Jack Russell Terrier

Fox hunting in England in the 1800s involved two types of dog. The first was the scenthound, needed to sniff out the quarry and follow its trail. The second was the terrier, used to follow the game underground and chase it out of its hole so that the sport could continue. Because they worked in…

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter has a knack for making itself the subject of controversy. A brief examination of its history brings us immediately to the first dispute—the origin of the breed. Something more or less like an Irish Setter has existed in Ireland since the 1700s, albeit in a piebald color. How it came to be…

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees, or Pyrenean Mountain Dog as it is called in Europe, has guarded sheep in the mountains of France and Spain as long as history records. Its lineage has been entirely lost in time, but it is probably related to the other ancient flock guardian breeds. Its ancestors may have been giant Asian…

Golden Retriever

All British retrievers trace back to the same source—the Canadian water dogs imported in large numbers in the early 1800s, variously called Newfoundland or St. John’s dogs. The shorthaired version of this cold-hardy, water-loving working breed evolved into the modern Labrador Retriever. However, a furrier type was also known and imported. This was called the…

German Shepherd Dog

Germany was once the home of a wide range of farm dogs, sheepdogs, and livestock guardians, every place and every purpose having its own unique type of dog. No one questioned this policy for many years—it was just how things were done among the rural peasantry. All this changed when the Industrial Revolution hit Germany….

English Shepherd

Like many herding dogs of the British Isles, the English Shepherd traces back to the herding mastiffs of Julius Caesar’s Roman army. As these dogs were abandoned by the departing soldiers, they crossed over time with various local dogs and perhaps with the herding spitzes of invading Vikings. In different parts of the United Kingdom,…

Collie

The Collie shares the same heritage as the rest of the sheepdogs of the British Isles. It traces back to the herding mastiffs of the invading Roman armies under Julius Caesar, perhaps with a touch of Viking spitz added later on. For centuries, the Collie, or Scotch Collie, more or less resembled the modern Border…

Bouvier des Flandres

Dog experts disagree on the history of the Bouvier des Flandres. All we know for certain is that, from time immemorial, sturdy cattle dogs lived and worked in the Flanders region of Belgium and on the northern plains of France. What types of dogs went into the gene pool is mostly unknown. Some monks at…

Border Collie

Most of the herding dogs of the British Isles trace back to a common ancestor—the big, black-and-tan mastiffs brought by Julius Caesar around 55 BC to guard and drive livestock to feed the Roman army. Of course, British and Scottish sheepdogs do not look much like mastiffs. This is owing to the influence of small…

Beagle

The Beagle is a breed old enough to have its origins shrouded in mystery. We know for certain that, when the Romans arrived in the British Isles soon after the birth of Christ, they found small hounds already employed in hunting. About a thousand years later, William the Conqueror and his Norman soldiers brought along…