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HOUNDS - AN OVERVIEW....cont



Spitz breeds are categorised as dogs with a ruff around the neck, pricked ears, tail carried curled over the back, usually moderately angulated, and a rather determined personality.

The Norwegian Elkhound is a Spitz. The Elkhound aficionados say that he is not a hound. He does not look like a hound, doesn't hunt like a hound and doesn't run like a hound. Because we don't have a Spitz Group here he may be more suited to the Gundog Group! He is used to track moose, and when he gets near, he moves quietly more and more slowly so as not to startle it into flight. Then he lets himself be seen. The huge Moose is not disturbed by such a small dog. The dog then gives a low "woof", gradually increasing in volume and tone to let the hunter know he has found the quarry.   He slowly moves closer to the moose, barking louder and louder and making little rushes.  The moose tries to rid himself of this nuisance by striking with his powerful forefeet or sweeping with the antlers. Here, the dog's build and courage comes into play as he easily avoids the moose's movements, while continuing to bark until the hunter can shoot.

Norwegian Elkhound
Therefore, only a compact and short backed dog can avoid the striking hooves and sweeping antlers. He should be able to bounce in and out of range almost like a rubber ball. Because he has to track and "tree" the moose, he must be bold and energetic and independent. He is leggier than other artic breeds. He is not a big clumsy dog as he would tire too easily on the hunt and would lack quickness and agility. A dog with a broad chest and bulging all over with muscles may look impressive, but the same bulging muscles are, to a great extent, just useless weight to be transported around.
The Finnish Spitz is bred to hunt and that is uppermost in his mind. He does not take too kindly to the show ring and to judge a Finkie correctly this must be borne in mind. He has the courage of a creature of the forest. He risks nothing, he is very suspicious, very cautious. When chasing a bird in the woods, if the bird flies over a stream or a lake, a good Finkie splashes in the water without hesitation. If, when out hunting in his native Finland, he happens to meet a bear, he should have the courage to attack the bear from behind so that the owner has time to take out his gun. A glimpse of caution can often be caught in the way he reacts to the judges' approach - warily but not aggressively.
He is mainly used to hunt Capercaillie, a large bird found in Finland and to attain the title of Champion in the show ring in Finland, he must prove himself in the field in trials. When he has earned his working certificate he can try for his 'beauty' certificate. The dog ranges well ahead of the hunter to seek the bird, tracks it until it is treed, then proceeds to attract its attention, almost hypnotising it by running to and fro waving its tail loosely. Hypnotised or not, the bird is not disturbed when the dog starts to bark, softly at first then gradually increasing in volume until it is loud and ringing, carrying enormous distances to bring the hunter and his gun to the spot. A Finkie's tail is his crown, and will often be relaxed and down in the show ring so please do not penalise this. But it should be up when in motion. His gait is light and springy, and he moves on his toes. Due to his more upright shoulders he does not have a great sweeping stride, yet his movement is not hackneyed. At a show trot he should single track. It is a light, springy, quick and graceful gait.

I've left the best to last! My own breed the Baseji. The Basenji is a sight and scent hound and also classed as a Spitz. He is used by the natives of the Southern Sudan and the Congo to primarily flush out game and drive them towards the natives who hold large nets, and they will then go in and spear the game. They are almost square (the US Standard specifically calls for a square dog) but he is still capable of a long, swift, tireless, swinging stride. One peculiarity they have, besides the fact that they don't bark - are that the bitches come into season once a year, and the males also come into season, (as with the Dingo) and will not mate a bitch unless they (the males) are in season. Sometimes, around the season time, a dog can get a bit "touchy", especially with other dogs, and often doesn't like the show ring at that time, and I feel allowances must be made for that, but after he finishes his season he is back to his normal happy self.

Baseji

SUMMARY

So, when evaluating Hounds, firstly think of their purpose in life - are they bred to go to ground like the Dachshund; to hunt rabbits and hares with the hunter following on foot: to flush out game, as the Basenji, the Finnish Spitz, the Elkhound, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback which is also used for guarding, or to hunt large game, such as the wolf, moose, or deer? Has he the depth of chest, spring of rib, the feet, the coat, the head, the muzzle, the ears to enable him to do his job efficiently? And don't forget his feet. A most important aspect of any dog. As the old saying goes "No foot, no dog".

There is a reason in nature for everything - the ears on a scent hound, to enable the scent to be funnelled towards his nose; the otterhound's coat to enable him to withstand hours in the cold water; the arch on a sighthound; and the pliant skin on a Basenji - to enable him to escape if he gets caught on brambles. He may lose some skin, but will save his life if a wild animal is after him.

And don't forget that Hounds usually won't make a great fuss of you and can often look at you quite disdainfully. That is part of their nature, so please don't penalise them for it!


Acknowledgements: Curtis Brown, A. Brazieir Howell, Rachel Page Elliott, R H Smythe, Mary Beth Arthur



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