Below is some basic information about Dogs and their breeds from the 19th Century.
This faithful and generous animal, the friend of man, often his protector and guide, needs no description here. Of the genus canis, in anatomical structure and external character the dog is closely assimilated to the wolf, the jackal, and the fox, having the same kind of teeth; the canine teeth being strong, conical, pointed, and curved slightly backwards; the incisors, or cutting teeth, are six above and below. But widely different is the disposition of the domestic dog from his fi'rce and savage brethren. He attaches himself to humanity, and is never so happy as when domesticated, and a sharer of his master's toil or pleasures. A faithful dog is one of those treasures at best but little appreciated, because familiar to all.
The great variety of the canine species, and their frequent resemblance to savage beasts of prey, is remarkable in the annals of natural history. There is the Esquimaux dog, which so closely resembles the wolf, that, when observed at a little distance, it is difficult to distinguish between them. It has been stated that the Esquimaux dog is a domestic variety of the wolf, but this is not true. The Esquimaux dog hates and fears the beast of prey, which it will attack only on the pressure of strong necessity.
Again, the Hare Indian's dog, found on the banks of the Mackenzie lliver and the Great Bear Lake, so nearly resembles the Arctic fox, that the one has been supposed, again, a domesticated species of the wild beast. In its native country the Hare Indian's dog is never known to bark, but one born in the Zoological Gardens here barked the same as any European dog of his size and race. Sometimes, indeed, the dog in its domestic state displays an inclination to abandon civilised life, and return to savage habits. Of this the following instance from the annals of sporting is an example:—A dog was left by a smuggling vessel on the coast of Northumberland. Finding himself deserted, he began to worry sheep, and did so much mischief that considerable alarm was created in the surrounding country; mangled sheep were constantly being found by the shepherds, who with difficulty recovered them. Frequently this animal was pursued by hounds and greyhounds, but when the dogs came up to him, he lay down on his back, as if asking for mercy, and in that position they never hurt him; he therefore lay quietly till the hunters came up, when he made off again without being followed by the hounds till they were excited to the pursuit, which invariably terminated unsuccessfully. One day, he was pursued from Howick to a distance of more than thirty miles, but returned thither the same evening and killed a sheep. His general abode was upon the Heughhill, near Howick, where he had a view of four roads that approached it. There at last this canine brigand was shot.
The Spotted, or Coach Dog.—There are two breeds of spotted dogs—viz., the Dalmatian and the Danish, the latter being much smaller than the former. The Dalmatian is used in his native country for the chase, but in England he has never been so employed. He is said to have little sagacity or power of nose, but has a remarkable attachment towards horses, and is generally used as a carriage attendant by the wealthy and great to gambol before the carriage horses. This animal is elegant in form, and marked all over with numerous small, round, black or reddish-brown spots.
The Greyhound.—This race of dogs has been known for more than 3,000 years. The head of the greyhound is narrow and sharp, the ears high and semi-pendulous, the neck long, the chest deep, the limbs long and slender, the back considerably arched, the whole structure evincing elegance, and rendering the animal swifter in speed than any other carnivorous beast. English greyhounds have been known to run eight miles in twelve minutes' time, while the hare in pursuit has dropped dead. The differences between the Grecian and the English greyhound are that the former is not so large, the muzzle not so pointed, nor the limbs so finely formed. According to the climate from whence they originally come is the greyhound's hair. In Russia and Tartary it is long and shaggy; in Syria, Germany, and Hungary, it is rough; in Persia and Greece, silky; and smooth in southern India, south and western Europe. In the west the smooth coat is the result of importation. Scotland has long been celebrated for its greyhounds, large and wiry-coated. "Maida," Sir Walter Scott's favourite hound, was a fine specimen of the breed. He was presented to Sir AValter by the chieftain Macdonell, of Glengarry. Maida lies buried at the Gate of Abbotsford. A gravestone, with the effigy of a dog, is placed over him, and the Latin inscription— "Maidse, tu memoreas dormis sub imagine Maidse. Ad Januam Domini sit tibi terra levis." The breed of the Irish greyhound—a noble beast—is believed to be extinct. The greyhound has been charged with wanting the attachment so discoverable in other dogs, but circumstances do not sustain this accusation.
The Sleuth, or Bloodhound.—A terrific animal, employed in former ages to hunt down men, and still used, we believe, in Southern America in the capture of runaway slaves. An instance of the scent and ferocity of this animal may be drawn from the following anecdote:—
A servant, discharged by a northern sporting gentleman, broke into his late master's stables at night, and cut off the cars and tail of a favourite hunter. An alarm by the dog was raised within an hour, and a bloodhound was brought into the stable, which immediately discovered the scent, traced it upwards of twenty miles, stopping at the door of a certain house from which he could not be removed. On being admitted, he ran to the top of the house, and bursting open the door of the garret, found the criminal in bed, whom he instantly seized, and would have torn to pieces but for the huntsman who was fortunately at his heels.
We come now to pet dogs, which are of various fancy breeds, and the smailaess of whose size increases their marketable value. There are various breeds of pets, from the small, sharp, wiry terrier, to the delicate King Charles, or Blenheim spaniel.
Spaniels.—These dogs are remarkable for docility and an affectionate disposition, which, with their beauty, renders them universal favourites. This race of dogs was known, it seems, to the Romans, for its effigy is clearly figured on some of their later monuments. Fidelity is a great attribute of the spaniel.
"A spaniel was reared by the gamekeeper of a gentleman, and constantly attended its master by night and day. Wherever the gamekeeper appeared Dash was not far distant, and in nightly excursions to detect poachers, Dash neglected the game to assist his master in taking the depredators. During the last stage of a consumption that carried his owner to the grave, Dash watched unweariedly at the foot of the bed, and, when Death came, lay down by the side of the body. With great difficulty the dog was induced to take food, and though, after the funeral, he was taken to the mansion of his late master's employer, he constantly stole back to the room of the cattage where the gamekeeper died, where he would remain for hours from home. For fourteen days he constantly visited the grave, and at the end of that time the faithful dog died."
The Blenheim spaniel is a breed cultivated by one of the Dukes of Marlborough. It is essentially a toy dog, though in the field it will sometimes break out and display its sporting propensities.
Water-spaniels and rough water dogs are valuable and intelligent animals. Dr. William Hamilton relates, "that in riding from Portrush to the Giant's Causeway, they had occasion to ford the river Bush near the sea, just as some fishermen with a dog were about to haul their net. As soon as the dog perceived the men move, he ran down the river of his own accord, and took his post in the middle of it, on some shallows, where he could occasionally run and swim, and testifying all the eagerness of a dog which sets his game. One of the salmon escaping from the net rushed down the stream, where the dog stood ready to catch him. A chase commenced, but the dog was left behind in con
sequence of the water deepening; nothing datrated, the dog ran down the river again, seaward of the salmon, which a second time met him, and another chase commenced, but the salmon distanced his pursuer, and ran out to sea."
The Poodle.—This is a most sagacious dog, and numerous are the tricks he may be taught, and the anecdotes told of him. Mrs. Lee's account of the poodles of Milan, in a letter to Mr. Loudon, dated March, 1830, is most amusing. The principal of these dogs, Fido, had a remarkable faculty for spelling and arithmetic. A word being dictated to him from the Greek, Latin, Italian, German, French, or English language, selected from a vocabulary containing fifty words of each tongue, and which altogether make three hundred different combinations, Fido was able to select the letters which composed the given word, and lay them in proper order at the feet of his master. His skill in arithmetic was equally remarkable. In playing .ecarte with Bianco, his companion, he excited the admiration of all who saw him. Mrs. Lee adds:—" All this passes without the slightest visible or audible sign between the poodles and their master. The spectators are placed within three steps of the carpet on which the performance goes forward. People have gone for the sole purpose of watching the master, and yet no one has found out the mode of communication established between them and their owner. Whatever this communication may be, it does not deduct from the wonderful intelligence of these animals, for there must be a multiplicity of signs, not only to be understood with eyes and ears, but to be separated from each other in their minds, or to be combined .one with another for the various trials in which they are exercised."
In Mr. Jesse's "Gleanings" is the following anecdote of a poodle given:—
"A gentleman who had occasion, when in Paris, to pass one of the bridges across the Seine, had his boots, which had been previously well-polished, dirtied by a poodle dog rubbing against them. He, in consequence, went to a man who was stationed on the bridge and had them cleaned. The same circumstance occurring more than once, his curiosity was excited, and he watched the dog. He saw him roll himself in the mud of tho river, and then watch for a person with well-polished boots, against which he contrived to rub himself. Finding that the shoe-black was the owner of the dog, he taxed him with the artifice, and, after a little hesitation, he confessed he had taught the dog the trick in order to procure customers. Struck with
the dog's sagacity, the gentleman purchased him at a high price, and brought him to London. He kept him tied up some time, and then released him. The dog remained with him a day or two, and then made his escape. A fortnight later he was found with his former master, pursuing his old trade on the bridge at Paris."
There are also Italian greyhounds, a delicate species of pet; pug dogs, now becoming extremely rare; and small Maltese silky dogs, all of which are much prized.
The Alpine spaniel, or the dog of St. Bernard, is a very remarkable creature. These dogs originally came from Spain, and, being sent out to clear the snow, and aid the unfortunate travellers who may have been surprised by an avalanche, they are instrumental in saving numbers of lives. Two, named Barry and Jupiter, are renowned in the annals of St. Bernard for saving many travellers.
We cannot conclude without noticing the shepherd's pet, the collie dog. This useful and intelligent animal is one of the most placid, obedient, serene, and grateful members of the canine race. Ever alive to the slightest indication of his master's wishes, prompt and gratified to execute them, he is never happier than when employed in useful service, in exerting his talents for the benefit of man, and in giving constant proofs of his inviolable attachment. For him there exist no attractions beyond the flock committed to his care. Once properly trained, he knows every individual of his flock, and will select his own from others and drive all intruders away. The shepherd of mountainous districts would be badly off without theservices of this faithful ally. Naturally hardy, he subsists on the least possible food, and, in the shepherd's absence, will guard the flock as ably as his master.
Finally, in regard to the treatment of dogs, to keep them healthy let them have plenty of exercise, and do not over-feed them; let them at all times have plenty of clean water, and encourage them to swim. When they are washed no soap should be used, as it prevents them licking themselves, and they may thus become habitually dirty. Dogs should only be fed once a day. Meat boiled for dogs, and the liquor in which it is boiled thickened with barley meal makes capital food. Dogs are liable to be attacked by distemper, from four months to four years old. It prevails most in spring and autumn. The symptoms of this disease are dulness of the eye, husky cough, shivering, loss of appetite and energy, and occasional fits. During the prevalence of this complaint they should be allowed to run on the grass; their diet should be spare, and sulphur should be put in their water. To administer medicine to a dog, place him upright on his hind legs, between the knees of a seated person; apply a cloth round his shoulders, bringing it forward over the fore legs, by which he is secured from resisting; the mouth being forced open by the pressure of the forefinger and thumb upon the tip of the upper jaw, the medicine can be introduced with the other hand, and passed into the throat, to insure its not being returned; the mouth should be then closed, and kept so till the matter given is passed down. Consult chemists who dispense cattle medicine on the diseases of dogs.
Source: Hand-book About Our Domestic Pets ©1862