Friday, May 9, 2008

Too Fast, Too Fragile

Frank Deford's NPR commentary on Thoroughbreds and the American emphasis on speed and power in nearly all sports got me thinking about pointing dogs. Modern pointing dog field trials stress speed and style above all other qualities, including hunting ability. As a result, we're seeing too many dogs with more "run" than "hunt." My own beloved Maggs descends from a long line of great trial dogs. She's a blur in the field. And she's injured more often than not because her delicate body just can't take the pounding she gives it on the rough West Texas badlands. She also has marginal hips. At five years old, she no longer wants to jump in the bed of the truck. At two, she'd jump over the tailgate. Yet she still runs flat out in the field. On warm days, she consistently outruns her nose.

But she looks damned impressive doing it - when she's within sight.


mdmnm said...

Have you seen the post on Perdiguero de Burgos, the Spanish Pointers, over at CheinDogBlog ( They appear to have a lot of hound in them and they are supposed to have a methodical, paced style of hunting. If they ever became popular over here, I'd bet they'd be bred to running full out in no time.
On the plus side, it sure is fun when a hard running pointer literally skids to a stop as it pins a bird!

Henry Chappell said...

Mikw, I'm enjoying the cheindog blog. Thanks for passing it along. They do look kind of houndy, like some of the old-style GSPs imported directly from Germany. I suspect you're right about American breeding. We seem to want to turn everything into a an English pointer. Fortunately, you can have snappy, stylish pointing and a reasonable pace and range. But you may have to look long and hard.