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DaveS

Tell me about the hunting process

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Since greys were bred centuries ago to be hunting dogs, I wonder how the process worked.  They found game by sight and were fast enough to catch it.  Did they kill it, eat it, retrieve it, or drive it toward the hunter to take care of.  Been wondering how this worked.

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I don't have a lot of information for you, but if we jump to the mid 1800's greyhounds were brought to the states from Ireland and England for one purpose and that was to hunt and kill jackrabbits. The jacks were eating the farmers crops. the greyhounds would catch and kill what they could and I don't know abut eating the jacks, but I would think the farmers didn't care if they did.

if you go back a thousand years or more coursing was a sport even back then and it wasn't about the kill as much as it was about the chase. The hare would be given a head start and the chase was on. So catching and killing the hare wasn't a priority, but I'm sure if the dog caught the hare it was dead in no time.

Even in more modern times into the 2000's coursing was still going strong in England and the rabbit always had places to escape to so the tradition of coursing was more about the chase than the kill and skilled rabbits were bred just for this. It wasn't just catch any rabbit and throw him out there.

As you may or may not know General Custer had a lot of greyhounds and other sight hounds that traveled with him. When I say a lot I'm talking 30 or 40. I know some of the other dogs were salukis which can run forever. It might be a buffalo, antelope or probably anything else and these dogs would start to chase as Custer followed on his horse. If the chase was long the greyhounds tired and the salukis would soon be continuing the hunt from the front. A pack of anything can take just about anything down, but I'm not sure if the dogs made the kill or just tired the game out and Custer was able to shoot it.

Maybe others can add to what I posted or correct something that I remembered incorrectly.

While this doesn't answer your question there was a poster here on GT for a lot of years named Martin Roper.  He is very intelligent and was a pedigree guru and greyhound historian. He did a lot of research and wrote this maybe 12 years ago.

Everything You Know Is Wrong

In the 1970s, an American comedy troupe comparable to Monty Python was the Firesign Theater. They never reached the superstar status of their English counterparts, but their albums were popular on college campuses across the country. The title of one of them, Everything You Know is Wrong, has become a personal motto of mine—it seems that almost daily new discoveries in science and exploration make us reassess what we once held to be true.

The same can be said for Greyhounds. A long-held belief, published as fact in dozens of books and repeated on hundreds of web sites, is that the breed is of Egyptian or Middle-Eastern origin. The assertion is puzzling because there are no Greyhound breeds presently residing in the Middle East. The Saluki, Sloughi, and Afghan Hound are clearly of a different type than modern Greyhounds, and it’s hard to imagine that they descend from a common ancestor. On the other hand, Greyhounds and Greyhound-type dogs are common in central Europe, Spain and the British Isles. As early as 1853, John Henry Walsh, writing under the pseudonym "Stonehenge," made a clear case for a Celtic origin for the breed in his classic The Greyhound, but not too many authors since him seem to have been able to make the same connection.

From the beginning of the first millenium B.C., the Greeks were seafarers and traders and regularly visited ports all along the southeastern Mediterranean in what is now Egypt and the Middle East. Much of what we know of that area in those times was recorded by Greek historians and there is no mention of Greyhounds. The breed was completely unknown to them prior to 200 B.C., the time of their first encounters with the Keltoi, as they called them, a tribal culture from the north. In 300 B.C., Xenophon made no mention of Greyhounds in his discussion of dog breeds in his treatise On Hunting. Two centuries later, the poet Grattius wrote of the Celts’ dogs that, "...swifter than thought or a winged bird it runs, pressing hard on beasts it has found." Arrian, another Greek, but who wrote in Latin, clearly identified the Vertragus, the predecessor of the modern Greyhound.

The Celtic culture flourished from what is now Austria, west to northern Spain, and north to the farthest reaches of the British Isles and Ireland. Everywhere they went they took their dogs with them and left offshoots of the Vertragus. In Spain it was the Galgo; in the British Isles, it was a bewildering array of sighthounds in a wide variety of sizes and coats, from giant dogs we now call Wolfhounds to "Tumblers," by contemporary accounts a Whippet-sized dog. The Celts made no distinction among their sighthound varieties. To add to the confusion, English writers up until the 16th century called all the larger Celtic dogs "Greyhounds," and the dog we call the Greyhound today, the "Coursing dog." Irish Wolfhounds in those days were prized in Europe for hunting Boar, and the demand for the largest Greyhounds "of the Irish type" was great and they fetched tremendous prices.

The present Greyhounds, the ones we love, are the result of the coursing craze after the easing of the Forest Laws in the 17th century which prevented commoners from coursing or even owning Greyhounds. The coursing rules of the day dictated a very specific range of performance and traits, and those are the ones we see in our dogs today. Almost all the other varieties of Celtic sighthounds disappeared. Even the Irish Wolfhound is a re-creation of a breed that had all but gone extinct.

Two recent landmark genetic studies have confirmed Walsh to be correct. The first, "Multiple and Ancient Origins of the Domestic Dog" (Science 1997), traced the mitochondrial DNA from ancient times to the present day Greyhound. Interestingly, three other breeds derive from the same mitochondrial strain, the St. Bernard, Miniature Schnauzer, and the Irish Setter, which suggests male-line introductions of other breeds to Greyhound-line females who were the foundations of those breeds. All three originate in areas where Celtic culture flourished.

The second, and more definitive study, "Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog" (Science 2004), used Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), clumps of identical DNA strings that appear in groups of breeds, but often not in others. The study clearly showed that Salukis and Afghan Hounds were part of an "Asian" group along with the Chow, Akita, and Shar-pei. Predictably, the Greyhound appeared in what I’ll call the "Celtic" group along with the Irish Wolfhound, but also as a progenitor of more recent breeds including the Whippet, Borzoi, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and the St. Bernard. A glance at a map clearly shows that all those breeds originate within the influence of Celtic culture in Europe.

It’s time the Celts got their due as the caretakers of the breed, not Egyptian pharoahs or Mesopotamian kings who never saw a Greyhound.
 

Dick

 

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4 hours ago, dmdsmoxie said:

Even in more modern times into the 2000's coursing was still going strong in England

This was banned in the UK in 2004 although criminal gangs still operate in certain areas.


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Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
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I haven't heard the name Martin Roper in ages. Dick, is he still alive?


 

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6 minutes ago, macoduck said:

I haven't heard the name Martin Roper in ages. Dick, is he still alive?

Yes, he is still alive and kicking.

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On 4/19/2020 at 6:37 AM, HeyRunDog said:

This was banned in the UK in 2004 although criminal gangs still operate in certain areas.

They still 'lure' course, chase a plastic bag lure on a string pulled by a cranked bicycle wheel.

Actual hunting of live animals is frowned on.


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Greyhounds were taken to large open areas where they could see the game the best, and independently chased and killed the game animal.  Not much retrieving as far as I can tell; they just kind of hung around and waited for the human to arrive and collect the dead animal, or trotted back to meet the human.  This makes it more understandable why greyhounds were not bred more for endurance -- you'd not want the dog to get so far away that you couldn't find it and the dead animal easily.  Humans are sight-oriented, too, so being in an open area made it easier for us to find the hound/prey.

Animal behaviorist Stanley Coren divides the hunting process into 6 steps, and says that breeders strengthened or weakened certain steps to obtain the desired results.  Steps are 1) searching; 2) stalking; 3) chasing; 4) biting; 5) grabbing; 6) killing.  Border collies and other herding dogs were selected and trained for steps 1-3, and to repress steps 4-6.  Terriers, who find vermin right under their noses, were developed for strong steps 5 and 6.  Pointers and setters, for 1 and 2 only to then allow the humans with their guns to take over.  Sighthounds were developed for all six steps.  Small animals were caught and immediately killed by breaking their necks with shaking.  Large animals such as deer needed packs of dogs to take them down and more messily dispatch them. 

I have a large back yard and rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs often insist on coming under the fence.  They don't get out again.  My dogs bring their prey to me, or probably more accurately back to their den, by depositing the carcass on my living room rug.  They seldom eat the prey, maybe because they are well-fed already.  There is never any blood and I usually can't see any bite marks on the poor little critters.  

Once, at an adoption group playdate, an idiot deer jumped over the fence into the large field with 10-12 dogs and people. In an instant, the lazy, lounging, looking-for-love group of hounds turned into a coordinated hunting pack.  That deer escaped probably because the lower end of the field had standing water and mud, which slowed down the dogs as the deer jumped the next fence.  It was an impressive (and scary!) sight.

 


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I can attest to them forming a Coordinated pack of hunting. I had six here and we live on over 2 acres. In the middle of the desert. Lol. There are plenty of Cottontails and Jacks.  They acted like they had meetings on who would do what. Add a Jack Russell in the mix to flush back out from under something...crazy to,watch. Tho mine where about 1/2 and 1/2 as to what they would do,if fought. Certain ones would eat and the others would bring to me.  Sadly many times they would deposit a bloody mess on my carpet, that was new at the time.  ***sigh***. I have re-fenced off even more  sections so they only get into a larger section once in a while. Their “yard” is probably 120x25 so every once in a while they do get a bunny or a quail. 


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Thanks for the replies.  Interesting information on the process of hunting.  I guess it's not all that different from modern fox hunting where the "hunters" enjoy the chase and the sound of the hounds, not the kill itself.:D

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On 4/19/2020 at 8:08 AM, dmdsmoxie said:

Yes, he is still alive and kicking.

do you remember what his signon name was?  Just wondering if I'd remember... thanks!


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I think JC something. I think the last part started with a P. I know he is alive because he posted on another forum maybe 7 days ago.

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On 4/20/2020 at 9:47 AM, EllenEveBaz said:

I have a large back yard and rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs often insist on coming under the fence.  They don't get out again.  My dogs bring their prey to me, or probably more accurately back to their den, by depositing the carcass on my living room rug.  They seldom eat the prey, maybe because they are well-fed already.  There is never any blood and I usually can't see any bite marks on the poor little critters.  

Unfortunately, I can attest to this also. We've had some critter kills in our backyard and the dogs have almost always killed and brought them back to us. The only difference we see from EllenEveBaz is that our "presents" have sometimes been pretty bloody. I won't go into gory details, but the bigger prey (opossums, specifically) tend to be pretty bloody - but the smaller prey (chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies) seem to have broken necks/spines. I think they get more excited with the bigger prey and would try and tear it away from the other one. 

FYI - after the 3rd opossum kill, they had to wear muzzles for their bedtime outside visit. I just couldn't take it anymore!!

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Hunting with sighthounds is like falconry - the dogs are sent out, identify the prey, chase it, catch it, kill it, then wait for someone to come up and get it.


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