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.
The late Mr. J. H. Walsh ("Stonehenge") appears to have had a prejudice against the temperament and character of the bloodhound, formed evidently by a very savage and determined dog of Grantley Berkeley's, called Druid. Whether modern dog shows have been the means of improving this hound's temper, and making him as amiable and devoted a friend as any other dog, I cannot tell; but, that he is so, no one who has ever kept the variety will doubt. Bring a bloodhound up in the house or stable and use him as a companion, and he will requite you for your trouble. He is gentle and kind, less addicted to fighting than many other big dogs; he is sensible, cleanly, of noble aspect, and in demeanour the aristocrat of hounds.
Of course, there are ill-conditioned dogs of every variety, but the average bloodhound will develop into as good a companion as any other of his race; he may be shy at first, but kindness will improve him in this respect. In hunting, he is slower than the foxhound, but more painstaking than are the members of the fashionable packs. He dwells on the quest a considerable time, seemingly enjoying the peculiar sensation he may derive through his olfactory organs, and will cast on his own account; the latter, a faculty that ought not to be lost, though in many hunting countries, where a good gallop is considered more desirable than the observation of hound work, the master or huntsman assists the hounds, rather than allows them to assist themselves.
The lovely voice the bloodhound possesses need not be dilated upon by me, and moreover, he has a power of transmitting that "melody" to his offspring to an unusual extent. I fancy that our modern otterhound owes something of his melodious cry to some not very remote crosses with the bloodhound; and if I mistake not, the late Major Cowen found this strain of "Druids" useful in his well-known Braes o' Derwent foxhounds. Mr. C. H. Wilson, master of the Oxenholme staghounds, is crossing his foxhounds and harriers with bloodhounds, in order to restore the voice and music which in a great measure had been lost in breeding for pace.
If asked to recommend a large dog as a companion, I should certainly place the bloodhound very high on the list, possibly on a level with the St. Bernard, and only below the Scottish deerhound And in one respect he is better even than the latter; for he is not nearly so quarrelsome with other dogs. Not very long ago, a bloodhound was running about the busy streets of Brixton daily; he never snarled at a passing cur or terrier, and was the favourite of every little boy and girl in the neighbourhood. Had their parents known that the big black and brown creature their children were petting and stroking on the head was a bloodhound, the ferocious dog of story books and history, what a scene there would have been. And still more recently it is no uncommon sight to see a lady and her maid accompanied by three couples of bloodhounds enjoying themselves on one of our most frequented suburban commons. Here the big hounds romp and enjoy themselves and seem to be under better command than the collies and terriers, with which all such districts abound.
Sir E. Landseer, the animal painter, thoroughly appreciated the bloodhound, its staid manner, its majestic appearance. He, with Mr. Jacob Bell, kept hounds of his own, and all know how he immortalised them on canvas. His "Sleeping Bloodhound," now in the National Gallery, was a portrait of Mr. Bell's favourite Countess, run over and killed in a stable yard. It was after her death she was painted, forming the subject, "A sleep that has no waking." Grafton, in the popular picture, "Dignity and Impudence" was a bloodhound considered to be of great merit in his day, now he would be regarded as a very ordinary specimen.
Mr. Brough, writing in the Century Magazine, some few years since, goes at considerable length into the training of bloodhounds, which is best done by allowing the hound to hunt the "clean boot," rather than one smeared with blood or anything else. He says :
"Hounds work better when entered to one particular scent and kept to that only. Mr. Brough never allows his hounds to hunt anything but the clean boot, but begins to take his pups to exercise on the roads when three or four months old, and a very short time suffices to get them under good command. You can begin scarcely too early to teach pups to hunt the clean boot. For the first few times it is best to let them run some one they know; afterwards it does not matter how often the runner is changed. He should caress and make much of the pups and let them see him start, but get out of their sight as quickly as possible and run in a straight line, say two hundred yards up wind on grass-land, and then hide himself. The man who hunts the pups should know the exact line taken, and take the pups over it, trying to encourage them to hunt until they get to their man, who should reward them with a bit of meat. This may have to be repeated several times before they really get their heads down; but when they have once begun to hunt they improve rapidly and take great delight in the quest. Everything should be made as easy as possible at first, and the difficulties increased very gradually. This may be done by having the line crossed by others, by increasing the time before the pups are laid on, or by crossing roads, etc. When the pups get old enough they should be taught to jump boldly and to swim brooks where necessary. When young hounds have begun to run fairly well it will be found very useful to let the runner carry a bundle of sticks two feet or two feet six inches long, pointed at one end and with a piece of white paper in a cleft at the other end. When he makes a turn or crosses a fence he should put one of these sticks down and incline it in the direction he is going to take next. This will give the person hunting the hounds some idea of the correctness of their work, though the best hounds do not always run the nearest to the line. On a good scenting day I have seen hounds running hard fifty yards or more to leeward of the line taken. These sticks should be taken up when done with, or they may be found misleading on some other occasion. The hounds will soon learn to cast themselves or try back if they over-run the line, and should never receive any assistance so long as they continue working on their own account. It is most important that they should become self-reliant. The line should be varied as much as possible. It is not well to run hounds over exactly the same course they have been hunted on some previous occasion. If some hounds are much slower than the rest it is best to hunt them by themselves, or they may get to "score to cry," as the old writers say, instead of patiently working out the line for themselves.
It is a great advantage to get hounds accustomed to strange sights and noises. If a hound is intended to be brought to a pitch of excellence that shall enable him to be used in thoroughfares, he should be brought up in a town and see as much bustle as possible. If he is only intended to be used in open country, with occasional bits of road work, this is not necessary. Bloodhounds give tongue freely when hunting any wild animal, but many hounds run perfectly mute when hunting man. This is, however, very much a matter of breeding. Some strains run man without giving tongue at all; others are very musical."
In America they have established a bloodhound club adopting their standard from that which was formulated and published in an earlier edition of this volume. Strange as it may appear, after all the bloodhound stories and the slaves, America had to come to us for bloodhounds, and I believe the first couple sent over were from the Scarborough kennels in 1888. These were bred from by Mr. Winchell, Mr. Brough, and others. More, however, were imported, with the present result. Thus it is not likely that club members or others have discovered any pure bloodhounds in Virginia or in any other of the Southern States.
Not long ago some correspondence took place in the Field with regard to what were called "Bavarian mountain bloodhounds." From a photograph of a group forwarded to me, I had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that these hounds were "bloodhounds ' but in name, being undersized and without any of that dignity of expression and general character which form such distinguishing features in our modern dog. Indeed these Bavarian hounds possess even less bloodhound type than the "Kerry beagles" illustrated on another page. The Bavarian hound is used for deer hunting in the mountains and forests, and is said to run mute until he has brought his game to bay, nor will he then worry or attempt to eat the quarry. In height he is from 19m. to 2oin. at the shoulder, and is mostly brown or liver and tan in colour.