Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Water dogs have been important to Canadian fishermen since the 1600s. Dogs were used for everything from retrieving nets to towing boats. Short-haired dogs were preferred, as their coats did not collect ice, but few other specifications were viewed as important. Depending on where they were from, Canadian dogs were referred to as Newfoundlands, Labradors, or St. John’s Dogs. Because the Canadian water dogs also … Continue reading Labrador Retriever

Irish Setter

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 there is uncertain. Most setter breeds involved a cross between … Continue reading Irish Setter

Golden Retriever

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 Wavy-Coated Retriever, now known as the Flat-Coated Retriever. Retrievers under … Continue reading Golden Retriever

Beagle

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 hounds of their own that probably influenced the Beagle. Thus, … Continue reading Beagle

American Pit Bull Terrier

American Pit Bull Terrier

Arguably one of the most influential canine types in history was the molossus, the mastiff of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This dog was both versatile and useful, guarding property and herding livestock. Unfortunately, it also found a place in the Roman arena, satisfying the populace’s thirst for blood sports. Many modern dog breeds trace back to the molossus, including the old-fashioned bulldog (not the … Continue reading American Pit Bull Terrier

Garganey

Garganey

The garganey (Anas querquedula) isn’t much to look at, but attention to field marks can pay off for birdwatchers hoping to add this uncommon species to their life list. First off, look at the male’s head. Contrast is a key feature of the breeding male duck. His dark crown is bordered by a white “eyebrow” stripe. Also note his dark bill and the reddish cast … Continue reading Garganey