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.
About the same time, "Cymru Bach," who also thoroughly understood what he was writing about, said: "As a Welshman who has hunted Welsh hounds all the year round for some fifteen years, the epitaph on the tomb of my father's old huntsman, containing the following doggerel, defines the various sports:-
Here lies old Rice, a huntsman nice,
Who cares for neither fox, hare, or otter;
His hounds he'd feed whene'er they'd need. With horseflesh from the slaughter.
And he hunted all in their turn, with an occasional moonlight diversion after a badger. . . . Were I still hunting in Wales I would have none other than Welsh hounds, considering them to be more suitable to the country than the English, which, from high breeding, high feeding, or continual lifting to get out of the way of the modern steeplechaser, have not such good noses as the Welsh hounds. In England I should be very glad to see a judicious cross to help to remedy this serious defect; but this will never be as long as there are hound shows, and hard riders on blood horses; you cannot cross a Welsh hound (rough) with an English hound (smooth) to make a picture. The Welsh hound is a more determined worker, which remark will also apply to hounds in the mountainous countries of the north of England, such as Cumberland; both parts of the country claiming that they can hunt a fox until darkness, when a peg has been put in the ground where they have been called off, and the hounds taken to the spot early next morning again to continue the run. I am writing of some thirty years ago, when daybreak was the time for the meet, which is not the case in these indulgent days. The Welsh hound is especially a good hunter along a road, over a plough, and even on heavy snow. I have had some really good hare hunting on the mountains. The Welsh hound has plenty of music, which is very cheery, and essential in hilly and woodland countries, and without which the hounds would often be lost for the remainder of the day. The Welsh hound may be more shy, when brought into England, than the English hound, which might be accounted for thus : In Wales the fields are small, counted by their tens, while in England they are counted by their scores. At home I do not consider it has this fault. The Welsh hound is not so fast as the English hound, because, if with all its music, speed were added in such a country, the fields would never see or hear any more of the pack until it had found its way back to the kennels during the following week probably.
"I cannot agree that the Welsh hound takes more whip, that is in cases where discipline is taught in the kennels, on the suaviter in modo et fortiter in re principle. As an all-round worker the Welsh hound is certainly bad to beat. All my lot, principally wire-haired, were very good on an otter, and after Christmas, with the assistance of a few old foxhounds as finders, were very steady on our mountain foxes; and many a badger have they accounted for on our moonlight excursions. Hares were supposed to be their legitimate game, and we could kill plenty, with often a straight-necked one going over the hills and far away, as if a fox were in front of hounds. At this sport I never lifted them, giving wily puss every chance for her life. I remember on one occasion suddenly losing our hare on an open hill, and trying round and round to put her up again; she had doubled back, and at last catching sight of her squatting in a deep wheel rut nearly covered over with water; hounds must have walked over her several times. I took them to the spot over and over again, before they got her up of her own accord; needless to say she ran only a very short distance, being stiff and chilled, before they were rewarded with their well-earned whoo-whoop and a taste of blood. I consider the Welsh hound the best for Wales, the English hound for England; the styles of hunting, owing to the natural as well as the other requirements of the two countries, more especially in the present day, being so vastly different.
"During the past fifty years English hounds (smooth coated) have been extensively used in Wales, and, such being the case, the cross that is now being 'tried so successfully' should not be called a cross with the Welsh hound, but rather with the hound from Wales, virtually an English hound, which has undoubtedly increased its scenting qualities from such cross, the colder hunting country and the lesser amount of lifting. I think there are very few cases where English masters of hounds have crossed with the original rough Welsh hound - in fact, there are very few in the Welsh packs. In the Radnorshire and West Herefordshire, which Col. Robert Price, a late master, had hunted for more than five-and-twenty years, there were several of the old wire-haired Welsh hounds, which he always valued at their weight in gold; but he was compelled to go with the times, and get a strain of English blood for his flying Herefordshire country, where horses and men are faster than those over the Welsh hills, and where hounds must be got out of their way."
Mr. P. J. Savile Foljambe wrote that in 1871 he purchased, at Lord Wemyss's sale, three unentered bitches, by Lord Queensberry's Talisman, a hound with a good deal of Welsh blood in his veins. Two of these bitches were most determined hard runners, with plenty of tongue, but not too much of it. The third had the best nose over dry or rough fallows of anything in the kennel. She was, he believed, the best all-round foxhound he ever had, and a capital fox finder. Three or four of the litter, which Mr. Foljambe did not take, were of the colour of bloodhounds.
I think that a capital case in favour of the Welsh hound has been made out, and one has yet to find where the cross, when properly done, has not been found useful in its introduction with the modern foxhound. To hunt the otter, the Welsh hound, in the state as pure as it can be obtained now, is said to be harder than the ordinary otter hound, and his close, hard coat sooner dries than the longer and often softer one of the hound so common in the north of England. There appears to be two types of the Welsh hound nowadays, whatever was the case formerly, and there is quite as much difference between Landmark and Lively - portraits of which head this article - as there is between a foxhound of 24 inches and a harrier of 18 inches. The description of them, as given on another page, is that of the Welsh hound as he ought to be, and this chapter cannot better be concluded than in the words of an English M.F.H., who, with considerable experience of the Welsh cross, wrote : "It is probably needless to say that, if a master of hounds wants to show at Peterborough, or is very particular about the looks of his pack, he must have nothing to do with the Welsh cross. I do not know anything about pure Welsh hounds, but this makes the third season in which I have hunted some hounds with a Welsh cross in them. The two disadvantages of the cross seem to me to be appearance and the difficulty of breaking these hounds from riot. They require a great deal more whip than English hounds, and it takes far more trouble to get them steady. The advantages appear to be these: They enter quicker than English hounds; they hunt better by themselves, and persevere more when their huntsman cannot get to them; they have more tongue, and, I am inclined to think, rather better noses. I have never had one of these hounds which babbled, or threw its tongue when going into covert, and I have never seen any sign of their being afraid of coming through horses."
Allusion has been made to the special faculty the Welsh hound is said to possess in hunting the drag or "quest," i.e., in striking the scent of a fox where he has been on the prowl over night or early morning, and slowly and carefully making it out until he is unkennelled. This hunting the "quest" is not entirely confined to Welsh hounds and to Wales; for it is still the custom with such packs as the Ulleswater, the Coniston, the Eskdale (Cumberland), and perhaps of some others which meet in the North of England. In my early days most north country harriers adopted a similar method, and, meeting at eight o'clock in the morning, there was always some pretty questing and hunting the 'drag' before puss was "see-hoed" away from her form in the stubble or in the hedge bottom. In such cases there is no danger of hounds being ridden over, and it is a custom which must certainly improve the scenting capabilities of hounds. 1 fancy it is in the latter particular that our wiry-haired Welshman has been oftenest found useful when mated with the foxhound, which, however perfect he is said to be, can, like anything else in this world of ours, be improved and made even "more perfect."