This section is from the book "Hunting: A Manual of Fox, Hare, Stag & Otter Hunting", by J. Otho Paget. Also available from Amazon: Hunting: A Manual of Fox, Hare, Stag & Otter Hunting.
The three famous Belvoir huntsmen, Goodall, Goosey, and Gillard, have improved and handed down to posterity a strain of blood that will leave its mark on every kennel in England ; but it must not be forgotten that these huntsmen have had every assistance and encouragement from each successive owner of the pack. A perfect foxhound is like a great picture—its wondrous beauty grows upon you by degrees, and the more you look the more you admire ; but also, like the picture, it can never be copied on canvas successfully, and that is why no hound has yet been properly painted. A portrait must either fail as a likeness or as a picture. The one is an indifferent copy of God's handiwork, and the other should be the execution of an artist's creation conceived by a mind divine. All copies are an abomination, and art is born only in imagination. Until there is a breeder and lover of the animal who is a skilled workman with the brush, we can never hope to see a hound painted with life and symmetry.
Though the Belvoir deserve all the credit for making the most of their opportunities in securing the best material, we must not forget to honour those from whom that material was obtained. The Brocklesby, the Badminton, the Milton, and the Grafton have all helped to build up the Belvoir to its present perfection; but though none of these packs have been dispersed, and all have had the same chances, they have not met with the same success. Mr. Foljambe and Lord Henry Bentinck each did great service to the breed in their day, and each left a pack that impressed its influence on many kennels.
It would be impossible to give here a complete list of all those who have been instrumental in raising the fox-hound to its present high standard, but it may be safely said that all those who have bred have either done good or harm. The man who has exercised proper care, striving to attain perfection in make and shape, but never sacrificing working qualities to looks, has done good in his generation that will bear fruit in the future. In the same way the man who has been careless, and taken no trouble about breeding his hounds, will have spread abroad a noxious weed that will take generations of careful culture to eradicate. You cannot, even with an unlimited supply of money, hope to build up a pack like the Belvoir in anything less than a lifetime ; but by getting hold of good material to start with, and using the best sires, you should be able to breed a very decent pack in a few years. I am not going to attempt a treatise on the breeding of hounds, but there are one or two points that the beginner would do well to bear in mind. The first and most important is never to put on a badly-made or misshapen hound, lest he prove extraordinarily good in his work and you be tempted to breed from him. Then you must never breed from hounds, however good-looking, if they have any such vices as babbling, skirting, running mute, or dwelling on the line. All these are hereditary, and though they may be partially corrected by discipline and education, they are certain to appear again in the descendants. The two qualities most essential in a fox-hound are goodness of nose and drive. The fox-hound must get on with a scent, and the hare-hound may stop to enjoy it. The pottering hound should be hung at once. Dash and drive, however, are virtues that, without being tempered with a keen sense of smell, will degenerate into flash, which is a deadly sin. In the same way goodness of nose may develop into dwelling on the line, unless it is combined with drive. There are very few packs nowadays that would keep a hound with any glaring fault, and still less that would breed from one, so that in starting a pack there should be no difficulty in getting hold of a good foundation. Let us imagine you are a young man who has just taken a country, and has to find a pack ; you know nothing of hounds, but are desperately keen. You might be fortunate enough to buy a whole pack that came into the market at the moment you wanted it, or you might have to take over the hounds of your predecessor, and in either case you would have something to go on hunting with. With these you might be able to show good sport, if in good condition and under proper control, but you will not rest satisfied with a moderate pack. Never buy any drafts except those that are unentered, for you may be sure no one will sell a hound in his prime unless he has some fault; but you may occasionally get hold of a good old bitch that has become a bit slow, has a toe down, or has met with some accident. Do not, however, load yourself up with many old hounds, and do not put them in the working pack, but keep them solely for breeding. I do not advise breeding from old bitches as a rule, but if you put them to vigorous young dogs, and see that the whelps have good walks, you may be successful in getting a nice entry. Visit all the best kennels in England, and at the same time you are picking up hounds you will be educating yourself. When you have established yourself, fix a type in your eye, and breed to that type. Any one can tell if a hound has good legs and feet, but it takes a good judge to be certain if shoulders are right. Never buy a hound with bad shoulders, and if you cannot be certain of him whilst standing, see him moving in a field— ridge and furrow if possible. A bad-shouldered hound does not feel his defect except when he is going fast, and then every stride shakes him, so that after a quick gallop over hard ground he is more than likely to be lame, and the same thing happens after jumping banks or stone walls. It is not, perhaps, very difficult to know about shoulders when they are at either extreme, but I would not accept the verdict of the most celebrated judge when there was any doubt one way or the other, because I do not believe any one can make certain on this point by seeing a hound only on the flags. I do not wish to underestimate the value of straight legs or round catlike feet, and I would if possible always have perfection ; but at the same time I think there are other and more important points which are often sacrificed to a craze for these two things. I must confess that I am myself under the influence of this craze, and if a hound is not straight, I cannot look at him twice. Nine men out of ten on entering a kennel look first at legs, and if any are at all out of the straight they immediately detect them. The owner or huntsman of the pack knows this will happen, and he will try to keep the crooked ones in the background. There can be no question of opinion as to a hound's legs, for he is either straight or crooked, as the case may be, and the fact admits of no argument by a partial owner. Such a thing as a really crooked hound would be hard to find nowadays in any kennel, but it must be remembered that this has only been brought about by generations of careful breeding, and a few years of inattention to this particular would make you a pack with legs like dachshunds. Therefore you must not neglect legs, and never be content until they are as straight as arrows.