Vintage Dogs on Auction

In both England and the U. S. around the turn of the century, dogs were often auctioned. While we favor the terms “rehoming” and “adoption fee” today, the practice of selling dogs to the highest bidder was commonplace at the time. Dogs are still auctioned in the U. S., usually supplied by commercial breeders and often bought by so-called rescuers.

Setting aside for the moment how the idea of auctioning dogs makes me feel, it does strike me that turn of the century auctions were at least honest business transactions, as opposed to the shady practices involved today.

Here are some examples clipped from the kennel papers of the era:

Forest and Stream, July 25, 1886
Forest and Stream, July 29, 1886
Both Edward Kelly and August Belmont Jr. were active members of the American Fox Terrier Club at the time of this auction. Belmont would become president of the American Kennel Club in 1888. From Forest and Stream, November 11, 1886.
An ad in Forest and Stream, March 31, 1887
Pierre Lorillard was a tobacco businessman and though his English setters were auctioned as reported in this Forest and Stream clipping from May 12, 1887, he could afford to buy more – and did, remaining active in the breed for many years.
Forest and Stream, December 22, 1894
A full page ad announcing the sale of a collie to the highest bidder in The Dog Fancier, July 1921

And one raffle:

A portion of a report on the Grand Rapids, Michigan Kennel Club show held on May 29, 1921 where an airedale was raffled, as printed in The Dog Fancier, July 1921

2 thoughts on “Vintage Dogs on Auction

  1. I keep reminding myself that it was a whole different world in many ways. The industrial puppy mills operating to the standards of commercial meat production didn’t exist yet, and at the same time the best, most respected kennels typically had the dogs living not in the house but in purpose-built kennels or converted barns.

    I can see how auctions made sense to them.

    But RAFFLES?

    Yeah, yeah, different world. But that’s too much for me.

    1. Dogs were considered an offshoot of livestock at the time and the approach to showing, buying and selling was rooted in that. The auctions of today happen in a different environment.

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