This section is from the book "British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition", by Hugh Dalziel. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs.
"Moreover, although they should pass over the water, thinking thereby to avoid the pursuit of the hounds, yet will not these dogs give over their attempt, but, presuming to swim through the stream, persevere in their pursuit, and when they be arrived and gotten to the further bank they hunt up and down, to and fro run they, from place to place shift they, until they have attained to that plot of ground where they passed over, and this is their practice, perdie they cannot at the first time smelling find out the way which the deed doers took to escape. So at length get they that by art and cunning and diligent endeavour which by fortune and luck they cannot otherwise overcome, in so much as it seemeth wisely written by Elianus to be as it were naturally instilled and poured into these kind of dogs, for they will not pause ror breathe from their pursuit until such time as they be apprehended and taken which committed the fact. The owners of such dogs use to keep them in close and dark channels in the day time, and let them loose at liberty in the night season, to the intent they might with more courage and boldness practise to follow the felon in the evening and solitary hours of darkness, when such ill-disposed varlets are principally purposed to play their impudent pranks.
"These hounds, when they are to follow such fellows as we have before rehearsed, use not that liberty to range at will which they have otherwise when they are on game (except upon necessary occasion, whereon dependeth an urgent, an effectual persuasion, when such purloiners make speedy way in flight), but being restrained and drawn backward from running at random with the leash, the end thereof the owner holding in his hand, is led, guided, and directed with such swiftness and slowness (whether he go on foot or whether he ride on horseback), as he himself in heart would wish for the more easy apprehension of these venturesome varlets."
The employment of dogs in the detection of a great crime quite recently brought the question of the utilisation of the bloodhound for such purposes up for discussion. In the case referred to the dog had displayed no more sagacity than is common to the whole species, advantage being taken of the deep sensation produced by the inhuman nature of the crime to impose as a wonderful performance the most ordinary event on the ignorant and credulous. It is not, however, altogether impracticable to make these hounds auxiliaries to the police. A well-trained hound will trace the steps of the fugitive after many hours, and in cases of burglary or other crimes in rural districts, as already said, their employment might be useful. It certainly seems a pity that, kept as he is now as a noble companion, the wonderful power nature has given him should, with but few exceptional cases, be allowed to lie dormant.
Having cursorily glanced in the first part of this chapter at the bloodhounds of our forefathers through such dim light as he is at all visible, I now turn to him as he is in our own day, the noblest of all the hound tribe, so patrician in appearance that he calls up to the imagination pictures of old baronial halls with their wide-extending parks and noble woods, rather than the surroundings in which the majority now only see him on the show bench, where he, as by right of birth and blood, heads the long list of canine aristocracy. To write of the bloodhound and not quote the unparalleled lines of Scott in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel" were rank heresy. The beauty of these lines has been so much better eulogised by the writer of the article on "Bloodhounds" in the "Penny Cyclopaedia," that I quote them verbatim as an introduction to the lines themselves: "This is one of the best poetical descriptions of the bloodhound in action, if not the best, for though Somerville's lines may enter more into detail, they want the vivid animation of the images brought absolutely under the eye by the power of Scott, where the ' noble child,' the heir of Brank-some, is left alone in his terror:"
Starting oft, he journeyed on,
And deeper in the wool is gone.
For aye, the more he sought his way
The farther still he went astray;
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the haying of a hound.
And hark! and hark! the deep-mouthed bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher; Burst on the path a dark bloodhound, His tawny muzzle tracked the ground,
And his red eye shot fire. Soon as the 'wildered child saw he, He flew at him right f uriouslie. I ween you would have seen with joy The bearing of the gallant boy, When, worthy of his noble sire, His wet cheek glowed 'twixt fear and ire
He faced the bloodhound manfully And held his little bat on high; So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid, At cautious distance hoarsely bay'd,
But still in act to spring. When dashed an archer through the glade, And when be saw the bound was stayed,
He drew his tough bow-string. But a rough voice cried, " Shoot not, hoy! Ho! shoot not, Edward - 'tis a boy."
The bloodhound of to-day, changed as he no doubt has been by "modern refinement, collateral crosses, and experimental commixture," stands an average height of about 27in., bitches an inch or more less. He possesses a commanding dignity of appearance, with an attractiveness of expression that is truly noble; he seems to rest with silent confidence and self-reliance in the consciousness of his own power and importance; and, as he reposes on his bench in stately form calmly viewing his admirers, receives their adulations in stately fashion, as "to the manner born." When seen in action he moves more gracefully than the more massive mastiff, and gives an impression of a well-adjusted union of activity and strength.
The head is remarkably striking; it is large and long, high domed, and peaked at back of skull - in comparison with its length it is narrow; the upper jaw is also long and narrow, ending with wide-spread capacious nose; the upper lips or flews are thin and deep, hanging well below the under jaw. The ears, low set on, are remarkable for their great length, hanging like folds of graceful drapery to such depth they can be made to meet before the nose. There is a quantity of loose skin about the head and throat, giving the attractive wrinkled appearance to the face, and the "dewlaps like Thessalian bulls," called "throatyness," The eye is deep-seated, calm, and scrutinising, and full of expression, the "haw" - from its red appearance, probably named from the berry of the white thorn - well exposed. The neck is longer in reality than appearance, shoulders fairly sloped, and fore legs, stout, straight, and muscular, with the feet round, and well padded; splay feet are objectionable; the claws are large, strong, and black in colour.