Dogs as Pets in the Regency

My last doggy post for a while, I promise. By the way, has anyone seen No Regrets in a store yet. B&N said my copy was in the post, so it must be close.

If any of you live in Seattle, I am signing at the Emerald City Conference this weekend. Do drop by and say hello.

OK here we go. Dogs as Pets

It is my sense that despite the last post which indicated some working dogs were not treated well, given the number of times dogs show up in family portrait, the Englishman and woman with leisure, have always loved their dogs.

One of the most famous breeds are King Charles Spaniels, which were favorites of that monarch and pictured here with his children.

By the Regency these dogs had much shorter muzzles and a more domed head than is pictured here, so much more like the King Charles we know today. I did like this Royal picture though.


The truth of how the Pug came into existence is shrouded in mystery, but he has been true to his breed down through the ages since before 400 B.C. Authorities agree that he is of Oriental origin with some basic similarities to the Pekingese. China is the earliest known source for the breed, where he was the pet of the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. The breed next appeared in Japan and then in Europe, where it became the favorite for various royal courts.

The Pug became the official dog of the House of Orange after one of the breed saved the life of William, Prince of Orange, by giving alarm at the approach of the Spaniards at Hermingny in 1572. What a great story!!!

This picture is from 1808: Although today’s Pug is distinguished by an almost flat face, the Pug of 1800 had a distinct muzzle, and in this case cropped ears.

Italian Greyhounds

This smallest member of the Greyhound family is of very ancient lineage, for its history dates back at least two thousand years. Although its name suggests that the breed originated in Italy, cynologists believe this charming little dog originated in Egypt. Eventually, the breed was taken by Roman soldiers from Egypt to Mediterranean areas, where they soon became the favorite companions of Greek and Roman ladies. . . By the Middle Ages, the breed had spread throughout southern Europe when they became known as Italian Greyhounds.

It has never been used for work of any kind, it is a natural sight hound. Throughout the centuries Italian Greyhounds have been favored as pets by royalty: Catherine the Great of Russia, Mary Queen of Scots, James I and Charles I of England, Frederick the Great of Prussia and Queen Victoria were a few royal owners of the breed.

And of course this picture is the one I just had to pick, because in the picture of the greyhound is a Maltese. It is hard to see the little dog he looks more like a pillow, but he is there. And so my little dog's breed was also around in the Regency. One of these days, one of his ancestors is going to star in one of my novels. Until Next time. Happy Rambles.

Dogs in the Regency

Mr. Teasy Weasy looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Hah!

Do dogs have table manners? Well it might be the sort of requirement one would ask of a dog in the Regency. Mine certainly doesn't. Which is what generated me thinking about posting on dogs again. My sweetie-pie demonstrated his lack of table manners on
Thanksgiving at my in laws. After we left the table and were sitting outside on the patio, my brother-in-law leaped from his seat, pointed in through the window. "Is that your dog?"

There was Teaser, like a statue, four feet square in the center of the table checking out the crumbs. And not for the first time. But we in our house have learned never to put edibles on the table without someone there on guard. It took a half a pound of butter and a steak to get the message, but we are now well trained.

However, Teaser is a pound puppy, and didn't arrive in my house until he was six. So we can forgive him. Fortunately, he is small, a Maltese. But I must say, I would not like him to lead my brother-in-laws Golden Retriever astray, especially not on his antique dining room table, which fortunately was still covered by its table cloth.

While people did have dogs as pets in the Regency, and a pug is always a safe bet for this, many dogs were working animals.

I will put up more of the pet-style dogs in a future post, but we should remember that people still hunted their meat, be it animals or birds and they were important to the supply of food for guarding sheep and such like.

The Spaniel is one such dog used for hunting. This 1815 picture is of a Water Spaniel. Apparently water spaniels, and in particular the Tweed Water Spaniel, are the forerunner of the Golden Retriever, which was not a recognized breed until 1835. So no Golden Retrievers in books about the Regency please.

Spaniels were bred to flush game out of dense brush. By the late 1600’s spaniels had become specialized into water and land breeds. The English water spaniel (extinct) was used to retrieve water fowl shot down with arrows. Land spaniels were comprised of setting spaniels—those that crept forward and pointed their game allowing hunters to ensnare them with nets, and springing spaniels—those that sprang pheasants and partridges for hunting with falcons, and rabbits for hunting with greyhounds. During the 17th century, the role of the spaniel dramatically changed as Englishmen began hunting with flintlocks for wing shooting. Goodall & Gasow (1984), write the spaniels were "transformed from untrained, wild beaters, to smooth, polished gun dogs."

Springing spaniels would lay the foundation of all modern day flushing spaniels. In a single litter of springer spaniels, the larger pups would become springer spaniels, the smaller pups would become cocker spaniels, and the medium-sized pups would become Sussex spaniels: Size alone was the only difference.


They were used as harriers originally, for hunting hare and rabbit. They used scent, not speed and were followed on foot. Secord's caption to this picture says, "The Beagle, one of the oldest breeds of dogs, is a scent hound developed in England to hunt in packes." I would also find this picture useful to describe countryside and the gentlemen themeselves.

One last dog, then I must go.


In the late eighteenth century, the Bloodhound was used to pursue deer which had been shot and injured but not killed. More chillingly, we are aware that these dogs were used to hunt escaped prisoners.

I think Teaser would be proud if he knew he had inspired yet another post on dogs, but the little rascal's fast asleep under my desk.

Until next time when I will try to find some more interesting dogs for you, Happy Rambles, and may your dog remain under your table.