This section is from the book "Sporting Dogs. Their Points And Management In Health, And Disease", by Frank Townend Barton. Also available from Amazon: Sporting Dogs; Their Points and Management in Health and Disease.
Amongst Masters of Hounds and breeders of other Sporting Dogs, it is a general custom to feed the animals but once a day, and in most instances this is economical and satisfactory.
To maintain an even condition of the whole pack is one of the best tests as to the huntsman's management of the pack, and the kennelman's skill in feeding them.
Like all other varieties of dogs, Hounds differ in their likes and dislikes to food, so that whilst certain members of the pack are thriving on the food set before them, others are losing flesh, otherwise not improving in condition. Another reason why one or more of the Hounds may not be " doing well " is often due to the weaker members being " snapped at" by their stronger and peevish brethren when at the feeding vessels. Observation will soon settle whether this be the cause of particular hounds not thriving.
Shy feeders should either be allowed to have the first cut at the food, or else fed by themselves, say 363 two couples at one time. Horse-flesh and good oatmeal—or some form of Hound meal—constitutes the best staple food for Hounds. During the hot weather the flesh requires to be boiled twice or thrice weekly. As a substitute, skimmed milk can be used.
Nothing but sound horse-flesh ought to be used. Cattle, sheep, or pigs, that have died suddenly— unless certain that cause of death is of a harmless nature—should be avoided.
There is a risk of the animals contracting anthrax, deaths from this malady amongst dogs by no means being unknown.
Tuberculous cattle are equally objectionable as food for dogs.
In every instance the author recommends boiling the flesh, so that no redness, or uncooked portions remain.
The Hounds should be fed at least a couple of hours before starting off. Nothing can be worse than to run dogs with a full stomach.
Precisely the same remark applies to all other Sporting Dogs, but to the working Hound in particular.
The advantages of placing puppies " out at walk " is, as in the past, largely carried out, and the system leaves little to be desired. Most puppy walkers do justice to their charges, but huntsmen and others will do well to see that thin puppies are kept in fat condition, and not low. The erroneous opinion, though so general, that a puppy ought to be kept down in condition when distemper is approaching, is the greatest fallacy under the sun, and one that ought to have exploded long ago.
My advice to "walkers" and to owners is to feed your puppies well and get them fat, because distemper will soon plough out their ribs, etc., if unfortunate enough—as most of the good ones are—to contract it.
A little black treacle (teaspoonful), mixed with meal, rice, etc., and given once a week, is beneficial. If too much be used, it makes the bowels loose, especially after the dogs get warm with work, etc.
A change of food is of course desirable. Pointers, Setters, Retrievers, Beagles, Terriers, etc., etc., may have dry dog-biscuits—or soaked if preferred—given to them in a morning, and soaked stale bread—with water squeezed out—mixed with cut-up meat for the evening meal.
Boiled (or raw) paunches make a splendid food for dogs, and have great nutritive value. Boiled rice, flour, and various other meals are suitable, only must have a proportionable amount of flesh added to them.
Many sportsmen believe that flesh destroys a gundog's scenting power, and others that it makes thin dogs hard-mouthed. The author cannot share this belief. For the satisfactory performance of work, a dog must be allowed flesh, and shortness of this—a dog's natural diet—is one of the chief causes of so many dogs breaking out in skin eruptions.
In addition to good food, regularly given in suitable quantities, it is necessary to see that the dogs have a plentiful supply of pure water, but it is not a good plan to give water immediately after feeding.
Another matter, in connection with feeding, that gamekeepers, etc., will do well to bear in mind, is to avoid feeding a dog on the entrails, etc., of rabbits and hares—a fruitful source of worms.
First of all, let us ask the apparently simple question, what is meant by " Condition ?"
Our answer is: " The highest standard of excellence for a given purpose".
To the uninitiated, it may seem a very simple matter—only a question of plenty of food—to get a dog into condition—or, we ought to say, with a good layer of flesh upon his ribs.
But the huntsman, sportsman, and exhibitor know different to this.
It is not merely a question of food, but one of well-carried-out training—at anyrate in the eyes of the two first-named.
Foxhounds, Harriers, Greyhounds, Beagles, Otterhounds, Whippets, etc., must be " well winded," and this can only be obtained by daily exercise, first on foot, and then on horseback, gradually increasing the distance and pace.
The late Mr Apperley (" Nimrod ") said : " That the highest virtue in a Foxhound is his being true to the line his game has gone, and a stout runner at the end of the chase." In the words printed in italics is embodied the term "Condition," as understood by the huntsman and hound-master.
Accepting the statement as correct, it is not necessary to say the amount of flesh a dog should carry.
With the exhibitor, matters are rather different, show condition being his desideratum.
If a sporting dog is going to a show, feed night and morning on meat and bread, so that by the time fixed for the show the ribs will have a good layer of flesh over them, being felt in outline only when the fingers are passed across them.
When a dog is very thin, give him a tablespoonful of malt or cod-liver oil and malt, night and morning.
Raw flesh will help matters greatly.
Before starting to lay on flesh by extra feeding, oil, etc., it is generally advisable to satisfy oneself that the dog is practically free from worms, otherwise the extra nourishment will be wasted. Try for tape-worm with a dose of areca nut, and for roundworms, three days afterwards, with 10 grains of santonin, mixed with a dessertspoonful of treacle and one tablespoonful of castor oil.
The use of a hound-glove, chamois leather, and brush and comb, with an occasional bath, will do the rest.
It is better to wash your dog several days before the show, because the water destroys the natural lubricant, or that making the hair glossy.
Curly-coated Retrievers are improved in tightness of curl by the use of cold water.