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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Issue: 07/12/2018

The Invention of the Modern Dog - Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain 
by Michael Worboys, Julie-Marie Strange, & Neil Pemberton

071218-bookshelf
For centuries, different types of dogs were bred around the world for work, sport, or companionship. But it was not until Victorian times that breeders started to produce differentiated and standardised breeds. 
In The Invention of the Modern Dog  the authors explore when, why, and how Victorians invented the modern way of breeding dogs. The talk of 'breed' before this time was in the context of livestock. The modern idea of a dog breed defined in terms of shape, size, coat, and colour arose during the Victorian period in response to a growing competitive dog show culture. This book explains how breeders and exhibitors borrowed ideas of inheritance and pure blood as well as breeding practices from the livestock, horse, poultry and other fancy breeders' worlds. They then applied them to a species that was long thought about solely in terms of work and companionship. 
The new dog breeds embodied and reflected key aspects of Victorian culture, and they quickly spread across the world. Britain's top dogs were exported in a growing international trade. 
This is a fascinating book which covers so many aspects of early dog breeding and in studying dog breeding cultures it allows historians to better understand the complex social relationships of late-nineteenth-century Britain. 
Published by the John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA the book can be obtained from Amazon uk.
Val Foss

NB Not shown here but stated under the front cover illustrated is the writing "Sheffield Dog Show Poster, British Kennel Association (1885) Courtesy of the UK National Archives. On the poster it says: 'Shall we hold a DOG SHOW?   YES on Tues. Wed & Thursday Oct 20th 21th & 22nd AT Norfolk Drill Hall Edmund Road Sheffield COME and SEE US'"

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