Georgian England's Top Dogs

Lucy, Duchess of Marlborough
13 Jan 2010 09:26:04PM
Dogs were an important part of Georgian England life, especially to the aristocracy. Here is some interesting information on popular dog breeds of the era. English Bulldog The English Bulldog of today would not be recognized by fanciers of the earliest dogs of the breed. Those original dogs had a specific use, that of bull-holding, which was a legitimate part of the butcher's business. Unfortunately, this also developed into the grisly sport of bull-baiting, and they were also pitted against other animals, as well as their own kind. When these "sports" were outlawed in Britain, the breed's function essentially ceased. The Bulldog breeders eventually developed a gentle, shorter, squattier version of its progenitors, as that is what was preferred in the show ring. Collie The word Collie stems from the word black in Anglo-Saxon; thus it can be presumed that the original herd dogs were darker than today's sable and white Collie breed. This intelligent, friendly, agile dog comes in two main varieties--the long-coated rough collie or shorter haired smooth coated collie. This sheepdog has a plume like curling tail and a tight lipped mouth in a triangular head with semi-erect ears. It stands 24-26 inches (61-66cm.) tall with the smaller female 22-24 inches (56-61cm.) and weighs 60-75 pounds (27-34kg.) with females of 50-65 pounds (23-29kg.). The dog was little known outside of Scotland until around 1800 when it began to be used to herd sheep and cattle in England. Queen Victoria first saw the collie on a visit to Scotland and was so impressed with the dog's cleverness that she became a supporter of the breed, which made collies popular as pets. Dalmatian The name derives from a former name for a part of Yugoslavia called Dalmatia. The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog; alert; strong, muscular, and active. The Dalmatian is capable of great endurance, combined with a fair amount of speed. The standard for the breed states that Dalmatians are about 22 to 24 inches (56-61 cm) tall at the shoulders and weigh about 50 to 55 pounds (23-25 kg.). The coat is short, sleek, and glossy. The tail is long and tapering.The Dalmatian is a breed with ancient roots. Tomb paintings show spotted dogs accompanying Egyptian Dalmatianchariots. The dog has always been associated with coaching. The love for accompanying horses on the road is an inbred instinct, developed over hundreds of years. If a journey extended overnight, the Dalmatians would spend the night in the stables keeping watch over the horses. Their size, stamina, and guard dog abilities made them popular with the English aristocracy as a companion to horse-drawn carriages. Their size, an average of 22 inches at the shoulders, allowed the dogs to fit under the rear axles of a coach, where they often ran. Their stamina allowed them to keep up with the horses. The Dalmatian's guard dog propensities allowed the owners to leave their coach without worrying about possessions. It was often said that a coach was better left in the care of the dogs than the coachman. "It is a trick of thieves who work in pairs for one to distract the coachman while the other sneaks around to the rear and steals whatever robes and other valuables he can lay his hands on. I never lost an article while the dogs were in charge, but was continually losing when the coachman was in charge." (Woodcock)The Dalmatian was greatly prized in Georgian times as a living ornament and coaching accessory. C. J. Apperley says, "not forgetting the spotted coach-dog, which has been washed for the occasion" when he speaks of the fashionable promenade in Hyde Park. The alleys of Mayfair must have run with soapy water smelling of lavender and wet dog at four o'clock. Great Dane The breed probably originated from an English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound cross. The earliest Dane-like dogs were called Boar Hounds, for the prey that hunted, but by the 16th century they were known as English Dogges. Around 1680, when German noblemen were breeding great numbers of the dogs, the biggest and most handsome dogs loved for their impressive appearance were kept inside their homes. These dogs were called Kammerhunde, meaning Chamber Dogs. These pampered pets wore gilded collars Great Danetrimmed with fringe and padded with velvet.It was the natural historian Georges Buffon who gave the breed the name it is known by today. While traveling in Denmark, he saw the lighter variety of the Boar Hound, which shared more similarities with the Greyhound. Buffon remarked that the Danish climate had caused the Greyhound to become a Grand Danois. Thereafter, the dogs became known as the Great Danish Dog, with the heavier dogs sometimes called Danish Mastiffs. The Danish name stuck-despite the fact that Denmark had nothing whatsoever to do with the development of the breed.Most fanciers today credit Germany with the well-balanced, elegant Great Dane as we know it. It is known that German nobility imported these English Boar Hounds until the 17th and 18th centuries, by which time they had developed their own breeding stock and no longer needed to import dogs. English Foxhound This medium-sized breed of swift hound was perfected in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. It stands from 21 to 25 in. (53.363.5 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 60 to 70 lb (27.231.8 kg). Its short, dense glossy coat is usually black and tan on white. The English foxhound, whose origins probably go back to French hounds of the 14th century, was first used in packs to hunt foxes in the mid-17th cent. This sport, a favorite of the aristocracy, whose practice it was to follow the hounds on horseback, encouraged the careful breeding of the foxhound. The original foxhound packs were established and scientifically bred by the Dukes of Beaufort and Rutland and Earls Fitzwilliam and Yarborough. By 1787, fox hound pedigrees were being recorded by Cornelius (Cecil) Tongue. The famed animal painter George Stubbs painted foxhounds on several occasions. A Foxhound, Ringwod painted in 1792 portrays a dog very like the modern breed. By 1800, stud books had been published recording the lineages of all English foxhounds. Greyhound The Greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds to survive to modern times. The earliest evidence dates back to 2,000 BC in Egypt, where greyhound-like dogs were carved and painted on the walls of a tomb. The greyhound has always been associated with royalty and nobility, and often times ownership was restricted to the ruling classes. Greyhounds have traditionally been used to hunt all kinds of game, from rabbits to deer. The sport of "coursing," which usually involved slipping 2 hounds in an open field to chase a flushed rabbit, has existed in England for 3 centuries. The Duke of Norfolk drew up the first rules for the sport during Queen Elizabeth I's reign. The last name of Warren originated with the gamekeeper responsible for keeping up a good stock of rabbits to be hunted in the sport of coursing. Thomas Gainsborough portrayed greyhounds in his 1784-5 painting Dogs Chasing a Fox. During George III's reign through the Regency, the Earl of Sefton was known as a devotee of the sport of coursing. After the invention of the mechanical lure in 1912 oval racing became popular, and is still popular today. English Mastiff The English Mastiff is thought to have descended from large mastiff-type dogs brought to Britain by the Phoenician traders as far back as the 6th century B.C. These dogs were crossed with local fighting dogs, and their offspring were used to hunt Wolves, and later as combatants in various blood sports, including fighting the lion and the bear. Newfoundland Newfoundland engraving by Bewick The breed originated in Newfoundland where a large working dog that swam well in even cold waters was needed to pull fishnets and heavy equipment. It was probably developed from an original stock that included large mastiffs used by Portuguese fisherman who had been fishing The Grand Banks since 1610. The Newfoundland is a gigantic dog weighing it at 130-150 lbs. (6070 kg) and standing 22-28 inches high at the shoulder with webbed feet and a long thick, oily and waterproof double coat which protects him from the chill of icy waters. Standard coat colors for the dogs are black, brown, gray, and landseer (black head and white and black body). The Landseer is named for the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. The dog was first brought to public attention in 1790 in British Quadrupeds, a work authored by Sir Thomas Bewick. Lewis and Clark chose a dog of this breed to accompany them on their exploration of the western United States. English Pointer The distinguishing characteristics of the English Pointer English Pointerare its long, chiseled head, the short "beesting" tail, strong hunting instincts, and effortless, hard-driving movement. The standards call for a height, at maturity, of 25-27 inches for males and 23-25 inches for females with a weight for a male in working condition is between 55 and 75 pounds, and between 44 and 65 pounds for a female. The Pointer's history can be traced in writing and works of art back to the middle of the17th century. While the English Pointer was developed primarily in England, most canine historians credit Spain as the country of origin. The English Pointer resulted from crosses between these Spanish pointers and various breeds, most probably Foxhounds and Bloodhounds for scenting, Greyhounds for speed, and Bull Terriers for tenacity. Even before the advent of wing-shooting with guns, the English Pointer was used to point game, which the hunters then netted or chased with coursing hounds. The English Pointer is widely regarded as one of the finest upland bird dogs in the world. Pomeranian Pomeranian Bitch and Pup by GainsboroughThe Pomeranian is believed to have descended from wolf-spitz type dogs sharing the same ancestors with the other arctic breeds such as the Samoyed and Keeshond. The progenitors of this breed migrated to Pomerania at some early period. These early dogs were used to work as guard and sledge animals, however the smallest were kept as companions. Upon her marriage to King George III, Queen Charlotte brought large white Pomeranians to England in 1761. The breed was established through the interest of the English monarchy. At this stage of development, the breed weighed 30 lbs. and were colored white, black, or cream. Gainsborough often included dogs in his paintings. The pomeranian appears in many of his compositions. The Prince of Wales had a white and black Pomeranian he called Fino. The animal was painted twice by George Stubbs (1724-1806). Poodle Despite his reputation the poodle is a native of Germany, not France, and he got his start as a sport dog trained to retrieve fallen birds from the water for hunters. Poodle is a corruption of the German pudeln, meaning "to splash in water."PoodleThere are two theories on the poodle's origins: 1. that the breed developed from rugged Asian herding dogs brought to Europe by the Moors in the 8th Century; or 2. that the breed descended from the dogs that the Goths, a federation of German tribes, brought with them in their migration into Europe.The original poodles were the larger standard type, but their intelligence and cheery disposition led to breeding them down for companion dogs for the ladies of the court. The breed was known as early as the 15th Century when German artist Albrecht Drer portrayed a poodle in his art . In Georgian times, the poodle was painted by Gainsborough and George Stubbs, and the Spanish artist Goya.. The Honorable Frederick Gerald Byng, never seen without his poodle, became so identified with the dog that he was known as 'Poodle' Byng. Historically, the poodle worked as a water dog and a circus dog, but was also a pampered royal favorite in France. Pug Chinese drawings and scrolls portray dogs valued for their small size, short coat over very elastic skin, and that they bore the Prince mark (three wrinkles on the forehead and a vertical bar form a marking that repeats the Chinese character for Prince). One writer compared their ears to half of a dried apricot. Short-nosed dogs were mentioned by Confucius (b. 551 B.C.). Records from the first century A.D. mention short-legged and short-headed dogs whose place was under the table. From this period onwards a number of the Chinese Emperors took an interest in small dogs--often at the expense of their imperial duties.The West has long been aware of China. Trade in silk and other merchandise between China and the Western world has been carried on through Arab intermediaries since the time of the Han dynasty (200 years B.C.). Direct trade with China was open by Portugal in 1516, by Spain in 1575, and by the Dutch in 1604. Tea, silk, and porcelain were the main trade commodities. On a practical level, the sailors of Holland, Portugal, and Spain would have been well aware that the ladies of their native lands would offer a ready market for small dogs of a novel breed. Thus, Pugs came to the West as a by product of direct trade.Sovereigns William and Mary brought Pugs to England when they arrived from Holland in 1688. PugThese dogs were probably personal pets belonging to the king and queen and their retinue. The English courtiers and their families soon fell in love with the little animals. Possession of a pug also expressed their approval of the new monarchs.In the years that followed, the Pug and the flamboyant black page-boy became the essential accessories of a lady of fashion. The vogue for Pugs continued throughout the eighteenth century, reaching its peak at the time of George III. Jane Austen's novel of this period, Mansfield Park, mentions a pug.Painters often provide an important visual record of the appearance of the dogs of their period though the inclusion of the animals in their work, but until the nineteenth century there were few images of the appearance of Pugs. The exception is the work of Hogarth, who himself was a Pug owner. He owned several Pugs who became celebrities in their own right. Trump was the most famous. Curly Coated Retriever Curlies originated in England and are considered to be one of the oldest retriever breeds. They were prized by both gamekeepers and poachers for their hunting skills, intelligence, strength, and perseverance in the field. Curlies were used to fetch game or fowl. Their friendly disposition also made them wonderful pets.The exact origins of the breed are unknown, but the curly coated retriever was probably developed in England in the late 1700s. A similar dog is first mentioned in written accounts in 1803. The ancestry of the curly coated retriever was not recorded, but it is thought that various now extinct water dog breeds as well as the Irish water spaniel, Labrador and poodle were used in the breeds development. According to that standard, Curly males stand 25-27 inches tall at the withers and weigh 70-90 pounds. Females are 23-25 inches tall, and weigh 50-70 pounds. The coat of a Curly Coated Retriever is short, dense coat is tightly curled all over body except on the face, where it is smooth and short. The coat may be solid liver or solid black in color. The dog should combine a powerful build with a certain elegance. Spaniel Hunting spaniels flush game from the hiding places, and after the hunter shoots, retrieve the fallen quarry. They cover less ground that the larger pointers and setters, allowing hunters to follow on foot, and they can get Sussex Spanielinto bramble patches and thick brush to do their job. The upland spaniels have docked tails; the water spaniels have a natural tail. Originally, spaniels were divided by the game they flushed, not by breed. Cockers (woodcock) and Springers (partridge, pheasants, and hares). Thomas Gainsborough portrayed dogs in many of his paintings, including an English Cocker Spaniel.The Sussex Spaniel is a breed of short, stocky sporting dog developed in England in the late 18th and early 19th cent. It stands about 15 in. (38 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs between 35 and 45 lb (15.920.4 kg). Its medium-length coat, which is golden liver in color, is flat or slightly wavy and forms fringes, or feathers, on the ears, chest, underside, and stern. The tail is docked to approximately 6 in. (15 cm). Originally used to hunt in areas of abundant upland game, it could not compete with the faster field dogs when introduced into areas where game was less dense. It has therefore become more popular as a bench competitor and pet. Terrier Terrier is a term used to designate dogs originally bred to start small game and vermin from their burrows or, in the case of several breeds in this group, to go to earth and kill their prey. Cairn Terrier Terrier comes from the Latin word Terra meaning earth. The following are some terrier breeds: airedale terrier, Bedlington terrier, border terrier; Bedlington terrier, bull terrier; cairn terrier, Dandie Dinmont terrier, fox terrier; Irish terrier, Kerry blue terrier; Lakeland terrier, Manchester terrier, Scottish terrier, Sealyham terrier, Skye terrier; Staffordshire terrier, Welsh terrier, West Highland white terrier, Yorkshire terrier.From: