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Talbot Hound
Country of origin Uncertain, posssibly Belgium / France (Normandy)

The Talbot is an extinct snow white hunting dog, It had a keen sense of smell and was of such large stature that it was rumored to be capable of bringing down a white stag in the midst of winter, though there are no records of this. Though the breed is now extinct because of its lack of purpose and need for constant care, it has been credited with being an ancestor of the modern beagle[1] and bloodhound[2].

The term "talbot" is used in heraldry to refer to a good-mannered hunting dog.

It has been said to have originated in Normandy, perhaps to have been the white St Hubert Hound, and to have been brought over by William the Conqueror, but this is unsupported by actual evidence. There are no known references to the Talbot as a breed of hound in Medieval French, and none have been found in English before the mid 1500’s.

In fact the origin of the name, and the animal, is quite uncertain. The Earls of Shrewsbury, whose family name is Talbot, have as their family crest a white, short-legged hound. In a quotation from about 1449, the king referred to John Talbot first Earl of Shrewsbury as 'Talbott, oure good dogge', perhaps as a play on his name, or in allusion to the family badge.[3]

'Talbot' was, in Medieval times a common name for an individual hound, a sort of 'Fido' of its day, so used in Chaucer’s Nun’s Priests Tale (l 3383), and used as an example of a hound name in a 16th century book of hunting.[4]

The Talbot and the greyhound were, apparently, the only hounds used in heraldry, and it could be that the Talbot originated purely as a heraldic hound.[5] References to this heraldic Talbot seem to be earlier than any references to a real dog.[6] It is quite a plausible idea that from these beginnings the name 'Talbot' was extended to any large heavy white scent hound, and from there helped to establish a breed or type. It was certainly similar to the bloodhound (and ‘white’ is given as one of the colours of the bloodhound around the 16th-17th century)[7] as regards size, and use as a leash hound.[8]

As earliest references to this dog are much later than those to bloodhounds it cannot convincingly be regarded as an ancestor of the bloodhound.

The Talbot seems to have existed as a breed, a little distinct from the bloodhound, until the end of the eighteenth century,[9] after which, like two other large breeds to which it may have beeen related, the Northern and the Southern Hound, it disappeared. Some early dog-shows apparently offered classes for Talbots, but they were never entered, and so were dropped.

The Talbot (or 'Talbot Arms') is most familiar as the name of some English inns or public houses, and it is usually depicted on the signs as a large white hound with long ears, sometimes with spots. This suggests that the Talbot was quite well known at one time, as part of the idea of a sign was that it helped to identify the inn for the illiterate. However, nowadays one sometimes sees inns of this name with no dog depicted, suggesting that many people are unaware of a connection either with a kind of dog or with heraldry.

The market town of Sudbury, Suffolk in the east of the United Kingdom has the Talbot on the town crest, which is also used for a local school and many local sports clubs. The dog is always depicted with its tongue protruding.

The Hampton Township School District, located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, North of Pittsburgh, has the talbot dog as its mascot.

External links

The arms of the Heathcoat Amory family include a Talbot

The arms of the Carter of Castle Martin family (see Carter-Campbell of Possil include a Talbot.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Oxford English Dictionary
  4. ^ Turberville, George (1575) The Noble Art of Venerie or Huntyng[1]
  5. ^ Lampson S M The Mystery of the Talbot Hound in Country Life 1965
  6. ^ The Oxford English Dictionary
  7. ^ Topsell, Edward (1607), The History of Four Footed Beasts
  8. ^ Markham, Gervaise M (1615) Country Contentments or the Husbandman's Recreations
  9. ^ Edwards, Sydenham Teak (1800), Cynographia Britannica

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