redhunta's rural pursuits

country sports and rural activities

The Lurcher

The following articles will be dedicated to specifically bred mongrels we hold so dear that we call the lurcher.

Picture Yvonne Tilbury.

The Bedlington x Whippet Lurcher  a favourite dog!

Recently the Bull bred lurcher it seems has come from behind in the popularity stakes, a pheonominal achievement when one considers 20 years ago the Bull cross was very much in the minority and was a dog more at home in south Wales where it saw employment as a pre-ban foxing lurcher. The Saluki longdog may well have been the very popular pre-ban hare dog and the Deerhound x Greyhound the show lurcher.

All that said nothing beat the Bedlington x Greyhound for the all rounder BUT for an out and out much sought cross the GENUINE 1st cross or F1 hybrid Bedlington x Whippet must surely be at the top or very damn near to it in the  sought after stakes. Fact is the Bedlington x Whippet must be the number 1 hybrid in the lurcher popularity stakes.

So so much for the fashion stakes what about the Bedlington x Whippet as an actual working dog and here the tale takes a twist.

The genuine Bedlington x Whippet as an all out traditional type of dog really does take some bettering but under scrutiny the hybrid does have it flaws, so perhaps it would be expediant to be somewhat more specific.

I am unbiased for I admire (an understatement if ever there was one!) both the pure bred Bedlington Terrier & the Whippet, having of course worked both breeds heavilly and bred and owned the F1 hybrid, all 3 of which to great success. I have also bred and worked the genuine Bedlington x Greyhound and in the hybrid catorgory KNOW which variation is the best. It most certainly settles within the Greyhound version of the Bedlington lurcher theme.

However the Bedlington x Whippet does look the part, does catch rabbits & rats has a better coat than a Whippet is faster than a Bedlington Terrier on the run BUT is in my opinion not as good at the running dog game as the Whippet and certainly not as good at terrier work as the Bedlington. So why is the hybrid so popular? The answer is very simple, it looks the part and does catch but not as good as either pure bred parent.

Let us break it down. The hybrid Bedlington x Whippet may have a better skin and its rough coat but the pure Whippet has its greater speed and agility. The hybrid may have its so-called better nose but then again so does the Whippet, as a sighthound the pure Whippet does take some beating.

The Bedlington Terrier  is by far & away a better bet as a true terrier and whilst there may be stories & accounts of pre-ban mini lurchers working a fox underground or ratting Bedlington x Whippets, the true terrier was always the more viable proposistion.

Undoubtly the Bedlington x Whippet does catch rabbits, does make a ferreting dog BUT so is the Whippet and the working Bedlington respectivly.

The Bedlington x Greyhound does by contrast make in my opinion the most superb of lurchers, a real all rounder by day & night and pre-ban across the species board.

In summary I like the Bedlington x Whippet & yes I would breed one as I know both the Bedlingtons & Whippets I would use would be the best available but equally so I know that both my pure Whippets and Bedlington Terriers would be the most superior at their respective roles.

In summary the Bedlington x Whippet hybrid does look the part will catch rabbits but the Whippet is better at this game and for terrier work likewise is the Bedlington. 

Bedlington x Whippet hybrids.  

The Pastoral bred Lurcher

The popular pastoral bred lurcher.

 

John Glover.

 

Collie bred lurcher’s have never been my thing never have been and probably never will be but that is not to say I have never seen top working lurcher’s thus bred.

For those of us old enough to remember The Countryman’s Weekly when it was called Shooting News some readers may recall this type of lurcher was probably the number type of hybrid running dog encountered in those days. Oh how things have changed not only has the publication changed its name but the number one top type of working lurcher must surely be the very controversial Bull bred lurcher. It has all come a long way.

Picture by A.Playle

As I have just said and those that know me will bear this out collie bred dogs have never been my forte however I have been fortunate enough to see some super collie bred dogs over the years and it must be said some atrocious examples of this cross too.

D.B. Plummer in his many books including Merle the start of a dynasty championed the cause of the collie lurcher vigorously in fact that probably influenced many folk to think this was “The” type of lurcher to keep and all others were in fact imposters. Clearly that wasn’t the case.

Enthusiasts in my own locality went collie “barmy” and it seemed everyone kept these ugly unbalanced lurcher’s I was perhaps the only exception!

Amongst the myriads of dogs with the pastoral breeding in varying degrees one or two stood out and one in particular that was owned by an old friend of mine called Austin Playle  who owned a stunning working bitch called “Harlem”.

Harlem” was a first cross Border collie x Greyhound bred by the collie lurcher breeder David Hancock. Austin is a very efficient dog trainer who had gleaned a lot from his former bitch “Katie” whom I believe was bred by former Heart of England Lurcher Society founder Eddie Riley. “Katie” had kept Austin in a steady stream of rabbits and took the odd hare and fox too in those pre-ban hunting days. There was no reason why “Harlem” wouldn’t follow in her footsteps and she did-marvellously!

Harlem” was a superb taker of squatting rabbits and all her catches were retrieved un-harmed and alive to hand.

I firmly believe if the collie cross is to be contemplated then two things should be borne in mind firstly a collie dog be used to a Greyhound bitch and only a Greyhound version ever be tried as opposed to a Whippet version for I think with just the exception of the Whippet x Greyhound long dog no Whippet lurcher will ever beat a pure bred Whippet in the mini lurcher stakes.

I have seen some horrendous crosses when the collie has been the dam and the sire has contained some Whippet breeding. Many years ago I remember one man using a very heavy type of collie and bred it to a Whippet x Greyhound the resulting lurcher was appalling in that it was too heavy, never thought out its own thing but used to watch its owner for commands instead of instant natural reaction, it never retrieved and was quite the ugliest dog I ever have seen it certainly would not have done for me yet its owner regularly told people his dog could catch a pre-hunting ban hare, to be fair it had killed one once albeit on the lamp and I suspect “bounced” off a fence or hedge, it was hardly a pre-ban hare dog though and would have been hopelessly outclassed by lepus in the daylight in winter!

Other breeds than the Border collie constitute a pastoral bred lurcher including the Australian version of the type being a Kelpie in fact in recent years this lurcher has become very popular in obedience type competitions again no looker lurcher’s of this breeding forge their reputation purely on their prowess in the field.

Various types of so-called Dorset collies, Bearded collies and Kelpie’s may make up alternatives to the Border collie but the rangy Smithfield collie has caused controversy for many years. It used to be said any dog that drove from Norfolk to Smithfield in London could lay claim to being a Smithfield! One thing we can be certain of is the generally accepted type was a big, aggressive, rough coated type of rangy collie that some claimed could run down an assortment of game during the duration of a winter time drove.

We should consider the alternative pastoral lurcher too and like its collie counterpart its reputation and prowess in the field is said to be forged on almost human like intelligence I am of course referring to the German Shepherd x Greyhound lurcher.

This is a type of lurcher that from time to time appears for sale in the sporting press but it certainly seems to be very much in the minority like so many of the herding breed bred lurcher’s its appearance is very heavy, ugly yet their owners rave about their dogs prowess as lamping dogs.

In conclusion I can honestly say I can never see a collie (or its kin blood) bred lurcher ever replacing my own type of lurcher (Bedlington bred) or a  pure sight hound but will state this correctly brought up the collie lurcher will work well with ferrets perform excellently on the lamp, compete in obedience trials and work in a gun dog role it all comes down to your own preference and of course how good a trainer you are.

Fact is collie bred lurcher’s are easy to train.

The collie lurcher will always remain a firm favourite with some serious lurcher folk but unlike those far off days when The Countryman’s Weekly was Shooting News the type is no longer the number one choice it follows behind in the popularity stakes with those lurcher’s whose first part of the name begins Bull, Bedlington, Saluki and Deerhound.

I may never own a collie lurcher but I will always have fond memories of hunting back in the day with Austin and his marvellous Border collie x Greyhound bitch called “Harlem” a truly wonderful dog that was bred by David Hancock and who was a dynamite bitch on the lamp.