Saturday, April 22, 2006

Moseley & Training

Part II of a post by Dan Balderson regarding Moseley and Burton

Moseley's program was based predominantly on police dog style training. He also bred purebred mastiffs and was involved with other breeds, including the GSD/Alsation, which was still only ever found in the UK as a police dog at that time. He never directly made use of Bull Terrier or Boarhound/Suliot/Ulmer/Great Dane blood or Bloodhound. In fact, he abhorred it and tried to keep his dogs much smaller. He found dogs over 27" tall lost too much quickness and agility, plus carried too much size for the best endurance and ability to use their bodies to overpower a man. It was Moseley who largely eliminated these other breeds from the BM, but also he who was strongly involved in developing the fawn/fallow-smut dogs with black masks, clearly demonstrating that he did make use of the more modern version of Mastiffs and Bulldogs. His 'recipe' was well documented as being 60:40 Mastiff:Bull, though his percentages are not exactly scientifically correct by modern standards.

As for training, these dogs were trained in Gamekeeping and Police dog trials that pretty much set the tone for modern sport as people know it today. This included suit work, extensive use of muzzle work, relatively little if any sleeve work, agility, and OB. They commonly competed with the standard set by the much smaller Airedales, and dogs from the likes of Burton were more highly esteemed than the continental shepherds by those who could obtain them, right up until the 1920's, when the lines essentially died-out due to social/political change and the wars, which destroyed the Gamekeeping and working Mastiff populations of the UK, a terrible shame.

The agility and OB included scaling walls and many of the tests still found in the KNPV such as the ability to jump a ditch/navigate and retrieve a stream/river using gun dog style commands for send-aways. Scale walls, stone walls, and hurdles were all used, as were gates and hedge jumps. Unlike modern sports that are patterned, you would not really know what exactly you would encounter, just have an idea. OB routines like modern WT today were not conducted in manicured rings, but instead could see you being directed into all manner of terrain; long grass, trees, water, toward people shooting shotguns, etc. Environmental soundness around firearms, livestock, and non-threatening people would all have been tested.

Directional control was also prominent, and conducted in similar ways to gundogs today. This would be used to detect and apprehend poachers and conduct other such tasks. In contrast, dogs were also expected conduct maneuvers such as those seen in the Military today; dogs would be expected to down in a ditch, often at night (obviously night testing was a mainstay), with their handler. They were expected to remain totally alert and focused, even if the handler covered their eyes to prevent glimmer/reflections. A 'poacher' would then approach from out of sight, but with the wind in the dogs favor. The dog would then be expected to detect the poacher, alert the handler silently, until released to apprehend him.

Protection work was brutal and the helpers were frankly instructed to attempt to drive the dogs in any means they saw fit. I have documented examples of courage tests, one in fact of Terror during the Crystal Palace exhibition, whereupon an athletic man of 200 lbs was set a lead of 200 or so feet, equipped with a stout stick of birch/ash (about 1"-1.5" thick and 1' to 2.5' long) and tasked to escape capture. The dog (Terror in this instance) was released in the muzzle (which itself was a formidable weapon compared to today's examples) and set upon the man instructed to pin him before he reached the designated escape zone. Terror was a specialist in this task, demonstrating it frequently, and was never bested, despite the blows rained down upon him by his 'fugitive' with their stick/cudgel. He was so efficient, he seldom took much punishment himself, and indeed could repeat the exercise until the man gave up, at which point another would often replace him, particularly as Burton tended to offer cash prizes in order to incentivise 'victims'.

The suit work was also regularly conducted with and without muzzles, though the 'suit' was generally a double or triple layered Hessian sack cloth affair, the type of material sport folks imprint dogs on...and others buy potatoes in! There were also tests with men using no suits, instead 1 or 2 newspapers rolled around their arms and/or legs to afford the most minimal of protection to them, but the maximum test of 'reality' to the dogs. These methods were continued with other breeds, like the Shepherds, and indeed were witnessed by folks like Koehler, who would go on to make these often harsh teachings quite famous.

The last point of interest for those who have followed so far, is that "sport" was never viewed about points, as points were about owners and pride. Sport was according to the original definition, non lethal means preparing one for war. As such it was a pass/fail affair. Whilst owners would like to do well, they sought judging praise rather than dogs. The aim was to demonstrate control, but in the process , obtain dogs whom judges described as; 'pronounced', of 'merit' or 'distinction. These were breed-worthy dogs to the breeders of this time. A dog that was picture perfect but that lacked sand or conviction was viewed as average, irrespective of 'scores'. The final reason for "sport" was that it allowed keepers to widen their breeding selections by actively watching and identifying dogs that offered qualities to their programs that would allow them to improve. Gamekeeper and Hound shows were amongst the very first dog shows, and indeed, they included conformation also, but as an addendum to the working activities, and to allow keepers to get a hands-on view of dogs they were possibly considering to breed to.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


This is a post by Dan UK regarding Thorneywood Terror and Moseley. In the Historic Bandog Pictures section I erroneously posted the letter from Sgt. Cordy under Thorneywood Terror's picture. Instead it belonged under a Moseley dogs picture. My mistake sparked some very interesting information :)

By Dan Balderson

Moseley had nothing to do with Terror, Terror preceded the majority of Moseley's dogs by some time, and was bred by Burton, who was quite probably the premier working dog breeder in the world at that time, although Moseley would go on to achieve great things, including probably the greatest demand for the export of working dogs of his generation. Think Czech/DDR and KNPV Mals of today, well Moseley was exporting dogs in the same way as a result of the demand, across the entire world, although predominantly the "Commonwealth" countries.

Burton resided in a different area of the UK to Moseley, and had a totally different program. The nature of his breedings are unknown, as he was not a highly publicized breeder, which is common with some of today's more successful B&M/Bandogge breeders also. It is likely that his breedings comprised working mastiffs that were free from influences of Pug, St. Bernard, Newfoundland, Modern/Atavsistic Bulldog and Alpine Mastiff. It is also unlikely that he utilized the blood either directly or otherwise, of Bloodhound or Great Dane. It is remotely possible that some Tibet dog was involved,and also that of El Perro de Presa/Alano or the old working DDB, as both breeds were imported to the UK several hundred years ago and are suspected of having found into working Mastiffs hands as the EB community increasingly repelled against anything showing health or ability. The Alano/Presa of the time was still a very competent working dog, normally around 25-26" with all the main male imports documented, having weighed 90 lbs. They were also working dogs, either Pit, or more commonly animal dogs, such as (true) Bulldogs. The documented accounts held by the KC state that several were highly scarred upon entry into the UK and also observes the movement against Spanish dogs by EB breeders seeking to 'preserve' the British Bulldog. If it weren't so sad...

Burton's dogs were almost always brindle,and seldom above 90 lbs working weight. They also weren't that tall. His dogs were also often dual registered, initially as BM's then as EM's...which the KC was happy to accommodate at the time in order to maintain the quality and number of EM's. Terror is behind a large number of EM's in the KC studbooks...if you go back far enough...and believe all the paperwork filed, much of which is fallacious to put it bluntly (not from Burton but thereon).

Burton likely used the original mastiff/bandogge blood still present in England, as stated with possible European breed influence. I would also suspect that Burton used Game English Bulldog blood, either in preserved form, or by way of Pitbull blood, primarily comprising lines that influenced the Bulldog rather than the Terrier blood. The Pitbull has many breeds behind its influence depending upon the regions of England and latterly Ireland that it originated. In some areas the dogs were as much as 30:70 Terrier:Bull, right through to 70:30 Terrier:Bull
Burton's part of the world likely had the more Bully dogs, as from pure recollection, it wasn't a particular hot bed for the boomingly popular sport of dog fighting that had really taken a hold around the early/mid 1800's. As for anything else in Burton's 'recipe' I think he took it to the grave with him. Some of his dogs were known to be slow to mature (2 to even 3 years) so I would be inclined to suppose it was mostly the old mastiff stock.

Depending on where in Britain you looked, the type of B&M varied. Some had very prevalent Pitbull make-up, mostly bred to English Mastiffs. Some were composed of the 'new' mastiffs and Bulldogs...culled extensively until they recovered the old qualities. Some had a great degree of Bloodhound and Mastiff influence, to the extent that dogs in South Wales were often 'Fila Brasiliero's'...before the breed existed. It is even conceivable in some lines (though not Burton's) that the St. John's dog was used, this being the main progenitor of the Lab and Newfie and a popular Game Keeper's breed in the South/South-West of England. It was much more lithe, but still sturdy and mastiff-like a dog than the modern Lab, and of course was very tractable. It was also known to have been used for a period as a (casual) fighting dog, had guarding ability and of course was both exceptional in the water (prime territory for finding poachers) and generally black in colour.

DaveUK actually grew up right on the doorstep of one of the great, and last remaining B&M breeding estates and gamekeeper families. He is one of the few people to have personally known gamekeepers that worked some of these famous old dogs, dogs like Osmaston Turk, who was mostly Mastiff and Bloodhound with a dab of Bull blood to make him, amazingly enough...more biddable than the pure EM/Bloodhound dogs the Welsh normally used. Turk was getting on when he reached Osmaston, but those Dave knew, saw what he had, as well as other dogs of the line. Turk's dam was known as a man killer in South Wales, with several (justified) documented kills to her name. One can only imagine how many men she actually killed, as these things were only ever documented if it were unavoidable (i.e. if witnessed, or involving a local person).

These were incredibly hard dogs, raised and worked hard, often with quite short lives (though Turk I believe lived way past 10), the gamekeepers were similarly hardy sorts themselves, often ostracized by their own villages and towns by the locals, because poaching was often vital to the survival of the poor working families. They also held a lot of sway, as in the privacy of the woods, good keeper's would have their master's ear, and also great resources to develop the dogs needed to police the estates. Many keepers were also quite frankly, crooks themselves, working scams with neighbouring keepers to rip-off their masters who often had more money than sense. Many head Keepers worked the nights alone, with just their dogs, because they didn't even trust their Juniors not to poach whilst on patrol. Still, life was dangerous for all keepers, as the advent of railways in particular made poaching an activity conducted by large, violent and armed city gangs that operated in a highly organized fashion. Game warranted a premium on the black market and the railway allowed the gangs to venture out, catch and return with their catch still fresh enough to demand top price. If you were caught, the penalties were stiff, ranging from death, to banishment off to the colonies in American and Australia, so to many, capture was not an option.