More Dog Breeds Then and Now

In 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.

Dogdom, September 1918
2007 photo of a Westie at a dog show (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Dogdom, February 1919
A chow chow at a show in 2015 (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
[Mr. Berryman was the secretary of the Old English Sheep Dog Club at the time this article was published.]
Berryman, H.W. (1908, May). The old English sheep dog. House and Garden, pp. 180-182.
An old English sheepdog at a show in 2006 (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Haynes, W. (May 1915). A good dog with a bad name. House and Garden, pp. 334-335
Screenshot from a video showing this dog being judged at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 2022. Full video here.

2 thoughts on “More Dog Breeds Then and Now

  1. A subject near and dear to my heart. I think breeders have much to answer for. On the whole, the older breed versions look much more natural. Then there are the conditions photos are less likely to show – the deformed and too narrow nasal passages, the excess tissue that needs removing from the soft palate, the skull that is too small for the brain and causes great pain, the overly thick coat that causes overheating problems. Basically, they are all genetic problems. There isn’t much genetic diversity in purebred dogs.

    1. In the late nineteenth century, there was a lot of controversy over the grooming of terriers. For years, people had understood terriers to have the kind of coats needed for the particular tasks for which they were used. Then the show people started with “we just want to pluck a few stray hairs to give a tidy appearance” but many breeders realized once that door was cracked open, there would be no shutting it. They were right. We now have westies trimmed to have powder puff heads, completely stripped necks (offering no protection against bites), flowing feathering on the lower half and they’re leaving chalk footprints wherever they go. They’re less like dogs and more like collectibles.

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