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 Hon. H. C. Wynn speaks in similarly eulogistic terms of the Welsh breed, and of his good bitch Lively in particular. She has produced him the very best hounds he has in his pack - a workmanlike lot, who can hunt hare and fox and otter, as occasion requires, and do this three or four days a week and turn out fresh and frisky at the end. One of the stud hounds in the pack is Curfew, a son of Lively's, who, although sired by an English hound, has as much, or more, coat than his dam. He is a fine fellow, about 21 inches in height, and can drive hare or otter as well as any hound. Of the Welsh hounds, Mr. Wynn says "they excel in working without assistance, and are seldom at a loss, even when the huntsman is not with them, when they overrun the line. When such is the case, they will spread out like a fan, individually try here, there, and everywhere, with the inevitable result that some hound or another hits the missing line, speaks to it, and other hounds, galloping up, do likewise. Then they are away as brisk as ever; there is no sitting down and waiting about for assistance." As a matter of fairness, I must state that all owners of Welsh hounds do not speak in a similar strain. A well known master, who owns a few couples, says that where "there is one good hound there are fifty bad ones - noisy, riotous, ugly, ill-conditioned brutes," and this he ascribes to in-breeding. Most of the finest hounds have, he says, degenerated in the matter of bone and substance, and after three seasons' work they are inclined to hang on the line of a fox and become noisy. The latter fault he finds not only with the pure Welsh hound, but with the foxhound cross.
Some time ago a hunting correspondent in the Field took exception to some Welsh or half bred Welsh hounds he saw, accusing them of "babbling" and other heinous offences. They were not, however, long without having their cause thoroughly championed by those who knew a great deal more about hounds than did the fault rinding writer in the first instance. I do not think I can do better than reproduce the letters of, at any rate, the two writers who first came to the rescue of the strangely vilified hounds.
"Linehunter" wrote: "I venture to think that your correspondent is not in possession of sufficient data regarding the Welsh foxhound to warrant the conclusion he appears, judging from his letter, to have arrived at. He speaks of the Welsh hound as being so 'shy' as to require to be 'coaxed over a road if horses are standing in it.' He also describes him as being so free with his tongue as to throw it continually 'when casting for the line.' Further he asserts that he will not 'stand the whip.'
"With regard to shyness, it is quite possible to find some trencher-fed packs, many of whose members would trot off home if they had a severe cut with a thong, the reason really being that such packs have next to no kennel discipline; and, when collected together for a day's sport, extremely resent chastisement for hare or rabbit hunting, and accordingly go home to Molly the milkmaid, or whoever has been the best friend of their infancy, for comfort to their wounded feelings. I have occasionally seen a hound go home in this way, but very seldom. In all my experience of Welsh and Welsh crossed hounds, I have never seen such an occurrence as 'coaxing hounds across a road' because they were in abject fear of horses standing in it. Occasionally a puppy or two may not relish a crowd of horses, but, 'given a decent scent,' as the venerable master of the Llangibby observed to me, 'they would go through a regiment of soldiers.'
"Such shyness as I have noticed in Welsh or crossed Welsh hounds has been due rather to defect of discipline than to defect of character. If a hound be kept at a farm and only brought to kennel for hunting he will not stand the amount of whip and rating that a kennelled hound will readily endure. The master of the Llangibby, Mr. John Lawrence, whose unrivalled experience of Welsh hounds entitles his opinion to the greatest consideration, assures me that he considers the charge of shyness as against the Welsh hounds devoid of all foundation.
"There is a point in their character that I must not fail to notice, and that is their curious and sturdy independence. Doubtless many hound men would dislike this trait extremely. We do not. We cherish it as most precious, a quality second to none in the animal's composition. Without it we should not kill half the wild stout foxes that we do. I do not know that I can explain this quality better than in the words of a gentleman who saw the Llangibby account for a fox in a difficult country, and said, 'Lawrence, your hounds don't hunt like hounds, but just as if they were wild dogs.' This conveys my meaning. They hunt as a wild animal pursues his prey, to kill and have its blood, paying as much attention to the game they have in hand and as little to their huntsman as they conveniently can. At a check, when an unjumpable ravine or a dingle that must be circumvented intervenes between them and their huntsman, you do not see them standing still shaking their sterns, and looking wistfully for their human friends to come and tell them where to try. No; they spread here and there, all over the place, busy as spaniels, crossing and traversing, till presently one hits it off, and away they go to cry. This very independent nature of theirs makes them a trifle more headstrong in their work than some men might like. For instance, you have to stop them about six times before you can get them off a fox's line, and they will break away and rush at a covert through all the whips that ever rode and holloaed. But did not Whyte Melville write of his typical hound that Rating and whipcord he treated with scorn ?
Independent, wilful, determined they are, and not the sort to be 'tufters' staghunting, and stand still politely at the crack of a thong. Shy they are not. If shyness were one of their weak points, would they stand the crowds out otter hunting, or would those two bitches by Llangibby Danger and Sultan, to borrow 'Brooksby's' words, 'in fair weather and foul, on a cold scent or a hot one,' have gone to the front with the Pytchley? No, they would have come home post haste to Wales to recount how those terrible 'fields' of the shires rode over their sensitive sterns.