chapter  5
24 Pages

Companion Animal Breeding: Ideal Standards

The explosion in the creation, differentiation and refinement of dog, cat and other domesticated animal breeds coincided with urbanization, the appearance of a prosperous middle class and the decline in the use of working dogs during the 19th and 20th centuries.1,3 A 16th-century British author identified 17 varieties of dog by function, such as bloodhound, greyhound, turnspit, shepherd’s dog and ‘comforter’. By 1800 Sydenham Edwards’s Cynographia Britannica identified only 15 ‘permanent’ breeds and numerous cross breeds.1 Over the course of the 19th century in France, the number of identified breeds increased from around 24 to around 200.3

The underpinnings of these changes were the systematization of the records of dogs, and later of their parentage, and competitive shows to exhibit and judge them. Dog shows were held from 1865 onwards in Paris, and from the 1880s the organization of shows was taken over by the Societé Centrale for the

‘improvement’ of dog breeds. Guard dogs, sheep dogs and mountain dogs were now being kept in Paris.3 In England, the first dog show with over 1000 entries was held in Chelsea in 1863 and by 1899 there were 380 shows in the year, some regional or small town events, but including Kennel Club shows and the Crufts dog show (at that time Crufts was a private commercial event, taken over by the Kennel Club in the 1940s). These shows aimed to show specimens of model dogs of each breed and to discourage the breeding of non-pedigree dogs. Non-pedigree dogs started to become unacceptable, referred to as ‘curs’, ‘mongrels’, ‘useless’ and ‘rubbish’. It was agreed that a careless choice of pet could reflect badly on the owner since no one could ‘now afford to be followed about by a mongrel dog’.1