Working ability in Deerhounds

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9 years 7 months ago #19244 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Bodhranlady wrote:

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.

Hi Bohdranlady thanks for your input.Please forgive me for disagreeing with you but I believe it is possible for genes to change when hunting ability is not considered. If you constantly breed from stock that is a"docile,..animal which ..will look good in the showring"then I'm afraid that not only will the running ability and prey drive be watered down each time but so will the spirit of these great dogs that we know and love.
Is that what we want for these beautiful and primitive creatures?? :(
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9 years 7 months ago #19253 by Bodhranlady
Bodhranlady replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Hairybeasty - the genes are not 'changing'. The only thing that will change a gene is radiation or mutation, where the results are usually disastrous. What would be happening is 'selective breeding', ie. selecting for desired characteristics. I see where you are coming from but from a scientific base - the genes are not changing.
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9 years 7 months ago #19259 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
OK.point taken I take it you know a lot about genetics! I understand that genes would be selectively bred rather than changed but apart from "throwbacks" (as happens in horses eg put 2 14hh horses from a line of 14hh horses together and get a 12hh foal) would the end result not be the same?
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9 years 7 months ago #19276 by CiCoch
CiCoch replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I think we're talking relevant genes being passed on rather than mutation.
One question we really need think about is ... does it really matter ?

Legal quarry (in the UK atleast) at the moment is only rabbit.
As we know Deerhounds (some) are quite capable of taking rabbits, but catching Deer isn't the same as catching rabbits. Whats makes a good rabbit catcher doesn't necessarily make a good deer catcher. As others have said , having the desire to chase , isn't the same as hunting.

We may never again have the opportunity (legally) to test the ultimate design of the Deerhound.

Even if we bred a strain of "working" Deerhounds that are excellent at catching rabbits, we may have changed them into something that is no longer a "Deer"hound.

Is that really any more preferable to a show dog that is good at catching nothing ?
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9 years 7 months ago #19280 by Bonnie
Bonnie replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I know for a fact that all my deerhounds are still up to it!
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9 years 7 months ago #19284 by CiCoch
CiCoch replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Bonnie wrote:

I know for a fact that all my deerhounds are still up to it!


Well mine too, Ahem, but we won't go into that .... ;) ;)
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9 years 7 months ago #19285 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
CiCoch wrote:

I think we're talking relevant genes being passed on rather than mutation.
One question we really need think about is ... does it really matter ?

Even if we bred a strain of "working" Deerhounds that are excellent at catching rabbits, we may have changed them into something that is no longer a "Deer"hound.

Is that really any more preferable to a show dog that is good at catching nothing ?



Now there's something I hadnt thought of .... :blush:
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9 years 7 months ago #19288 by Sid
Sid replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I've been thinking about this topic rather a lot and have found the discussion fascinating. When it was still legal to course, I ran my dogs with the Deerhound Club (and unofficially at home). We coursed brown and blue hares. It was noticeable that there were dogs who ran more successfully on low (usually flat) ground on brown hares and others who were better on the hill and through the heather after blue (mountain) hares. I wish now that I'd made a closer study of their different abilities correlated against size. You need a nippier dog on the turn for blue hares, and it has to be able to stay on its feet on the hill, whereas a bigger, bulkier dog might have an advantage on the heavy Lincolnshire ground where there's less turning and more galloping to be done. However, hares are not red deer and a good hare dog will not necessarily be any use for the bigger prey. Incidentally, Miss Noble said she'd once seen a three-legged lurcher take a roe deer, so mental attitude comes into it as well. They have to want to hunt.

My DownJess is the best hunter I've ever had, but even so, she'd be overmatched by a red deer because she hasn't got the weight to hold it once she'd caught it although I don't think actually catching it would have been a problem in her youth - she's very fast and keen, even now when she's eight and a half. Jessie is 28.5" at the shoulder, just above the bottom end of the standard, but she's always been a skinny wee thing up until this winter when I've finally managed to get some weight to stay on her. Her two kids are taller and have more substance, but they're still at the bottom end of the standard and are both considered small for the show ring. This hasn't stopped them doing some nice winning, but not, I think, as much as they might have done had they each been a size bigger. They have both had some success at lure coursing and clearly enjoy it as a game, but when we've had 'accidents' out walking, the difference between running a lure for laughs and hunting live game for real is quite noticeable and the result usually goes straight into the freezer. So my 'show' dogs are still well up for it and quite capable of doing the job.

Working ability needs to be selected for as much as anything else if we want to retain it. The question is how to measure it and still stay on the right side of the law. Lure coursing is now the only way left to us to ensure that our hounds could, if required, do what they're designed for. PETA and its associates have a lot to answer for.
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9 years 7 months ago #19292 by Bodhranlady
Bodhranlady replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Sid - wouldn't it have been a couple of deerhounds holding the deer? As it would seem that DH's were much smaller and lighter in days gone by they must have had a lot of stamina and strength. Personally, I think some of the bitches in the show ring may be tall but they appear to be very 'flimsily' built all through. Not a lot of 'substance'. Still, what do I know, perhaps it was ever thus.

This is a really good discussion. However, have to go out now to play my bodhran and sing!
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9 years 7 months ago #19294 by Sid
Sid replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Bodhranlady wrote:

Sid - wouldn't it have been a couple of deerhounds holding the deer? As it would seem that DH's were much smaller and lighter in days gone by they must have had a lot of stamina and strength. Personally, I think some of the bitches in the show ring may be tall but they appear to be very 'flimsily' built all through. Not a lot of 'substance'. Still, what do I know, perhaps it was ever thus.


A very good point. Certainly Miss Mouse would have no trouble getting there or having a go, but she would definitely need help to finish the job.
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9 years 7 months ago #19295 by Richard
Richard replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Interesting the preamble to KC breed standards:-
A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function
The underlined text is my emphasis, and not meant to be ironic :)

Deerhounds killed deer more by speed, power and agility, than by endurance. The way you might think of someone getting knocked off a fast rolling bicycle.

Famously worded by by Alexander Macrae, A Handbook of Deer-Stalking,1880:-
DEER-HOUNDS ... Unless a dog can take a deer in three or four minutes he will not take him at all. He may, by perseverance, make the deer turn on him; but he will not take him by speed
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9 years 7 months ago #19296 by Sid
Sid replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Another good point, Richard. It's where they hit the deer that can make all the difference, I think. If they hit them in the right place, then the deer's neck breaks and it's dead when it hits the ground.
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9 years 7 months ago #19307 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Sid wrote:

However, hares are not red deer and a good hare dog will not necessarily be any use for the bigger prey...... They have to want to hunt.

My DownJess is the best hunter I've ever had, but even so, she'd be overmatched by a red deer because she hasn't got the weight to hold it once she'd caught it although I don't think actually catching it would have been a problem in her youth - she's very fast and keen, even now when she's eight and a half...So my 'show' dogs are still well up for it and quite capable of doing the job.

Working ability needs to be selected for as much as anything else if we want to retain it. The question is how to measure it and still stay on the right side of the law. Lure coursing is now the only way left to us to ensure that our hounds could, if required, do what they're designed for. PETA and its associates have a lot to answer for.

Hear,hear but lure coursing is not the only way to test your dog as CiCoch says rabbits are still legal..but that does'nt make a Deerhound. Personally I would rather hunt what I can with or without the blessing of the law...{not that I will be naughty you understand}but yes to the majority lure coursing is the only way of measuring. Did you know that the K.C runs Gundog field trials to assess working ability?...
I'm sure that most of us wish to retain working ability cos as Nat says "a Deerhound with no prey drive is just a shaggy grey dog"..beautiful none the less..
Glad to hear from a show person who finds their dog still has spirit and ability... long may it continue...
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9 years 7 months ago #19313 by Sid
Sid replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
True, rabbits are still legal, but for rabbits you really need a Whippet or a Whippet x Bedlington, not a Deerhound. So unless you live in a remote area where the local polis are understanding or fond of a bit of venison, there is no way you can hunt deer with a Deerhound and not risk acquiring a criminal record, a six month jail sentence and losing your dogs to an uncertain fate. It's not worth the candle any more, and I speak as a coursing person who shows, since that's how I started out.
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9 years 7 months ago #19315 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
Your quite right on all points Sid. I hadnt meant to imply that I or anyone else should all turn poacher.
.
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9 years 7 months ago #19321 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I suppose that what I am trying to say is that we all agree that working ability is important and should as far as possible be retained through breeding. Otherwise this great breed will become a shadow of it's former self and go the way of other breeds eg the GSD with it's hip problems (but looks good in the show ring) and others..
How do we stop this from happening and the question is do we care?
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9 years 7 months ago #19325 by feldandjack
feldandjack replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
I think everyone would agree that working ability is a good thing to have in any breed. Watching an intelligent, fit hound scanning the horizon or sniffing out things to chase is very rewarding. Watching it in full flight over rugged ground is breathtaking. If the urge to chase or hunt is not there you are left with a great companion, easy on the eye, but less thrilling. Although many would swap the poor recall and risk of criminal charges for a quiet life, I'm not quite there yet.

I find the bitches much smarter hunters, deciding if something is catchable before charging off. Interesting to see what others think.
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9 years 7 months ago - 9 years 7 months ago #19332 by verenav
verenav replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
That's what I meant , too , calling the still beautiful and lovable , if greatly diminished dogs " dear - hounds " . The main thing I worry about would be , that usually breeds loose a lot of their soundness ( body and brain ) , once they are bred more or less solely for the ring . One can see it in most dog breeds ( I shudder , when I think of modern days shepherds...) and I find it quite a sad story . It is also plenty visible already within the deerhounds - luckily almost all of them have at least this super temperament , don't tend to be neurotic or aggressive .
As to regards of females or males , there was a simlar discussion lately on an american deerhound list - well , the result was , that females might be more active on the hunt , love to chase , in the end males have the stronger musculature , needed to bring large game down - again input from Virginia Hawke , who wrote , that just because of that , she'd preferred to hunt with males .
Of those I know , the females seem to be way more interested in hunting , but there are not that many of whom I believe , that tey'd go for a stag or similar in the end - I happen to have 1 out of a litter of 4 , who definetely are able to do so and would love - one , herself not fully mature ( under 3 years I think ) pulled down a grown cow once given a chance..., my own going for everything ( including biting a bear , who was not fast enough , in the bum when trying to get a hold of him )and another sister - living in Germany , hunted down and kept a fully grown wild boar at bay just this winter ( much to the dismay and horror of her owner ...) . The breeder ,who kept the 4th - and sais , given half a chance , this one would try all of the above - also just keeps saying " could you imagine a male out of this litter ?" . She came to deerhounds through , then still legal , hunting deer and others on private estates in Scotland ( with pure deerhounds and lurchers ) ,and has hunted here , in North America , too initially ( coyote , hare , jackrabbit ) .
Last Edit: 9 years 7 months ago by verenav.
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9 years 7 months ago #19356 by hairybeasty
hairybeasty replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
verenav wrote:

The main thing I worry about would be , that usually breeds loose a lot of their soundness ( body and brain ) , once they are bred more or less solely for the ring . One can see it in most dogbreeds.. It is also plenty visible already within the deerhounds - luckily almost all of them have at least this super temperament , don't tend to be neurotic or aggressive ..

Well said that's something most people don't consider in a dog;mental attitude.
I know it's been mentioned already in this topic but never so plainly. Working dogs were bred for their good natures as well as speed and gameness,because who wants a working dog that fights with it's mates at the moment they should work as a team; at the kill.
It's obvious that Deerhound were bred as team players. B)
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9 years 7 months ago #19361 by Bonnie
Bonnie replied the topic: Re:Working ability in Deerhounds
One of my hounds ran and pulled down a full grown wild boar once, and would have killed it too if I had not interfered. My guess is that they will hunt deer in much the same way, either by pulling the beast down or, if the deer is (much) taller, simply by knocking it over and then going for the jugular.
I never encouraged any of my hounds to hunt, but they are all up to it. It's instinct, and that's nature, NOT nurture.
But I agree with Sid that there's a difference between mental ability and physical prowess.
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