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Author: Robert Leighton
The Bloodhound was much used in olden times in hunting and in the pursuit of fugitives; two services for which his remarkable acuteness of smell, his ability to keep to the particular scent on which he is first laid, and the intelligence and pertinacity with which he follows up the trail, admirably fit him. The use and employment of these dogs date back into remote antiquity. We have it on the authority of Strabo that they were used against the Gauls, and we have certain knowledge that they were employed not only in the frequent feuds of the Scottish clans, and in the continuous border forays of those days, but also during the ever-recurring hostilities between England and Scotland.
Indeed, the very name of the dog calls up visions of feudal castles, with their trains of knights and warriors and all the stirring panorama of these brave days of old, when the only tenure of life, property, or goods was by the strong hand.
The Famous Bloodhound
This feudal dog is frequently pictured by the poet in his ballads and romances, and in "The Lady of the Lake" we find the breed again mentioned as "--dogs of black St. Hubert's breed, Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed."
These famous black Bloodhounds, called St. Huberts, are supposed to have been brought by pilgrims from the Holy Land. Another larger breed, also known by the same name, were pure white, and another kind were greyish-red. The dogs of the present day are probably a blend of all these varieties.
Bloodhounds, A Noble Breed
The Bloodhound, from the nobler pursuit of heroes and knights, came in later years to perform the work of the more modern detective; but in this also his services were in time superseded by the justice's warrant and the police officer. We find it recorded about 1805, however, that "the Thrapston Association for the Prevention of Felons in Northamptonshire have provided and trained a Bloodhound for the detection of sheep-stealers."
There is no doubt that the police in country districts, and at our convict prisons, could use Bloodhounds to advantage; but public sentiment is decidedly against the idea, and although one of His Majesty's prisons has been offered a working hound for nothing, the authorities have refused to consider the question or give the hound a trial.
The description of a perfect type of dog, as defined by the Association of Bloodhound breeders, is as follows:-- (Note: May be outdated now)
GENERAL CHARACTER--The Bloodhound possesses, in a most marked degree, every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent "Sagaces".
He is very powerful and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being more especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds.
HEIGHT--The mean average height of adult dogs is 26 inches and of adult bitches 24 inches. Dogs usually vary from 25 inches to 27 inches and bitches from 23 inches to 25 inches; but in either case the greater height is to be preferred, provided that character and quality are also combined.
WEIGHT--The mean average weight of adult dogs in fair condition is 90 pounds and of adult bitches 80 pounds. Dogs attain the weight of 110 pounds, bitches 100 pounds. The greater weights are to be preferred, provided (as in the case of height) that quality and proportion are also combined.
EXPRESSION--The expression is noble and dignified and characterised by solemnity, wisdom and power.
TEMPERAMENT--In temperament he is extremely affectionate, quarrelsome neither with companions nor with other dogs. His nature is somewhat shy, and equally sensitive to kindness or correction by his master.
HEAD--The head is narrow in proportion to its length and long in proportion to the body, tapering but slightly from the temples to the end of the muzzle thus (when viewed from above and in front) having the appearance of being flattened at the sides and of being nearly equal in width throughout its entire length. In profile the upper outline of the skull is nearly in the same plane as that of the foreface. The length from end of nose to stop (midway between the eyes) should be not less than that from stop to back of occipital protuberance (peak). The entire length of head from the posterior part of the occipital protuberance to the end of the muzzle should be 12 inches, or more, in dogs, and 11 inches, or more, in bitches.
SKULL--The skull is long and narrow, with the occipital peak very pronounced. The brows are not prominent, although, owing to the deep-set eyes, they may have that appearance.
FOREFACE--The foreface is long, deep, and of even width throughout, with square outline when seen in profile.
EYES--The eyes are deeply sunk in the orbits, the lids assuming a lozenge or diamond shape, in consequence of the lower lids being dragged down and everted by the heavy flews. The eyes correspond with the general tone of colour of the animal, varying from deep hazel to yellow. The hazel colour is, however, to be preferred, although very seldom seen in red-and-tan hounds.
EARS--The ears are thin and soft to the touch, extremely long, set very low, and fall in graceful folds, the lower parts curling inwards and backwards.
WRINKLE--The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin which in nearly every position appears super-abundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face.
NOSTRILS--The nostrils are large and open.
LIPS, FLEWS, AND DEWLAP--In front the lips fall squarely, making a right-angle with the upper line of the foreface, whilst behind they form deep, hanging flews, and, being continued into the pendent folds of loose skin about the neck, constitute the dewlap, which is very pronounced. These characters are found, though in a less degree, in the bitch.
NECK, SHOULDERS, AND CHEST--The neck is long, the shoulders muscular and well sloped backwards; the ribs are well sprung, and the chest well let down between the forelegs, forming a deep keel.
LEGS AND FEET--The fore-legs are straight and large in bone, with elbows squarely set; the feet strong and well knuckled up; the thighs and second thighs (gaskins) are very muscular; the hocks well bent and let down and squarely set.
BACK AND LOINS--The back and loins are strong, the latter deep and slightly arched.
STERN--The stern is long and tapering and set on rather high, with a moderate amount of hair underneath.
GAIT--The gait is elastic, swinging, and free--the stern being carried high, but not too much curled over the back.
COLOUR--The colours are black-and-tan, red-and-tan, and tawny--the darker colours being sometimes interspersed with lighter or badger-coloured hair and sometimes flecked with white. A small amount of white is permissible on chest, feet, and tip of stern.