a tremendous penalty for a breed which was originally bred to course and catch deer - not simply chase them.
Does it matter? That's for each indivdual to decide of course.
I would say yes, it really does matter!
Richard
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8 years 10 months ago - 8 years 10 months ago #19157 by CiCoch
CiCoch replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I have often pondered on this subject myself.

I think not having a driver to breed dogs capable of working will ultimately have an adverse affect. If you look gundog breeds such as Labradors and E.S.S , they have effectively split into working and showing strains of the same breed, and the two strains have very different physical and mental properties. This has probably only taken 60 years to achieve.

I don't think it would be too hard to imagine that if the hunting/retrieving qualities were no longer required, then neither would the working strain of dog(apart from maybe SARDA or sniffer dogs). Why should this be any different for Deerhounds ?

If the Hunting ban is never lifted, having something like a national lure coursing scheme would go some way to to help ensure that the right attributes are carried forward then atleast we could have dual champions.

Alas for us , this would still be of no use as Mac is only interested in the real thing, but he is good at what he does and thats enough for me.
Last Edit: 8 years 10 months ago by CiCoch.
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8 years 10 months ago #19162 by verenav
verenav replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Re reading the original question , I am afraid , the " loss of instinct and/or ability" doesn't take long - esp. with a fairly small genepool; and it started a long time ago for the deerhound ( in most countries at least ). Chasing is not hunting and , small prey is not comparable to large prey - though I am happy for any deerhound who gets to hunt (at least ) hares for a job . No amount of " nurture " can overcome the lack of physical attributes and " true spirit " of a hunter - both have to come together in a hound/dog who still has what is required .
Somehow there is an input from hairy beasty that seems to belong here but popped up in the scissor bite topic- I learned , that even in the world of showhorses 2 "strains " have developed . Heard this about Quarterhorses lately ( from my horse owning and loving vet ) , deemed to be the ultimate working horse out here - showhorses who basically are not able to much more than trott around a ring on a lead - hooves having become too tiny , angulations over done and more , what a sad , sad story .
When I see films of working Labradors/Retrievers I am soooo very much impressed and can not comprehend , what happened to this beautiful breed in a very short time .
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8 years 10 months ago #19166 by farnorth
farnorth replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Hi first of all well said verenav and cicoch our three year old blue is 31 inches to the shoulder which is "below breed standard" but he has the hunting instinct and i know he is very good at it and is a proper DEERHOUND in the sense of the word he is fit agile and healthy and in our opinion a very handsome boy i realise that in some people's eyes he is to small and will have other show faults but these help him in other ways when on the hill so in the view of a novice i cant comprehend why that should have a detrimental effect on any dog whether used for work or show when surely they should have ALL the attributes of both
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8 years 10 months ago #19169 by Brodie
Brodie replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
hi Ian, the KC Breed Standard height s 30" for dogs & 28" for bitches xx

File Attachment:

File Name: KC_Deerhou...dard.doc
File Size:784 KB

Wigster n San x
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8 years 10 months ago #19170 by farnorth
farnorth replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Hi brodie i knew it was 30" but thanks anyway i was just meaning that the supposed best show dogs are usually bigger and for work to big can be a hindrance and hold a dog back in some cases my fault for not explaining myself properly.
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8 years 10 months ago #19198 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Hi verenav thanks for letting me know about the dodgy post.
Here's how it should have read.
CiCoch wrote in the scissor vs level bite thread;
"We have a huge responsibility to the animals that we breed since we choose the breeding matches [mostly] I personally think that all breeding should be done based on the health and performance of the animal, not how it looks.But that's easy for me as I have no interest in showing"
I also feel that health and performance should be paramount,after all that is the real reason that we have so many different types of dog: selectively bred to do a different job in order to fill the needs of man.
But with no job there is no dog.
Those of us who feel this way have held up our hands.I show horses and movement/suitability for work are important in the eyes of the judges.
So come on breedres and show folks I would like to hear what you have to say on this matter,dont let it be a one sided debate....
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8 years 10 months ago #19204 by verenav
verenav replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Doesn't the standard allow for basically any height , as long the hounds are balanced , elegant and do not " wolfhoundy " ?

And , I'd think 31" is a very nice seize for a boy farnorth - well known working deerhound breeder Virginia Hawkes said , that THE UTMOST height she "tolerates " in a working male is 32" and around 100lbs - she has hunted all kinds of game , including large ( kangaroohs - sp???) , with her hounds for soome 40 years ; she wrote , that more ( height or weight ) will for sure hinder the dog , slow them down , make them less endurant and/or agile .
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8 years 10 months ago #19231 by Richard
Richard replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
We tend to forget, don't we?
The following is from Hugh Dalziel's British Dogs, London, circa 1879.
(Please note the last line)

THIS article has been specially contributed to this volume by a gentleman who has chosen to veil his identity under the nom de plume of "Senex." He is a popular judge, and one whose extended experience and observation of exhibition dogs, as well as that of a breeder, and as one who has had the advantage of working deerhounds on their proper quarry in their native glens, lends great value and weighty authority to his opinions. He says :
The rough Scotch greyhound is, perhaps, as old a breed as any extant,
not excepting the fabulous pedigrees we read of in the mastiffs; but
whether their lineage traces back from the time that Noah made his exit
from the ark or is of more recent origin it matters little. Few will deny
that it is a most striking and picturesque breed of dogs. As an
ardent admirer of the true breed, and having kept them some five-and thirty
years or more, perhaps a few lines from me will not come amiss to
instruct the inexperienced what kind they are to try to obtain. The
deerhound of the present day is very difficult to get quite pure, so many
crosses have been resorted to. Some have tried the foxhound, others the
bulldogs, and then again the colley.
The deerhound stands from 28in. to 30in. or 31in. high; lately, I
believe, one has been exhibited 33in., but then what use is such a hound ?
His immense size, to the tyro, may be taking on the bench, but let him
only consider what he is wanted for, viz., to hunt and pull down the
stag. Can a lumbering, overgrown animal (for such a hound of the size
would be) gallop over all kinds of ground at a rapid pace and be active
likewise?
No. For real work choose a hound about 28in. or 29in.,
...
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8 years 10 months ago #19235 by Bodhranlady
Bodhranlady replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
What an interesting discussion. However, it is not possible for genes to 'change' because the animal is not hunting worthwhile prey. What is likely is that selection occurs when breeding in order to obtain a docile, (relatively) obedient, family friendly animal which fits the Standard of Points, will look good in the showring etc. etc. The majority of potential owners will not want something which takes off in pursuit of anything that moves! Particularly as people become ever more busy and the nation becomes ever more litigious. My own two are like chalk and cheese (as they say). One of them will not chase anything and will just about shake the hands of the bunnies and say "hi there bunny, give me a high five. Great weather eh?". My other one will chase anything with a pulse - except for 'his own' cats.

Interestingly, the latter (male)is only 30", fit, nice conformation, movement super, BUT, when in the showring the judges always go for the taller ones. Although he is qualified for Crufts.
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