140 DOGS AND ALL ABOUT THEM
a coat that would protect its wearer from the ill effects of frequent immersion in water.
It was when these efforts were most active-namely about the year 185o-that new material was discovered in a blackcoated dog recently introduced into England from Labrador. He was a natural water-dog, with a constitution impervious to chills, and entirely free from the liability to ear canker, which had always been a drawback to the use of the Spaniel as a retriever of waterfowl. Moreover, he was himself reputed to be a born retriever of game, and remarkably sagacious. His importers called him a Spaniel-a breed name which at one time was also applied to his relative the Newfoundland. Probably there were not many specimens of the race in England, and, although there is no record explicitly saying so, it is conjectured that these were crossed with the English Setter, producing what is now familiarly known as the black, flat-coated Retriever.
One very remarkable attribute of the Retriever is that notwithstanding the known fact that the parent stock was mongrel, and that in the early dogs the Setter type largely predominated, the ultimate result has favoured the Labrador cross distinctly and prominently, proving how potent, even when grafted upon a stock admittedly various, is the blood of a pure race, and how powerful its influence for fixing type .and character over the other less vital elements with which it is blended.
From the first, sportsmen recognised the extreme value of the new retrieving dog. Strengthened and improved by the Labrador blood, he had lost little if any of the Setter beauty of form. He was a dignified, substantial, intelligent, goodtempered, affectionate companion, faithful, talented, highly cultivated, and esteemed, in the season and out of it, for his mind as well as his beauty.
It is only comparatively recently that we have realised how 'excellent an all-round sporting dog the Retriever has become. In many cases, indeed, where grouse and partridge are driven