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Carla Molinari
Treasurer of the FCI
On the path of cynology from the middle ages to 1911 (part 3/7)

Read the whole article and more in the FCI Centenary Book www.fci.be/onlinecatalogue.aspx

Raymond TRIQUET, France
Senior « Maître de Conférence » at the University of Lille III,
former President of the FCI Standards Commission
Translation: Jennifer Mulholland

DAUBENTON, BUFFON’s collaborator to whom we owe the introduction of merinos sheep in France in 1776, published Instructions pour les bergers et les conducteurs de troupeaux (Instructions for shepherds and drovers).

Thus it is not only a question of guarding flocks but of herding them as well. DAUBENTON (whose real name was d’AUBENTON, 1716-1800) played a great part in the description of mammals and, in particular, of dogs whose bodies he described in detail as in a standard. He used the word “breed”, division of the species, “there are several very distinct breeds amongst the dogs”. “It is easy to recognize in a crossbred dog the initial breeds”. In DAUBENTON’s work we discover observations which will be adopted by others much later. For example, “these animals are all identical inside in regard to the soft parts and the distinctive features of each breed are found in the bones and the outer shape of the body”. The expression “distinctive features” is used today. Nowadays we say that the type is in the head. DAUBENTON knew this already: “The shape of the muzzle is the most distinctive feature of the physiognomy of dogs of each breed”. He describes the mastins, Great Danes (or coach danes), greyhounds, shepherd dogs “which are used to guard the herds”, wolf-dogs, Siberian dogs, Icelandic dogs, scent hounds, pointers and bassets (some with “straight legs” and some “with crooked legs” like those “crook-kneed with ears that sweep away the morning dew” as described by SHAKESPEARE in 1600 in Midsummer Night’s Dream, large barbets, spaniels, gredins (black spaniels or English spaniels whereas the gredins “with tan markings” are called “pyrames”, both ancestors of spaniels), small danes “which often have black and white marks and, when they have black flecking on white ground colour, we call harlequins to indicate this mottling”. It could have been written by Bernard DENIS in his Nomenclature of coat colours in dogs in 1982: “the mottled coat is also described as harlequin”. Then we have Turkish or Barbary dogs, and dogues with “big muzzles, short and flat” and “turned-up noses”, with black at the tip of the muzzle and a pale fawn body. BUFFON claims that the dogue comes from England and that “we struggle to maintain the breed in France” because of the climate. Of course we think of the Bulldog about which neither BUFFON nor DAUBENTON wrote anything in spite of the fact that it was famous in England and that the name Bulldog (dog of the bull) appeared in 1500. Richard THORNBILL who translated BUFFON’s work as soon as 1804 used the word “Bulldog” for “dogue” and “strong Bulldo” for “dogue de forte race”. Obviously he is referring to the Bulldog of the time which had a nose to breathe with and with which it could bait the bull. The other dogs which DAUBENTON refers to are “mixed breeds” (“breeds issue of two species”, – we would say “cross-breeds”): small barbets, bichons which “were very much in fashion, but which we do not see many of anymore”. Thus, dogs are “in fashion” in the XVIIth century, which I find “terribly” modern. They are also called “dogs of Malta” which are “dogs with long hair”, lion-dogs “with a bunch of hair at the end of their tail”, Bolognese dogues, German dogues or mops, (thus Pugs – in German: der Mops), strong dogues which are “much bigger” than “real dogues”, “a cross between real dogues and either mastiffs or danes”. DAUBENTON does not know the word “retrempe”(back-cross) but he explains the procedure well, more than a century before DESCHAMBRE published his Traité de zootechnie. He shows that when two breeds are crossed “the characteristics of the mixed breed disappear” if the crossbred is mated to one of the two original breeds. He added that “dominant features” of one of the two breeds “are passed on to the second crossbred, and can re-establish one of the original breeds as early as the second generation”. He also explains how humans created “new and distinct breeds” “taking care to perpetuate the differences in the shapes of the bodies (…) by mating individuals possessing the same qualities”.

So here we have our purebred dogs, sons of man and it is BUFFON himself who expresses it in the most elegant manner. He begins by observing, and this is constantly repeated in different terms much later on, that amongst all animals the dog is “the one whose nature is the most subject to varieties (…) even the shape is not constant”. It is in the dog that we “find the greatest number of varieties for the silhouette (we would say shape or outline, or in a standard, general appearance), the size, the colour or the other features”. And here is how we can stabilize a new breed:

Illustration de l’Histoire naturelle générale et particulière avec la description du cabinet du roy, Tome V, imprimerie royale, 1755.
Illustration de l’Histoire naturelle générale et particulière avec la description du cabinet du roy, Tome V, imprimerie royale, 1755.

As soon as, by an ordinary hazard of nature, we find distinctive features or apparent varieties in a few individuals, we will have the task of perpetuating them by mating these special individuals together.

This is pure DAUBENTON with the pen of the master. Thus, science is in place, and perhaps even inbred crossings. But where is cynology with its notion of “dog love”? BUFFON expresses it very well:

He (the dog) is full of zeal, all fervor and obedience (…)
He adores man, who is not worth it.

A century later, KIPLING is of the same opinion:

This dog is worth more than most men.

BUFFON also noticed the strange mimetism by which the dog “adopts the tone of the house in which he lives; (…) he is disdainful when he lives with nobles and rough in the country”. Do we not say “such a master, such a dog”?

Why was it necessary to wait for more than half a century to see the birth of cynology? Everything seems to be in place but the standard of living is not sufficient. Years ago I already compared the passion for purebred dogs to the care given to lawns. One must be rich to sow grass, roll it, mow it with more and more sophisticated machinery, only to throw it away in the end. One must be rich to breed and care for purebred dogs whose only utility is to show them by travelling distances which are sometimes considerable. However, in those days communication still depended on horses and not steam horses.

In France, in the XVIIIth century, the “age of Enlightenment”, we philosophize, we study and we frolic. We indulged in witticism, the ladies had a little dog in their sleeves but the people were hungry. There were still years of famine (600.000 deaths in 1709, 80.000 in 1740). With BUFFOn we were on the brink of long years of “sound and fury”, from the 1789 Revolution to Waterloo, and up to 1830 and the 1848 revolution in Europe. If DAUBENTON was covered in honors, BUFFON’s son was guillotined. 61

A disdainful French poet described the XIXth century as a “century of manual work”. It was more a century of science, of machines and of the Industrial revolution. After LINNÉ, the Swedish naturalist who codified the description of plants and animals in the XVIIIth century by proposing four categories: class, order, gender, species which was to be completed and adopted everywhere, after BUFFON and DAUBENTON came Georges CUVIER with his Leçons d’anatomie comparé (Lessons in comparative anatomy) in 1805 (year of the Battle of Austerlitz) and, in 1816 (a year after Waterloo) his Règne animal distribué d’après son organisation (The animal kingdom distributed according to its organization). CUVIER places the “dogue mops” (Pug) in the “little companion dogs” category along with Bichons which carry “the strongest signs of the power that men exert on nature”. 1824 saw the publication of l’Histoire naturelle des mammifères (The natural history of mammals) by GEOFFROY-SAINT-HILAIRE and Frédéric CUVIER (Georges CUVIER’s brother). The authors describe the modifications in the sense of the head becoming shorter and the reduction of the “cerebral capacity”. The “strong dogues” live a short life: “at five or six years of age, they already show signs of decrepitude”. Is this not a great concern for modern breeders of certain molossoid breeds? DARWIN published The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection in 1859 and, at the end of the century, MENDEL, with his peas is the brilliant author of the hybridization laws (1865) and the founder of genetics even though he was practically unknown in France before the 14-18 war as the French did not appreciate his “faults” of being both a monk and Austrian.

Histoire d’un manchon, habité par César, Le monde illustré (1858)

“Dog sport” first established itself in England because it was there that “rural sports” were invented and it was also the richest country with the fast development of machines. The proof? English workers wore shoes whereas French workers wore clogs which gave rise to the nickname for the French: “clogs”, before becoming “frogeaters”. The fact that “frog” and “clog” are phonetically close to one another is not to be disregarded in this story! England’s technical revolution began as early as the XVIIIth century. The first locomotives ran at the beginning of the XIXth century thanks to George and Robert STEPHENSON and the first passenger transport is dated 1825. QUEEN VICTORIA took a train for the first time in 1842. There was no national railway network, no exhibitions apart from purely regional events. Nevertheless, all was not going well. It was the time of the slums of Oliver TWIST (1838), dog fights (the “Bull and Terrier” having replaced the Bulldog of Elizabeth I’s reign), and ratkilling matches with many terriers like the “English White Terrier” which no longer exists today. These fights were very popular (cruelty and stupidity of humans) and went together with the bare-hand boxing matches which lasted until 1889. Terriers proliferated in the industrial North of England; the breeds were diversified and stabilized. The “pure-bred” dogs were reared in working communities. Likewise, in France, the French bouledogue was reared by the lower classes in Paris (the word bouledogue appeared in 1741 but the breed was only officially recognized in 1898 – according to LUQUET). “The English were always famous for their dogs”. MENAGE said so in 1650. This recognition was merited in the first half of the XIXth century and the interest in the dog, for itself, gained all the North of England. We can witness this from the following exchange taken from Pickwick Papers, DICKENS (1836-1837): I should like to have seen that dog said Mr. Winckle. The key word is “seen”. People began travelling to see a dog because it was good-looking, or unusual or because it possessed something which the others did not have. It was the time of the multiplication of the number of breeds and the beginning of the “dog object” twenty years prior to the first dog shows. People from the Continent started to import English dogs, not only hunting breeds but also companion breeds. We had been “crazy about dogs” for a long time and companion dogs had a special place in households. LA FONTAINE said so already in his “l’Ane et le petit chien” (The donkey and the little dog):

The dog because it is charming
Will live equally happily like a companion
With Monsieur or with Madame.

In 1777 SHERIDAN, in School for Scandal, depicts Lady Teazle combing the coat of her Aunt Deborah’s lap dog. Man renders the love which the dog has given. He stroked it, took care of it but he also modelled it to his taste by, for example, reducing the size, shortening the muzzle. This is what was to happen to the King Charles Spaniel and the Bulldog, to mention but them. The Bordeaux wine business (claret) was blooming with England, giving rise to many exchanges. English dogs took the boat. The Bordeaux circuses which organized fights “to death” were created in the middle of the XVIIIth century and lasted until the middle of the XIXth century. A copy of a “memo of costs and expenses for the bull baiting” proves that many “Dogues” and “Boulle Dogues” were purchased by the dozen in Rouen, Spain, Holland and in England where fights were banned as of 1835. Breeders began to specialize in breeds. A sanguine by J.L. AGASSE, exhibited in the Geneva Museum of Art and History, proves the existence of breeding kennels for mastiffs and other molossian breeds in 1808.

Books about dogs appeared in great numbers in Great Britain. Their authors were passionate practitioners whereas in France they were still aristocratic hunters such as LE VERRIER DE LA CONTERIE with his l’Ecole de la chasse aux chiens courants (Hunting school for hounds) 1763, which was re-published in 1859 before the Count LE COUTEULX’S masterpiece, Manuel de vénérie française (Manual of French Venerie) in 1890 and, leaving pack hunting for shooting, l’Education du chien d’arrêt (Education of the pointing dog) by Baron A.C.E. BELIER DE VILLIERS in 1881, with the subtleties of “the search” of the dog hunting with “his nose in the air” or “nose to the ground” or even the dog that “only hunts for its master”, contrary to the sight hound. The first half of the XIXth century saw the publication of books, such as Sporting Anecdotes by Pierce EGAN in 1820, concerning what we call “sport”, from archery to cock fights and dog fights at “Westminster Pit”. The dog was also the object of studies, breed by breed, as in Dogs by Charles HAMILTON SMITH (1839-40). There is no doubt that the most prolific writer of the time was Delabere BLAINE who published a treaty about horse and dog illnesses in 1803 after a book about distemper (Distemper in Dogs) with the discovery of an “efficient remedy” (we can question this!), one in 1817 about canine pathology, a “philosophical and practical” treaty about breeding in 1824 and, finally, in 1832 a “nosological” description of diseases in dogs. This profusion of literature needed readers! There were many dog fanciers some of whom were “sport” adepts, the important people of this world and even the Royal family. QUEEN VICTORIA loved dogs, and her husband, PRINCE ALBERT, participated in making the Dachshund known in England in the 1840s. The Queen had her kennels at Windsor (Royal Kennels). Above all, Delabere BLAINE will remain in dog history for his immense work of 1240 pages comprising 600 engravings: Encyclopaedia of Rural Sports. It was the era when clergymen, original to say the least, spent more time “in the saddle than in the pulpit”, inveterate hunters like the Reverend John FROUDE, known for his bad temper and his despise for all authority including that of the church, and his friend, the Reverend John RUSSELL, known as Jack RUSSELL (1795- 1883), a great fancier of boxing and wrestling who, after his Otterhounds, acquired his first terrier in 1819, then many others, as different from the terriers which we shall see in the show ring later on as “the wild rose is to the garden rose” (Dan RUSSELL). We can see that the controversy “working dog against show dog” was present from the beginning of cynology.