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.
More recently, Mr. Jones secured new crosses from the kennels of the late Colonel Pryse, of Peittyll, near Aberystwith, and from other hunts in the southern portions of the Principality; whilst in a few cases he has crossed with well-bred English foxhounds. The hard, wiry coats, however, remain in most instances, as well as the peculiar character and excellences common to the Welsh harrier. As is the custom with most hounds which hunt a rough country, the meets are in early morning, and foxes are found by hounds questing and hunting the drag until their game is put away, then the run is generally over terribly rough country, in which, of course, hounds are at times left very much to themselves. For this purpose nothing can excel the Welsh "wire hairs," even if they have a remote bar sinister on their escutcheon. These Ynysfor hounds are from 20 inches (bitches) to 22 inches (dogs) in height, and vary in colour, some being black and tan, others wholly tan, whilst the remainder are the ordinary hound colours.
Of course, what has been written here, and appears later on in the chapter, more or less indicates that the really pure Welsh hounds, absolutely without any intermingling of foxhound or harrier blood, are most difficult to obtain, but that such are still highly valued in some quarters may, I think, be taken for granted.
There are other packs containing more or less Welsh blood still existing in the Lanwonno, Ystrad, Tyn y Cymmer, Treharris, Merthyr Old Court, and the Pentyrch; the latter are black and tans, and it is said they originally came from the Gelly. When living in Glamorganshire the present master of the Pembroke and Carmarthen Otter Hounds hunted them for both fox and hare. The last named pack possess two wonderful Welsh hounds of the Lan-harran strain, Langer, and Gaylass. They are lemon and white in colour, and have hard coats, good voices, and no day is too long for them. They were originally purchased from the Llangibby Otter Hounds.
At the present time there is a certain demand for these Welsh wire-haired, hard-coated hounds; for, however opinions may differ as to their qualifications when placed alongside the modern foxhound, there do not appear to be two opinions as to their suitability for otter hunting. Masters of hounds fortunate enough to possess a couple or so, speak of them most eulogistically, especially so far as their hard, crisp, water-resisting coats are concerned; arguing that a coat of this character is more readily dried than the rougher one of the true otter hound; moreover, it is not so much in the way when swimming, and their constitutions are good. I do not think there is anywhere in the Principality or elsewhere an entire pack of the pure Welsh hound, either of harrier or of foxhound stamp (for there are two varieties), with the wire-haired, crisp coat. The colours are various, a few being black and tan, whilst ordinary hound markings, and such as are of a dark grizzled red and white, appear to be most in favour.
In going through the annual hunt table published in the Field on Oct. 17, 1896, I found there were some twenty-four packs of hounds kennelled in Wales, but only one is alluded to as Welsh, and this is the Merthyr Old Court pack, which are Welsh harriers, but their height is not given. They hunt from near Merthyr Tydvil. There are Welsh hounds in the Llangibby and also in the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen. As already said, masters of otter hounds value the strain or variety highly. Mr. T. P. Lewes, who hunts from Ffosrhydgaled, Llanfarian, near Aberystwith, has a few couples of pure bred wire-haired Welsh foxhounds; and in the Ynysfor, whose kennels are at Ynysfor, Merionethshire, the variety may be found as already alluded to. Mr. J. H. Jefferson, Cocker-mouth, secretary of the West Cumberland Hunt, tells me that they have one or two Welsh hounds, which are valued highly, and they would breed more of them were they able to find suitable material.
The Hon. H. C. Wynn, at Rug, near Corwen, and Mr. E. Buckley, at Newtown, Montgomeryshire, both appreciate this variety, and to these two gentlemen I am very much indebted for being able to produce the illustration which precedes this chapter. Here are two types of the Welsh hound, the one the Hon. H. C. Wynn's bitch Lively, an unmistakable harrier; the other Mr. Buckley's Landmark, quite the foxhound in character. The latter is undoubtedly one of the finest hounds I ever saw, straight in front, with beautiful shoulders, lovely neck, perfect feet, and as sound now as when in his prime, although he must be six years old, and has done a big share of hard work during his time. With loins and hind quarters equally perfect, he is as level and as symmetrically made as any dog I ever saw. In colour he is red-grizzle and white, and his coat is hard, crisp, and as thoroughly water and weather resisting as that found on any hound; his height is 24½ inches at the shoulder, and he scales 841b. when in nice working condition. It will be seen that his ears are rounded. He, with a similar hound, came from Mr. Reginald Herbert, master of the Monmouthshire; they had no pedigree, but were said to be pure Welsh foxhounds - a description which is, doubtless, thoroughly correct. Lively is much the same colour as Landmark, but perhaps the grizzle red is rather more tawny than that of the dog; she measures 20 inches in height at the shoulders, is 541b. in weight, and is likewise an old hound without pedigree. Mr. Wynn bought her with a similar hound in Ireland, whither she had been sent from Glamorganshire; her kennel companion was killed in the kennels at Rug. Lively is an excellent hound in work, and as a brood bitch has proved most successful. Unfortunately, she has always been mated with a smooth-coated English harrier, the puppies being very often all wire coated, some of them possessing more coat than their dam, who is a pretty bitch, with considerable character about her.
These hounds are excellent types of their family, and Mr. Wardle's drawing conveys better than words can, what an old-fashioned, wire-haired, Welsh hound is like. Mr. Buckley says he finds his couple or so "useful for otter hunting, as they take the water well, and do not seem to feel the cold so much as otter hounds, because their coats dry sooner than the longer ones of the latter when coming out of the water. They show extreme delicacy of nose in picking up and working out a cold drag; but their voices are very poor and their note quite commonplace as compared with the melodious otter hound."