Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weight and Measure on the Pups

The online calculator does not go past 26 weeks, so the weights and measures track is over, but suffice it to say that I am NOT worried that either of these two dogs will be too big for my very tight earths.  

Moxie stands at 10.5 inches tall right now, and I believe Misto is at 10 inches.  

Very different builds on these two dogs.  Misto is low to the ground and solid, with a big head, while Moxie is as tall and thin as Taylor Swift and with a head to balance the frame.  Interesting enough, both of these dogs seem to have the same chest size --  less than 13 inches.

Both pups will fill out more, of course, but the bulk of their growth has happened. I do not expect to see more than a quarter inch gain in height.

With two little dogs that can go anywhere underground, I suspect I will see fewer groundhogs digging away in the Spring, and a lot fewer holes dug by me as well.  It's always nice to be able to sink the first hole right on top of the quarry.

As I wrote a decade ago:
A true working dog should be able to enter a fox den or groundhog sette and negotiate the entire pipe – from main entrance to bolt hole -- without having to be dug out of the ground. In a natural earth this den pipe will be 15 to 40 feet long and will rise and fall, twist and contract, challenging the dog at every turn.

A dog that routinely fails this challenge is not a useful dog. In fact, hunting with a large dog that cannot get past the first turn is nearly impossible, as it requires a team of diggers to sink a new hole whenever the tunnel changes direction, and in the end you may end up excavating the entire length of the den.

A large dog in a small hole is also a danger to himself. A terrier that has to dig hard in order to move up a tunnel is a dog that has to push dirt behind it in order to make progress. As earth is shoved to the rear, a dirt wall can easily form just behind the dog, "bottling" it off from its air supply. Because a digging dog is working hard and breathing hard (as is the quarry) asphyxiation underground is a very real possibility.

A small dog, on the other hand, can simply scoot over small dirt mounds and around constrictions and obstacles. Not only will such a dog face the quarry with more energy and more air, it will also have room to maneuver to avoid a bite and force a bolt. A larger dog, on the other hand, may find itself face to face with the quarry, jammed tight in the pipe, already tired, and with a dwindling air supply. Only tragedy can come out of such a situation.

Can a dog be too small? Yes.

I do not think Moxie can afford to be any smaller. The two pounds she will add in the next few months will increase her weight by about 25 percent -- substance she will need if she is to work through heat and cold for five or six hours at a crack.  But is she too small?  I don't think so.  She's going to be the same size as Sailor, my old dog who was a legend. If she is half the dog Sailor was (and I have high hopes based on her attitude) very good things are in the future!


Robert Ballard said...

My feist/beagle is as small as is really practical in a beagle.Just under 10 inches and about 12 pounds. Small beagles are a uniquely American hound,due,I think, to both the tricky nature of the cottontail versus the full speed ahead approach of the hare and the use of teckel,small terriers and feists in the foundation stock. I was surprised when I learned that across the pond they only have one class,from 13 to 16 inches. We have two,under thirteen,and 13 to 15. Although small size is not as vital to a rabbit dog as it is to a working terrier, it is similarly tricky to breed small dogs with all the other requisite qualities.

PBurns said...

I have always liked the small beagles, and a "pocket beagle" was once crossed in to make the Plummer Terrier. You are 100% right that making a good looking small dog is much harder than making a good looking dog that is a few inches bigger. One reason the show people go for the bigger dogs is it's easier.