Last Issue, We discussed the first set of breeds able to course as part of the AEthelmearc Hound Coursing Guild, the Greyhound Body Type. This issue, I would like to continue with the next three groupings: The Prick Eareds, The Fuzzy Hounds, And the “Sometimes Y” Group. Let’s get started.
The Prick Eared Group:
Still bodied like their greyhound ancestors, these hounds differ only with - you guessed it - their ears. Here are the two types.
The Pharaoh Hound:
The pharaoh hound, or Kelb-tal-fenek, as it is known in Malta (where it is the national dog) is another breed extremely similar to the greyhound. Unfortunately, unlike its’ cousin, the pharaoh hound’s origin is some what in question. The American Kennel Club released literature which states: “The Pharaoh Hound originated in ancient Egypt. It is thought to have been brought from Egypt by the Phoenicians when they settled on the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. The pharaoh hounds have existed for over 2,000 years. In Malta, they are bred for rabbit hunting and are the National Dog.” (AKC Literature, WWW)
In any case, what we do know is that the pharaoh hound is a regal, sleek and quick hound who is not only able to course, but also loves to do so. The Pharaoh Hound’s terrain includes grass and sand.
The Ibezian Hound:
The Ibezian (I bee jehn) hound is a playful, elegant, slight bodied cousin to the greyhound. Originally bred to hunt small game, the Ibezian hounds are traditionally thought to originate from the Island of Ibezia, one of the Ballaric Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain, where Carthaginian or Phoenician traders brought early dogs from Egypt as early as 800-600 BC.
As a hunter, they hunt in packs, bringing down mainly small game. In Spain, they are still often treated as livestock, being trusted to provide food for the family. However, this notion is rapidly changing, and in the United States, these lovely dogs are often seen in dog shows and on the lure coursing field. Lastly, while the coat of the Ibezian hound is often seen sleek and smooth, like its Greyhound cousin, it also comes in an adorable wire-haired form, which makes it an honorary member of the next grouping, the Fuzzy Hounds.
The next group is the fuzzy hounds. This group consists of three types: The Borzoi, (which also belongs to the greyhound body type) The Irish Wolfhound, and the Scottish Deerhound.
The Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound, is unmistakably a fuzzy hound. However, it definitely has dual membership in the greyhound body type as well. Bodied exactly like the greyhound, these hounds were bred many centuries ago by the Russians. The Russians bred an imported hound, perhaps like the saluki, with a more heavily coated Russian herding dog, to develop a hound capable of capturing and killing wolves, with which Russia was infested. This wonderful breed was almost completely decimated during the Russian Revolution, however, thankfully, the Borzoi was held in such high esteem among nobility that a few breeding pairs were given to other countries as gifts. It is this bit of luck that we have to thank for enjoying this old breed, today.
The Irish Wolfhound:
This gentle giant is without a doubt the largest breed of the sighthound type. Standing usually 34 inches high at the shoulder, and weighing in sometimes as high as 190 pounds with a rough, shaggy coat and beard, this is definitely not a dog for a small apartment!
Irish myth discusses the Irish wolfhound, or “Cu” with a race of people thought of as Gods. in reality, the Irish Wolfhounds popularity grew notably beginning in the 1600’s, when many Irish Chieftains left the island due to British conquest, and brought their hounds with them to other countries. The “Irish Wolfdogs” were presented to Kings, Emperors, and Noblemen, as valued gifts, and the population of Irish wolfhounds in Ireland decreased so steadily that Cromwell passed an order prohibiting the export of hounds for fear of increase in wolves. Extinction threatened again during the next few centuries, but thankfully, around 1841, there was a concentrated effort to revive the breed that we enjoy today. These gorgeous, enormous hounds are wickedly fast, and enjoy coursing on a number of terrains, especially grass. (On a sidenote, in the popular television movie “The Mists of Avalon” Uther brings three enormous hounds into court with him: Irish Wolfhounds.)
The Scottish Deerhound:
The Scottish deerhound shares an ancestral line similar to that of the Irish Wolfhound. Historians are not quite sure whether or not the historical records and drawings of 2-3,000 years ago point to the Scottish Deerhound, or the Irish Wolfhound, or both. Whatever the case, it is very likely however, that the breeds have crossed paths and bloodlines more than once.
Today’s Deerhound, though not quite as large as the Irish wolfhound, originated as we know it some 500 years ago in Scotland, to hunt the red deer. As a sighthound of today, it is probably the only breed left who can actually hunt large game. Shaggy, sweet looking, and gentle, this wonderful hound is highly intelligent, fast on the course, extremely docile, and good tempered.
The last two sighthounds left in the last type, the “sometimes Y” category, include the Basenji, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. I have classified them as the “sometimes Y” group to go along with how we learned our Vowels: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. depending on who you are talking to, (according to some national Kennel clubs) the Rhodesian ridgeback and Basenji in particular are considered sighthounds but lean heavily toward the “hound breed.” Both have proven to this writer that they can indeed lure course, (and boy was the ridgeback scary!) and do so often in competition, so I consider them members of the Hound Coursing Guild.
This small, alert, barkless (but not mute) hound finds its origins in Africa. Used as all around hunters by Pygmy hunters to flush out small game and birds from holes in the ground, this energetic and adorable hound is a joy to watch. Low to the ground and very fast, they excel particularly at lure coursing and field trials. Considered neither a “classic” sighthound or scenthound, these hounds use both in tandem to hunt small game.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback:
The Rhodesian Ridgeback finds its origins in South Africa. Called a Ridgeback because of its’ “ridge” of hair growing in the opposite direction on its’ back, these hounds represent a combination of hunting dogs including the greyhound. A fierce hunter, these hounds hunted anything that may wander into a village, including deer and lion. As an excellent courser and friend, these dogs are a joy to own and handle.
Well, that about summarizes the breed types for coursing in AEthelmearc. I do hope you will join us for our events this spring, including the Sylvan Crusade and the Hunt! Please feel free to contact me at any time via email at AEcoursing@ yahoo.com. Look for future articles in the months to come.
And with that, TALLY HO!