1902 Encyclopedia > Dog > Hounds

(Part 7)

IV. HOUNDS – Hounds are those dogs with long pendulous ears, close, hair, and long deep muzzle which hunt by scent. They include the Bloodhound, Staghound, Foxhound, Harrier or Beagle, and Pointer.

The Bloodhound, regarded by many as the original stock from which all the other varieties of British hounds have been derived, is now rarely to be met with in entire purity. Its distinguishing features are long, smooth, and pendulous ears, from 8 and 9 inches in length, full muzzle, broad breast, muscular limbs, and a deep sonorous voice. The prevailing colour is a reddish tan, darkening towards the upper part, and often varied with large black spots. It stands about 28 inches high. The bloodhound is remarkable for the acuteness of its scent, its discrimination in keeping to the particular scent on which it is first laid, and the intelligence and pertinacity with which it pursues its object to a successful issue. These qualities have been taken advantage of not only in the chase, but also in pursuits of felons and fugitives of every kind. According to Strabo, these dogs were used in an attack upon the Gauls. In the clan feuds of the Scottish Highlands, and in the frequent wars between England and Scotland, they were regularly employed in tracking fugitive warriors, and were thus employed, according to early chroniclers, in pursuit of Wallace and Bruce. The former is said to have put the Sleuth-hound, as it was called, off the scent by killing a suspected follower, on whose corpse the hound stood,

"Nor farther moved fra’ time she found the blood."

For a similar purpose captives were often killed. Bruce is said to have baffled his dogged pursuer as effectually, though less cruelly, by wading some distance down a stream, and the ascending a tree by a branch which overhung the water, and thus breaking the scent. In the histories of border feuds these dogs constantly appear as employed in the pursuit of enemies, and ten renown of the warrior was great who,

"By wily turns and desperate bounds,
Had baffled Percy’s best bloodhounds."

In suppressing the Irish rebellion in the time of Queen Elizabeth, the earl of Essex had, it is said, 800 if these animals accompanying the army, while in later times they became the terror of deer-stealer, and for this purpose were kept by the earls of Buccleuch so late as the 18th century, and even at the present time their remarkable power of scent is occasionally employed with success in the detection of murder. The Cuban Bloodhound is of Spanish descent, and differs considerably in form the English variety, having small, though pendulous ears, with the nose more pointed, and with a more ferocious appearance. Its employment in the capture of runaway slaves, and in the cruelties connected with the suppression of negro insurrection, has brought the animal into the evil repute which more properly belongs to the inhuman masters, who thus prostituted the courage, sagacity, and pertinacity of this noble dog to such revolting purposes.

Staghound picture


The Staghound has been generally regarded as the result of a cross between the slow-paced old southern hound and the fleeter foxhound; but it has been objected that the breed was known in England long before the foxhound was made use of, and indeed before there was an animal at all resembling the one which is now known by that term, and those who maintain this view regard the staghound as a bloodhound crossed with some lighted dog, as a greyhound or a lurcher. However produced, it is a majestic dog, of great strength and considerable swiftness, besides possessing in common with the bloodhound, and with it alone, the property of unerringly tracing the scent it is first laid upon among a hundred others. In the reign of George III., who was himself ardently attached to the sport of stag-hunting, packs of these dogs were maintained in several parts of the country, but since the death of that monarch this form of hunting has declines, and the total extinction of these dogs at no distant date seems probable.

Foxhound picture


The Foxhound is the hunting dog upon which the breeder has bestowed the greatest pains, and, according to Bell (British Quadrupeds), his efforts have been rewarded "by the attainment of the highest possible degree of excellence in the union of fine scent, fleetness, strength, perseverance, and temper." It stands usually form 20 to 22 inches high at the shoulders, and is of a white colour, marked with large clouds of black and tan. Its speed is such that a foxhound has been known to get over 4 miles in 7 minutes, while its endurance has been shown in such cases as the 10 hours’ continuous run performed by the duke of Richmond’s hounds in 1738 before killing the fox, during which many of the sportsmen tired horses, and several of the latter died during the chase.

Harrier picture


The Harrier is smaller than the foxhound, not exceeding 18 inches I height at the shoulders, and is exclusively used, as the name shows, in hunting the hare. Of late years it has been greatly improved, so as to be almost literary a foxhound in miniature. According to Beckford, to whom much of the improvement in the breed is owing, "harries, to be good, like all others hounds, must kept to their own game. If you run fox with them you spoil them; hounds cannot be perfect unless used to one scent and one style of hunting."

Beagle picture


A still smaller hound is the Beagle, from 12 to 14 inches high, the most diminutive of the bunting dogs. It was formerly a great favourite, being used in hunting the hare, but in this it has been almost wholly superseded by the harrier. Much slower than the foxhound or harrier, but in spire of this its exquisite scent and its perseverance seldom fail to secure for it the object of its chase, although it may be after a leisurely hunt of 3 or 4 hours. The voice of the beagle is highly musical, and on this account a certain number of them were formerly added to each pack of hounds as a band now is to a regiment of soldiers. Diminutive packs, from 9 to 10 inches high been kept, and O’Connell used to beguile his winter leisure with a dozen of these tiny favourites.

The Pointer is related to the hounds, and is supposed to be derived from an old Spanish breed. It is a beautiful, smooth-haired dog, coloured somewhat like a foxhound, active in its movement, and patient of fatigue. It owes its name to its habit of standing fixed at the scent of game, and this, like the crouching of the setter, whether due to long-continued training alone, or to the modification and exaggeration by man of the instinctive start of surprise common to all dogs, when first aware of their prey, is now inherited, the puppy pointing before his training has begun. The strength of this pointing propensity was never more signally shown than in the case, told by Daniel, of two pointers which stood immovable as statues during the hour and a quarter occupied in sketching them.

Dalmatian Dog picture

Dalmatian Dog

The Dalmatian Dog is a remarkably handsome breed, apparently intermediate between hound and pointer. It is of a white colour, thickly marked with rounded black spots, but it is not sufficiently keen scented or sagacious to be of sue in hunting. It has accordingly been relegated to the stables, where it receives the training necessary to a coach-dog. It is known in France as the Brague de Bengale, and is supported to be an Indian variety.

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