1902 Encyclopedia > Hound


HOUND. The foxhound, harrier, and beagle are now the only representatives of whatever varieties of hounds existed previously in England. The staghound proper is practically extinct, no pack of them having been kept since 1825, when the Devon and Somerset establishment was broken up and the pack sold. With the exception of Lord Wolverton's black St Huberts, all hounds now used for stag-hunting are simply those of the foxhound breed entered to deer instead of to fox. Most packs of staghounds are composed of hounds of the ordinary size, but it is said that the present master of the Devon and Somerset (1880) uses none under 25 inches, and excludes bitches altogether.

The modern English foxhound is about as near per- Fox-fection as he can well be, and his excellence is all the hounds, more wonderful that less than 200 years ago there does not seem to have been in existence any hound bearing a resemblance to him ; for, until fox-hunting by hounds kept for that especial purpose was instituted, there could have been no reason to breed foxhounds. According to old writers on hunting subjects, there appear to have been, amongst other varieties, the slow, plodding, southern hound, with a great square head and wondrous powers of working on a scent, and the lighter northern hound; and as all animals improve under the care and guidance of man, until they assume the character of a distinct breed, it is clear that such has been the case with foxhounds, the earlier breeders of which did their part towards the attainment of perfection, by breeding with much care and judg-ment from the best specimens at their disposal. Older breeders were satisfied if the result of their crossings possessed good noses, and were up to the standard of beauty of those days ; but the time came, in the days of the great Meynell, when pace had to be added to the list of foxhound virtues, owing to the use of better bred horses in the hunting field, and at the present day the development of pace without sacrificing nose is one of the greatest diffi-culties a breeder has to contend with.

The mastership of a pack of foxhounds is an undertaking of great responsibility. In the article HUNTING mention is made of the difficulties which beset a master when he takes the field ; but after all, the greatest exercise of judg-ment is called for in relation to the kennels, for upon the master, in conjunction to a greater or less extent with the huntsman or kennel huntsman, rests the responsibility of selecting suitable sires and dams for the young hounds he intends to breed; of drafting such hounds as it is thought desirable to part with owing to their being over or under sized, or possessed of some failing ; and of obtaining drafts from other establishments. More than one opinion exists as to what is the proper size for a foxhound, but some of the greatest authorities having expressed their conviction that from 21 to 22 inches for bitches and from 23 to 24 inches for dogs is the proper standard, a master could hardly do wrong in adopting it. A hound's head should not be too large, nor, on the other hand, should it be too narrow, or else, like the greyhound, he will possess speed, butbe deficient in nose. There was much truth in Mr Warde's remark, who, on overhearing a stranger finding fault with his hounds for having such large heads, said, " Their knowledge boxes (as he called them) are large, but size has this advantage, that when they once put their noses down to the ground they cannot get their heads up again." The neck should be neither too short nor throaty; that is to say, there should be no dewlap. The shoulder should slope like that of the horse, and there should be plenty of muscle in the arm. Below the knee a hound should be quite straight, and the distance should be short between the knee and the foot, which must be short and round like a cat's foot. So, too, with the hind legs; speed and strength alike call for great length from the hip to the hock, and as little as possible from the hock to the foot; the haunches or gaskins should be wide and well furnished with muscle. A» flat-sided hound should be drafted at once, as he is sure to be a bad winded one; so should one that stands over at the knee when looked at sideways. How to combine all the good points in one hound requires no little judgment, but appearance is not all that must be thought of; the breeder must have an eye to nose, pace, stoutness, and the avoidance of certain faults in the field. In order to produce a good-looking puppy, dams and sires, perfect enough as regards make and shape, are often selected before they have taken the field long enough to have their good or bad points developed. Three years is quite early enough to begin to breed from any hound, male or female, and by that time it will be pretty well known what are the hunting capabilities of each. Out of every litter of whelps it may be necessary to destroy some,—four or five are quite enough for a mother to rear,—but a diversity of opinion exists amongst hunts-men as to which should be kept. As the points of a very young puppy cannot be seen, the selection is really one of colour; some men prefer light colours, others dark ; the majority are in favour of the latter, light-coloured hounds and horses being popularly supposed to have weak consti-tutions and uncertain tempers.

When the puppies are three or four days old the dew-claws should be severed with a small and sharp pair of scissors, and after another day or two it is usual to cut off about an inch of the tail. Rounding is the last operation that foxhounds are subjected to, and generally takes place as soon as the puppy has quite recovered from the distemper; it consists in cutting off the ends of the ears so that they may not be torn in going through cover. When about ten or twelve weeks old puppies are sent out to walk, and are not again received at the kennel till the beginning of the following April, soon after which date the distemper may be looked for. At this crisis the great aim should be to keep the body in a healthy condition, and not to feed hounds too highly, whey and porridge only being given. After the return from walks, the huntsman and whips should give the young entry plenty of gentle exercise, at first in the couples; and nothing more need be done in the way of training until about eight or nine weeks before cubbing begins, when the young hounds, who should hitherto have been exercised by themselves, should be put into the company of some older ones, and the exercise should be gradually extended until they can keep up for 2 or 3 miles with a horse going at half speed. The first day or two of cub-hunting is certain to be a somewhat unsatis-factory performance; the young entry are sure to run riot; it cannot be helped at first, but they will soon learn better manners under the watchful eyes of the huntsman and whips, and in company of the old hounds, about a dozen of the latter being taken out with twice that number of young ones. The sooner the puppies taste blood the better; it will help to teach them to stick to their proper game. Huntsmen therefore make every effort to bring a brace of cubs to hand the first day they go out, but this thirst after blood should not be indulged to any great extent afterwards, or the stock of foxes in the country may be much impaired, and sport thereby diminished. There is perhaps nothing connected with hunting of more importance, and, it may be added, of greater interest, than good kennel manage-ment. First of all it is shown in the formation of a level pack; for where things are done properly it is not enough to get together a lot of hounds that are good in themselves, they must also be, as nearly as possible, of one size. Then again, they must all be equally fast—to use a common expression, a sheet should cover them when running. Lastly, they must be free from certain faults, such as muteness, babbling, and skirting. A mute hound is a terrible nuisance. A fox is found and goes away unper-ceived ; some time afterwards news is brought to the hunts-man that a single hound has been seen running hard a mile from cover. This is our mute friend, which got on to the line by himself and gave no notice to anybody. But a young hound that is reticent with his tongue should not be too hastily set down as mute; he may have been flogged for proclaiming a scent, under the mistaken idea that he was running riot, and if so it would have the effect of checking his music. " Babbling " consists in a hound being too free with his tongue: after a fox has been found, the babbler announces the fact for the next ten minutes, and repeats his refrain whenever the least opportunity presents itself. A hound may give tongue too much without being an absolute babbler, but a noisy hound is pretty sure to become a babbler, and when he is so he should be drafted at once. A " skirter " is a hound that will not run with the pack, but is always taking a line of his own; like the babbler he should have every chance, but, if gentle as well as severe measures fail in effecting a reclamation, he too must be sent away. It goes without saying that where good kennel management exists, the hounds will be well disciplined, both, in and out of the kennel. To the unin-itiated, a visit to the kennel at feeding time is an interesting sight, notwithstanding the somewhat pungent smell of pudding and boiled horse. The hounds, as hungry as the proverbial hunter, stand anxiously awaiting the order to fall to, yet not daring to move until the order is given; and when the huntsman thinks a hound has eaten sufficient, the mere calling out of his name is sufficient to make him return to the benches, in spite of a desire for a more pro-longed stay at the trough. An extraordinary instance of discipline in the field is related by Colonel Cook in his work Observations on Fox-hunting, p. 202. With hounds as with horses, control over them will be best obtained by kindness : the popular idea is that huntsmen, whips, and feeders never set about their respective duties unless armed with a formidable whip to be used on all possible occasions; but happily this is an entire mistake. Feeding The feeding of a pack of hounds is a matter calling for of the exercise of great care and judgment, and cannot be hounds. properiy carried out unless the establishment enjoy the services of a thoroughly trustworthy feeder. His duty is to cook the food, and to keep the utensils clean and the kennel sweet and wholesome. Hounds' food comprises both animal and vegetable substances. Objections have sometimes been made to admitting the former into the kennel fare at all, on the ground that it is likely to impair the -powers of scent, but the exception does not seem to be well-founded, because wild dogs, as also wolves and foxes, are carnivorous animals and live by the use of their scenting powers; in moderation flesh is a necessity. Wheatmeal and barleymeal are eschewed, coarse oatmeal a twelvemonth old being the only thing fit to feed hounds with. The meal is boiled in a large iron boiler (a smaller one of the same metal being reserved for boiling the flesh), and during the cooking the feeder must be on the watch lest any of it stick to the bottom of the boiler. When sufficiently cooked it is turned out into coolers. On meat being given it is cut into small pieces and stirred into the pudding. In the summer young cabbages, given once every four days, form a wholesome food, and are vastly superior to potatoes, swedes, or any other root. With proper diet, an occasional alterative, and plenty of exercise, hounds should seldom or never require to be plastered over with ointment in consequence of skin irrita-tions. The benches should be littered with good dry wheat-straw, which should be taken out of the kennel and shaken up every morning when the hounds are at exercise. Great cleanliness is indispensable ; the natural odour of a kennel is none of the sweetest, and if hounds are kept in the midst of dirt their powers of scent will speedily deteriorate. Harriers. The harrier like the foxhound is a very different animal from what he was one hundred years ago. Then there were several sorts used in hare-hunting; first came the old southern hound, used principally in heavy countries; the second variety was a somewhat faster dog, with a sharp nose and pointed ears, and was best adapted for an open country; thirdly, a rougher-coated hound; and lastly, the old fashioned blue mottled harrier, found in the Weald of Sussex and some parts of Kent. The first and last of the above list are said to have been endowed with wonderful scenting powers, and we are told that when these hounds were in use a run of six hours after a hare was no uncommon occurrence ; but they were so slow that the same authority tells us that they fatigued "the healthy foot-man very little." It is probable that the Sussex blue mottled hound was the result of the first attempt to im-prove the old southern hound, and to obtain a species particularly suitable for hare-hunting, but since then almost all the traces of the old harrier have disappeared, until at the present time the modern harrier is little more than a dwarf foxhound. When pursued by the old-fashioned harrier, the hare had time to indulge in all those wiles in which our forefathers delighted, and of which they wrote at length in the hunting treatises of their time; but with the taste of the day in favour of pace, and with the modern harrier, the " curious and lasting sport" of old has been put an end to, and now the hare must, if the scent be moderately good, simply get away as far and as fast as possible. The late Sir John Dashwood King, of West Wycombe Park, Bucks, is said to have been the breeder to whom the sportsman is indebted for the present race of harriers. His pack did not exceed 18 inches in height. The parent stock was a small foxhound from the duke of Grafton's kennel, named Tyrant, whose blood, form, and character were apparent throughout; and so highly was the pack thought of that Lord Sondes, of Rockingham Castle, gave 700 guineas for it.

The beagle (see DOG) is used in hunting the hare, but Beagles, from its diminutive size it is not possessed of great pace; it is therefore generally followed on foot, but it is a good plan to have one person on horseback, in order that the pack may be stopped if they get away from the field and make for a cover.

The real otter hound bears a strong resemblance to Otter the old southern hound. The head is heavier than that hounds, of the foxhound, and the eyes are deeply set as in a blood hound. The coat is rough and somewhat wiry, but it should be thick. The otter hound is not very common, foxhounds being often used for otter hunting; but the Carlisle pack is of the true breed.

The remarks already made on kennel management apply, for the most part, in the cases of hounds other than fox-hounds ; all varieties need the same cleanliness and attention. The different game for which the hounds are entered of course necessitate some trivial adaptation from the course pursued in foxhound kennels, but speaking generally the management is the same. (K D. B.)

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