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* Facies non omnibus una,
“If handsome without they are then perfect. With regard to their being sizeable, what Somerville says is so much in your own way that I shall send it you:
• As some brave captain, curious and exact,
By his fix'd standard, forms in equal ranks
“There are necessary points in the shape of a hound which ought always to be attended to by a sportsman, for if he be not of a perfect symmetry he will neither run fast nor bear much work. He has much to undergo, and should have strength proportioned to it. Let his legs be straight as arrows, his feet round and not too large ; his shoulders back; his breast rather wide than narrow; his chest deep; his back broad; his head small; his neck thin ; his tail thick and brushy, if he carry it well so much the better. Such hounds as are out at the elbous, and such as are weak from the knees to the foot, should never be taken into the pack.
“I find that I have mentioned a small head as one of the necessary requisites of a hound; but you will understand that it is relative to beauty only, for as to goodness, I believe, large-headed hounds are in no wise inferior. The colour I think of little moment, and am of opinion with our friend Foote, respecting his negro friend, that a good dog, like a good candidate, cannot be of a bad colour.
“Men are too apt to be prejudiced by the sort of hound which they themselves have been most accustomed to. Those who have been used to the sharp-nosed foxhound, will hardly allow a largeheaded hound to be a foxhound; yet they both equally are; speed and beauty are the chief excellencies of the one, while stoutness and tenderness of nose in hunting are characteristic of the other. I could tell you that I have seen very good sport with very unhandsome packs, consisting of hounds of various sizes, differing from one another as much in shape and look as in their colour; nor could there be traced the least sign of consanguinity amongst them. Considered separately the hounds were good ; as a pack of hounds they were not to be commended; nor would you be satisfied with anything that looked so very incomplete. You will find nothing so essential to your sport as that your hounds should run well together; nor can this end be better attained than by confining yourself, as near as you can, to those of the same sort, size, and shape.”
Thus then, as to points, it will be evident from the above extract that Beckford was fully aware of all which are considered essential to the foxhound, except the depth of the back ribs, in which the modern hound differs from both of his supposed progenitors (the greyhound and old-fashioned hound), and which has been established by carefully breeding from sires and dams peculiar for this development. It is upon this formation that stoutness, and the capability of bearing work day after day, mainly depend; and hence all good judges both of the hunter and the hound insist so strongly upon it. Nimrod (Apperley) also remarks that Beckford has omitted to particularise “the length of thigh discernible in first-rate hounds, which, like the well-let-down hock of the horse, gives them much superiority of speed, and is also a great security against laming themselves in leaping fences, which they are more apt to do when they become blown and consequently weak.” It may also be remarked, that though Beckford insists upon a middle size, he does not define what he means by the term, but as foxhounds vary from 26 inches to 20, I should say 23 to 25 inches for doghounds, and 21 to 23 for bitches, would be about the height meant by him. In open countries, with thin fences or walls, a large hound may perhaps suit best; but in woodlands, the small size, if not too small and delicate, has many advantages, and will always beat the larger and heavier hound, who tires himself in driving through the runs, which will readily admit the small dog or bitch. Nimrod fixed the height at “ 21 to 22 inches for bitches, and 23 to 24 for doghounds ;” but I have given a little more latitude in the above estimate. The speed of the foxhound may be estimated from the well-known match over the Beacon course, at Newmarket, which is 4 miles 1 furlong and 132 yards, and which was run by Mr. Barry's “ Bluecap” (the winner) in eight minutes and a few seconds, Mr. Meynell's hounds being not far behind ; and only twelve out of sixty horsemen who started with them being with them to the end. Colonel Thornton's bitch, “Merkin,” is even said to have run the same course in seven minutes and half a second. This speed is accounted for by the greyhound descent, if it really exists; and that it does so I have little doubt, as it is quite clear that the old hound was deficient in those points which the greyhound alone would be able to give; but as this is only conjecture I have not insisted upon it.
The sinall rounded ear of the foxhound is due to the rounding irons of the huntsman, who removes a large portion of the pup's ears in order to save them from the tears and scratches which they would inevitably encounter in “drawing,” if allowed to remain on. The portion left is sufficient to protect the passage to the internal organ, but for which necessity it would be better to crop them closely, as is practised with dogs intended for fighting; just as the wrestler and the pugilist have their hair cropt as close to their heads as possible.
The prevailing colours of foxhounds in the present day are as follows, placing them in the order of their frequency :-(1.) Black and white with tan; (2.) The mixed or blended colours, known as “pies,” as red pie, blue pie, yellow pie, grey pie, lemon pie, hare pie, and badger pie, the last three very handsome; (3.) Tan ; (4.) Black ; (5.) White ; (6.) Red; (7.) Blue ; each being more or less mixed with white. Foxhounds are often slightly ticked, but rarely mottled, the “ blue mottled hound,” according to Mr. Apperley, being a true harrier or beagle, and most probably
descended from the southern hound, which was often of this colour.
It must be remembered that the foxhound is always to be looked at as part of a pack, and hence it is of no use to breed an exceptionally high or otherwise well made hound if it will make him run in a different style to his companions. Hence it is neces. sary to keep to such a model as can be produced in number sufficient to form the pack, which is another argument in favour of a medium size; and hence, in looking at a pack, together or separately, the lover of the foxhound is always on the look-out for “suitiness,” or the resemblance to another in size and shape, which Beckford alludes to in describing a good-looking pack of hounds as appearing “all of one family.”
In his work the foxhound is peculiar for dash, and for always being inclined to cast forwards, instinctively appearing to be aware that the fox makes his point to some covert different from that in which he was found. On the other hand, the harrier casts back, from a knowledge, instinctive or acquired, that the hare has a tendency to return to the place from which she started, and will be almost sure to do so if she has time enough given her.