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.
Lord Tankerville continues, that he was informed of a remarkable deerhound, belonging to a poacher in Badenoch, that never missed a deer. In due course he obtained the hound, and called it Bran. Later on it saved the life of a keeper from the furious attack of one of the wild bulls of Chillingham. After being delivered to his new home, Bran was placed in the kennel, and it was thought that the pallisades with which it was surrounded were sufficiently high to prevent any dog getting over them. However, Bran did succeed in scaling them, and Lord Tankerville, having paid his money and lost his dog, was considerably upset, and never thought of seeing the hound again. However, in a few days the "poacher" brought back the errant Bran, who had, in fact, reached his old home before his master, who was considerably astonished, on reaching his cottage, to see his old companion rush forward to meet him. The distance between Chillingham and the man's cottage was about seventy miles, and to take the shortest route, which Bran no doubt did or he would have caught his master on the road, he must have swum Loch Ericht.
Naturally modern dog shows have done much to re-popularise the deerhound, now that he is so seldom required for that purpose for which, shall I say, nature first intended him. How little he is used in deer stalking may be surmised by a list that appears in Mr. Weston Bell's monograph of the variety (1892). Here some fifty-eight forests are named, and in but about seven of them is the deer-hound kept. The collie is now more frequently trained and used to track the wounded stag, because he works more slowly, and is therefore less liable to unduly scare and alarm the deer. From the earliest institution of dog shows, classes have been provided for the deerhound, and these have resulted in a number of excellent animals being benched of a uniformity and quality that our excellent friend Charles St. John would scarcely have thought possible, and Archibald Macneill would have deemed incomprehensible.
There is no handsomer dog than the deerhound - he has the elegance of shape, the light, airy appearance of the greyhound, a hard, crisp, and picturesque jacket, either of fawn or grey brindle, an eye as bright as that of the gazelle, but loving, still sharp and intelligent; and a good specimen has not a bad feature about him. His disposition is of the best; he is sensible and kindly; and friends of mine to whom I gave a puppy, on its death refused to be consoled by any other dog than one of the same variety.
"It's a blooming lurcher," is the yokel's idea of a deerhound, an opinion in which the cockney corner man evidently coincides. Either will pass a rude remark about your aristocratic canine companion. The Scotsman away from home, be he out at elbows, or otherwise, pays compliments to the dog. If his shoes are down at the heels, the chances are he is the sole survival of a chieftain of some great clan, and. on the strength of your possession of one of his native quadrupeds, will seek to allay his thirst, or penchant for Glenlivat, at your expense. Still, I do not fancy that the deerhound is quite so popular as a companion over the border as he is on this side the border. Englishmen have paid greater attention to his breeding; the honours to be gained at shows make it worth while their doing so; and, being more difficult to rear than most other dogs, he requires greater care in bringing up, and, if not allowed continual exercise, will become crooked on his fore legs, and out at the elbows - ungainly enough in little dogs, but a terrible eyesore in big ones. They will not rear well in a kennel.
It has been said the deerhound is uncertain in his temper with children; in some cases this may be so, but not in all. Again, it has been stated that when a puppy he will chase anything that moves in front of him - sheep, poultry, etc. What puppy will not? All young dogs are alike in this particular, and if not carefully watched will, like your favourite little boy or girl, be for ever getting into mischief.
Deerhounds, like all dogs, require careful early training, and when once broken off sheep and other "small deer," are as safe and reliable in the fields as any other of the canine race. As a fact, I believe that both pointers and setters, greyhounds, and even the collie himself, is as "fond of mutton" as the often maligned dog about which this article is being written. Many dogs have been spoiled by their manners being neglected during their puppyhood; no doubt others will be so in the future, and it is a pity that one so docile, handsome, sagacious, and aristocratic as the deerhound, should obtain an evil name through the negligence or over-indulgence of its owner.
As already stated, dog shows have been of infinite advantage in raising the deerhound to its present popularity, though prior to this epoch, what Sir Walter Scott writes of his Maida and other favourite hounds, with Landseer's fine paintings, had made the general public anxious to see such handsome hounds in the flesh. The first show at Birmingham, in 1860, provided two classes for them, but there were few entries, and both leading prizes were taken by Lieut.-Colonel Inge, of Thorpe, near Tamworth, who, at that time, possessed a capital strain of deer-hounds. Later on the numbers increased, and in 1862 there were ten competitors in the dog class, but they were a mixed lot, though the winner, called Alder, bred by Sir John Macneil, was a splendid specimen, which again took leading honours two years later. The succeeding show had, for some reason or other, a capital entry, sixteen in the one class, six in the other, and these included several dogs from the Highlands, one of the latter, called Oscar, now beating Alder, who looked old and worn, and was past his best.
About this period Lord Henry Bentinck took great pride in his deerhounds, and kept a fine kennel of them. In 1870 they were sold by auction in McDowell's rooms, Edinburgh, when sixteen hounds realised 296l. 16s. The highest figures were 50 guineas for the thirteen-year-old Factor, 40 guineas for Elshee, 30 guineas for Fury, the others bringing 30, 26, 20, and 19 guineas respectively. Mr. McKenzie, Ross-shire; Mr. J. Wright, Yeldersby House, Derby; Mr. Menzies, Chesthill; Mr. Grant, Glenmorriston; Colonel Campbell of Monzie; Mr. Wright-Omaston; Lord Boswell; Mr. W. Gordon, Guardbridge, Fifeshire; Lord Bredalbane; the Duke of Sutherland; Mr. Spencer Lucy; Mr. George Cupples, author of "Scotch Deerhounds and their Masters"; and Dr. Hadden, have at one time or another had good deerhounds in their kennels, as well as many others of the older Scottish families. The Dukes of Richmond and Gordon for generations kept a fine kennel of deerhounds, and the remnants thereof, which included a couple or two of grand old hounds, were brought from the Highlands to Ald-ridge's in London, where they were sold by auction in 1895, realising sorry prices, varying only from one guinea to six guineas each.