This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
In 1869 we find a Cameron of Lochiel sending to Curzon Hall and taking a first prize with Torum, who afterwards became the property of Mr. H. C. Musters. Torum had been sent from the Highlands because he was too big for work, and Mr. Donald Cameron was surprised at his winning, for his hound stood 32m. in height, and weighed 120 lb. The following year he sent Pirate and Shellock, brother and sister to Torum, and both much better than he in symmetry as well as in work. However, size again told, as it so often does now, and Torum won once more, with Pirate second, whilst the bitch was first in her class. Sir St. George Gore was a frequent exhibitor, and in 1865 he showed a deerhound that was almost smooth, a big coarse, ugly greyhound in appearance, that of course did not take a prize. Mr. H. C. Musters, Captain Graham, of Rednock; Mr. J. H. Beasley, Northampton; Mr. G. W. Hickman, Birmingham, and a few others who admired the fine form of the Scotch hound, were exhibiting about 1870. The following year had Mr. Dawes' Warrior, who won so many prizes up and down the country, mostly in variety classes. However, prior to him came one or two exceptionally good hounds, Mr. Beasley's bitch Countess especially so; nor must Mr. Hickman's excellent dog Morni be omitted, for he was not only good to look at, but could boast a lineage which contained some of the bluest blood of the day. Indeed, it was said by many good judges that Morni was far ahead of any deerhound they ever saw, and that, even with the accident to his stern, which necessitated his retirement after three years' successes, he was good enough to beat the best. Another almost perfect deerhound was Mr. Hickman's Lord of the Isles, of whom a Cameron of Lochiel said he was beyond criticism. The head of this splendid hound is printed on the little pamphlet issued by the Deer-hound Club, and which contains its rules. Unfortunately Mr. Hickman only obtained one litter of puppies by him, but of these Fingal was sire of more good hounds of one uniform type than perhaps any other dog of the variety who has succeeded him; to wit, Enterprise, Earl II., Ensign, Esquire, Rossie Blake, Brian, Bruar, Beppa, Blue Bonnet, and some few others.
Lord of the Isles, bred by Mr. H. P. Parkes, in 1875, was a grandson of Morni, and during his show career was pretty well invincible. Tara, a daughter of Cuchullin and Morna, all with Morni for their sire, were "lions" in their day; and Mr. Hickman subsequently owned Barra, Princess Marjorie, and many more, which were always well able to at any rate hold their own, at the Birmingham, London, Warwick, and other large shows where they were entered. Following a few years later was that fine old hound Bevis (Mr. Hood Wright's), so sober and sedate that in his declining years he took to the stage, and appeared with great success at one or two of the Sheffield pantomimes at Christmas.
There are now, at least a dozen shows held annually, at which classes are provided for this variety, and naturally new breeders have sprung up. Mr. J. Harriott Bell, of Rossie, Perthshire, has got together a kennel containing a number of splendid deerhounds (this kennel was originally established by Mr. E. Weston Bell, whose untimely death was much regretted); and Mr. W. H. Singer, of Frome, Somerset; Mr. Walter Evans, Birchfield Birmingham; Mr. R. H. Wright, Frome; Mr. W. Gibbons, Stratford-on-Avon; Mr. A. Maxwell, now of Bedford, formerly of Croft, near Darlington; Major Davis, Bath; Miss Rattray, Swindon; the Duchess of Wellington; Mr. M. Goulter, Hungerford, Mr. W. C. Grew, Moseley, Birmingham; and Mr. H. Rawson, Midlothian, all possess deerhounds of the highest merit. Perhaps the best of their race during most recent years have been or are: Sir Gavin, Fingall II., Earl II., Ensign, Shepherd, Swift, Enterprise, Royal Lufra (a beautiful headed bitch, for which excellence she won a special prize at Bath a few years ago), Rossie Blue Bell, Rossie Blue Bonnet, Rossie Beppa, Selwood Morven, and Mr. Jenner's Dinah; the latter one of the old sort, not too big, abounding in character, and possessing a charming look out. And there are many others, almost if not equally good to look at, on the show bench.
The deerhound, in colour, should be either brindled in various shades, blue, or fawn; white is detrimental, though a little on the chest or feet does not matter very much. Pure white dogs are occasionally found, but it is not a deerhound colour, any more than it is that of a collie, though Mr. Morton Campbell, jun., of Stracathro, near Brechin, had a white hound of considerable beauty; it was obtained from the Highlands, and its pedigree is unknown. I prefer the darker shades of colour; the darker brindles are very attractive, and, in actual work, it is a colour that tones well with the surrounding rocks and dark heather. The largest and heaviest dogs are not to be recommended, either for work or otherwise, they cut themselves on the rocks, and are not nearly so active and lithe on the rough ground as the lighter and smaller specimens. The dog should not, at any rate, be more than about thirty inches at the shoulder, the bitch from one to two inches less. One or two specimens have been shown, and won prizes too, that measured up to thirty-two inches, and even an inch more, and it is said that Bran, figured in "Dogs of the British Isles," was thirty-three inches! At the Kennel Club's show in October, 1896, Mr. W. C. Grew showed an eighteen months puppy called Kelso which measured 32¾ inches in height. This was certainly the best big deerhound I ever saw, for there was no coarseness about him, and he was thoroughly symmetrical, although losing somewhat in character on account of his rather light coloured eyes. He won all the prizes he could win, including one given to the best deerhound in the exhibition.
The following heights and weights of some of the best deerhounds of the modern standard may be interesting, and all are excellent specimens in every way, and perhaps equal to anything that has yet been seen. Mr. Walter Evan's Fingal II. stands 29¾-inches at shoulder, and weighs 871b.; his Earl II., 28¾ inches and 81 lb.; Duke of Brewood, 30¼ inches, weighs 881b.; and his bitch, Enterprise, stands 29 inches, and weighs 851b., a big weight for a bitch. Mr. W. H. Singer's well-known dog, Swift, is 791b. weight, and 30 inches at the shoulder; and his bitch, She, weighs 72 1b., and stands 26½ inches.
With eyes of sloe,
And ears not low;
With horse's breast,
And deep in chest;
And broad in loin,
And strong in groin;
And nape set far behind the head -
These were the dogs that Fingal bred.
In general form the deerhound should be like a greyhound : ears similar, loins likewise, legs and feet equally good. In his character he differs from the smooth hound considerably, as he does in coat, which is hard, crisp, and close, not too long, whilst silkiness on the top knot, and elsewhere, is not desirable. In galloping or running he carries his head higher than a greyhound, nor does he lay himself down so closely to his work; he appears, indeed, to be on the look out for contingencies, and does not, as a rule, go at his greatest pace, unless actually required to do so. He hangs back, as it were - maybe to avoid a stroke from the stag, or to look out for the proper place to seize. One hound will seize one part, one another. "Bran's point of attack was always at the shoulder or fore leg, whilst Oscar had a habit of biting at the hind leg, above the hock, frequently cutting through the flesh and tendons in an extraordinary manner, and tumbling over the deer very quickly," says St. John in his "Highland Sports."
His endurance is great, his scent keen, and Ronaldson Macdonnel, of Glengarry, instances one hound which, held in a leash, followed the track of a wounded stag, in unfavourable rainy weather, for three successive days; then the quarry was killed. The story goes, that this stag was wounded within three miles of Invergarry House, and was traced that night to the Glenmoriston. At dusk, in the evening, the stalkers placed a stone on each side of the last fresh print of his hoof, and another over it; and this they did each night following. On the succeeding morning they removed the upper stone, when the dog recovered the scent, and the deer was that day hunted over a great part of the Glenmoriston ground. On the third day it was retraced on to Glengarry, where a shot at close quarters brought the unprecedented drag to a conclusion.
When hunting, the deerhound runs mute, as he does when coursing, but when the stag is brought to bay, the hound opens, and by his "baying" or barking, attracts his master to the spot, where, maybe, in some pool, with a steep rock at his back, the noble monarch of the glen bids defiance to his foes.
In puppyhood, the deerhound is delicate, and difficult to rear, that scourge known as distemper carrying him off in large numbers. This is, no doubt, owing to continued inbreeding, but with our increasing knowledge of canine ailments, and some slight introduction of fresh blood, which may perhaps come through the Irish wolfhound and his Great Dane cross, the mortality is decreasing.