The Illustrated Spithead Page

(what follows is adapted from a post by the author to the mailing list for Leonberger owners, the LeoList,
in June 2001.  All text and photos copyright 2002 Brian McCorkle)


People new to the Leonberger community are often confused by the frequent references to "Spithead". The term not being found in the Oxford English Dictionary, I asked my two resident experts, Chief and Beaumont. They offered the following lexicon of this favorite Leonberger sport:


Spithead: a game of skill in which the object is to cover the head of another dog with as much of your own saliva as possible by play-biting and gnawing about the head and ruff. An essential point of the game is not to *actually* bite, so as to convince the other dog that it is in fact a game. Chasing each other madly about the field adds style points. Highly skilled players know that rolling over while being chased fools the other dog into coming close enough for major spit-transfer. Most rounds are initiated by playbows, with pauses between rounds for panting, drinking, and looking cool. It is not necessary to have bowed in order to score points, but failure to bow for long periods is considered boorish and may cause your partner to lose interest.

Perhaps some photos will clarify the matter.
Yearling Beaumont Before Spithead, July 2001 Yearling Beaumont After Spithead, July 2001

Beaumont, 7/2001, one year old, before his sister Godot
arrived for a one-hour playdate. What a handsome lad.


Beaumont, 7/2001, after his sister Godot left. Notice that the back is dry -- the head and neck are not, however!


Puppy Spithead: the younger set generally hasn't figured out the "not actually bite" part. Sharp little teeth. Ouch! Aw, but they're sooo cute, especially when they growl that deep throaty "I'm going to tear your ears off" growl...

Puppy Beau on top of Chief One year later, Puppy Odin goes after Beau


Slam Spithead (also called Jousting): males especially prize a variant which begins with squaring off at a goodly distance, saluting or bowing, charging full tilt straight at each other, jumping into the air at the last moment and slamming chests together. Repeat as desired.

<This space awaits a wonderful picture of Jousting.  Do you have one to contribute?>


Crocodiles and Alligators: all that running about the place can get tiring! But how can you NOT play when a good partner is found?! Simply lie down within reach of your partner and continue mouthing at each other like a couple of crocodiles or alligators. Except your hair looks way better (what IS it with crocodiles, they all look like they got the mange or allergies or something!)

Chief and Beau playing Crocodiles & Alligators


Icicle Art: a seasonal specialty of the North Country, Icicle Art is created by draping your play partner in tasteful arrays of frozen spit. Unlike Mud Art or Eau de Putrescence, which both have some staying power, Icicle Art disappears within moments after entering warm places. A fleeting thing of beauty, it is the transience itself that gives such poignancy and magic to the art form.

Chief and Beau with Icicle Art


Squirrel Spithead: What happens when you play spithead with a squirrel? Click here to find out!

Brian, on behalf of the SpitMeisters Chief and Beaumont,  who say that a good game of Spithead is hard work

Resting up for the next match!



Comments? Questions? Click here to send me an email!

updated June 21, 2002