Irish Wolfhound Times
(Irish Wolfhound Database and Breed Information Exchange)


About IWTLibraryBreed OriginsReserved For FutureAfghan Hound TimesReserved For FutureReserved For FutureEphemera


The field book; or, Sports and pastimes of the British islands
by ..William Hamilton Maxwell - 1833



http://www.irishwolfhoundtimes.com -William Hamilton Maxwell on Greyhound Family 1833


Thei Irish greyhound.— This is one of the largest of the canine race, with an air at once beautiful, striking, and majestic. He has been known to grow to the extraordinary height of four feet, although the general standard is about three feet.

In shape, the Irish greyhound somewhat resembles the common greyhound, only that he is much larger, and more muscular in his formation; clumsy in all his different parts, and is quite unserviceable for hunting either the stag, fox, or hare. His chief use, in former times, was in clearing the country of wolves and wild boars, for which his great size and strength peculiarly adapted him.

The colour of the Irish greyhound is a pale cinnamon or fawn. His aspect is mild, and his disposition gentle and peaceable. It is said he is greatly an overmatch for either the mastiff or bull dog; and when be fights, be generally seizes his antagonist by the back, and shakes him to death, which his great strength enables him lo do with ease

Buffon supposes tbe great Danish dog to be only a variety of the Irish greyhound; and Mr. Pennant was of opinion that the French matin and the Albanian dog were also varieties of the same.

The Irish greyhound is now rarely to be met with even in his own country.

Aylmer Bourke Lambert, Esq., one of the vice-presidents of the Liniean Society, took the measurement of one of the Marqois of Sligo's dogs, which was as follows:—" From the point of the nose In the tip of the tail, sixty one inches ; tail, seventeen and a half inches long ; from the tip of the nose to the back part of the skull, ten inches; from the back part of the skull to the beginning of the tail, thirty three inches; from the toe to the top of the fore-shoulder, twenty-eight inches and a half; length of the leg sixteen inches. From the top of the hind toes to the hind shoulders, thirteen inches ; from the point of the nose to the eye, four inches and a half. The ears, six inches long; round tbe part of the belly, (about three inches from the forelegs,) thirty-five inches, i twenty six inches round the hinder pairt, close to hind legs, the hair short and smooth; the colour of some brown and white, of others black and white. They seem good-tempered animals, but. from the accounts Mr. Lambert received, it is obvious that they must have degenerated, particularly in {point of size).

Dr. Goldsmith says he has seen a dozen of these dogs, and assures us the largest was four feet high, and as tall as a calf of a year eld.

Scottish Highland Greyhound or Wolf Dog, —This is a large and powerful dog. nearly equal in size to the Irish greyhound, His general aspect is commanding and fierce; his head is long, and muzzle rather sharp; his ears pendulous, but not long, his eyes large, keen, and penetrating, half concealed among the long, stiff, bristly hair with which his face is covered; his body is very strong and muscular, deepchested, tapering towards the loins, and his back slightly arched; his hind-quarters are furnished with large prominent muscles; and his legs are long, strongboned. and straight, -a combination of qualities which gives him that speed and long duration in the chase for which he is so eminently distinguished. His hair is shaggy and wiry, of a reddish colour, mixed with white: his tail is rough, which he carries somewhat in the manner of a staghound, but not quite so erect.

This is the dog formerly used by the highland chieftains of Scotland in their grand hunting parties, and is in all probability the same noble dog used in the time of Ossian

The Scotch Highland greyhound will either hunt in packs or singly.

Russian Greyhound,—(Cants Grains. Bonalis.) This is a large and powerful dog, nearly equal in strength to the Irish greyhound, which he also resembles in shape; his hair is long and bushy, and his tail forms a spiral curl, but which in the chase stands nearly straight behind him. The colour of the Russian greyhound is generally of a dark amber brown, but sometimes black: his coat is rough and shaggy.

When the Russian greyhound loses sight of the hare, he runs by the scent. Indeed, "When parties go out a coursing, this dog even endeavours to find game. He is a very powerful animal, and is frequently used either in small packs, or with other dogs, to hunt the wild boar, deer, or wolf, the latter of which a good hound will kill single handed. But it is the deer principally that he hunts.— when used in coursing, he is slipped in the same manner as is practised in thiscoutnry. The Scotch Greyhound, -This dog, in point of form, is similar in all respects to the common greyhound, differing only in its being of a larger size, and the hair being wiry, in place of that beautiful sleekness which distinguishes the coat of the other. Their colour for the most part is of a reddish brown or sandy hue, although they are sometimes to be met with quite black, I saw some powerful animals of this description in the north of Ireland, in possession of the small farmer and peasants of the mountainous districts. They are said to be the only dogs which are capable of catching the hares which Inhabit those mountain ranges,—the common greyhound wanting strength for such a laborious chase. These dogs in Ireland are almost universally dark iron grey, with very strong grizzly hair, and are much superior in many respects to any I have seen in Scotland. I remark a peculiarity in those Irish hounds, which was that of having very small but extremely brilliant and penetrating hazelcoloured eyes; their teeth were also very strong and long. We are informed by Topsel, that the dog was used for tracing thieves in Scotland, and also on the borders of England, and that he had an excellent sense of smelling. Even at the present day he has the sense in a more acute state than the common greyhound; and it is probable that in early times he was still more distinguished by an active power of scent.

Related article
Wild sports of the west: with legendary tales, and local sketches
By William Hamilton Maxwell 1843


Library Of Articles