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"The Country" Magazine 1876 Senex article and readers letters on the Scotch Deerhound The Country Magazine

1. DOGS OF THE DAY by Senex
VI.-The Scotch Deerhound.

The rough Scotch deerhound is, perhaps, as old a breed as any extant, not excepting the fabulous pedigrees we read of in the mastiffs; but whether their lineage traces back from the time that Noah made his exit from the Ark or is of more recent origin it matters little. Few will deny that they are a most striking and picturesque breed of dogs. As an ardent admirer of the true breed, and having kept them some five-and-thirty years or more, perhaps a few lines in The Country will not come amiss to instruct the inexperienced what kind they are to try to obtain. The deerhound of the present day is very difficult to get quite pure, so many crosses have been resorted to. some have tried the foxhound, others the bulldogs, and then again the colley. The deerhound stands from 28in. to 30in. or 31in. high ; lately, I believe, one has been exhibited 33in., but then what use is such a hound? His immense size, to the tyro, may be taking on the bench, but let him only consider what he is wanted for, viz., to hunt and pull down the stag. Can a lumbering, overgrown animal (for such a hound of the size would be) gallop over all kinds of ground at any pace and be active likewise? No. For real work to maintain a high speed long, and a deerhound is required to have speed, endurance, and strength ; where the loins are weak the animal is useless for the purpose the breed denotes; the loins, then, cannot be too strong, which applies to the hind quarters likewise, as they are the chief element of progression. No for real work choose a hound about 28in or 29in, not more. The deerhound resembles in form the common greyhound, only his build is more massive. His head should be long, and broad between the ears, the jaws very powerful, and the teeth strong, white and regular; the hair on the sides of the lips forms a sort of moustache. Whenever one is seen with a narrow skull be assured at some time or other Persian or Russian has been resorted to' this is apparent in many of the specimens one sees on the show benches at the present day. The ear should be small, set on high, and at the back of the skull more like the rat's, and when at rest the flaps are turned a little outwards, so that one sees inside the ear; this I have always noticed in the best bred ones. Avoid a large ear, it is an abomination. The neck should be moderately long, and very muscular, and the shoulders broad and deep and obliquely set; this is of great importance as anyone must understand that a dog with an upright shoulder cannot have any pace; the fore legs should be straight, with plenty of bone, and well set on the feet, which should not be spreading, but the toes well held together, In an old rhyme on greyhounds one line is "a back like a beam," which equally holds good with the deerhound, for without strength in this department it is impossible to maintain a high speed long, and a deerhound is required to have speed, endurance, and strength; where the loins are weak the animal is useless for the purpose the breed denotes' the loins, then, cannot be too strong, which applies to the hind quarters likewise, as they are the chief element of progression. Strong stifle joints and hocks, with great length between them, and to the stifle to the hip, in conjunction with a short leg, is to my mind the beaŘidcall of hind quarters. Illustration Scotch Deerhound

A few words may be said not inaptly about coat, as nowadays one sees so many types even in animals of the same parentage. The Scotch deerhound, unadulterated, has a strong wiry coat, not silken, or any approach of it. Perhaps one of the finest specimens of the breed that has been seen for years for symmetry is W. Hickman, Esq.'s, Morni, but then he failed in coat, being very soft, and that is seen likewise in some of the descendants from his sister Brenda, who has thrown such a number of winners during the last three years; and I cannot help fancying, without any disrespect to the good dogs, that within this last ten or twelve years a little foreign blood has been infused. 1 should always doubt the purity of a deerhound with a head narrow between the ears, or which may have a fine silky coat. Well can I recollect my first, a black grizzle with a strong wiry coat, and all the good ones I have seen imported from the Land Of Cakes had the same texture, strong, and wiry hair. I am fully convinced if the advocates of the soft-haired deerhounds would only try their hounds against the hard-coated ones in Scotland, standing on the side of some exposed place and a driving mist, they would then candidly confess that the wiry had the day. In a former part I stated that 28 in was a good height for a deerhound, by that I meant for work' for the show bench an inch or so higher might do, but avoid too much in that quarter, as then, in the majority of cases, a weak loin is the result. Thanks to the kindness of a friend, who, I believe took the measurements at Birmingham show in 1873, I am enabled to give the measurements etc, of many of the most famous dogs and bitches of the present day. Scotch Deerhound Measurements

Somerset, who since that time has made his mark in the show yard, measures ; Height, 29 1/2in , girth, 35in.; loin, 26 1/2 and length, 5ft. 9in.

The above are the only measures I have been able to obtain ; but are sufficient to show that, as a rule, it is not an overgrown hound that the young exhibitor has to look to obtain honours. Search for an active dog, with good legs, strong loins and haunches, a nice sloping Shoulder, and a hard coat, and such a one will take a deal of beating.

May 25 1876

(Letter from Geo W. Hay)

Will you kindly allow me a few lines relative to the above?

"Senex" has given an excellent account of what a good deerhound should be, but in my opinion, a poor "wood' cut, as the hound he portrays is deficient in the rough hard hair he says a good hound should have, and, to my mind, his feet are too big and soft and spreading, and I doubt if that hound could stand hard work on heather or rough ground; his ears, besides, could not possibly be so set on, as given in the portrait, otherwise the dog looks well enough; his forelegs however, look to thick for his hind ones -- but we must not quarrel too much with an artist who probably never saw the dog he portrays. If he had given the dogs name we might have known more about him; as it is, the general deerhound does not lose much by his likeness.

"Senex" gives the proper height for a working hound and I quite agree with him; a heavy large hound is no use for fast and continuous work, and the more hard hair he has the better to stand the cold and misty weather he has to encounter.

"Senex," again, gives the names and height and girth of several dogs. If he does not disapprove, I will add my dogs name to his list, with height and girth and pedigree.

Rufus, whose height is 29 1/2in, girth 33in, was first prize at Birmingham (1875) and the second prize at the Crystal Palace (1875) last year. At the Crystal Palace he was beaten by his nephew, a lager, but I don't think a better dog, the Prince Of Wale's dog highly commended being his brother. So his strain is good, all being bred by Capt Morae, who has bred many good dogs.

Rufus's pedigree is by Keildar out of Brenda, who "Senex" says, has thrown a number of prize winners in the last three years. To give a lengthened pedigree of Rufus would only be to give the names of prize winners through a number of years, but I shall gladly give the full pedigree to anyone desirous of having it, or of having the services of the dog, under stringent conditions.

Geo W. Hay
Devon Lodge, The Warren
Starcross, Devon

(Letter from unreadable (ocr error on signature) June 15, 1876

Allow me to correct an error in Mr. Hay's letter last week on this subject.

He assumes that the Brenda mentioned by "Senex" as the dam of so many winners the last three years is the same as Capt. Horse's Brenda, the dam of Bufus. This is a mistake, as the bitch which "Senex" meant is a totally different animal, and not related, I believe, to her namesake, being own sister to Morni, as would be gathered by "Senex's" letter. She was, until recently, the property of Mr. Parkes, and the winners alluded to are those bred by my friend Mr. Fershouse Parkes, viz., Mr. Musters's Torunn, Mr. H. P. Parkes's Bovis and Teeldar, Mr. Lewis's Meg, Lord St. Leonard's Hilda, and other winners, who have almost farmed the prizes at Birmingham and other shows.

Mr. Hay is also wrong in stating the Prince of Wales's Torrum to be a brother of Bufas, the fact being that the former was bred by the late Sidney Dobell, and was by his Torrum (half brother to Morni) out of his Maida.

I Know that I am asking a favour of you, in sending you the pedigree of my dog Bufus, in the hope that you will insert it in your next number, because I have this morning a letter from Mr. H. P. Parkes, telling me that I have made a mistake about the Brenda which "Senex" alludes to in The Country of May 25, she not being the mother of my dog. I am sorry that I should have made a "mistake." There seem as many Brenda's as "Senexs," because I see to-day in the " Broad Arrow" that a " Senex" there has a letter.

All I know about Brenda is that she was the mother of my dog, and if Mr. Parkes can mend his pedigree I shall be much obliged to him. At Birmingham Mr. Parkes took second prize, my dog being first. At the Crystal Palace my dog took second prize, his being only highly commended.

My reason for troubling you is that Mr. Parkes tells .me that " some day you might get your dog disqualified on account of wrong pedigree, if not corrected." I therefore have to ask the favour of your inserting the pedigree of my dog. Bufus is by Keildar out of Brenda. The sire of Keildar was Mr. Stewart Hodgson's Oscar, first prize Islington, 1863; his dam was Mr. Coles's Hylda, first prize Cremorne, 1864, by his old Keildar out of Frank. Old Keildar was by Hector, a dog bred and presented to the late Prince Consort by Mr. Campbell, of Monzie, Perthshire. Keildar, he gained a first and second prize at Islington and a second at the Crystal Palace. Brenda is by Bevis, first prize at Cheltenham, third at Islington, out of Lufra. Bevis is by Scott out of Maida, Scott, by the Hon. Grantley Berkeley's Oscar. Maida won first prize at Birmingham, 1864; she was bred by M'Donnel of Glengarry. Lufra was by Mr. Mellor's Oscar, first prize at Manchester, out of Lord H. Benckmell's Carrick, second prize at Islington.

If I have made a "mistake" as to Brenda I wish to express my regret, as Mr. Parkes tells me that by giving Brenda as the mother of my dog I may "mislead the public," which I certainly do not wish to do. All honour to his Brenda, and may she throw many winners for him!

(Letter from unreadable (ocr error on signature)

(Letter from The Owner Of Morni. June 1 1876)

I Read the article of "Senex" on this subject with much interest, and there is so much in it that I agree with that I feel some reluctance in differing with the writer at all; but, whilst thanking him for the favourable mention of my dog Morni, I wish to offer a few remarks on the further statement that Morni "failed in coat, being very soft," and also as to the coat m general. Now, I admit that the dog has not a coat of the hardest type, but this, I think, is in some considerable measure to be accounted for by the fact that, since he grew up and became a favourite, Morni has been allowed to live in the house both day and night, and that it can, therefore, hardly be wondered at that, with sleeping in warm rooms and on soft carpets, and being periodically washed, a dog's coat should he considerably softened. In fact, when he was s young dog his coat was hard enough, and it was not until the close of a long show career that his opponents, after having vainly tried to pick any other fault in him, detected this ground of objection, and were loud on the vital importance of coat. With regard to his sister, Brenda, "he was certainly not a soft-coated bitch, and even if some of her descendants are soft-coated, others have been hard; and it should also be recollected that these descendants had a sire and a dam, and also that they, together with Morni, have won twenty-one out of the twenty-eight prizes given at Birmingham during the last four years.

As to there being foreign blood in Morni, 1 can only say that no dog has a better pedigree. and neither his sire nor dam had a soft coat-in fact, the latter was one of the short, and consequently hard-coated breed. Oscar, his sire, came from the celebrated kennels of Gen. Hugh Boss and Col. David Boss, of Glenmordart, confessedly the best blood in Scotland-Mc'Niel, of Colonsay, having the same strain. On the dam side Morni has a long and wcll-authenticated pedigree, and if there be any remote blot at all, it comes through his dam's sire, Bran (engrave in " Dogs of the British Islands "), and any objection on this score would also apply to the stock of Kieldar, Bran's brother, whose descendant. however, curiously enough, have lately been lauded chiefly for their hard coats. I, consequently, do not see that there is anything to warrant the idea that any deficiency in coat is to be attributed to foreign blood.

Perhaps, as "Senex" has given some of the measurements of my dog, in which he is correct, except in one particular, you will allow me to give them in extenso as taken at one of the Birmingham shows:


Height at shoulder 31

Girth of chest (ocr error)

Girth of loin (ocr error)

Length of head (ocr error)

Bound head ,(ocr error)

From nose to setting of tail 35

Length of tail (ocr error)

Total length from nose to tip of tail (ocr error)

Weight from 9lb. to 1001b.

It will thus be seen that Morni is a dog of extraordinary length, and that not gained at the expense of a slack loin; and he is the biggest dog of his height I ever saw.

That all judges did not object to his coat so much as "Senex" is shown by his having won fifteen prizes on his last twelve essays at the principal shows in England and Scotland, his hut appearance being at Birmingham, where he carried off the champion prize and Elkington cup, after having been victorious in the two preceding years. Shortly afterwards he met with an accident, and retired.

Now, as to coat generally. I maintain that there are two main varieties in the Scotch deerhound, and that, although one may be preferred to the other, neither betokens purity or impurity of blood.

It is easy to see how this stickling for coat arose. The authorities for points are " The Dogs of the British Island" and "The Book Points." The latter is a copy of the former and that is also copied verbatim from the appendix to Scrope's "Deerstalking," a book I believe has previously seen referred to in your column. This appendix, as is well known to all who have studied the deerhound, was written by Mc'Niel, of Colonsay, who selected as his types of the deerhound his brother's own dogs, and, like others, naturally gave the preference to the hard coat because his own dogs had it. Mc'Niel, after describing Buscar and stating that he had a harsh wiry coat (whence it has been inferred that every other dog should have one) is yet compelled to make the following admission:

"Though the dogs described are of a yellow or reddish colour, there are in the districts of Badenoch and Lochaber some of a dark grey, which are considered pure; indeed, it is believed that this was at one time the prevailing colour in the Highlands of Scotland. Besides this difference in colour, there seems to be a decided difference in the texture of the hair between the yellow and the grey dog, that of the grey dog being much softer and more woolly."

He thus admits that the dark grey dogs, though of softer coats, are equally pure, or, in fact, perhaps purer, as they are of the true original colour. At all events he shows that there were two distinct types of coats, and even amongst his own dogs it seems there was not a perfect uniformity, for after describing Bran, Buscar, Ba˝a, and Cavack, he goes on to say, " These dogs, though all more or less related to each other, vary somewhat in colour, and vary also in the length and quality of hair."

The same difference is also shown in St. John's " Wild Sports of the Highlands," a book written about thirty years ago. Describing a chase he saw, he gives the following account of the dogs, which corresponds remarkably with Mc'Niel's:

"The dogs were perfect. Bran, an immense but beautifully made dog of a light colour, with black eyes and muzzle, his ears of a dark brown, soft and silky as a lady's hand, the rest of his coat being wiry and harsh, though not exactly rough and shaggy like his comrade Oscar, who was longer haired, of a darker brindle colour, with sharp long muzzle, but the same soft ears as Bran, which, by the by, is a distinctive mark of high breeding-in these dogs."

It is, therefore, clear that, as I have stated, there have always been two main varieties of coat, the shorter, and, consequently, stronger, and the longer and comparatively fine. From these two having been crossed, we get specimen of both in the same litter as " Senex" observes. The same thing, though in a greater degree, exists with regard to the so-called smooth and rough-coated St. Bernards.

It is, therefore, unjust to term the softer coated deerhounds not pure. But I freely confess that, other things equal, I would prefer the harder coat, if there were enough of it. But the great mischief of making coat such an essential is, that it is then liable to being made to outweigh everything else, and then we may get dogs preferred which are merely broken-haired greyhounds or lurchers, whereas it is the possession of a good amount of coat that gives the deerhound his wild and characteristic appearance; and the hardest-coated dogs are generally the most deficient in regard to quantity, and the purity of a smooth-skulled dog is always to be suspected.

With regard to the other points touched on by "Senex," I quite agree with him in the main, "specially as to the size required for actual work and the size that may be allowed for the show bench. Surely a thirty-inch dog is big enough for anything; at all events, size beyond this is no recommendation.

With regard to ears, whilst agreeing with your correspondent's remarks, I would mention that they should be dark brown or blackish, and velvet-like to the touch, like St. John describes them, being somewhat of the same soft character as those of a high bred mastiff, though of course thinner, and with as little coat on them as possible.

In conclusion, I must disclaim being an advocate of the soft-coated deerhound in the sense of -exalting him over his harder-coated brother. My object merely is to show that he is equally pure, and that, though there is no objection to a judge preferring a wiry coat, yet it must not, like some would have size, be made the only, or the chief, test of merit. It has been written, "Shun the man of one book ;" I would say, "Shun the judge of one point." The more a man studies dogs or human nature, the more his experience mast teach him that it is hopeless to expect perfection, or the presence or absence of one particular quality in every individual; and that the best dog, like the best man, is, after all, merely the one that has the fewest imperfections and the greatest balance of redeeming qualities.

Sidney Dobell, and was by his Torrum (half brother to Morni) out of his Maida.

The Owner Of Morni.

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