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DOMESTICATED DOGS, HUNTING CHIEFLY BY THE NOSE, AND BOTH FINDING AND KILLING THEIR GAME; COMMONLY KNOWN AS HOUNDS.
The Southern Hound.— The Bloodhound.- The Staghound.—The Foxhound.
- The Harrier. The Beagle. — The Otterhound. — The Terrier. — The Dachshund.
THE SOUTHERN HOUND, NORTHERN HOUND, AND TALBOT. THERE appears to be some difficulty in getting any reliable account of the original stock from which our modern hounds are descended,
inasmuch as the portraits of the old Talbots, southern hounds, northern hounds, bloodhounds, &c., which exist in various localities, do not bear any strong evidence of resembling the animals from which they were painted. One thing, however, is clear, namely, that one or more breeds of hound existed in former years which were heavier and slower than any we now possess, their ears also being longer, and their noses said to be more tender. The last point is one upon which much difference of opinion may be entertained, as it is almost impossible to compare one with the other; but in regard to their weight and want of pace, little doubt can be felt as to their differing from our modern hounds. But it was not only in shape and want of pace that these hounds were different from ours, but in their dwelling on a scent, as if enjoying the pleasure of inhaling the perfume, which no doubt is felt by the dog. These hounds would absolutely sit down and throw their tongues in the most melodious tone for half a minute when they met with any peculiarly strong scent, and then go off again till they came to another similar full stop, upon which the same occurred again; and, as a natural result, the frequent stoppages, added to the absolute deficiency of speed, made the dog wholly incapable of running down any animal which has a safe retreat like the fox, although he might in his “slow and sure” way overcome those which have none, such as the hare and the deer. Various writers describe the southern hound and northern hound as different dogs, the former being met with in the South of England and Wales, and more particularly in Devonshire, while the latter was confined to
SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN HOUNDS, AND TALBOT.
the north. Both, however, were large, bony hounds, with long falling ears, but the southern hounds had absolute dewlaps, or at all events such excessive throatiness as to make them rejected in the present day on that account alone. The portrait at the head of this article does not represent this peculiarity sufficiently, and the dog there drawn would pass muster in this point among modern foxhounds. In other respects he is, I believe, a faithful copy of the southern hound, and shows the bony limbs, great strength and height, as well as the length of ear and heaviness of head so remarkable in them. Markham, who lived three hundred years ago, in comparing the two kinds of hound, describes the northern as having “a head more slender, with a longer nose, ears and flews more shallow, back broad, belly gaunt, joints long, tail small, and his general form more slender and greyhound-like; but the virtues of these Yorkshire hounds I can praise no farther than for scent and swiftness, for with respect to mouth, they have only a little shrill sweetness, but no depth of tone or music.” The Talbot has been described in different terms by various authors, and his likeness delineated in changing forms, but there is no doubt that he was a heavier hound than the northern, though not perhaps quite up to the solemn and slow dignity of the southern hound, being very much like the bloodhound, except in colour, which was generally pied. In the nineteenth century, when pace is considered an essential to hunting, these three hounds are discarded in favour of either the staghound, foxhound, harrier, or beagle, all of which are now bred as fast as possible consistently with the possession of a good nose. The music of the pack is also
much neglected, and most men now-a-days prefer even that of “the squeaking bitches” if they give a good gallop, to the fulltoned and bell-like tongues, one below the other, which were formerly considered to be a part of the sport, and without which a full cry was not listened to with pleasure. All this is of course a matter of taste, as it is manifest that the bitches with their shrill tongues can hunt as well as the dogs, and not having a musical ear myself, I cannot enter into the feelings of those who have.
There are still several small packs of these heavy slow hounds kept in the sequestered villages of Devon, Yorkshire, Sussex, and South Wales, but it is very doubtful how far they represent any one of the three above-named old breeds. It is wholly as a matter of curiosity and antiquarian lore that any reference is made to them.
The name given to this hound is founded upon his peculiar power of scenting the blood of a wounded animal, so that, if once put on his trail, he could hunt him through any number of his fellows, and would thus single out a wounded deer from a large herd, and stick to him through any foils or artifices which he may have re
From this property he has also been used to trace human beings, and as his nose is remarkably delicate in hunting,