The New International Encyclopædia/Dog

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DOG (AS. docga). A carnivorous mammal of the family Canidæ, especially the genus Canis, and more specifically one that is domesticated. The dog, or dogs, considered as a subject for present purposes, requires treatment from several points of view, namely:

1. As a tribe, in its zoölogical relations.

2. As a more limited group, according to the ordinary acceptation of the term ‘dog.’

3. As to the relation of domestic dogs to mankind.

The dog tribe includes the whole of the carnivorous family Canidæ, for the zoölogical history and character of which see Canidæ. It embraces a variety of forms which are divisible into at least five groups:

(a) The long-eared fox-dog (Otocyon) of South Africa, which is the most generalized member of the family. See Fox-Dog; Otocyon.

(b) The bush-dog (leticyon) of South America, a specialized aberrant form. See Bush-Dog.

(c) The foxes, forming what Huxley called the alopecoid or vulpine series, and embracing the typical foxes, fennecs, corsacs, kit foxes, etc. See Fox; Fennec, etc.

(d) The hunting-dog (Lycaon) of South Africa. See Hunting-Dog.

(e) The wolves, forming Huxley's thoöid or lupine series, in which are found the wolves, jackals, fox-dogs, crab-eating dog. and similar wild and domestic ‘dogs’ of the world.

The first four of these subjects are treated of elsewhere, as indicated by the cross-references noted above. In the last group (e), wolves, jackals, fox-dogs, etc., many of the individual forms are separately described under their names. There remain then for consideration here: (1) a group which may properly be designated wild dogs, and (2) the domestic dogs.

Wild Dogs. There exist in southeastern Asia and in Australia three or four species of canine animals which are hardly separable from the genus Canis by distinct characters of importance, yet which seem to form a natural group that may be consistently separated as a genus or subgenus Cyon, characterized mainly by the lack of the small last tubercular molar tooth on each side of the lower jaw (as was the case with fossil Cynodictis), by having a comparatively short muzzle, slightly convex facial outline, rather short legs, with long hair between the footpads, and 12 to 14 mammæ instead of the normal ten. The dingo may, for the present, be included in this group. Their resemblance in general is to jackals, of which Huxley considers them a locally modified type, but they have a more ‘doggy’ appearance than either jackals or wolves. It is from this resemblance that the designation ‘wild dogs’ arises, and not from the belief that any of them is a direct progenitor of modern domestic dogs, even though individuals of all of them may occasionally have been tamed and attached to human owners. There is much general resemblance among them. In size they somewhat exceed the jackals, being from 30 to 38 inches long exclusive of the tail, which in all is long (about two fifths of the length of the body) and bushy, like that of a jackal or a fox. All have comparatively long and coarse hair, the prevailing color of which is rust-red in summer and lighter in winter, and generally decidedly darker on the back and tail than on the chest, belly, and inside of the legs. They go abroad in the daytime rather more than at night, hunt in packs of a dozen or more, led by an old male; and dwell by families, sometimes polygamous, in crevices of rocks, hollow trees and similar retreats, but they do not dig burrows.

The best known of these is the Indian wild dog (Canis, or Cyon, Deccanensis), which inhabits the forested parts of the whole Himalayan region, the treeless area of eastern Tibet, and southward as far as the great forests of India. The more southerly form, known as the dhole in the far south of the peninsula, sona kuta (golden dog) in central India, and kolsun among the Mahrattas, has been set apart by some students (see Mivart, Proceedings of the Zoölogical Society of London, 1890, p. 88) as a separate species (Canis primærus), but the distinction is much doubted. The native name of the northern form is ‘buansu,’ to which the reader is referred for further particulars.

The Malay wild dog (Canis rutilans) is a rather smaller species, which occurs east of Bengal throughout the Malay Peninsula, and also in Java, Sumatra, and perhaps Borneo; whether the wild dog of upper Burma belongs to this or the preceding species is dubious, and this doubt lends color to the opinion of some naturalists that these Eastern forms are not specifically separate from the Indian one. Blanford regards the Malay dog as distinct and describes it as smaller, more slender in body and limbs, with shorter and harsher hair, a deep ferruginous red. Its habits in general seem to be those of the Indian dog.


NIE 1905 Dog - hunting and watch dogs.jpg}}
1. GREAT DANE, “Monticello Pearl.”     5. ENGLISH SETTER, “Knight Errant.”
2. ST. BERNARD, “Prince Napoleon.” 6. GREYHOUND, “Leeds Music.”
3. POINTER, “Champion Boy.” 7. GRIFFON, “Blitz von Kaiserlauten.”
4. RUSSIAN WOLFHOUND, “Marksman.” 8. COLLIE, “Emerald Eclipse.”

The Siberian wild dog (Canis alpinus) much resembles the others in features and habits. It inhabits the forested regions of northern Asia as far south as the Altas Mountains, and subsists almost entirely on deer, which it hunts in companies, pursuing them so constantly that it is said occasionally to destroy or drive away all the deer in certain districts. It also hunts the ibex in the high mountains. It appears that this semi-arctic dog changes its summer coat of fox-red for a long and woolly winter dress of yellowish white, as do the arctic foxes.

There remains to be mentioned the dingo (Canis dingo), which by some naturalists has been set apart in a genus (Dingo) by itself. It inhabits Australia only, and bears a considerable resemblance to the Himalayan wild dog. Although numerous in wild packs, it is also kept domesticated by the native Australians, by whose remote ancestors it was probably introduced to that island from the North. See Dingo.

Interbreeding, Tamability, and Voice. A few special considerations may well be made at this point, as tending to illuminate the relation which domestic dogs bear to the wild forms. First, it appears certain, although it may almost never occur under natural conditions, where the primal instincts of kinship prevent crossing of ‘species,’ that all the various canine animals may interbreed and produce offspring. This has been accomplished in the case of some species in captivity or a state of semi-domestication. Whether these hybrid offspring are fertile with each other in every case, or usually, is not so certain, A few instances are recorded in which they have been found to be so.

In respect to tamability, canine animals are much superior as a tribe to feline animals, and perhaps no species intelligently tried has proved intractable. Pet examples of almost every species have been found among the savage or partly civilized peoples of the world, and the owners of menageries find even wolves submitting well to the trainers. There seems to be in the canine nature, disposing them to gather in packs and hunt in concert, and strengthened by these practices, a sympathetic element wanting in most other carnivores, the cultivation of which by man has led to the close affiliation between him and his dog, and to the expansion of the dog nature into the beautiful fidelity, appreciation, and affection it exhibits in its higher examples.

Wild canines may be said to howl, to yelp, to whine, to growl, and even—as some have mentioned—to bay when pursuing quarry; but none truly barks. Much attention was paid to this point by Mr. Bartlett, for many years keeper of the Zoölogical Gardens of London, who concluded from his observation of the captives, of many wild species, under his care, that the barking of domestic dogs is an acquired habit, but one into which wild canines quickly fall by imitation. “A well-known instance of this,” Mr. Bartlett wrote (Proceedings of the Zoölogical Society of London, 1890), “occurred under my notice. A wild antarctic wolf, after a few months, hearing the barking of dogs in the immediate neighborhood, began to bark, and succeeded admirably. The same thing has happened to my knowledge in the case of purebred Eskimo dogs and dingos.” See Plates of Wolves and Wild Dogs; and Foxes and Jackals.

Fossil Dogs. The ancestors of the dogs, wolves, foxes, and jackals may be traced back through the Pliocene into the Miocene and Eocene periods, beyond which the ancestral forms become so generalized in type that they can with difficulty be placed in their respective categories, or separated from the ancestors of the civets and bears. Indeed, these families, together with the Canidæ, had a common origin in the Eocene carnivores, such as Amphicyon, Calecynus, Cynodictis, which are synthetic types. The modern family of Canidæ is a diphyletic group, i. e. it has had two sources. One series, terminating in the jackal, is thought to have had a common origin with the Viverridæ in Cynodictis. The second series, comprising the true dogs, foxes, and wolves, traces its ancestry from Daphænus and the earlier Amphicyon, which latter also gave rise to the bears.

Origin of Domestic Dogs. A great amount of discussion has taken place over the question of the origin of domestic dogs—whether they represent a separate species, or are the descendants of some existing canine species, or are of composite stock. The present diversity is so great that some dogs are no larger than the heads of others; that some are almost totally hairless, while others wear coats of hair longer than is elsewhere known among mammals, and some have narrow skulls with prolonged jaws, while in others the width of the skull is greater than its antero-posterior length, and the jaws hardly protrude beyond the forehead. Equally remarkable differences separate them temperamentally. The question then arose: Could all these variations be accounted for as the result of domestication and selective breeding acting upon a single species; and, if so, what traces remained to indicate what that species is, or was? It would be unprofitable to enter into all the speculations that have been recorded. Some have held that our dogs were only modified descendants of a wolf, the same or essentially similar to the modern common wolf; others, that all dogs are modified jackals. It has been extremely difficult for either school to find characteristics held in common by all varieties of dogs by which to make their comparisons and support their arguments. The up-curling of the tail, the drooping of the ears, the presence of ‘buttons’ of tan over the eyes, and other alleged characteristics are not universal, and seem comparatively unimportant. Probably the most singular characteristic possessed by dogs as contrasted with wild canines of every sort is a matter of voice—the bark; but those on the borderland of dogdom, such as the Arctic sledge-dogs and the dingo, do not utter this peculiar sound, and, on the other hand, dingos, Eskimo dogs, and even wild canines, quickly acquire the habit when associated with tame dogs, by imitating them more or less completely. See Dingo.

The consensus of modern scientific opinion is that our dogs represent the union of several strains, which during the long ages since this animal began to associate with wandering mankind, have been intermixed until only an indefinite trace of the original wild ancestry can be found; and that this process has continued to the present time. An important element, no doubt, is wolf; an equally important element, jackal. Foxes seem to have had a less part in the mixture, but the former assertion that foxes were unable to crossbreed with dogs is now known to be erroneous; such hybrids are uncommon, but do exist, and are no less fertile than other canine crosses, such, for instance, as those between domestic dogs and wolves or jackals, which constantly happen on the frontier of civilization, both by accident and by intention on the part of the owners. But it must be remembered that wolves and jackals are of various species and exist in many parts of the world, and that there are various other members of the dog family, such as the ‘wild dogs’ of the Orient, described earlier in this article, the foxes, and the fox-dogs and wolves of South America. Moreover, sufficient time has elapsed in all probability since the domestic races began for species of a smaller sort to have become extinct, perhaps largely through man's agency, partly by killing them, and partly by absorbing them into his domestic family. The peculiarities of certain races, such as the Japanese pugs and the hairless dogs of tropical America, are so great as to be accounted for with difficulty, except upon the supposition that they are the descendants of extinct species.

All canine animals exhibit, more or less plainly, the qualities which have contributed to make the character and value of the domestic dog what they are. They are courageous, quick-witted, and accustomed to possessing and defending home and property (their captures), and to the exercise of both nose and eyes, whose faculties are highly developed. More important, however, as rendering them susceptible to taming and the offer of human friendship, is their practice of hunting in companies and aiding one another, which has developed in them a social disposition much in excess of that in any other class of carnivores, and given them a sense of mutual dependence easily transferred to human companions and increased by continual human association. Hence the fact that in every part of the world, and from time immemorial, men have been found to own dogs, and the history of the dispersion of his dogs is bound up with the problem of the dispersion of man himself. The practice appears as far back as humanity can be traced. We may not be sure that Paleolithic man kept dogs as camp-mates, but ‘Neolithic’ man, he of the stone village on the hill and of the pile-built dwelling on the lake, certainly possessed and used them as an aid in keeping his flocks and herds. The oldest monumental remains of the valleys of the Indus, the Euphrates, and the Nile, show that dogs were common among these early peoples and in great diversity. Certain types well known to-day may be recognized, and will be referred to more particularly in the special articles on those breeds. Consult Berjeau, The Varieties of Dogs (London, 1865), a treatise upon dogs as they are found depicted in old sculptures, pictures, engravings, and books to the end of the seventeenth century.

It is certain that the first ones tamed were of local species, some of which in all probability have since become extinct. As tribes enlarged and spread out, their dogs would go with them. Here and there they would encounter and coalesce with other peoples and an intermingling of dogs would follow. This, going on indefinitely and complicated by constant intermixture with new blood from the forest—for in no group of animals is interfertility more general—would speedily bring about a great variety of forms. In addition to this, however, there must have gone on from the very first, besides the varying influences of new climate, food, and general environment, a certain amount of selective breeding.

It has been held by Professor Shaler and others that the first motive leading to domestication of the dog was to provide a resource against the recurring famines that affect aboriginal life, while others suppose the animal's aid in hunting first made it valuable. Undoubtedly, then as now, the dog was eaten on occasion, but it would certainly make itself so useful as a watch-dog and a hunter as quickly to win regard; and there is no doubt that the personality of the animal would appeal to the affection of the primeval savages as it does to-day. No other human beings are regarded as so rude and autochthonous as the northern Australians, yet while they eat both the wild and tame dingos, and use the latter in hunting, they regard many of them as pets, lavish affection upon them, and even nurse the puppies at the women's breasts. In recognition of these qualities, the best or most interesting puppies and older dogs would naturally be saved when any were to be killed for food or other purpose. In such isolated circumstances as those of the Australians, where there is free and constant intercourse between the wild stock and the tame, this would have little effect; but in general, where the mixture of several wild breeds had already produced diverse hybrids, the unconscious selection thus brought about would soon be effective, and would be followed, as civilization began, with a more intelligent and definite kind of choice, which must have originated selective breeding long before any history of it begins. It must have been intelligently and persistently practiced, in fact, long before the earliest civilized records, for monuments inscribed four or five thousand years ago bear pictures of widely diversified and perfectly bred races of dogs, such as greyhounds.

NIE 1905 Dog - growth of teeth.jpg


Development of dentition in the lower jaw at various successive ages: 1, two days; 2, four months; 3, six months; 4, nine months; 5, eleven months; 6, four years.

Varieties of Domestic Dogs. No one probably has ever attempted to make a complete catalogue of the varieties of domestic dogs known throughout the world, but Fitzinger estimated the number in 1876 at about 185. All these fall into certain groups, or types, as will presently be noted; and the study of their points of likeness and unlikeness has been made by several recent investigators of the law of variation. One of the most recent and successful of these was a comparison by Windle of the skulls of some 60 varieties, representing most of the types, the results of which were extensively tabulated and discussed in the Proceedings of the Zoölogical Society of London for 1890. He says that the most noteworthy fact learned from his comparative measurements of dog-crania was that the averages of the different breeds, especially in points relating to some of the teeth, differ very little from one another; in other words, that, speaking generally, the teeth in one dog are relatively to the skull very similar in size to those of any other. It is also to be noticed that the range of variation in any breed is much greater, in almost every case, than that existing between any two breeds. Mr. Windle says:

“The extreme variations in any breed are probably due to the fact that, strictly speaking, so few animals of the same group are really in any sense of the same breed. The various members of a carefully selected strain of terriers, for example, bred by one breeder, might be comparable with one another, and yet quite different in descent from another and perhaps equally good strain belonging to another breeder and to another part of the country. With dogs bred for show purposes, as so many of the pure strains are, and with constantly varying requirements of fashion, all sorts of crosses, as any manual of dog-breeding will show, have been tried with a view of attaining the ideal, whether of symmetry, pace, or carriage. That such crosses should, at times at least, leave their marks upon the skulls, and cause differences in breeds which cannot be accounted for, is, of course, to be expected. The presence of the disturbing factor can be appreciated, though its exact nature cannot always or even frequently be ascertained with any correctness. Thus amongst the eleven bulldogs' skulls which we have examined, there was one which differed in measurements considerably from the rest. It was nearly one centimeter longer than any other, and, what is much more significant, it was seven centimeters longer than it was broad, the average for the others being about three or four centimeters. Moreover, its palate was 1.90 centimeters longer than it was broad, whilst in every other case but one the breadth exceeded the length. In the second case, the length was .90 greater than the breadth of the palate, and the length of the skull nearly five centimeters greater than the zygomatic width. We cannot doubt that both of the skulls above mentioned were those of dogs in whom, to a greater or lesser degree, there was an admixture of strain, of what kind it is impossible to say. And what is true of these is doubtless true also in lesser degree of the greater number of specimens coming under examination. It thus becomes apparently a hopeless task to look for evidence as to the proximate or ultimate derivation of the breeds of domestic dogs in their skulls or teeth.”

Having arranged his skulls with reference to relative length and breadth, Mr. Windle found that the distinctly broad-headed dogs form a well-marked group by themselves, including the Chinese pug-nosed spaniel, the pug, bulldog, black-and-tan toy terrier, and King Charles spaniel, a considerable interval existing between these and the next. All these are highly artificial breeds, which require great care and attention in order to prevent deterioration, with its consequent elongation of the skull. Next to this group comes one, largely consisting of terriers, with heads inclining to be broad. A miscellaneous group next follows, gradually decreasing to the distinctly narrow-headed dogs, such as the Irish wolf-dog and the greyhound.

These investigations demonstrated the fact that in the highly artificial broad-headed dogs elongation of skull and palate is a sign of impure breeding, an evidence of admixture with the broad-headed strain of that of some other and narrower-headed dog. Examples of this may be seen almost any day in the streets in the shape of the half-bred pugs, in which the elongated muzzles present so great a contrast with the short, square faces of their pure-bred cousins. We have no facts before us to prove whether the long-headed dogs, such as greyhounds, tend to become broader when impurely bred, but it is highly probable that they would do so, and consequently that the dogs at both ends of the scale would, under the influence of promiscuous interbreeding, tend to approximate to the average head.


NIE 1905 Dog - terriers, spaniels, etc.jpg}}
1. BULL TERRIER, “Woodcock Wonder.”     5. BEAGLE, “Primate.”
4. POODLE, “Milo Boy.” 8. SCOTCH TERRIER, “Adora Alexander.”

Classification. Breeds of dogs have been variously classified. One Roman grouping mentioned by old writers was into fighters (pugnaces), wise dogs (sagaces), and swift-footed ones (celeres); the sagaces were said to have come from Greece, and the pugnaces from Asia. Another ancient grouping was into house-dogs, sheep-dogs, and sporting-dogs, the last embracing fighters, hounds hunting by scent and hounds hunting by sight. Modern naturalists have substantially agreed upon six groups, with considerable differences in composition, however. Thus Col. Hamilton Smith, about 1830, arranged the list as follows: (1) The wolf-dogs, including the Siberian dog, Eskimo dog, Iceland dog, Newfoundland dog, Nootka dog, sheep-dog, great wolf-dog, great Saint Bernard dog, Pomeranian dog, etc. (2) The watch and cattle dogs, including the German boarhound, Danish dog, matin, dog of the North American Indians, etc. (3) The greyhounds, including the Brinjaree dog, different kinds of greyhound, Irish hound, lurcher, Egyptian street dog, etc. (4) The hounds, including the bloodhound, old southern hound, staghound, foxhound, harrier, beagle, pointer, setter, spaniel, springer, cocker, Blenheim dog, water-dog or poodle, etc. (5) The cur dogs, including the terrier and its allies. (6) The mastiffs, including different kinds of mastiff, the bulldog, pug dog, etc.

The latest arrangement is that by Windle, based upon the shape of the skull and other features, rather than upon form and function, yet not greatly different from its predecessors. It is as follows:

I. Wolf-like Dogs.—Arctic sledge-dogs; shepherd dogs (collies); Newfoundland dog; Saint Bernard, rough and smooth, and Pomeranian or Spitz dog.

II. Greyhounds.—Old Irish wolf-dog; modern Irish wolf-dog; greyhound; Italian greyhound; West Indian naked dog (‘presumably’).

III. Spaniels.—All varieties.

IV. Hounds.—Bloodhound; foxhound; harrier; otter-hound, beagle, pointer, setter, etc. (hunting-dogs).

V. Mastiffs.—Mastiffs; bulldogs; pugs, etc. (the ‘watch-dogs,’ notable, as a class, for the extraordinary range of size).

VI. Terriers.—English, Scotch, Irish, and Skye terriers; fox-terriers (pure), black-and-tan terriers, turnspits, and the Oriental Pariah dogs.

For the purposes of this Encyclopædia, the domestic dogs have been grouped, and will be found described under the following headings: Field-Dog; Greyhound; Hairless Dog; Hound; Newfoundland Dog; Poodle; Pug; Saint Bernard Dog; Sheep-Dog; Sledge-Dog; Spaniel; Terrier.

The Dog in Law. The dog occupies an anomalous position in the law. Though not belonging to the animals of a wild nature (feræ naturæ), he was not, on the other hand, like most other domestic animals, regarded by the common law as the subject of property—at least, while alive; though it was held in an early case that a man might have a right of property in the skin of a dead dog. He belonged, like the cat, the fox, and the monkey, to animals of a ‘base nature.’ The utility of certain species of dogs, especially in hunting, gradually gained for them a certain legal recognition, and in the time of Elizabeth we find it laid down that the law takes notice of greyhounds, mastiffs, spaniels, and tumblers, and that an action in trover will lie against any one who takes and detains such a dog from the owner. But the offense was not punishable criminally at common law. By a statute of George III. (1770), however, it was enacted that the stealing of any dog was a misdemeanor, punishable by fine, imprisonment, or whipping. In a few of the United States similar statutes have been passed, but in general the dog retains his inferior common-law status in this country, as not the subject of larceny. In most of the States, however, it is probable that an action in trover would lie for the recovery of a valuable dog, though the question has been passed upon only in a few jurisdictions.

On the other hand, it is generally lawful to keep a dog, and in the absence of general laws or local ordinances to the contrary, to allow him to go at large. The owner is not responsible for injuries caused by his dog unless the latter is of a savage or vicious temper and the owner knew or had reason to believe that the animal was dangerous. In the latter case the owner is absolutely responsible without proof of special negligence on his part. So, if a dog, because of his vicious temper, becomes a common nuisance, the owner may be indicted. And even in a State in which a dog is recognized as property, he may be killed in self-defense, or after due notice to the owner if dangerous to the community. It is common in many jurisdictions to impose a license or other tax on dogs, and in nearly all States the terms on which they may be kept and allowed to run at large are regulated by statute or by municipal ordinances. It is not a violation of the constitutional protection of property in the United States to exterminate dogs in the public interest. See Property; Tort; and consult the authorities there referred to.

Bibliography. Stonehenge, The Dog, etc. (see below); Gray, “Varieties of Dogs,” in Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 4, vol. iii. (London, 1869); Huxley, "Cranial and Dental Characters of the Canidæ," in Proceedings of the Zoölogical Society of London (London, 1880); Mivart, Dogs, Jackals, Wolves, and Foxes (London, 1890); Wortman and Matthew, “The Ancestors of Certain Members of the Canidæ, Viverridæ, and Procyonidæ,” Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. xii. (New York, 1899); Beddard, Mammalia (London, 1901). The literature relating to domestic dogs, and especially to those used in the chase, is exceedingly extensive in all languages. A selection of important books in English is as follows: Caius, De Canibus Britannicis (ante 1572), a Latin essay by a celebrated naturalist of the sixteenth century; George Tuberville, The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting (London, 1576), the earliest illustrated book of the dog; J. H. Walsh (“Stonehenge”), Dogs of the British Islands (London); id., The Dog in Health and Disease (London, 1859). Standard and modern works: W. Youatt, Training and Management of the Dog (London and New York, 1859); Rev. William Pearce (“Idstone”), The Dog (London and New York, 1872); Vero Shaw, Illustrated Dog Book (London, 1890); Wesley Mills, The Dog in Health and His Treatment in Disease (New York, 1892), valuable especially as a veterinary guide; R. B. Lee, A History and Description of the Modern Dogs (London, 1897); H. W. Huntington, The Show Dog (Providence, 1901).