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Scenthounds have exceptional sense of smell and use this in their pursuit of game or quarry.


Some scenthounds, such as the otterhound have long, pendulous ears which have a distinctive fold. The leading edge should fold or roll inwards giving a draped appearance. That is to enable the scent to be pushed forward to enable the hound to smell it easily. All scent hounds have large noses with well opened nostrils for scenting power.

Otterhounds are not bred for speed, but to hunt the otter for long periods of time. They must be able to withstand all conditions found in the field. During a four hour hunt, many hounds will be swimming for most of the time, often for 20 miles or so, and any dog with a major fault in conformation could not do that. He was bred to track down and kill the otter which is a 20 to 30 lb animal, more at home in water than on land, and a fierce adversary in a fight. Webbed feet on the Otterhound are essential, and he must have the coat to enable him to stay in the water for so long.

We would expect more shoulder angulation in the low to ground scenthounds such as the Basset Hound, Basset Griffon Vendeen and Dachshund. Most of the bodyweight is concentrated in the front and therefore this places great stress on the short forelegs. When the shoulder is well laid back and forms a right angle with the humerus, and the humerus and radius and shoulder equal each other in length, the front will be correct; the forelegs will support the heaviest part of the hound and the deepest point of the chest will be immediately between the front legs. If the humerus is shorter than the radius and the shoulder, the legs are automatically brought forward and therefore the bulk of bodyweight is behind, not between the legs causing the knees to knuckle forward, the elbows to come out and the pasterns to bend, making a very deformed and incorrect front assembly. They have a prominent sternum or breast-bone which should protrude in front of the forelegs.

Basset Hounds were bred to hunt, but as the hunter followed the hound on foot, the hound's legs were reduced in length by selective breeding. The Basset was originally intended for use, two at a time, as canine beaters to drive game to the guns and not for hunting 'at force', without the assistance of man and his weapons.

The requirements of a hound for this purpose were that it should have a really good nose for scenting his quarry and a powerful voice, so that the accompanying guns would know where it was working.

Basset Hound

Their remarkable scenting powers will follow a trail that is hours old. Basset Hounds consider it so important to do this they will become selectively deaf to any commands or pleas by their owners. Also he should be slow moving. The point about this is that game seem to have a pretty good idea of the strength and pace of the canine enemy. Pursued by a large pack at speed and in full cry the game will remove itself speedily from the area, probably offering the guns no chance of a shot. On the other hand, if aware that the pursuit consists only of one or two slow hounds, the game will move gently forward in front of them. If a hare is followed in this way it will frequently be seen only a field or two ahead, giving the guns plenty of time to position themselves for a shot. To enable the forelegs to carry the weight of a dog of this size, they must be of great bone and substance.

The forearms must be able to cradle the forechest thus supporting the dog, and at the same time not hindering the free action to enable the dog to hunt all day long. The hind legs must also be powerful as they provide the propulsion. With all their weight the gait should have free action with the forelegs reaching well forward and the hind legs showing powerful thrust. They should move true fore and aft, with the hocks and stifles flexing in movement. Hounds that tiptoe around the ring with stiff hocks and stifles would not, nor could not do the job they were bred for, or at the very least would not be able to endure the hunt for as long as correctly moving dogs. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen is not a rough coated Basset. He is not as heavy as the Basset and there are several differences between the two.

Bloodhound While the Basset Hounds have excellent scenting powers, the Bloodhound, has the keenest nose and greatest scenting powers in the Hound Group. To achieve these great scenting powers a wide well opened nostril is required and also long ears to concentrate the scent into the nose. The Bloodhound must have large and open nostrils which may protrude a little beyond the lips. Their scenting powers are legendary, and the most famous Bloodhound in history is probably Nick Carter, who is credited with over 600 trail finds in the USA. The longest successful trial was 55 miles and the oldest trail was 337 hours cold (14 days) in Oregon. They must have a long neck to enable them to reach down to the ground easily. Movement must be fluid and free, flowing and effortless and with every indication of having immense reserves of power, as often an enormous amount of ground must be covered.
Dachshunds were bred to go to ground after badger, fox and otter. Miniatures were bred for rabbit hunting and were found to be particularly good at eradicating vermin. Longhairs were found to be good for water retrieving while the Wire's speciality was going for game in particularly dense scrub. A dog was wanted that was small enough to go to ground, with a good nose to find his quarry also to work with the gun. A dog that had a loud tongue and could be heard underground while the hunters dug out the trapped vermin, and above all a dog that was courageous to a point of foolhardiness. Dachshund Long
Dachshund Mini Wire Small enough to go into the ground, turn around and come out again. And if he couldn't turn around he has to be able to move fast and retreat when necessary. He also should have a prominent breastbone, and to obtain this, he must have a well laid shoulder and the correct length of upper arm i.e. not short. The lower arm is slightly inclined inward and the feet may be slightly turned outward. Any more than slightly would mean the weight of the dog would not be evenly distributed on the feet.

Beagles are a very ancient breed and probably one of the oldest hounds of the chase. The name Beagle was first used about 1481. He is used for hunting hare and was followed on foot. He hunts in packs and must be of even temperament. He's a sturdy, compactly-built hound, conveying the impression of quality without coarseness. He's a lot of hound in a little room, and gives the picture of strength and substance in a small space. Beagle
Foxhound Foxhounds and Harriers are also scent hounds. They are used for hunting in packs and with horses and riders therefore move much faster than the Beagles. Foxhounds have been around for centuries and are worked with packs to hunt foxes. It must be remembered that the hunt packs are more concerned with the working ability of the foxhound than the colour and looks, so we too must judge the dog by keeping in mind the purpose for which he was bred. I once judged a Foxhound show for one of the hunt clubs and had about 80 Hounds from all over the state. The announcer kept saying "Mrs Duffin is now judging a Hound from the "Tocumwal" hunt" etc. It got so that as soon as I looked at a hound I could tell which hunt it was from as they all had certain qualities, and it all depended on the sort of terrain that hound was required to hunt over. Some were heavier than others and some had slightly different heads to others. But they could all hunt. If they couldn't they'd "go". They have to be able to go th rough thick brambles and undergrowth and be able to scale fences easily. He is not a short backed dog and should not have a 'chopped off' rear as this would mean the hound will be deficient in pace.

As one old foxhound writer wrote "Upon the character of this second thigh depends endurance, power and strength, for unless it is properly developed the hound himself will exhibit little pace and less endurance. By the way, a Foxhound is always called a Hound at the hunt clubs, never a "dog".

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