Saturday, October 18, 2014

Victorians and their Dogs

The Nineteenth Century ushered in an age of devotion to the dog. In fact the saying “man’s best friend” is traced to a poem printed in The New-York Literary Journal in 1821. Queen Victoria exemplified this devotion and loved her animals, in particular her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dash. The Queen commissioned many paintings of Dash, as well as her other dogs, these paintings lead to the rise of "dog art" and in particular portraits of pet dogs. Paintings by specialists like Arthur Wardle and Maud Earl, became "must have" items for the well-to-do merchant and aristocratic class home.
In fact, in some ways, no Victorian home was complete without at least one canine. The animals were symbols of wealth and status during Victoria's reign. Some dogs even had their own maids who fed, groomed and kept them clean. Popular lapdogs included the Schipperke, the Skye Terrier, the Yorkshire Terrier, the Maltese and the King Charles Spaniel. Dogs like the Jack Russell Terrier, that were too large to fit comfortably in a lap, were used for fox hunting and were also considered fashionable companion breeds. The Newfoundland, a gentle giant, was beloved for its docile yet protective nature, becoming “nanny dogs”, thanks to their love and devotion to the family’s children.
A focus on breeding, and "pure bred" lines, started during this time period, and several modern breeds originated in the 1800s. However the emphasis on breeding for aesthetics allowed less desirable traits, such as propensity for diseases, to pollute many genetic lines. Despite that fact, when Victorians began to value their dogs both as companions and as partners, the press for the humane treatment of the animals began, a trend for which the Queen would be proud!

Gold and Silver Government and Societies Medals Awarded.
Permanent Exhibition Sale at Schweintz, District Merseburg, stations Jessen-Holsdorf, Berl.-Anh. Railway, of always upwards of 100 superior Dogs such as Ulm, Danish, English, Mountain, Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, and Pet Dogs.
For the forthcoming hunting season I beg to offer thoroughly trained, also rough, Hunting, Pointers, Terriers, and Greyhounds, who can be brought to Zahna, a station between Leipsic and Berlin, over my extensive hunting-grounds, by my own huntsman if required.
Illustrated Price-Lists, with 50 Illustrations, in the German, French and Dutch languages, with full particulars respecting breed, qualities, and description, with references to well-known sportsmen in all parts of the world, sent free and post paid on application.
My Album of 50 various Dog breeds, which have been awarded a first prize, and containing directions as to care, breeding, treatment, and training of the Luxury and Hunting hound, is to be obtained for 10s.
Address for letters and telegrams,
OTTO FRIEDRICH, Zahna, Prussia.

A "hat tip" to the Aurora Regency blog's Kristin Burlingame, for her Dogs in Victorian Times post.

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