The Foxhound

There is plenty of proof that Foxhounds were the very first of the

canine races in Great Britain to come under the domination of

scientific breeding. There had been hounds of more ancient origin,

such as the Southern Hound and the Bloodhound; but something different

was wanted towards the end of the seventeenth century to hunt the

wild deer that had become somewhat scattered after Cromwell's civil

war. The demand was consequently for a quicker hound than those

hitherto known, and people devoted to the chase began to breed it.

Whether there were crosses at first remains in dispute, but there

is more probability that the policy adopted was one of selection;

those exceptionally fast were bred with the same, until the slow,

steady line hunter was improved out of his very character and shape.

At any rate, there are proofs that in 1710 hounds were to be found

in packs, carefully bred, and that at that time some of the hunts

in question devoted attention to the fox.

The first known kennel of all was at Wardour Castle, and was said

to have been established in 1696; but more reliable is the date of

the Brocklesby, commenced in 1713. The first record of a pack of

hounds being sold was in 1730, when a Mr. Fownes sold his pack to

a Mr. Bowles. The latter gentleman showed great sport with them in

Yorkshire. At that time Lord Hertford began to hunt the Cotswold

country, in Gloucestershire, and was the first to draw coverts for

fox in the modern style. Very soon after this it became the fashion

of the day to breed hounds. Many of the nobility and large landowners

devoted much of their time and money to it, and would take long

journeys to get fresh blood. It was the rule to breed hounds on the

most scientific principles, and by 1750 there were fifty such

breeders, including the fifth Duke of Beaufort, Lord Lincoln, Lord

Stamford, Lord Percival, Lord Granby, Lord Ludlow, Lord Vernon, Lord

Carlisle, Lord Mexbro, Sir Walter Vavasour, Sir Roland Winns, Mr.

Noel, Mr. Stanhope, Mr. Meynell, Mr. Barry, and Mr. Charles Pelham.

The last-named gentleman, afterward the first Lord Yarborough, was

perhaps the most indefatigable of all, as he was the first to start

the system of walking puppies amongst his tenantry, on the Brocklesby

estates, and of keeping lists of hound pedigrees and ages. By 1760

all the above-named noblemen and gentlemen had been breeding from

each other's kennels. The hounds were registered, as can be seen now

in Lord Middleton's private kennel stud book, through which his

lordship can trace the pedigrees of his present pack for a hundred

and sixty years to hounds that were entered in 1760, got by Raytor,

son of Merryman and grandson of Lord Granby's Ranter. Another pedigree

was that of Ruby, who is credited with a numerous progeny, as she

was by Raytor out of Mr. Stapleton's Cruel by Sailor, a son of Lord

Granby's Sailor by Mr. Noel's Victor. This shows well how seriously

Foxhound breeding was gone into before the middle of the eighteenth

century. Portraits prove also that a hound approaching very closely

to those of modern times had been produced at this early period. By

such evidence the Foxhound had outstripped the Harrier in size by

nearly five inches, as the latter does not appear to have been more

than eighteen inches, and the early Foxhound would have been

twenty-three inches. Then the heavy shoulder, the dewlap, and jowl

of the Southern Hound had been got rid of, and the coat had been

somewhat altered. The old school of breeders had evidently determined

upon great speed and the ability to stay, through the medium of deep

ribs, heart room, wide loins, length of quarter, quality of bone,

straightness of fore-leg, and round strong feet; the slack loined,

loosely built, and splayfooted hound of former generations had been

left behind. To such perfection, indeed, had the Foxhound attained,

that long before the close of the eighteenth century sportsmen were

clamouring as to what a Foxhound could do.

With so much prominence given to the Foxhound in the comparatively

short period of forty or fifty years, it is no wonder that individual

hounds became very celebrated in almost every part of the country.

Mr. Pelham's Rockwood Tickler and Bumper were names well known in

Yorkshire, and Lord Ludlow's Powerful and Growler were talked of both

in Lincolnshire and Warwickshire. From the first, indeed, it appeared

that certain hounds were very much better than others, and old

huntsmen have generally declared for one which was in the whole length

of their careers (sometimes extending to fifty years) immeasurably

superior to all others they had hunted. Harry Ayris, who was for just

half a century with Lord FitzHardinge, declared to the day of his

death that nothing had equalled Cromwell; Osbaldeston said the same

of Furrier, and Frank Gillard never falters from the opinion that

Weathergage was quite by himself as the best hound he ever hunted.

The Foxhound Kennel Stud Book abounds in the strongest proofs that

hereditary merit in their work has been transmitted from these

wonderful hounds, and they really make the history of the Foxhound.

There have been many great hounds; but there must be the greatest

of the great, and the following twelve hounds are probably the best

England has ever seen:--Mr. Corbet's Trojan (1780), Lord Middleton's

Vanguard (1815), Mr. Osbaldeston's Furrier (1820), Lord Henry

Bentinck's Contest (1848), Lord FitzHardinge's Cromwell (1855), Mr.

Drake's Duster (1844), Sir Richard Sutton's Dryden (1849), the Duke

of Rutland's Senator (1862), Duke of Rutland's Weathergage (1874),

the Earl of Coventry's Rambler (1874), Mr. E. P. Rawnsley's Freeman

(1884), and the Grafton Woodman (1892).

Breeding Foxhounds is one of the most fascinating of all the pleasures

of animal culture, as the above list, so full of extreme merit, can

be traced for nearly a hundred and thirty years.

It cannot be said that the prices paid for Foxhounds in very recent

times have greatly exceeded those of the past. In 1790 Colonel

Thornton sold Merkin for four hogsheads of claret, and the seller

to have two couples of the whelps. Then in 1808 Mr. John Warde sold

a pack of hounds to Lord Althorpe for 1,000 guineas, and the same

gentleman sold another pack for the same sum a few years later. In

1838 Lord Suffield offered 3,000 guineas for Mr. Lambton's pack, and

afterwards sold it to Sir Matthew White Ridley for 2,500. In 1834

Osbaldeston sold ten couples of bitches, all descendants of Furrier,

for 2,000 sovereigns, or P100 a hound--a record that was almost

eclipsed at the sale of Lord Politmore's hounds in 1870, when

twenty-two couples of dog-hounds sold for 3,365 guineas.

Of late years there has been the sale of the Quorn for, it was said,

P3,000, and the late Lord Willoughby de Broke valued the North

Warwickshire for the county to purchase at P2,500. In 1903 the

Atherstone was valued by Mr. Rawlence, the well-known representative

of Tattersall's, at P3,500, or something like P50 a hound, and that

has been considered very cheap. If, therefore, modern prices have

not greatly exceeded those of the far past, there has not been any

particular diminution, and there is no doubt about it that if certain

packs could be purchased the prices would far exceed anything ever

reached before.

Foxhounds have very much improved in looks during the past

five-and-twenty years, and unquestionably they are quite as good

in the field or better. Whenever hounds have good foxes in front of

them, and good huntsmen to assist or watch over them, they are as

able as ever, notwithstanding that the drawbacks to good sport are

more numerous now than they used to be. The noble hound will always

be good enough, and ever and anon this is shown by a run of the Great

Wood order, to hunt over five-and-twenty to thirty miles at a pace

to settle all the horses, and yet every hound will be up. There has

been a slight tendency to increase size of late years. The Belvoir

dog-hound is within very little of 24 inches instead of 23-1/2, the

standard of twenty years ago, and this increase has become very

general. In elegance of form nothing has been lost, and there can

be no other to possess beauty combined with power and the essential

points for pace and endurance in the same degree as a Foxhound.

A detailed description of the Foxhound is here given:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Somewhat broad, not peaked like the Bloodhound, but long from

the apex to the frontal bones, eyebrows very prominent, cheeks cut

clean from the eye to the nostril, ears set low and in their natural

condition thin and shapely, but not large, nose large, jaw strong

and level, and small dewlaps, expression fierce, and with the best

often repellent. EYES--Very bright and deeply set, full of

determination, and with a very steady expression. The look of the

Foxhound is very remarkable. NECK--Should be perfectly clean, no skin

ruffle whatever, or neck cloth, as huntsmen call it. The length of

neck is of importance, both for stooping and giving an air of majesty.

SHOULDERS--The blades should be well into the back, and should slant,

otherwise be wide and strong, to meet the arms, that should be long

and powerful. LEGS AND FEET--The bone should be perfectly straight

from the arm downward, and descend in the same degree of size to the

ankles, or, as the saying is, down to his toes. The knee should

be almost flat and level; there should be no curve until coming to

the toes, which should be very strong, round, cat-shaped, and every

toe clean set as it were. FORE-RIBS AND BRISKET--Deep, fine ribs are

very essential, and the brisket should be well below the elbows. BACK

AND LOINS--Back should be straight. A hollow back offends the eye

much, and a roach back is worse. The loin wide, back ribs deep and

long, a slight prominence over the croup. QUARTERS AND HOCKS--The

quarters cannot be too long, full, showing a second thigh, and meeting

a straight hock low down, the shank bone short, and meeting shapely

feet. COAT--The coat is hard hair, but short and smooth, the texture

is as stiff as bristles, but beautifully laid. COLOUR--Belvoir tan,

which is brown and black, perfectly intermixed, with white markings

of various shapes and sizes. The white should be very opaque and

clear. Black and white, with tan markings on head and stifles. Badger

pied--a kind of grey and white. Lemon pied, light yellow and white.

Hare pied, a darker yellow and white. STERN--Long and carried gaily,

but not curled; often half white. HEIGHT--Dogs from 23-1/2 to 24

inches; bitches from 22 to 22-1/2 inches.

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