Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire ('Hist. Nat. Gen.' 1860 tome 3 page 107), though he believes that most dogs have descended from the jackal, yet inclines to the belief that some are descended from the wolf. Prof. Gervais ('Hist. Nat. Mamm.' 1855 tome 2 page 69, referring to the view that all the domestic races are the modified descendants of a single species, after a long discussion, says, "Cette opinion est, suivant nous du moins, la moins probable.") Firstly, the great difference between the several breeds; but this will appear of comparatively little weight, after we shall have seen how great are the differences between the several races of various domesticated animals which certainly have descended from a single parent-form. Secondly, the more important fact, that, at the most anciently known historical periods, several breeds of the dog existed, very unlike each other, and closely resembling or identical with breeds still alive.

We will briefly run back through the historical records. The materials are remarkably deficient between the fourteenth century and the Roman classical period. (1/3. Berjeau 'The Varieties of the Dog; in old Sculptures and Pictures' 1863. 'Der Hund' von Dr. F.L. Walther, Giessen 1817 s. 48: this author seems carefully to have studied all classical works on the subject. See also Volz 'Beitrage zur Kulturgeschichte' Leipzig 1852 s. 115, 'Youatt on the Dog' 1845 page 6. A very full history is given by De Blainville in his 'Osteographie, Canidae.') At this latter period various breeds, namely hounds, house-dogs, lapdogs, etc, existed; but, as Dr. Walther has remarked, it is impossible to recognise the greater number with any certainty. Youatt, however, gives a drawing of a beautiful sculpture of two greyhound puppies from the Villa of Antoninus. On an Assyrian monument, about 640 B.C.,an enormous mastiff (1/4. I have seen drawings of this dog from the tomb of the son of Esar Haddon, and clay models in the British Museum. Nott and Gliddon, in their 'Types of Mankind' 1854 page 393, give a copy of these drawings. This dog has been called a Thibetan mastiff, but Mr. H.A. Oldfield, who is familiar with the so-called Thibet mastiff, and has examined the drawings in the British Museum, informs me that he considers them different.) is figured; and according to Sir H. Rawlinson (as I was informed at the British Museum), similar dogs are still imported into this same country. I have looked through the magnificent works of Lepsius and Rosellini, and on the Egyptian monuments from the fourth to the twelfth dynasties (i.e. from about 3400 B.C. to 2100 B.C.) several varieties of the dog are represented; most of them are allied to greyhounds; at the later of these periods a dog resembling a hound is figured, with drooping ears, but with a longer back and more pointed head than in our hounds. There is, also, a turnspit, with short and crooked legs, closely resembling the existing variety; but this kind of monstrosity is so common with various animals, as with the ancon sheep, and even, according to Rengger, with jaguars in Paraguay, that it would be rash to look at the monumental animal as the parent of all our turnspits: Colonel Sykes (1/5. 'Proc. Zoolog. Soc.' July 12, 1831.) also has described an Indian pariah dog as presenting the same monstrous character. The most ancient dog represented on the Egyptian monuments is one of the most singular; it resembles a greyhound, but has long pointed ears and a short curled tail: a closely allied variety still exists in Northern Africa; for Mr. E. Vernon Harcourt (1/6. 'Sporting in Algeria' page 51.) states that the Arab boar-hound is "an eccentric hieroglyphic animal, such as Cheops once hunted with, somewhat resembling the rough Scotch deer-hound; their tails are curled tight round on their backs, and their ears stick out at right angles." With this most ancient variety a pariah-like dog coexisted.

We thus see that, at a period between four and five thousand years ago, various breeds, viz. pariah dogs, greyhounds, common hounds, mastiffs, house-dogs, lapdogs, and turnspits, existed, more or less closely resembling our present breeds.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V1 Page 14

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book