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Encyclopedia Of Rural Sports, By Delabere P Blaine 1870
(Scottish, Irish, English Greyhounds)


(IWT Editor - The author Delabere P Blaine first produced this publication in 1840 but he determined to keep his work up to date, so several later versions were produced. This one was the final edition published in 1870. Blaine stated it was a revised edition with corrections. So readers might like to read this version and the original 1840 version. The later 1870 version included some illustrations not available in the 1840 version, those illustrations are included here)

http://www.irishwolfhoundtimes.com. Blaine 1840 Scotish Deerhound illustration


1403. On the Greyhound type ( C grains Linn.) we shall hereafter have much to say, when we treat on coursing; suffice it, therefore, to remark of it here, that it appears to have been a dog of some, but not of great, antiquity. In Xenophon's time no such dog as the greyhound is mentioned: it is, however, without doubt, derived from the vertagus, or rertraha, of Celtic origin. It is truly hinted at by the learned translator of Arrian, that much of the obscurity which hangs around the derivation of the greyhound, mav be attributed to the common mistake of considering it as being of Grecian origin; whereas this dog has no connection whatever with Greece. (See Greyhound in our coursing department, p. 555.) We have had numerous occasions of pointing at a certain balance of power or equalisation of benefits maintained throughout nature. Improve any organ or quality of an animall by art, to a very considerable degree, and a certain deterioration ensues in some other organ or quality to make the balance of power equal. Thus, when by judicious crossings and selections of particular specimens to breed from, the speed of the greyhound was increased to a degree wholly incompatible with the powers of escape of the animals he preyed on, it then followed that the faculty of scent, by which he could have continued the chase to the certain destruction of the animals he pursued, gradually lessened, leaving him eventually a gazehound only; for had he continued to run as well by scent as sight, the races be warred against must have become extinct.



1404. The great Scotch and Irish greyhounds we believe, from analogical reasoning and historical notices, to be descended from the vertagus as we have stated: nor with all our own coursing predilections, and our personal attachment to the object himself, we cannot find reason to separate the English greyhound from being an offset of the same root, although such zealous coursers as Mr. Thacker would fain raise him to the rank of an original formation; and when we look at the greyhound, we can but respect theii zeal.



1405. The Irish greyhound, popularly so called (C. graius Hybernicus Kay, fig. 209.), and well known a century or two ago, exhibited much of the type of the wolfhound. At that time he was seen majestically large, mostly rough coated, and usually, we believe, of a light grey tint, with fawn coloured markings. If his size were not exaggerated (but which we think was the case), he was said to be four feet high: but, as the wolf became scarce, and the huntings this dog was employed on were principally confined to deer, and to coursing the fox, his robust form and extravagant height was somewhat checked; and becoming rather more slender, he was more able to cope with the nimble prey he was then matched against. We have ourselves seen in Ireland specimens of what were called the Irish greyhound, which were certainly near three feet high; they were symmetrically formed, but were evidently framed more for power than great speed. Those we have »een were extremely mild in their disposition, and apparently somewhat inactive, which might readily be accounted for by the long disuse of their powers. To us they appeared interesting memorials of the chase of early times. Captain Brown says that the breed is still preserved by the Marquis of Sligo at Westport, in the county of Mayo; but we have heard this account contradicted; and we believe the truth to be, that, for a considerable time, the true breed was attempted to be kept up by the father of the present marquis, but that by neglect it had degenerated into a bastard type. Captain Brown's account informs us, that one of the old stock kept at Westport was measured by A. B. Lambert, Esq. one of the vice-presidents of the Linneean Society, when its dimensions were {noted to be as follows: —" From the point of the nose to the tip of the tail, 61 inches; tail, 174 inches long; from the tip of his nose to the back part of the skull, 10 inches; from the back part of the skull to the beginning of the tail, 33 inches; from the toe to the top of the fore-shoulder, 28 inches and a half; the length of the leg, 16 inches; from the point of the hind toes to the top of the hind shoulders, 13 inches; from the point of the nose to the eye, 41 inches; the ears, 6 inches long; round the widest part of the belly (about 3 inches from the fore-legs), 35 inches; 26 inches round the hind part, dove to the hind-legs; the hair short and smooth; the colour of some brown and white, of others black and white." The ingenious author of the Wild Sports of the West, hints that it is possible Captain Brown's error with regard to the Irish hound being still preserved in its original purity by the Marquis of Sligo, arose from the marquis importing some double nosed boarhounds. The nobleman alluded to is known to be an encourager of field sports, and of the breed of sporting dogs generally, of which we believe he is a very excellent judge; and we incline to think that Captain Brown's error rather arose as we state it. than from his mistaking the one breed for the other.

1406. The Scotch greyhound deerdog, or ratche ( C. Scoticus Fleming, y!?. 210.), is somewhat less in size than the Irish dog just noticed, at least such as we ourselves have seen were so. They somewhat resembled a strong, coarse, wire haired English greyhound, of olden times, and, like him, they use the nose in pursuit of the deer. They nearly approach the proportions of the so called old Irish greyhound, but are far more courageous. Captain Brown, in his amusing Biographical Sketches of Dogs, informs us that Captain Macdonell, of Glengarry, a gentleman remarked for his attachment to whatever characterises the sports and customs of former times, keeps up this breed (the late Duke of Athol is also said to have done the same); and in order to preserve it from degenerating by consanguineous origin, he crossed them, both with the bloodhound from Cuba, and with the shepherd's wolf-dog of the Pyrenees; which latter is distinguished for its scenting qualities as well as for its great size, beauty, and docility. Sir Walter Scott's celebrated dog Maida was of this kind, and is said to have been a most noble animal. It is stated however, that Holyland, the forester of the great chieftain of Glengarry, affirms that these dogs were bred inand-in from the nearest affinities. "The modern Scotch greyhound," says the translator of Arrian, "differs from the Irish in many respects: the former is rough and wiry, has a bearded snout, and ears half-pricked; the latter has short smooth hair and pendent ears: the Scotch is sharp, swift, and sagacious; the Irish dull looking, harmless, indolent: the former is still common in North Britain; the latter is become exceedingly rare every where. From Mr. Lambert's description of a modern specimen, the Irish wolf-greyhound seems to have degenerated much in size." (See also Fleming's British Animals, p. 12.)



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Encyclopedia Of Rural Sports, By Delabere P Blaine 1840

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