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The Harrier And The Beagle








The Harrier is a distinct breed of hound used for hunting the hare--or
rather it should be said the Association of Masters of Harriers are
doing their utmost to perpetuate this breed; the Harrier Stud Book
bearing witness thereto: and it is to be deplored that so many Masters
of Harriers ignore this fact, and are content to go solely to Foxhound
kennels to start their packs of Harriers, choosing, maybe, 20 inch
to 22 inch Foxhounds, and thenceforth calling them Harriers. It is,
indeed, a common belief that the modern Harrier is but a smaller
edition of the Foxhound, employed for hunting the hare instead of
the fox, and it is almost useless to reiterate that it is a distinct
breed of hound that can boast of possibly greater antiquity than any
other, or to insist upon the fact that Xenophon himself kept a pack
of Harriers over two thousands years ago. Nevertheless, in general
appearance the Harrier and the Foxhound are very much alike, the one
obvious distinction being that of size.

Opinions differ as to what standard of height it is advisable to aim
at. If you want to hunt your Harriers on foot, 16 inches is quite
big enough--almost too big to run with; but if you are riding to them,
20 inches is a useful height, or even 19 inches. Either is a good
workable size, and such hounds should be able to slip along fast
enough for most people. Choose your hounds with plenty of bone, but
not too clumsy or heavy; a round, firm neck, not too short, with a
swan-like curve; a lean head with a long muzzle and fairly short ears;
a broad chest with plenty of lung room, fore-legs like gun barrels,
straight and strong; hind-legs with good thighs and well let down
hocks; feet, round like cats' feet, and a well-set-on, tapering stern.
Such a make and shape should see many seasons through, and allow you
to be certain of pace and endurance in your pack. It is useless to
lay down any hard and fast rule as to colour. It is so much a matter
of individual taste. Some Masters have a great fancy for the dark
colouring of the old Southern Hound, but nothing could look much
smarter than a good combination of Belvoir tan with black and white.
Puppies, as a rule, a week or two after they are whelped, show a
greater proportion of dark marking than any other, but this as they
grow older soon alters, and their white marking becomes much more
conspicuous. As in the case of the Foxhound, the Harrier is very
seldom kept as a companion apart from the pack. But puppies are
usually sent out to walk, and may easily be procured to be kept and
reared until they are old enough to be entered to their work.
Doubtless the rearing of a Harrier puppy is a great responsibility,
but it is also a delight to many who feel that they are helping in
the advancement of a great national sport.

* * * * *

There is nothing to surpass the beauty of the Beagle either to see
him on the flags of his kennel or in unravelling a difficulty on the
line of a dodging hare. In neatness he is really the little model
of a Foxhound. He is, of course, finer, but with the length of neck
so perfect in the bigger hound, the little shoulders of the same
pattern, and the typical quarters and second thighs. Then how quick
he is in his casts! and when he is fairly on a line, of course he
sticks to it, as the saying is, like a beagle.

Beagles have been carefully preserved for a great many years, and
in some cases they have been in families for almost centuries. In
the hereditary hunting establishments they have been frequently found,
as the medium of amusement and instruction in hunting for the juvenile
members of the house; and there can be nothing more likely to instil
the right principles of venery into the youthful mind than to follow
all the ways of these little hounds.

Dorsetshire used to be the great county for Beagles. The downs there
were exactly fitted for them, and years ago, when roe-deer were
preserved on the large estates, Beagles were used to hunt this small
breed of deer. Mr. Cranes' Beagles were noted at the time, and also
those of a Colonel Harding. It is on record that King George IV. had
a strong partiality for Beagles, and was wont to see them work on
the downs round about Brighton. The uses of the Beagle in the early
days of the last century, however, were a good deal diversified. They
were hunted in big woodlands to drive game to the gun, and perhaps
the ordinary Beagle of from 12 inches to 14 inches was not big enough
for the requirements of the times. It is quite possible, therefore,
that the Beagle was crossed with the Welsh, Southern or Otterhound,
to get more size and power, as there certainly was a Welsh
rough-coated Beagle of good 18 inches, and an almost identical
contemporary that was called the Essex Beagle. Sixty years ago such
hounds were common enough, but possibly through the adoption of the
more prevalent plan of beating coverts, and Spaniels being in more
general use, the vocation of the Beagle in this particular direction
died out, and a big rough-coated Beagle is now very rarely seen.

That a great many of the true order were bred became very manifest
as soon as the Harrier and Beagle Association was formed, and more
particularly when a section of the Peterborough Hound Show was
reserved for them. Then they seemed to spring from every part of the
country. In 1896 one became well acquainted with many packs that had
apparently held aloof from the dog shows. There was the Cheshire,
the Christ Church (Oxford), Mr. T. Johnson's, the Royal Rock, the
Thorpe Satchville, the Worcestershire, etc., and of late there have
been many more that are as well known as packs of Foxhounds. One hears
now of the Chauston, the Halstead Place--very noted indeed--the
Hulton, the Leigh Park, the Stoke Place, the Edinburgh, the Surbiton,
the Trinity Foot, the Wooddale, Mrs. G. W. Hilliard's, Mrs. Price's,
and Mrs. Turner's.

Beagle owners, like the masters of Foxhound kennels, have never been
very partial to the ordinary dog shows, and so the development of
the up-to-date Beagle, as seen at recent shows, is somewhat new. It
is just as it should be, and if more people take up beagling it
may not be in the least surprising. They are very beautiful little
hounds, can give a vast amount of amusement, and, for the matter of
that, healthy exercise. If a stout runner can keep within fairly easy
distance of a pack of well-bred Beagles on the line of a lively Jack
hare, he is in the sort of condition to be generally envied.

* * * * *

DESCRIPTION OF THE BEAGLE: HEAD--Fair length, powerful without being
coarse; skull domed, moderately wide, with an indication of peak, stop
well defined, muzzle not snipy, and lips well flewed. NOSE--Black,
broad, and nostrils well expanded. EYES--Brown, dark hazel or hazel,
not deep set nor bulgy, and with a mild expression. EARS--Long, set
on low, fine in texture, and hanging in a graceful fold close to the
cheek. NECK--Moderately long, slightly arched, the throat showing
some dewlap. SHOULDERS--Clean and slightly sloping. BODY--Short
between the couplings, well let down in chest, ribs fairly well
sprung and well ribbed up, with powerful and not tucked-up loins.
HIND-QUARTERS--Very muscular about the thighs, stifles and hocks well
bent, and hocks well let down. FORE-LEGS--Quite straight, well under
the dog, of good substance and round in the bone. FEET--Round, well
knuckled up, and strongly padded. STERN--Moderate length, set on high,
thick and carried gaily, but not curled over the back. COLOUR--Any
recognised hound colour. COAT--Smooth variety: Smooth, very dense
and not too fine or short. Rough variety: Very dense and wiry.
HEIGHT--Not exceeding 16 inches. Pocket Beagles must not exceed 10
inches. GENERAL APPEARANCE--A compactly-built hound, without
coarseness, conveying the impression of great stamina and vivacity.





Next: The Pointer

Previous: The Foxhound



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