What colour the deerhound?
Having the time to read as I recuperate from my trauma, I decided to dig into Thomas C. Hinkles book ‘Shag’ - the original printing from 1932, being the tale of the cowboy rancher Tom Glen and his Pure bred Deer-hound. Not quite a perfect grey like the rest of the litter but a yellow and white coloured wooly ‘throwback’ named Shag.
Where as, I will finish reading the book before blogging further on it, I thought I’d ask myself the question . . . What colour the Deerhound?
If we read the description from the crufts catalog regarding colour which states ‘Colour wheaten, brindle, grey, the last being the most popular. White is a blemish save for a blaze on the chest or a tip to the tail, . . .’ we get an approximate colour guide.
In most cases the colour does not affect the temperament of the dog. But where does the colour originate? And what is truely natural as opposed to desirable?
More dogs of a darker almost charcoal grey seem to be appearing at shows and now the ‘Ancient’ reds and rusts, brindles and wheaten colours are very rare. It would be nice to see some of these colours re-appearing I know that Uncanny the Ardkinglas hound that resided here had a lot of the rusty red throughout his coat.
If we look at some of the old art of the deerhound including the ‘Maida’ paintings the colour and markings for dogs referred to as deerhounds then, seem to be a lot different to the ‘desirable’ of today. Although further back in the time line, the ‘folk tales’ and ‘Myths’ of Scotland frequently make mention of large ‘Grey’ hounds. I will feature some of these tales here on the blog soon for those who read this blog but have no idea of what I speak.
If we associate the dogs breeding from that of the wolf, the colours grey and brown/red would definately be dominant in the genes. Particularly in the Northern regions of Europe.
Of interest in history, if we look at the English Greyhound (and you will find further detail of it previously on this blog), we know that during the refinement of the breed, when it was outlawed for commoners to own one, the colours became of importance.
The nobility requested dogs to be light with distinctive markings on them, perhaps white with a large brown or dark patch, or black and white, or all white with a coloured saddle or face. This made them easy to watch or wager on whilst in pursuit of game and also much easier to find from a distance or if they were to be lost.
The commoners of the period who continued to breed hounds, preferred the brindle, or browns, or smooth greys, colours that would be difficult for the sheriffs in the employ of nobles’ to detect. Particularly whilst out participating in illicit activities. For all hounds colour aside, the job at hand remained the same . . . ‘catch the quarry’.
Again, in Scotland, the weather conditions, temperatures and terrain would have bearing on the coat and because of the rough, scragginess of the coat, colour may not have been of such importance. The functionality of us deerhounds would have been the highest concern.
I hope to see a re-appearance of the Highland colours in the breed and am encouraging my family to look around the country to find them.
What think all yee other hounds? Contact me if you are not a grey.