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"The dogs of the British Islands: being a series of articles."
By John Henry Walsh ("Stronehenge") 1878
("Deerhound Chapter)

(John Henry Walsh ("Stronehenge") wrote a weekly series for "The Field" magazine starting in 1865. In 1878 he published his book based on this series of articles, hence the title to his book)


This dog is now more ornamental than useful, his former trade of retrieving wounded deer in Scotland being often entrusted to colleys, whole or half-bred, and cross-bred dogs of various kinds, but in the south his grand size and outline make him a great favourite with country gentlemen, and more especially with the ladies of their families. For this fashion Sir Walter Scott with his Ban and Buskar, immortalised in "Waverley," is mainly responsible, as with the Dandie Dinmonts in " Guy Mannering."

There is no doubt that the Scotch deerhound and the thorough Scotch greyhound were identical in shape, and could scarcely be distinguished by good judges, and even by them only when at work, the deerhound galloping with his head considerably higher than the greyhound. Pari passu with the disappearance of the rough greyhound has been the rarity of the deerhound in modern days, the former being displaced by the smooth breed, and the latter by various crosses, e.g., that between the foxhound and greyhound advocated by Mr. Scrope; the mastiff and greyhound cross of the Earl of Stamford, and all sorts of crosses between the colley and greyhound, rough as well as smooth, as mentioned above. In the present day pure deerhounds kept for the retrieving of deer are comparatively rare, and I believe even those in Her Majesty's kennel are not used for that purpose. Hence it is idle to attempt to describe this dog solely from the deerstalker's point of view, and he must be estimated rather from an artistic standpoint, in which capacity he rivals, and perhaps surpasses, all his brethren, having the elegant frame of the greyhound united with a rough shaggy coat, which takes off the hardness of outline complained of by the lovers of the picturesque as attaching to the English " longtail." Still, though the deerhound of modern days is to be considered as a companionable dog rather than as a deer retriever, as he has always hitherto been regarded as coming under the latter category, and is so classed in all our shows. - Mr Fields Deerhound Bran

I shall not attempt to displace him from his old time-honoured position. As a companion he must depend for a good character on his ornamental appearance, rther than onhis utility as a protector of dames, in which capacity he is quite useless as compared with the mastiff, St Bernard, or Newfoundland. He is not so quarrelsome as the colley, but when attacked defends himself with great power, quickness and courage. His chief defect as a companion is his proneness to chase any moving object, and he will even pick up little dogs, especially if they attempt to run away from him' and if not broken early from this habit, he often occasions trouble to his owner. On the other hand, he is seldom ofensive to strangers, but he does not take to children, and is seldom to be trusted with them. Unless well broken, he will chase hares and rabbits, and of course deer, and on that account he should not be taken into deer parks or game preserves by those who are not sure of being able to control him.

The disproportion between the sexes is greater than in any other breed of dogs, the average difference in height in the same litter being often from five to six inches.

When this dog is slipped at a wounded deer, he pursues it by either scent or sight, the latter being, of course, used in preference, but the nose being lowered for the trail the moment the deer is lots to the eye. In hunting the trail, howver hot and fresh, the deerhound does not throw his tongue as a rule, though as is the case even with some of the highest bred greyhounds, occasionally a low whimper is hear. When a stag stands at bay, the dog opens with a loud sharp bark, and continues till his master appears to give the coup de grace, unless his quarry is sufficiently exhausted by loss of blood to permit his pinioning him; but a stag in possession of his full powers is beyond the reach of any dog from the front, and a well-bred deerhound does not make the attempt unless he sees an opening from behind. A cross with the bulldog was tried some years ago in order to give courage, which it did; but it also gave the peruliar bulldog tendency to go at the head of the deer, and led to the loss of so many valuable animals that it was abandoned.

The points of the Deerhound are as follow;

1 Skull (value 10) the deerhound rersembles the large coarse greyhound, it being long and moderately wide, especiallyi between the ears. There is a very slight rise at the eyebrows so as to take off what would otherwise bas a stright line from tip of nose to occiput. The upper surface is level in both directions.

2 Nose and jaws (value 5) the jaws should be long and the teeth level and strong. Nostrils open but not very wide, and the end pointed and black; cheeks well clothed with muscle, but the bone under the eye neither prominent nor hollow

3 Ears and eyes (value 5) the ears should be small and thin and carried a trifle higher than those of the smooth greyhound, but should turn ovr at the tips, Pricked ears are sometimes met with, as in the rough greyhound, but they are not correct. They should be thinly fringed with hair at the edges only' that on the surfaces should be soft and smooth. Eyes full and dark hazel, sometimes by preference blue.

4. Neck (value 19) should be long enough to allow the dog to stoop to the scent at a fast pace, but not so long and tapering as the greyhound. It is usually also a little thinner than the corresponding part in that dog.

5 Chest and shoulders (value 10) the chest is deep rather than wide, and in its general formation it resembles that of the greyhound, being shaped with great elegance, and at the same time, so that the shoulders can play freely on its sides. The girth of a full sized deerhound should be at least two inches greater than his height, often an inch or two more, but a round unwieldly chest is not to be desired, even if girthing well. Shoulders long, oblique and muscular.

6. Back and back ribs (value 10) Without a powerful loin a large dog like this canot sustain the sweeping stride which he possesses, and thereofe a deep and wide development of muscle filling up the space between wide back ribs and somewhat ragged his is the desideratum. A good loin should measure 25 to 26 inches in show condition. The back ribs are often rather shallow, but they must be wide, or what is called "well sprung" and the loin should be arched, droping to the root of the tail.

7 Elbow and stifles (value 10) if well placed, give great liberty of action, and the contrary if they are confined by being too close together. These points should therefore be carefully examined. The elbows must be well let down to give length to the true arm, and should be quite straight, that is, neither turned in or out. The stifles should be wide apart and set well forward to give length to the upper thigh. Many otherwise well made deerhounds are very straight in their stifles.

8. The high symmetry (value 10) of this dog is essential to his position as a companiable dog, and it is therefore estimated accoringly. Quality is also to be regarded as of great importance.

9 Legs and quarters (value 7 1/2) great bone and muscle must go to the formation of these parts, and the bones must be well put together at the knees and hocks, which should be long and well developed. The quarters are deep but seldom wide, and there is often a considerable slope to the tail. Some of the most successful dogs lately exhibited, and notably Mr Muster's Torunn and Mr Beasley's Countess have been nearly straight backed, but this shape is not approved of by deerstalkers.

10 Feet (Value 7 1.2) should be well arched in the toes and catlike - a wide spready foot is often met with, but should be specially condemned.

11 Colour and coat (value 10) The colours most in request are dark blue,fawn, grizzle and brindled, the latter with a more or less tint of blue. The fawn should have the tips of the ears dark, but most otherwise good fawns are pale throughout. The grizzle generally has a decided tint of blue in it. White is tobe avoided either on breast or toes, but it should not disqualify a dog. The coat (value 5) is coarser on the back than elsewhere, and by many good judges it is thought that even on the back it should be intermediate between silk and wool, and not the coarse hair often met with; there is no doubt that both kinds of coat are found in some of the best strains. The whole body is clothed with a rough coat sometimes amounting to shagginess, that of the muzzle is longer in proportion than elsewhere, but the inside should be hairy

12 Tail (value 5) should be long and gently curved, without any twist. It should be thinly clothed with hair only.

The most successful exhibitor at our shows for the last ten years is Mr Chaworth Musters of Kirk Langton, with his two Torunns, father and son. (ED Note "Torrum"?). The old dog was of the Monzie strain, and was the sire of several prize winnders, including Brenda, Hylda, Meg, Mr Parke's Bevis, Hilda, and Teeldar, the younger Torunn and Mr Fitt's Bruce, all of which (except the first two) were from sister to Morni his chief competitor on the show bench. Next to him comes Mr J N Beasley of Brampton House, Northampton, with Alder and Countess, both with unknown pedigrees; and third, very nearly approaching them indeed, is Mr Hickman of Birmingham, whose Morni alone has taken eight first or champion prises, whereas Old Torunn stopped short at five. Countess was untoubtedly, in my opinion, the most beautiful deerhound I ever saw, and quite unapproached by either dog or bitch. Mr Allen's fawn bitch Hylda (the dam of Morni) who took the second prize to her at Birmingham in 1867, being also a splendid specimen of the breed. The latter was by a dog in Her Majesty's Kennels. Bran whose portrait is retained as well as showing all the points of the deerhound, was by Mr Steward Hodgson's Oscar, son of a dog belonging to Colonel Lennard of Wickham-cross and of the breed of Mr M'Kenzie of Applecross, Rosshire. His dam was Mr Cole's (her Majesty's keeper) Hylda by his Old Kieldar out of Tank; Old Kieldar by Hector, a dog presented to Her Majesty by Mr Campbell, of Monzie

The measurement of Bran was as follows; From nose to setting on of tail, 47 inches, tail 22 inches, height 32 inches; length of head 12 inches; circumfrance of head 17 1/2 inches, round arm at elbow 9 1/2 inches; girth at chest 33 1/2 inches, girth at loin 24 inches, round thigh 17 1/2 inches, round lower thigh hock 7 inches, knee 7 inches.

See also
The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries.
Their Breeding, Training,and Management in Health and Disease
by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge) 1906

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