Irish Wolfhound Times
(Irish Wolfhound Database and Breed Information Exchange)
THE SCOTTISH DEERHOUND.GRACE AND STRENGTH - A HISTORICAL SKETCH
(By R. Trotter, Booval (Maryborough Chronicle, Qld, Australia) November 1928)
Mr. R. Trotter (president of the Weiat Moreton Kennel Association, a well-known judge and an. enthusiastic breeder and exhibitor of the deerhound has supplied the following details of the history and characteristics of the stately Scotch deerhound: — Whether the bounds used to entertain. Queen Elisabeth at Cowdray Park in 1595 were ordinary greyhounds or Scottish deertiounds is a very moot point. The latter were likely enough to be fashionable animals at the close of the sexteenth century, for they had already been described by Hector Bolce in 1526 and 1527. Thirty years later, Gesner in the history of quadrupeds, gives an illustration of three Scotch dogs, one of these answering to our modem standard of a deerhound. The drawing for this illustration was supplied by Henry St. Clair, Dean of Glasgow, whose family kept the breed for many years. Good Queen Bess was particularly fond of her dogs and there is nothing unreasonable in supposing that those provided in Cowdray Park were in reality deer-hounds. About 1769 the breed must have become very scarce, as we find Pennant saying: 'He saw at Gordon Castle a 'true' Highland grey hound.' It was large in size, strong, deep-chested and covered with long rough hair. This kind was in great vogue in former days, and used at the stag chases by powerful chieftains. History tells ue that the Kings of Scotland were wont to command their subjects who had good hounds to bring them together in order -that they should have a suitable hunt, and their commands were freely responded to by the presence of the Earls of Argyll, Huntly, Athol and others. The Highland farmers, extending to the Hebrides, were never loth to chase and kill a deer, and when a stag or hind was not to be had the deerhound was trained to kill foxes, otters, and small vermin. Scottish deerhounds were by no means common then in the Hebrides, but there, and on the Western Coast, considerable pains were taken to preserve the strains in its purity and strength, and in a great measure we are indebted to those small farmers for preserving this breed when it was within easy distance of extinction. One or two authors have assumed that. the deer hound is a cross between the foxhound and the greyhound, or between the latter and the bloodhound. Other authorities are not agreed on this. Personally, I am convinced that the Great Dane has been used in the forming of this breed, and I have obvious traces of the Dane in my present collection. If the deerhound is to be found on his native heath, in greater numbers now than in the past, it is because the many strains that existed in out of the the way plnces 100 or more years ago have been brought by better communications within the radius of canine admirers. In addition to the hounds kept by .the farmers and shepherds Lord Seaford. the MacDonnels of Tunergarry House, Cluny Macipherson, Colonel Mitchel, the Lochiels in Lochaher (one of whose hounds is reputed to have killed the last wolf in Scotand), - the Dukes of Gordon, MeKenzie, Macraes and Macleods, all kept their kennels with considerable reputation.
BEAUTIFUL SWIFT AND POWERFUL
Writing for the 'Field' some years ago the Earl of Toukerville remarked that many deerhound that he saw were beautiful, swift and powerful. Some-were able to pull down stag single handed, but the bravest always got killed in the end. The pure bTeed have keen noses as well as speed, and will follow the wounded deer perseveringly if they find the blood. The same writer details an interesting account of a remarkable deerhound belonging to a poacher that never missed a deer. In due courses he obtained this hound, which later saved the life of a keeper when attacked by one of the wild bulls of Chillingham. After being delivered to his new home ''Bran' was placed in the kennel surrounded by high palisades. However, the -hound succeeded in scaling them, and returned to his old home, reaching Ihere before his original owner. The distance between the two places was over seventy miles, and as the dog did not pass his previous owner on his way home he must have swum across Loch Ericht. From the earliest dog shows classes have been provided for deerhounds, and these have resulted in a number of excellent animals being benched of a 'uniformity and quality that Charles St. John and the Macneils would scarcely have thought possible. There is no more handsome dog than the deerhound. He is the elegance of shape, the light airy appearance of the greyhound, a hard, crisp, and picturesque jacket. In 1870 Lord Henry Bentinch took great pride in his hounds andk ept a 'fine kennel which was subsequently dispersed by auction in Mcdowells rooms, Edinburgh, at large figures.
A FAVOURITE DOG
Mr. MoKenxie Chesthiil, Colonel Campbell, Lord Boswell, Mr.Spencer Lucy, The Duke-of Sutherland and many others of the oldest- Scottish families have at one time or another had good deerhound in their kennels. Ronald . Macdonnell, of Glengarry vouched that one of his houds tracked a wounded stag for three days, eventually killing his quarry. Sir Walter Scott had a great fondness for these hounds, and owned several,- the most celebrated being a bitch named Maida,' whose descendants figure in the modern show ring. The late Queen Victoria and Prince Consort had some of tbe best. at Windsor Castle. No one disputes their antiquity, though evidence wanting concerning the manner in which they were introduced into Scotland. ..The assumption sa that the preent type remains unchanged for some centuries. As a rule a pure bired deerhound, properly brought np. and. trained, is most ameniable to discipline. . With a sweet temper, he he is concious of his immense strength which unless uhduly provoked is seldom jtsed. The deerhound makes a very desirable guard, as its personal attachment are remarkable. I have found them to have distinct claims to amiability and attractiveness For a lady who faours aa big dog there is probably no hound so affectionate. Endowed with great strength and activity it can be regarded as one of the most beaituful and symmetrical of animals. Like the Borzoi (or Russian Wolfhound) it will curl up into a comparatively small space. Boasting an excellent demeanour generally this "giant of the forest) may be taken out without fear or ill consequences once it has been trained. Experience has taught me that a deerhound should never be chained. Free range prevents mis-shapen legs or broken spirited animals. Strict attention should be tkan in regard to any punishment inflicted on a puppy, as no breed of dogs is more s ensitive or more readily spoiled by harsh treatment. As a killer of kaangaroos and dingoes, the deerhound stands pre-eminent amongst hounds of pure breeding. The prominence into which they have been brought as slayers in the dingo infested country is remarkable and correspondence from many clients appertaining to their grand slayi8ng qualities is most interesting. Colour is much a matter of fancy - the dark and light blue greys and brindles. I saw may huge Deerhounds in Scotland and North Of England and great prominence is given to the blue grey colour. Unfortunately I have noticed that many breeders in the colony have a tendencey to introduce the greyhound into the pure deerhound. This, I presume with the intention of obtaining speed. This fact is to be regretted as the necessary three or four inch wiry coat, so characteristic of the breed is ruined and the result from an exhibitors point of view, is that we neither have a greyhound, kangaroo dog, nor deerhound
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