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EARLY HISTORY OF THE BLOODHOUND . .  Robert Boyle continued:


What were bloodhounds like? CAIUS’ PICTURE OF THE ENGLISH BLOODHOUND in plate 3 is as far as I know the earliest (pre-1563) picture which actually has the purpose of showing what a bloodhound looks like.  Coupled with the associated text in Topsell, it gives an impression unmatched by any other source, telling us about the colours, size, and relationship to other similar hounds, as well as showing us shape and conformation.

When we read the description of the Bloodhound in Caius, that they were great dogs with large lips and long ears, it is easy to conjure up a picture of the modern animal.  The description of the Talbot-like hound in Markham is also one we can relate to, but the round, big, thick head and short nose make us realise that this is something a bit different. It is the more agile pack hounds which should have the narrower skulls and longer muzzles.  Turbervile also describes the qualities a scent hound should have, and says of the head that it “is more to bee esteemed when it is long, than when it is short snowted” - here presumably following Du Fouilloux.

The picture of the English Bloodhound doesn’t look like the modern animal, but there is a a reasonably long head, and the ears, though shorter and higher than those of the modern Bloodhound are quite long.  The lip doesn’t look large, though there is a suggestion of hanging flews, and other versions of the picture I’ve seen do seem to have a slightly squarer lip.  Notably also the top of the skull is flat, rather than rounded, and at the back of the skull there is a tight curve, suggesting a slightly pointed occiput.

There are also illustrations in Turbervile, mostly cribbed from Du Fouilloux.  In the black hound above, supposed to depict the St Hubert one notices that in spite of Du Fouilloux’ description it is not at all short legged.  Comparing it with other pictures of hounds throughout the book, it is apparent that the artist has simply taken his standard way of drawing a hound, coloured it black.  It is little different from the picture of the Baux or Greffier, which du Fouilloux specifically says was not of the type of the St Hubert.  One has to say that art in those days was not photographic, and that the image of the dog is probably somewhat conventionalised. One notices that the head is rounded, not peaked, the lips no larger than those of a modern foxhound, probably less so, the set-on of the ears is high, and they are not especially long.