British dogs at work By Arthur Croxton Smith, 1906
Here we have as handsome a dog as we need wish to see, his general appearance suggesting a rough-coated Greyhound of greater size and substance. Sir Walter Scott's description of the Scottish Deerhound might almost stand to-day. He has u considerable history, if one cares to delve into the past, and Holinshed, who wrote in the sixteenth century, tells how the Pictesh nobilitye repaired unto Craithlint, King of the Scots, for to hunt and make merrie with him. Perceiving that the Scottish dogs did far excel theirs both in faimesse, swiftnesse, and hardinesse, they got diverse both dogs and bitches of the best kind for breed to be given them. Yet being not content they stole one belonging to the king, which led to a shrewde bickering between them, in which many died.
Like snakes in Ireland, the work of the Deerhound does not exist to-day, the modern rifle having quite rendered his services unnecessary. Until comparatively recent times he coursed the deer, or tracked a wounded quarry.
THE IRISH WOLFHOUND
We live in such a sceptical age that Goldsmith's statement about a Wolfhound reaching the stature of a yearling calf or standing 4 feet in height finds no credence. The worthy doctor's natural history, however, was notoriously inexact, and we may remain content with the knowledge that the Irish Wolfhound at one time or another was an enormous animal. For some reason or other he appears to have died out, or nearly so, and that the breed has been resuscitated so cleverly is a remarkable tribute to the small band of enthusiasts headed by Captain Graham. The Deerhound and Great Dane were the principal factors in the making of the handsome dog that graces our shows to-day. Although absolute uniformity of type may not have been reached, it becomes apparent each year that Irish Wolfhounds are becoming more level in appearance.
His work, says some one, ceased with the death of the last wolf in Ireland. Probably that is so, for it is difficult to see what use the sportsman could now put him to. He may, however, serve the more homely if none the less admirable purpose, of being a splendid guard to person and property.