by ALFRED O. KING, SR.
With direct quotes from Historical Writers,
covering the first 30 years of Llewellin history.
I would like to begin this series by explaining to you more history behind the American Llewellins. I could write only my own opinion -- in my own words (which I do often add) -- what the writers of that day said. But I feel you would enjoy it more seeing these writings for yourselves. They wrote a lot closer to the "present day facts" than any writer of today could. Mr. Graham was there to witness the generations following the original imports. In this way you can come to your own conclusions as to what the writer was attempting to convey; whether about a particular dog or man who bred or owned a Llewellin at the turn of the century. Keep in mind that all writing is an interpretation of facts and many of these old writings will differ on exactly the same subject.
My plan to continue the article on AMERICAN LLEWELLINS by JOSEPH A. GRAHAM, have changed for this issue. His will remain the focal article, but more detail from other sources may be given on any particular subject. I have had so many questions and requests for more on what the last issue covered that I decided to go to my book "THE LLEWELLIN SETTER, Origin & Historical Development" and a few more old references which I have recently acquired, for more detail on what we have covered to this point.
In this writing I will attempt in the space allowed to give you varied opinions from men who were alive if not actual witnesses to events. Try not to form an opinion on any particular subject until you have read all that is said. Also, of the most importance, remember that each statement interprets facts AND reflects the opinion of the writer. When truly contradictory statements are taken under consideration from these aged writings we can do nothing but draw our own conclusions as we have no other approach to the speaker. Much too often statements are made without thorough knowledge. The only thing we can do about that is to get as many views as possible. Each of you must use your own judgment in order to arrive at any conclusion.
There is also one other important factor to take into consideration. The events took place about 100 years ago. Much of the writings are done 25 to 50 years later than the events. Also as times change, so do circumstances. For instance, try VERY hard not to think of Field Trials as they are today. Field trials were somewhat like county fairs in that they were a means to promote (advertise) and sell the best through competition (this included horses). The participants on the most part were wealthy. Although it was not and is not unusual for many owners not to be the breeder, still fewer actually handled and ran the dogs. There were more workers at field trials than participants. It was simply, another part of the gentlemans' way of life. Another example of times and circumstances is a statement later in reference to a Setter being a Setter no matter the color or strain.
Also keep in mind that although dogs will be referred to as a Llewellin, for the sake of clarity, that distinction would not be given to them for some time....................
RICHARD LLEWELLIN PURCELL LLEWELLIN, ESQ.
As I began this particular section in my book on Mr. Llewellin; so will I do in this writing. I will attempt to show how Mr. Llewellin took the basis of the Laverack dogs and developed them into a phenomenal breed of Field Dog, ultimately the Llewellin Setter.
First of all I will give you a very brief background on Mr. Richard Llewellin Purcell Llewellin, Esq.. He was an unusual gentlemen. You will more fully understand what I mean as we continue. A few later called him eccentric. He was certainly a dedicated man in whatever he attempted to do.
He owned a large amount of land, including an estate in England as well as another in Whales. He also had a "great sum of money in banks". In other words he was financially able to do as he pleased.
He was an avid hunter, but game bird hunting was his weakness, as it is with a lot of us. He also preferred Setters over Pointers. He like most Englishmen considered beauty a must. He favored the art of Falconry. For this purpose he preferred the use of a pointing dog over that of a flushing dog, which was more common at that time because of the abundance of game.
Mr. Whitford in 1907 had the following strong statement to say about Mr. Llewellin's breeding program in an article presented to FIELD AND FANCY, a magazine publication, "Mr. Llewellin was the most enthusiastic breeder in England, if we were to judge him fairly by his works. He wanted to create the best group of Setters possible and failures did not frighten him. He studied crosses, and having decided in his own mind that they would prove good proceeded to try them, and when they failed he discarded them."
He knew what he wanted but was not quickly successful in accomplishing his goals. He did not at first set out to create a new breed, he simply could not find the dog to fulfill all his expectations.
He diligently studied all breeds and crosses. At that period of time the English Setter, the Gordon Setter, the Red Irish Setter, the Red English Setter, and others were all classified under one breed called SETTERS. To cross any of these Setters at that time was little more than crossing a Llewellin with an English to some present day breeders.
Through all his studies he always knew the Setter was what he was looking for in a Field Birddog. I find no reference that he ever owned anything other than a Setter.
The Llewellin Setter was described several decades later by Mr. C. B. Whitford in another article written for FIELD AND FANCY magazine in 1907, "That they form a district group, and may be said to be the only true breed of setters in existence today anywhere in the world. These dogs have had true breed qualifications for about a quarter of a century." He goes on to say that Mr. Llewellin, "Has done more for the Setter in America today than any man living."
Mr. Whitford in the same article goes on to praise Mr. Llewellin's breeding program, "Now, it must not be supposed that Mr. Llewellin bought a few good Setters, bred them together and thus created his breed. Nor did he have a streak of luck in mating a few good dogs. Neither did he have someone create his breed for him. On the contrary, he went about it in a methodical way, and by dint of much hard work, skillful crossing and selection produced a group of Setters distinct in blood lines and field qualities. During the years he was actively engaged in forming his breed Mr. Llewellin spent a small fortune on his Kennel, and he spent his money liberally without any further hope of reward than of having the satisfaction that might come to any enthusiastic breeder who was successful. Few people realize how great was the expense of conducting the Llewellin Kennels. Setters were bred by the hundreds, and out of the great number bred comparatively few selections from a large number of young dogs that Mr. Llewellin was able to lay well the foundation of his breed and by the same process he was able to-carry it on and improve it. This method of breeding a large number of setters from which few selections were made was employed by Mr. Llewellin for years, so that it is no wonder, having good blood to begin with, he was able to create a breed of Setters that were preeminent for years at the English Field Trials and won more at American Field Trials than all other varieties of field dogs combined."
Before we go into Mr. Llewellins' development of the Llewellin Setter I will tell you very briefly about his experiments with other breeds as he attempted to find what he wanted in a pointing setter. You will notice that he used the same 'all or nothing' methods in everything he undertook.
Mr. Llewellin's experiments and successes with
Setter breeding took place between the years 1865 to 1890. The
first half of this period was dedicated to the Gordons, Red Setters, and
straight Laveracks and various crosses of the three. The last half
of this time was devoted entirely to the Duke-Rhoebe-Laveracks, which became
know as LLEWELLIN SETTERS.
GORDON, IRISH, LAVERACKS AND CROSSES
Mr. Llewellin's first endeavor with developing a pointing dog was thru the Gordon Setter. The Gordon was popular at that time (mid 1800's) and there were said to be more Gordons than any other breed of Setters. What I find interesting is that these strains of Gordons included black and tans; white and blacks; and white, black, and tans.
Even with all the strains he had to work with they still did not prove out to be what he was looking for, so he discarded them.
He then took up the Red Setters. Plunkett, who he bought from the Rev. J. C. MacDonna, was an excellent field dog. He had numerous wins and an excellent character. He beat almost all the English Setters and Pointers he competed against in England. Mr. Llewellin paid a great sum for him when he purchased him. He campaigned successfully during 1870 and 1871.
Proving such a success with Plunkett he decided to buy up other successful Red Setters and started breeding them. You will soon be able to recognize this particular action as a standard practice for Mr. Llewellin as we cover his works.
Even crossed with the Laveracks they proved to be failures as field dogs. One of the reasons for more success with the Irish over Gordon Setters was that he bought only the best specimens of Irish to be found in the market and bred only Field winners. The Red Setters did well in fall trials but were listless and apathetic in the spring trials. Mr. Llewellin quickly looked in another direction to acquire the type of field dog he wanted and so discarded them.
The writer of TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG writes this about Mr. Llewellin's Irish dogs and his Irish-Gordon crosses, "And yet (he) was not satisfied, for, although he considered them (Irish) superior to the black and tan, they still fell below his ideal. Next he experimented by crossing these breeds and others, but failed to produce the dog he had in his mind's eye."
At this point Mr. Llewellin introduced the Laverack Setters even though; as was said, the majority of the Laveracks were head-strong or shy, some even rattle-brained from breeding 50 years without a outcross. But Mr. Llewellin knew what potential these Laveracks had so he began crossing them with Irish and Gordons. The Irish cross produced very beautiful animals but their instinct was lacking. Many top show champions were produced from these crosses. Needless to say, Mr. Llewellin discarded these Laverack-Irish crosses because of their lack of field quality.
After the Irish and Irish-Laveracks, Mr. Llewellin went to the straight bred Laveracks. These dogs were gorgeous animals and could win any bench show. The first ones he bought were Prince, Countess and Nellie. They had done exceptionally well in field trials. The problem with these dogs was they had their off days when their bad traits would show through.
Mr. L. H. Smith, of Strathroy, Ontario, Canada, refers to meeting Mr. Llewellin in 1873 at the same dog show where he met Mr. Laverack. In his article published in OUTING in 1896 he states, "He purchased Prince and his beautiful sisters, Countess and Nellie, all pure Laveracks. Countess and Nellie were splendid specimens of the breed. Mr. Llewellin spent much time and money on their training and won many prizes at field trials with them, but they were unreliable. They could and did do brilliant work, but at times, and often too, were completely uncontrollable, when their willful and reckless behavior would have disgraced untrained puppies."
In April of 1874 after seeing Mr. Llewellins dogs for himself the previous year, Mr. Smith imported the first Llewellin. Straight bred Laveracks had already been imported for several years. The first Llewellin was Dart, by Prince out of Dora. She was in whelp to Leicester (he was by Dan and Lil). From this breeding Dart produced the famous Llewellins Paris and Maude. The next year he arranged to have Mr. Llewellin breed Petrel, a Laverack (which he had seen the previous year and knew her to be only a bench dog) to Dan. From this breeding the litter which produced the famous Gladstone was whelped in Canada.
Other Laveracks bought at first were Lill II, Phantom, Princess, Puzzle, Daisy, and Rock. It was thought that the females were better than the males. At this time he still had not bred any Duke-Rhoebe-Laveracks.
Mr. Llewellin bought Nellie directly from Mr. Laverack. Countess was bred by Mr. Laverack but Mr. Llewellin bought her from Mr. Sam Lang.
There are many references, in my book, to these Laverack dogs but space will not allow the printing. Please allow me to say that all writers were in agreement that although these dogs were full of beauty they were not consistent in behavior.
Countess and Nellie were broken by one of the best trainers in England and won under the most favorable circumstances with this resulting in winning with brilliant fashion. Countess was considered to be one of the best Field Trial Setters of her time. Even though she still wasn't satisfactory to Mr. Llewellin. Countess was fast, stylish, handsome, lots of natural pointing instinct but thoroughly unreliable. She had no intelligence, Mr. Whitford, in his FIELD AND FANCY articles, had this to say about the pure blood Laverack Countess, "Her instincts were sharp and operated with machine-like precision, so that if she happened to be keyed up just right and got to going well she would run a brilliant race. But she was not to be depended upon. However Countess and Nellie were the only (Laveracks) fit for competition."
After Countess's and Nellie's work in the early
1870's no Laverack Setter accomplished much in the English Field Trials.
Up until the mid 1870's none had competed in the American trials.
Mr. A. F. Hochwalt author of THE MODERN SETTER,
in 1923 writes, "It was but natural that Mr. Llewellin was still
unsatisfied and when the Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack dogs began to have a vogue,
his investigating turn of mind led him in that direction, with the result
that he gave the matter serious attention."
The TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG states, "Mr. Llewellin was accredited with the development of the Laverack." Mr. Laverack had gotten old and would not conform to adding new strains to further develop his breed of dog. At this point Mr. Llewellin took over using all the knowledge he had acquired while breeding the Irish and Gordon.
You can see that Mr. Laverack approved of Mr.
Llewellins breeding program because his book, THE SETTER, written in 1872,
was dedicated to Mr. Llewellin. He wrote,
Mr. Laverack also writes in his book, "Visiting Mr. Purcell Llewellin some short time ago.....From a conversation I had with Mr. Llewellin I quite approve of the system he is adopting in endeavoring to rectify the defects of the male and female by judicious breeding. This gentleman is evidently a great enthusiast, and deserves success and the warmest thanks of setter breeders for his great energy and perseverance in endeavoring to bring the setter to the highest state of perfection."
Mr. Hochwalt states in his book, BIRD DOGS, in 1922, "The Laverack strain was evolved later (after Mr. Laverack wrote his book) and many years after they had a great vogue, the 'Field Trial Breed' subsequently called the Llewellin, was founded."
Mr. Whitford, in a FIELD AND FANCY article, states
his opinion of what encouraged Mr. Llewellin to breed the crossed bred
Laveracks, "These early English Field Trials gave the Laverack Setters
much of their reputation, not because of what the Laveracks did as because
of the merit of the dogs of half Laverack blood. Mr. Llewellin then
tried the Laveracks. He bought all the best ones, dogs and bitches,
that he could buy."
Some of the first Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack crosses Mr. Llewellin encountered, bred by others, were Mr. Statters's Bruce, by Laverack's Dash out of old Rhoebe. Also Rob Roy, a Field Trial winner, who was by Laverack's Fred II, out of Rhoebe. In seeing the others bred this way, he realized that the fine Laverack dogs bred to coarse dogs made good field dogs.
Mr. Whitford in his FIELD AND FANCY articles, writes, "Mr. Llewellin decided that the best blood with which to found a breed was the blood of Duke, Rhoebe, and the Laveracks. Whereupon he proceeded to buy pretty much all of the blood there was to be had."
I do not believe Mr. Llewellins intention was to "corner the market" but, rather to get the best pool possible.
Mr. Llewellin sent his earlier kennel manager, Mr. G. Teasdale Bucknel, out scouring the country and told him to buy them all at any cost. By 1871, at the same time Countess and Nellie were running in trials, he had acquired almost all the Duke-Laverack, Rhoebe-Laverack and Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack blood that was in England. He quickly became the only place for the American sportsman to get this blood combination. At this time they were still not established as a breed (Llewellins), because they were the first crosses of this blood. They were nevertheless the foundation of his breed.
Mr. Llewellin then went for the source of all these excellent crosses and introduced into his breeding program Mr. Barclay Field's Duke and Mr. Thomas Statter's Rhoebe.
Isn't it interesting to realize that it only took one man to, first, be at the right place at the right time, and secondly, with both the desire and means, to see the potential and forever alter the course of the Setter breed.
With so much emphasis placed on these dogs; Duke and Rhoebe, I have been asked to go into detail about what type of dogs they were. The last article did not go into these dogs with much detail since it pertains to the dogs that came to America (although the article does refer to them often as Sires & Dams). Since they are the very root of the Llewellin, I agree. I must limit the quotes on this subject, although I would like to give them all to illustrate that many were of the same opinion. These opinions cover a varied period of time. Mr. Hochwalt, over 50 years later, in 1923, in THE MODERN SETTER, writes, "Duke and Rhoebe are such important factors in the early breeding of our present day field trial setters."
Duke, previously know as Barclay Field's Duke, was bred by Sir F. Graham. His sire was Graham's Duke, his dam was Sir Vincent Corbett's Slut. Graham's Duke was by Rollo out of Bess. Corbett's Slut was by Rollo and her dam was not known. The dam was descended from the North of England Border breed which Sir Vincent Corbett was very high on. Duke was a great dog and fulfilled Sir Corbett's desire to have an excellent field dog. He was a well known sportsman of his day, who wanted the best.
Duke's performance in the field can best be described by the writings of the old writer Stonehenge in his DOGS OF THE BRITISH ISLANDS, in 1872, "Duke is said by 'Mr. Setter' (a writer of that period) and I believe correctly, to have received a high character from Mr. Field for his nose as exhibited in private, but he was notoriously deficient in this quality when brought before the public, going with his head low and feeling the forr, rather than the body scent." From this some thought Field's Duke had a weak nose. It is, however the consensus of opinion that this meant Duke was a trailer instead of a winder. This may not be the class look that the field trials wanted but it doesn't mean the nose was weak. I have occasionally seen dogs like this and I can definitely tell you their noses weren't weak.
Mr. Whitford, in his FIELD AND FANCY articles, praised Duke's abilities, stating, "Duke was at that time counted one of the best Setters in England." Duke won the English National Field Trial in 1866 and in 1867 and also placed two firsts and a second the following year, and first and two seconds in 1870. These events were three hour heats.
Rhoebe, although her pedigree is more extensive, was where the "coarse" blood was introduced. She was large, long and low, with very few characteristics of what would be called a Setter type, character or quality of Modern Setters. She was a very heavily marked black dog with white and tan. Her body was almost solid black, with white on her legs and heavy tan on cheeks, insides her hind legs and breaching. Mr. Statter never considered her a great field performer, he just used her as a brood matron, because her offspring became such excellent field dogs.
Rhoebe's dam, Statter's Psyche, was thought to be her greatest influence. Psyche was half Gordon and half South Esk (now extinct breed). This is where the Gordon blood was introduced, and the combination of the black, white and tan of Lord Lovat's breed. Psyche pedigree was basically traced in latter year, in the early 1900's. Her sire was Tait's Rock, a black dog, her dam was Tait's Countess, a black, white and tan bitch. Tait's Countess was by Tait's Tinto, also black, out of Tait's Sail, black and white, Tait's Sail was by Tait's Scott, out of Lord Douglas' Fan, a black and tan bitch.
Rhoebe's sire was Paul Hackett's Rake, a black, white and tan in color. He was by Grouse, out of Calver's Nell. Grouse's sire was Rake out of dam Belle. Calver's Nell was by Don out of Nell.
Rhoebe never made a name for herself as a Hall of Fame Winners but she produced the greatest number of winners in the history of Field Trialing in the late 1800's. She whelped the great field dogs Dan, Dick and Dora (which I expended on in the last issue). Stonehenge as quoted in THE DOG BOOK, by James Watson, in 1912, makes this comment concerning the Rhoebe blood, "At the American shows both sorts have appeared, and the Rhoebe blood has always beaten the Laverack."
TWENTIETH CENTURY DOG, in 1904 tells us that Mr. Randon Lee says even among the top Laveracks Mr. Llewellin purchased he discarded some of them. "But even amongst these he found many unsatisfactory and inconvenient peculiarities of mind, habit, and instinct to fit them for attaining his ideal. So he once more set to work experimenting, and the result was the strain of setters that bears his name (Llewellin Setters) a blend of the pure Laverack, with blood from Mr. Barclay Field's and Mr. Statter's Kennels and the characteristic of size with quality. That they possess quality and beauty of appearance their show-bench achievements have proved, whilst at the same time their Field Trial record as a Setter Kennel has never been approached. This was in the 'Eighties, when Mr. Purcell-Llewellin carried all before him-when he refused 1200 Franks for a dog and 1000 Franks for a couple of bitches of his own breeding. Having once established a strain to his fancy, no cross of any sort was allowed to invade it; and the various families in his kennel preserved and transmuted to their progeny their likeness, habits, and methods of working."
Mr. Watson, continues, "It may be safely alleged that his (Laverack's) Setters have been of great service to sportsmen in giving pace and style when crossed with other breeds."
In the beginning to be classified as a Llewellin Setter they had to originate from his personal kennel. Later this was changed to include any dog that had the Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack blood in any mixture in them. Mr. Bucknel (Mr. Llewellin's Kennel Manager) is later quoted by Mr. A. F. Hockwalt, in 1923, in his book THE MODERN SETTER, as stating, "The proportions were immaterial; as long as the blood in its entirety came from this source (Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack blood), they were Llewellin Setters, no matter who bred them or where they have originated."
These crosses had been tried by Mr. Statter, Mr.
Field, and Mr. Armstrong with his Armstrong's Kate, full sister to Duke.
Mr. Hochwalt again in BIRD DOGS, in 19221 says, "The great question was
to improve the field qualities of the Setter and though much of this blood
was of doubt-full origin, it fused well with the finer and more in-bred
blood (Laveracks)." Mr. Hochwalt also mentions this in another of
his book THE MODERN SETTER, in 1923, "To sum up this Duke-
Mr. Llewellin certainly realized that this was just what he was looking for to accomplish his goals.
The over-bred blood of the Laverack needed stimulation and that stimulation was the coarse blood of Duke and Rhoebe. This coarse blood did not produce a high quality show dog as most of the Englishman preferred, therefore few English breeders liked this type of 'Field Dog' that couldn't also win at shows. By our present day standards they were still classy, good looking dogs.
Eventually, the Dashing Bondhu Llewellin line was developed to include the long coat and beauty required to insure high placement in the Show Ring as well as excellent Field ability. These dogs do tend to acclimatize themselves and bred in the Southern United States for a period of time, they loose their extremely long coats.
The main objective of Mr. Llewellin was to improve
the field qualities of the Setter, even though some of this blood
had doubtful origin, it fused perfectly with the finer, more in-bred strains.
Field Trials were becoming very popular in
In 1871 Mr. Llewellin bought the first of many of the first pure Duke-Rhoebe dogs, which would become the foundation stock of his Llewellin Setters. Their names were Dan and Dick. He also went back shortly and bought their sister Dora. She was the third Duke-Rhoebe cross he bought. Dan, Dick and Dora were covered in detail in the last issue.
It was in the 1st & 2nd generation of Mr. Llewellins breeding of these combinations that the first Llewellins came to America. As mentioned in the last issue Dan was the sire of Gladstone. Mr. Hockwalt says of Dan, in his book THE MODERN SETTER, in 1923, "One of the greatest of all our early American Llewellins and the beginning of the American Llewellins, as they became known. As a consequence, it was not long until a great demand ensued for this wonderful field trial breed (Llewellins), from sportsman in America, and so it came about that dogs from the Llewellin Kennels began coming over about as early, or nearly so, as they did from the kennels of Edward Laverack."
Mr. Llewellin had crossed Dan and Dick on the Laverack bitches. He also crossed his Laverack sires on his Duke-Rhoebe bitches.
Immediate success came his way. After all his years of perseverance he was satisfied with a consistent line. He was not the originator of this strain because he had watched Mr. Statter, Mr. Field and the elder Armstrong breed these crosses. Why these gentlemen did not carry the strain further has always been a puzzle. This seems to substantiate that Mr. Llewellin truly did buy up the majority of the lines. After Mr. Llewellin had such success with these Duke-Rhoebe-Laveracks others of course followed him.
Mr. Whitford. states in his articles for FIELD AND FANCY, in 1907, "After the first cross dogs had passed away and their progeny had been bred together there was more evenness of temperament .... The evenness quickly developed with subsequent generations."
When Mr. Llewellin's experiments with Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack crosses proved to produce such excellent field dogs as with the Dan, Dick and Dora dogs; he found out he could not buy any more Duke-Rhoebe to carry his breed further. Therefore he bought Rhoebe-Laverack and Duke-Laverack for the basis of widening his breeding program.
Mr. Whitford, in his 1906 and 1907 FIELD AND FANCY articles, says, "Some of these he used with good success, while others did not prove to be of much value. However, he had got enough good dogs out of the crosses he had made to carry on his breed without fear of ruining it by to close inbreeding."
My book concludes with the subject of Mr. Llewellins response to the (printed) American opinion of himself, not of his dogs, but of himself. I wonder if he ever dreamed that after 100 years his dogs were still the dogs he desired them to be.
It has been said that Mr. Llewellin 'only sent his culls to America'. The story probably came about from dogs like Petrel, dam to Gladstone, who wasn't the type of dog to be impressed with. (You will recall that she was not purchased 'sight un-seen'. Mr Smith visited Mr. Llewellin several times, saw the dog and chose her specifically as a dog to be bred to Dan and to whelp in Canada). She was strictly a brood bitch from the Laverack strain, unbroken. During this time, as mentioned earlier, the majority of the bitches from Laverack were unbroken, erratic and gun-shy, which was believed to be caused from Mr. Laverack not having an out-cross from Pronto and Old Moll. You will also recall that Mr. Laverack by no means trained all his dogs.
Mr. Llewellin's combination of the Laverack blood with the Duke-Rhoebe dogs is what produced one of the most idealistic Field dogs in History.
You remember he sent his kennel manager scouring the country for all the Duke-Rhoebe-Laverack blood there was to be found. It is said that he bought almost every dog in the British Isles with these bloodlines. Presumably all of these dogs were not broken. Possibly he sent to America first, the dogs that didn't have training and kept the ones that did. This did not mean they weren't good blooded dogs. Mr. Llewellin knew this combination would make the type of dog that he had been searching for. The American breeders knew this also. The great demand for these dogs was enhanced by the Americans desire for these excellent Field Dogs.
By 1880 Mr. Llewellin was breeding a good number of dogs. Mr. Whitford, in his series of articles for FIELD AND FANCY, writes, "He (Mr. Llewellin) had acquired practically all the Duke-Laveracks, Rhoebe-Laveracks and Duke-Rhoebe-Laveracks there were in England, this was the only kennel for Americans to go for this blood. During that time and even now (1907) there hasn't ever been a great demand for Llewellins Setters in England. They weren't 'handsome' enough for the English to own.
This is where one of the reasons this story about, Mr. Llewellin sending culls, came to be. He was partial toward the handsome ones also but he did emphasize more that they be an excellent field dog." It is believed that naturally he did send his less handsome dogs, the culls, and kept the pretty ones. He could not therefore send inferior hunting dogs and expect to continue.
One opinion stating that he did send good dogs to America was that this prevented him from having to compete against them in England. This is illustrated in an article written for CENTURY MAGAZINE, in 1885, by Arnold Burgess, "While fine dogs have been sent here (America) the best were kept at home. The next best came here (America) to avoid use in England (if sold there) against their breeders (Mr. Llewellin) interest and wishes."
During the first and second generations of breeding Llewellins the Laveracks were heavily bred back to maintain their style and beauty. This would put the show quality back into the strain, making handsome dogs as the old timers called them, while maintaining the field abilities. The English have always desired bench quality in the same dog that they use in the field. In fact the "Count" and "Wind'em" lines Mr. Llewellin produced in the last years of his breeding program were bred for beauty and bench as well as field work.
There is no difference in this practice than in the case of the Rat Terrier. Till the last few years we were never without one of our own. They make excellent Squirrel Dogs and have lovely personalities. Too many of these have been bred for pets and have lost the hunting drive. To reinstate this one can breed a Manchester back in. The progeny of this breeding cannot be registered as a Rat Terrier for three generations. At this point the Manchester strain is diluted and the whelps may then be allowed to be registered as Rat Terriers. This by the way makes a beautiful miniature black and tan.
While the English country-side varies, it is of small comparison to the differences in our States. Besides the fact that the Southern dog has acclimatized itself, one would have a difficult time selling a show coated dog to a Southern farmer.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring great beauty in a Setter. But do not avoid breeding to a excellent field dog merely because it is not of show quality.
Mr. Whitford made this comment in 1907, in his FIELD AND FANCY articles, "So that during the first half of the life of the breed (up until about 1885) there was always a goodly number of dogs of the breed which had show qualities. But here was always a gradual deterioration of these qualities, and after about the year 1885 there were comparatively few bred which had enough show merit to warrant them in winning in (show) company. We have always had a few handsome Llewellins, and we still have a few. But the number of handsome Llewellins compared with those of fifteen to twenty five years ago is very small."
L. H. Smith in an article appearing in 1896, OUTING, states, "I was at Mr. Llewellin's place in May, 1894 and saw his dogs run on partridges, and in August I shot over them on the grouse moors in Wales. His dogs now are in no way inferior to the dogs I first saw with him in 1873."
Mr. Llewellin had not desired that his name be put on the breed but had always insisted on referring to them as "Field Setters". He further had objected that any dog bred by any other than him be admitted under this the Llewellin name.
In the late teens and early twenties, Mr. Llewellin grieved over recent treatment he received from a few in America. Indeed it seems he felt that all Americans derided him.
Mr. Whitford, in his articles for FIELD AND FANCY, published a personal letter from Mr. Llewellin stating, "What have I ever done to the Americans that they should dislike me so much?"
Mr. Whitford responds to this letter by writing, "To me it was a very pathetic sentence, there was a man, an honorable, high toned, English country gentleman, who had already lived beyond his 'three-score and ten' grieving because men he had never harmed disliked him. He had created and developed the only true breed of Setter living. That breed has been the dominant breed of Setters in America for many years."
Obviously this question was presented in response to derogatory statements of a few writers of that time concerning Mr. Llewellin and his breed. These particular writers and sportsmen wanted the Llewellin Setter to be an American breed. Some were earnest, some were jealous, some were vindictive as can be seen in some of the previous quotes. I have tried to present all the facts whether I personally agreed with them or not.
Mr. Whitford explains further why Mr. Llewellin grieved. In this same article he writes, "In the declining years of his life, when he is no longer actively engaged in breeding on a large scale, Mr. Llewellin, with the full consciousness that his breed is firmly established in America, is grieved to think the Americans dislike him. And he has reason to be grieved, for no sportsman and Setter breeder of this or any other country has been so roundly abused as Mr. Llewellin. It happens that most of this abuse has come from men who have had space in the columns of the sportsmen's journals in which to vent their spleen. Some have been sincere in their criticisms of Mr. Llewellin: others knew better than they wrote, while others were ignorant of the subjects they treated, and so fell into errors which naturally led them to become abusive. But the great majority of American sportsmen who are well advised have none but the kindliest feeling for Mr. Llewellin and place no credence in the vaporings of vicious writers or the errors of people who knew not whereof they wrote."
Mr. Freeman Lloyd stated in one of his articles that Mr. Llewellin did not care for being famous. In DOG BREEDS OF THE WORLD, he writes, "It is true Mr. Llewellin was very jealous of the fame and excellencies of these setters, as before written he styled as his own 'breed' rather than 'strain'."
A good epitaph for Mr. R. Ll. Purcell Llewellin, Esq.. was then given by Mr. Freeman Lloyd, recorded in AMERICAN KENNEL GAZETTE. He states, "Here, let it be added, Mr. Llewellin died as he had lived 'THE COUNTRY SQUIRE'. He was much respected as 'a good landlord' and no man in Britain might wish for a better character or epitaph than the three words that constitute the beau ideal of the English Landlord." END
CONTINUED.................... I will continue this article in the next Llewellin Journal.
Please refer to the following list of past Journal issues containing individual articles on specific dogs:
Vol. 1 No 2 "Champion TonyO" Won Pacific