« ForrigeFortsett »
miles. And I don't mind their having an easy day now and again.”
I do not think any one can wish for a more graphic, vivid, or humorous description of a beagle hunt than that, or one more calculated to gain recruits for the sport, the particular advantages of which are that it can be enjoyed at a very small expense, within a very small area, and without damage to the property of those who present the pitchfork to the mounted hunter. And for the capacity of the pocket beagle, as compared with the hare-hunting beagle, this is what Mr. Lord writes in the same publication :
“What sport ? ” you probably exclaim. I answer, “Anything you please, which carries scent." Rabbit is the legitimate quarry of the pocket beagle. The hound is so small and active that he can fly through the rabbit meshes; he is so close to the ground, and his scent is so delicate, that he never fails to drive his game, even on a moderate scent. His heart is so fully in his work that, whether torn or bruised, nothing can choke him off; through brambles, thickets, gorse, water, bunny is forced along. The endurance of these little hounds is remarkable, considering their diminutive size. For several seasons I have driven into a park the deer which have escaped, and frequently had good runs. I have run fox and hare with them, but, of course, never got near a kill. I have run drags with them to the delight of a good field. I have shot rabbits over them, and run a variety of persons and animals with them. But generally I use mine for rabbit-hunting, the earths being stopped, or with bagged, selected rabbits, giving the quarry ten minutes law in an open country, according to the scent. Small as these little hounds are, it is impossible for an ordinary runner to keep up with them on even terms with a hot scent; but on a catchy or coldish scent there is no more interesting study for a genuine sportsman than to watch the work of a cry of pocket beagles. You smile incredulously? Try it. When they have once settled down very little lifting is required, as pace is not your object. Leave them alone to work out the problem : your object is sport rather than blood. Only keep your field well back at a check, not to interfere with or run over them, or press them on, and you will gain an interesting object-lessonequal I think, to fox-hunting.
These quotations have carried me rather beyond my allotted space, but I think they have prepared an interest in the breed that will appreciate the more technical details following, and enable a better consideration of the individual opinions I have collected. And I cannot do better than begin with the valued expert views of
Mr. J. A. TATHAM.-When any one desires to ascertain what is the correct type of this or that breed of dog, he generally visits a dog show. What he sees there ought to give him some definite idea of the breed, and it very often does. But in regard to the beagle I am sorry to say it often does not. There is no breed of dog recognised as distinct in which type varies so much. Such a difference is there between the head of a 16-inch beagle, which is the limit height, and the head of a 10-inch beagle, that if one is right the other must be wrong!
At our chief shows the competition is cut up into classes restricted by height, beagles over 12 and not exceeding 16 inches having a class to themselves; then those over 10 and not exceeding 12, and finally those not exceeding 10 inches. Whatever divisions are made in height, it follows from the Beagle Club's standard and description that all beagles from 16 inches downwards should be of the same type, the standard applying equally to the 16, the 12, and the io-inch hounds.
The average beagles of the larger size do not fit the standards, whilst the smaller size—the pocket-misses it ; but the medium size hits it, and it is in these 12-inch beagles that the old true type of beagle is most manifest. When one notes the pronounced difference between the larger and the lesser beagle, the question forces itself whether to accept the head of the one or the head of the other. No man who hunts hares will pay any attention to the pocket beagle, nor does he care whether its type does or does not represent the true beagle more correctly than the larger size of hound-he simply won't have it!
It would have been possible some time ago—in fact it still is
to have preserved the old type of hounds of the larger size as easily as it has been preserved in those of medium size, but masters of 14., 15., and 16-inch packs, preferring cleaner made hounds, made no such attempt ; and as there are a far greater number of beagles between 14 and 16 inches than there are between 10 and 13 inches, it may be said, I think, without con
tradiction, that the type as seen in the larger size is more prominent than the type of the smaller, and therefore it may be accepted as the one most preferred, be it, or be it not, the true original type.
This preferred type is outside the Beagle Club's standard so far as dewlap, mild expression, and slightly-sloping shoulders go. That the Club was strongly opposed to the beagle being different from the foxhound only in size is proved by those points quoted from its standard ; and if one takes the pick of all the beagle packs and puts them together, it will be found that the dewlap is absent, the expression not mild, and the shoulders, instead of being slightly sloping, are placed well back. Put shortly, it is true that lovers of the true, old-fashioned beagle regret the loss in the larger beagle-of those points which distinguished it from the foxhound and harrier ; but no such regret is felt by those who desire better necks, cleaner throats, more sloping shoulders, short backs, and straight legs. And the question of what the beagle is or is not depends on whether the majority of masters intend to breed on the lines of the foxhound, or adhere to the standard set forth by the Beagle Club, of which many of them are members.
The position of the beagle at the present time is most gratifying, as far as the increased interest in then goes ; but it is far from pleasing to admit that with a standard which the big and little beagles are supposed to be bred to, there is a greater difference between the 16-inch and the 10-inch beagle than between the 16-inch beagle and the foxhound.
Mr. F. B. LORD.—My conception of an “ideal” beagle is a hound which excels in work, and is, at the same time, a “nicelooking” beagle. My ideal must have a greedy appetite for work, a reliable nose, indefatigable perseverance, great cleverness in his diagnosis of a dry line or cross-scent, and all the twistings and turnings of his quarry, which can only be acquired by the education of practice; sufficient stamina to live out any work he is called upon to undertake, absence of riot, with fair, but not necessarily excessive speed. If he is such, and perhaps a bit more, I can put up with many minor defects in form and colouring. But to be ideal he must have form as well as work, characteristic type, with beautiful markings. For myself, I should never draft a beagle for his colour, but the ideal must have good sound hound-markings, such as dense black, snow white, and bright tan, or, perhaps, blue-mottled.
As the best judge of form may award the premier honours to
the worst field-worker, I cannot value the honours obtained at shows, except as to pure show form. Shows are certainly interesting and instructive as to form, and bring men of like sporting interests together, and we learn much in seeing the inferiority of our own exhibits when compared with those of superior build. These exhibitions certainly go to improve the appearance of the hounds, and it is unquestionable that the Beagle Club has done a very great work, chiefly through its indefatigable Honorary Secretary, in moulding the highest conception of form that beagle men can want. And we see--and every one must acknowledge—that from year to year the breed has exhibited improved and more careful breeding.
And now with regard to form. I begin with head. Open the mouth : let me see a perfect set of teeth-white, no irregularities, no corrosion, no tint of canker. This is frequently neglected by judges, but it is important. I don't like a flat, dish-faced hound; there ought to be an indication of stop ; not a long face, like in the foxhound, and certainly not a snub face, and, above all, not a snipe muzzle with pig jaws. Ears should be set a trifle below the apex of the skull, not excessively long, but flexible and a bit folded, without being too delicate for thorny work. The skull should be, in comparison, a bit broader than that of the foxhound. A dog-hound is rather more massive in build than a bitch, which has a more ladylike appearance. The eyes must be neither too prominent nor too small. A little wrinkle down the face of heavily built hounds is very attractive. A true beagle must be a bit throaty, the “voice-bag" must be plainly developed. A clean throat, which Americans like, is not according to my views of the true beagle type. I love a real, good musical note, and detest anything like a squall or screech. The beagle's body is rather longer and lower to the ground in proportion than a foxhound's, but it must not be anything like a basset's. I expect to see well-ribbed up flanks, with a chest not too narrow, and with perfectly straight legs placed well under the body, so that the elbows are not set out. Hindquarters with a good muscular loin, and well-developed thighs, full of muscle, and with stifles well let down. Well made feet not altogether round, but substantially padded ; stern set at right angles to the back, and carried gaily, but not curved over the back.
A beagle in the show ring with strange surroundings, apart from his pack companions, amongst whom he is as bold as a lion, frequently crouches to the ground, especially in the smaller specimens, and consequently exhibits a long back ; but when free he pulls himself together, his head and stern are raised, and all his muscles are tightened up and come into view, and only then you see something of his true form and symmetry. Then, too, you see his movement and activity, on which a good deal depends in forming a judgment. One word more on bone: a hound which is disproportionate in bone is not of good form. Bone must be in proportion to the structure of the body. A dog-hound generally carries more bone than a bitch, but the bitch is in no way inferior in work. A hare beagle, where pace is of considerable consideration, is rather further from the ground than the rabbit beagle, where scent alone is the object; and they must be judged on rather a different basis. Above all, observe a proper proportion in build and form, because the beagle, unlike other hounds, has different quarries, and consequently differs in height and build according to the quarry for which he is bred.
Passing from the descriptive to the critical, here are some of the opinions which have reached me on the type of the breed as it exists to-day :
MRS. CHARLES CHAPMAN. There is no fixed type, for all iudges seem to differ as to what is the true beagle type.
MR. W. R. TEMPLE. - There are too many types. I should like to see the dewlap abolished. I consider that the Beagle Club does much harm to the breed by encouraging the useless little hounds of 10 to 12 inches. Practically all hounds of that size have bad legs and feet, long bodies, snipey faces, and are usually shown very fat. The Beagle Club's idea of a beagle is the same sort of animal that existed before the flood! Where should we be if we stuck to the old type of foxhound ? Masters of beagles go in for a foxhound type of the little hound, and naturally do not care to show their hounds under the all-round professional dog-show judge. The 14- to 16-inch beagle is built much on the lines of a foxhound. They should have good neck and shoulders, plenty of bone, perfectly straight legs, good feet (standing well up on their toes), stern set on top of back, and well carried, hocks well let down, muscular thighs, etc. These are the only sort of beagles kept by those who hunt beagles in packs. To an ordinary sportsman, when you speak of beagles, these are the animals to which he supposes you refer. The rabbit beagle is a little, long-bodied, crooked-legged, splay-footed, pug-eyed animal kept by gamekeepers to drive rabbits to the guns, and till lately was never taken seriously. They would