Posts Tagged ‘David Brian Plummer’

From David Brian Plummer's The Fell Terrier.  I think these dogs were owned by a man named Cyril Breay.

From David Brian Plummer’s The Fell Terrier

Golden retrievers always look so dignified when they are placed among lesser dogs– like a lion seated among jackals.

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Brian Plummer was an eccentric dog breeder, hunter, ratter, and ferreter. He was also something of a dog historian and was somewhat prone to romantic flights of fancy.

He is most famous now for founding a strain of terrier that bears his name.

But he was into far more than that.

He bred a shaggy merle strain of lurcher, tried to recreate the Medieval hunting alaunt, and used Cavalier King Charles spaniels to hunt rabbits.

If you read his books, he was deeply into the romance of the British working class, especially its rural working class, the one so exemplified by the highwayman and the poacher.

If he was not a puppy millier, then he was a very high volume dog breeder, and it is very doubtful that he had a full grasp on how to breed for the absolute best dogs in all his strains.

You simply can’t get that level of knowledge when you’re doing so many different things at once. The truth is even those who have specialized in a breed or type often have no clue what they’re doing.

However, I’m fairly certain that if my id were allowed to go unchecked, I’d probably be something like Mr. Plummer.

I’d be recreating all sorts of esoteric breed types:  English Old Southern hounds, St. John’s water dogs, and wavy-coated retrievers are just a few I can imagine!

Plummer was a popular writer, and to perfect one’s writing skills, one must remove one’s self from the arena a bit. There must be detachment from the way things actually are in order to explain them to others, but in that detachment, Plummer detached himself from the way all the serious working dog people were operating.

This is why every lurcher person will say that Plummer was a great writer but his ideas were next to useless.

But I’d like to see these guys write some good dog stories.

Writing is a skill people simply do not appreciate. Writing good stories requires as much work as breeding the fastest lurcher.





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This image comes Raymond and Lorna Coppinger’s Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution (2001), a book with which I have more than a few disagreements.

Plummer, as you may already know, was the creator of the Plummer terrier, reconstructed coursing alaunt, and a variant of the Lucas terrier. He was a lurcher breeder, who once wrote a few paragraphs that slagged golden retriever-derived lurchers. Then he later extolled the virtues of golden retriever-derived lurchers.

In Coppinger’s book, after working his cavaliers on rabbits in Scotland, he puts his golden retriever through its paces. I guess as he aged he developed a fondness for them.

Lots can be said about him.

He was mostly a writer of dog and hunting stories, who did have a lot experience with lots of different dogs. But in his canine eclecticism, I think he may have missed many aspects about dogs, bloodlines, and  general canine knowledge that one can only get through dealing with just a few breeds.

Of course, I can see why he and the Coppingers hit it off so well. The Coppingers and Plummer kept vast hordes of dogs.

His last canine project was to breed a sled dog strain of German shepherd, which would pull a sled across the Scottish Highlands.

That’s what he was working on when he died in 1985.

Coppinger must have been in contact with him after he moved to Scotland, because the whole text about the rabbit killing cavaliers takes place in the Scottish countryside.

Plummer claimed he could train any dog to do anyhting– and Coppinger agreed but only to a certain degree. Coppinger is one of the biggest proponents of the hyperspecialized dog, and his views, which are expounded in the book, are that some of these hyperspecialized dogs are too specialized to do anything else.

Plummer, in this case, is closer to being right than Coppinger. Plummer did work as a gamekeeper in Germany, where the hunting dogs are simply not as specialized as they are in the English-speaking countries. These dogs are a major affront to Coppinger’s views on the hyperspecialized dog, for they can do many different things for which Coppinger thinks they would be unable to do.

A golden retriever might not win a border collie trial, but a border collie could do what a golden retriever does. A German shorthair can point birds, and it can kill rabbits and track boar.

Dogs are not as specialized as one might think.

They derive from highly generalized ancestors, and they’ve hitched their wagons to humans– the most generalist species on the planet.




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This text comes from Plummer’s Practical Lurcher Breeding:

So he essentially says that one can easily procure an exotic sight hound from someone who got it as a fashion accessory.

At one time, Afghan hounds were all the rage in the UK. I don’t know why.

But I remember reading of how popular these dogs were in the early to mid 1970’s.

Those were sort of the zenith of the long-haired hippie-type fashion, so I guess the dogs would have fit the motif.

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