Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dogs With "Rat Pretty Lips"

Cover of current issues of Earth Dog- Running Dog. Picture by Paul Dooley!

Falconer, dachshund digger, and lurcher lady Teddy Moritz writes:

I recently read the standard of the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos, a very terrier-looking dog. Some of the reasons given for various structural requirements show the writers knew little or nothing about hunting. They claim this little dog should be able to hunt down, kill and carry an eight to ten pound rabbit. Sounds more like a jack rabbit-sized quarry, and a small dog isn't going to catch a jack. However, the standard does say there is no size limit in the breed, so maybe the big ones are the coursing dogs and the little ones do the tight cover work? Give it a look.

Also, the same publication, 'Sight and Scent, The Magazine of the Hound Group', has comments from breeders about what to look for in Bluetick Coonhounds. Read this:"I would also like to stress the importance of tight cat feet. Coonhounds need these tight feet to keep their feet safe from briars (What? How?) and other hazards on the ground as well as helping them move fast in all types of groundcover. They also need to be able to 'grab' the tree when they are treeing their desired quarry." How do cat feet help hold onto bark? Crazy. The best comment this breeder includes is when she talks about the 'head piece of the Bluetick': "They should have proper lips,...". What the heck are 'proper' lips?


Teddy, on my way to dig a groundhog with my less-than-show-quality dachshunds!
Ah yes, the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos!

Let's be clear what these dogs are (and let's toss in their associates the Ibizan Hounds, the Pharaoh Dog, and the other less well-known Podengoes of the Azores and Canaries). 

These can be described as "ancient breeds of primitive type," but more accurately they can be described as a pariah village dog that the show dog world is now trying to force into a closed registry so they can collect more ribbons.

A hunting dog?  Sure -- but only if you yourself hunt them, and only to the extent that any dog can be used to brush for rabbits.

And how many Podengo or Pharaoh Hound owner actually use their dogs to hunt?  Not many! 

What owners of these breeds mostly chase is ribbons, plastic bags, and fantasy.

Of course, this is not the first time that a village pariah dog has been pulled into "the fancy," is it?  I have written about the true history of their cousin, the Basenji, im an article entitled "What the Hell is a Congo Terrier?" and there are a few others to write about if I only had the time.

And is the Podengo a breed?  Nope.  Not even close.  Remember, this is a dog that comes in three sizes and as many coats per size, and has more "looks" than David Bowie did in the 1970s. 

A dog that breeds true?  Well, sometimes.  Maybe from kennel to kennel.  It depends on who is doing the breeding!

But no, this dog is not a breed as that term is commonly understood, but a dog of three very different "types." 

A "type" is a far larger and far looser group structure than breed, and types are very common in the world of true working dogs where the standard is the work, not the look. 

But is the work standard of the Podengo very tough? 

Only if you think it's hard to bush rabbits or drive boar. 

Since that's a job that has been done at various times by terrier, whippet, corgi, collie, dachshund, retriever, and lurcher, you will pardon me if I am not willing to give these "ancient breeds of primitive type" a more specialized distinction than "village pariah dog" of which a few might actually be useful. 

And no, there's nothing wrong with being just thatWhy would anyone think that is an insult?


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