139 DOGS FROM EVERYWHERE
DOGS FROM EVERYWHERE
" ...What creature that, so fierce and bold,
This patriotic burst from Pierce Egan in 1820 shows the nationalist connection made by such flag-waving writers between Britons and their Bulldogs, both in the 19th century and beyond. In his "Watchdogs: their training and Management" of 1924, Lt Col E H Richardson, who was Commandant of the British War Dog School in the Great War, expressed rather firm views on breeds from overseas. He wrote: "I do not propose to discuss any of the foreign breeds. There are individual specimens among them, no doubt, which prove useful inmates of the family, but the fact remains that they are aliens, and as in the human family, so in the dog - the national and racial characteristics of each country are invariably reflected...there are no dogs in the world which can compare with the British in reliability and courage."
When our cartoonists are poking fun at the French or the Germans they depict them as Poodles or Dachshunds; this despite the fact that the word Poodle comes from the German Pudel, which has a common origin with our word puddle. The French call the Poodle the Caniche and the Dachshund the Basset Allemand ou Teckel; in their target countries our cartoonists miss their mark. I suspect that the Great Dane became the Deutsche Dogge as a result of rising German nationalism around 1870. But I would dispute the correctness of the breed title here anyway. The Broholmer is the real great Danish dog.
A Serbian poet, Jurij Dalmatin (1546-1589), wrote to a Bohemian duchess to thank her for the dogs she sent him, with these words: "The interest in my Turkish dogs grows in all Serbia...these dogs are so popular that they call them by my name - Dalmatin. This new name is already more and more ingrained..." Serbia is some way from Dalmatia and the Turks made use of dogs from all over their extensive empire. I believe that the breed was well known long before the 16th century in the Balkans. I wonder if Mr Dalmatin's interest in the breed wasn't because of its early medieval name of Dama-chien or deer-dog. If so his interest in a breed of dog with a name so like his is perfectly understandable.
It is good to see overseas countries claiming their breeds in their breed titles. The Belgian, Dutch and German Shepherd Dogs make our collie breeds understated. The Greenland and Iceland Dogs immediately reveal their origins. Our Pointer, Mastiff, Bulldog and Bull Terrier all lack a national adjective, unlike our Setter, Springer and Toy Terrier. I always think of the Deerhound as the Scottish Deerhound, perhaps in the mould of the Irish Wolfhound. In the light of the Dalmatian's controversial birthplace and knowing the tendentious nature of so much canine history, I would never be surprised to hear of a new Irish sled-dog breed created by a Sam O'Yed!
I groan when I read of the Bedlington Terrier being described as coming from Holland, as far too many dog writers seem to. They will have read of Holland's Bedlingtons, but that means Taprell Holland's kennel not Holland the country. The Americans already have a breed they call the English Shepherd, a handsome black and tan, tricolour or sable and white herding breed. We once had a Black and Tan Sheepdog but didn't bother to conserve it. This was the case too with our water spaniel; the Americans persevered with theirs and retain their breed of American Water Spaniel. We have The Foxhound; the Americans call it the English Foxhound. Why can't we claim it as ours? It's world famous.
The English Mastiff will be favoured and be built in the historically correct form, a form which disappeared when Alpine Mastiff, Great Dane and Bloodhound crosses changed this magnificent breed. It is shaming that the Japanese Tosa and the Mastiff of Broholm Castle are more like our original Mastiff than the Mastiff of the show rings. I could see the Yorkshire Terrier of today being renamed the Yorkshire Silky and a working Yorkshire Terrier emerging. The English White Terrier will be re-created and perhaps the old broken-coated black and tan terrier too. The black Patterdale Terrier already exists and the Plummer Terrier is proving its worth.
It would be so pleasing to see the title "English Terrier" in our lists, alongside the Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Brazilian and German (Hunt) Terriers. We have created so many fine terrier breeds but lack a national sporting terrier by title. The German Hunt Terrier is an interesting case. Forty years ago, when working in Germany, I was told by an elderly Forstmeisster that his grandfather had imported some black and tan terriers from an English hunt. It is therefore unsurprising to find these German dogs resembling the working terriers depicted in old prints and paintings of English sporting scenes. It is worth noting that the Germans called these dogs by a national title and not Luneburg Terriers or some other more local name.
Pride in our native breeds does not, in me, produce any resentment or opposition to foreign breeds; I am all for an individual's freedom to own the breed which appeals to him or her. We have developed so many breeds from overseas, breeds neglected or even ignored in their country of origin. Is the Basenji a Congolese breed or one developed here? Was the Bloodhound made into an internationally known breed by the Belgians or us? Who developed the Chow Chow into a breed? Would the Pug have survived without Dutch and British patronage? Did the rabbit dog of Gozo become known as the Pharaoh Hound because of promotion from Malta? Did the Afghans make the Afghan Hound known to the world? I think not.
The editorial in the Kennel Gazette of September 1893 was entitled "Alien Dogs" and was headed by Smart's lines of 1722:
This writer went on to state, perhaps illogically: "It may, therefore, be inferred that I do not cry out against the introduction of foreign dogs, it will rather please me to see England become the world's market for the canine race...Where would our shows be without the foreign element; we have not English breeds enough to fill the benches of a village exhibition." This somewhat mixed message may be prophetic; with the change in entry regulations, we could become "the world's market for the canine race". The global market blurs national boundaries as never before and the timeless trading in dogs, with or without papers, is likely to exploit Britain's location. If this happens, we will need to keep three concerns in mind: the welfare of the dogs, the genetic value of dogs being traded and the craving for the exotic. God spare us from Sudanese Sand Dogs, Bassim Fishing Dogs and African Elephant Dogs! Not much wrong with the dogs but everything wrong with the fickle importers who soon grow tired of them.