Coursing and Racing Dogs
by Freeman Lloyd
published in the American Kennel Gazette, April 1931
And so it remains that the dogs of the greyhound
kinds are as much in use as coursing dogs in our own days, as
they were hundreds and hundreds of years ago. While the modern
pastime of greyhound racing has opened up a new era that has
brought forward the breeding of a greater number of greyhounds.
It has before been written that the greyhound
is well distributed all over the world where the climatic conditions
are favorable to the existence and enjoyment of dogs with short
coats and somewhat delicate or, shall I say, lightness of frame
and limbs. But coat length and closeness of the hair or fur
under the main overcoat, would appear to change to heaviness
or scarecenss according to the latitude in which the long, or
any other, dog has its being.
Thus we have the almost hairless Rampur greyhound
of hot India, and the shaggy-haired, greyhound-like dog of the
mountainous and cold region of Afghanistan. There is the heavily
and curly-coated borzoi, wolf-hound or greyhound of Russia,
and the flat and somewhat sparse-coated greyhounds of Persia
and Arabia and, it is believed, the almost hairless greyhound-llike
dogs of Northern Africa - as described by John G. Millais in
his Far Away Up the Nile (1924).
The dogs at Shambe were of distinct greyhound
type. Incidentally, it can be mentioned that Mr. Millais' brother,
the late John everett Milais, son of the painter and president
of the Royal Academy, was one of the earlier patrons of the
Russian wolfhound in Britain, and a member of the Committee
of the Borzoi Club founded in London in or about the year 1895.
Somehow or another it has often seemed to me
that the greyhound or greyhound-like animal has possessed very
exceptional appeal to those strange peoples we are wont to classify
as semi-civilized or practically "savage" human beings.
For we forget that it was the barbarian who was among the earlier
breeders of dogs, and bred them for the purposes of the chase.
Moreover, so far as I have observed, while
in some of the wilder parts of the world, the African and Australian
natives were given to size up the proportions of pure-bred dogs,
and actually classify the white man's dogs for some kind of
particular work on the black man's game, the overtaking of some
mentioned kind of four-legged animal.
While greyhounds probably have been in Africa
for thousands of years, I am sure that the whippet had not been
seen in South Africa previous to 1895-6. And by South Africa
it is meant the country south of Pretoria. When the natives
working in the Johannesburg mines, first saw whippets, they
showed their great appreciation of the lines on which the little
dogs were built, the negroes actually compared the dogs with
certain of the smaller antelopes of their countries - for these
natives had been brought to the Rand from widely distributed
districts or divisions in the sub-continent.
Through an interpreter it was learned that
those sable sons of Ham would like to see two or more whippets
course one of those beautiful little antelopes known as blue
bucks, exquisite works of nature, with legs not much stouter
than the stem of an old churchwarden tobacco pipe.
The blaubuck of the Dutch would be just the
animal for the little racing dogs to course. Such an antelope
would be the only one of the family that the whippet would be
able to overtake and pull down. That was the opinion of the
When these and other remarks were passed along
by the interpreter, a good deal of the self-concious superiority
of the white men, who thought they knew al about comparatively
modern dogs, suffered a severe rebuff. In other words, the unsophisticated
Africans had informed the freshly arrived Europeans just what
their whippets would be good for in the way of coursing. Whippet
racing was entirely new to the Ethiopians.
When, years after, we came across a practically
nude quartette of aboriginies in the Australian bush, among
their companions were a pure-bred greyhound and a smooth-haired
fox terrier. These appeared like pedigreed dogs. Although the
spears were of pointed and barbed wood, the natives' dogs were
of the white man's breeding.
The black fellow and his three gins or wives
gave us to understand that they liked the terrier for hunting,
and the greyhound for catching game. What a spear or boomerang
missed, the long dog might overhaul.
Here again was an example of the savage picking
and choosing a certain breed of dog for a particular sort of
work - the actual prototype of the civilized gentleman who now
takes his place in the judging ring at a bench show, and decides
for himself and you which of all the entries he believes to
be the most typical or serviceable dog to carry out the coursing
or hunting work for which your dog might be called upon not
only to do, but do well.
Above all things, the greyhound must be a well
and truly made dog, and calculated to run fast and stand the
racket of a gruelling course whether it be on hare, buck, wolf,
fox, kangaroo, or any other animal that the long dog might be
called upon to run down, often in parts of the world where "refinement"
of the chase is not considered, and animals are hunted for the
value of their skins, furs, or flesh, rather than for the pleasures
of riding to hounds.
"Kill him and eat him" is the hunting
cry of the hungry man who goes a hunting.
Counte de George Louis Leclerc Buffon (1707-1788),
the French naturalist, was born at Montbard, and his Natural
History has become the handbook consulted by generations
of boys, grown-ups, and students of all nationalities. In the
preparation of the voluminous work, Buffon associated himself
with L. J. M. Daubanton, to whom the descriptive and anatomical
portions of the treatises were entrusted. The first three volumes
made their appearance in 1749. It was only at the recent show
in New York City - that of the Westminster Kennel Club, in Madison
Square Garden, in February - I was asked a question regarding
the carraige of the greyhound's ears, or rather the "leather"
of the ear flaps that, at times, may or may not cover up or
protect the orifice of the organ of hearing.
It was at once remarked that the ear flap was
a movable one, and, often, while the dog is highly excited and
on the watch for some moving, live object, or listening for
some sound that might call forth his powers of speed, the greyhound
holds the mostly folded ears in an upright position.
The same command over the carraige of the ears
may be noted in the case of Russian wolfhounds which as often
as not become quite prick-eared when gazing about in the hunting
Among other things Buffon says: "The common
greyhound (Canis Grajus L.) is familiar to everyone, and is
very remarkable for its elongated jaws and compressed head,
as well as for its speed, which excels that of all other dogs.
When we compare the greyhound with other varieties, in reference
to form and proportion of the head, we perceive that it terminates
the series of those whose forehead is flat, and muzzle elongated.
"This flatness of the forehead is produced
by the obliteration of the frontal sinuses. These cavities,
which are formed at the base of the nose, and which, being immediately
connected with the nasal cavities, and covered with the same
membrane as they are, increase the scent of smell.
"This is ordinarily accompanied by an
extraordinary slenderness and length of the leg, as well as
a great contraction of the abdomen; phenomena, which, although
not explained, are without exception. This obliteration of frontal
sinuses, in weakening the powers of smell of the greyhound,
contribute, probably, to the development of their other senses,
by the necessity induced of exercising them more exclusively.
"The sight and hearing of this variety
are excellent, as although they are as domestic as any of the
race, the conque of their ears is semi-pendent, notwithstanding
which, they have the faculty of elevating or moving them with
as much facility as the unreclaimed races. They are destitute
of the fifth toe found in other varieties.
"The greyhound is but little susceptible
of education. His intelligence is limited, and he seems to conceive
with slowness and difficulty, while other varieties do so with
"His sentiments, however, are very strong,
and he is more than any other, alive to caresses; indeed, his
emotions, on being noticed, are so strong, if we may judge,
at least, by the violent and irregular movements of the heart,
that it seems difficult to believe how they can be borne. This
want of intelligence, joined to high sensibility, however, seem
to divest the greyhound of any exclusive affection. He has no
personal attachment, but is alike delighted with all who notice