Dog Breeds Then and Now

In the first of this series, we’re looking at images of dogs considered good specimens of their breeds around the turn of the century in comparison with the modern era. There will be noticeable modifications to some of the breed names between the old and the new. And while it is beyond the scope of this series, it’s worth noting that most breeds have genetic disorders which have developed and been identified over time – an important consideration when weighing any potential improvements made in appearance.

To my mind, at the barest of minimums, a dog should be able to breathe, eat, see, run/play, reproduce, and receive routine veterinary care without experiencing severe distress, requiring surgical intervention and/or dying. In too many breeds currently, that isn’t the case – another thing to keep in mind when comparing the older type vs. the new.

From the book Sporting Dogs; Their Points and Management in Health and Disease by Frank Townend Barton, 1910
Afghan at dog show, 1996 (public domain)
Two from the book Terriers by Darley Matheson, 1922
Present day Sealyham (Image: The Kennel Club)
German shepherd dogs were often called police dogs during World War I. From Dogdom, August 1918
From The Farmers’ Bulletin #1491, United States Department of Agriculture, 1926
Modern day German shepherd (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Dogdom, April 1918
Present day Samoyed (Image: The Kennel Club)
Dogdom, June 1918
Dogdom, July 1918
Modern day Pekingese (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Dogdom, July 1918
Present day English bulldog (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Thoughts on any of the breeds pictured above are welcome in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Dog Breeds Then and Now

  1. The trend toward vastly more coat has been seen in so many breeds over the years. It can happen pretty quickly too: see the change in Border Collies in the relatively few years they’ve been accepted in AKC.

    1. I don’t understand the desire for ridiculous amounts of coat. It’s hard to maintain, can’t in any way be beneficial to the dog and makes it more difficult to assess structure. I wish judges did not reward it at shows.

  2. And yet, too much coat is the least of the sins in some of the modern dogs. The intentional physical defects are heartbreaking and engaging.

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