I have more than once mistaken a band of wolves for the dogs of a party of Indians; and the howl of the animals of both species is prolonged so exactly in the same key that even the practised ear of the Indian fails at times to discriminate them.' He adds that the more northern Esquimaux dogs are not only extremely like the grey wolves of the Arctic circle in form and colour, but also nearly equal them in size. Dr. Kane has often seen in his teams of sledge-dogs the oblique eye (a character on which some naturalists lay great stress), the drooping tail, and scared look of the wolf. In disposition the Esquimaux dogs differ little from wolves, and, according to Dr. Hayes, they are capable of no attachment to man, and are so savage that when hungry they will attack even their masters. According to Kane they readily become feral. Their affinity is so close with wolves that they frequently cross with them, and the Indians take the whelps of wolves "to improve the breed of their dogs." The half-bred wolves sometimes (Lamare- Picquot) cannot be tamed, "though this case is rare;" but they do not become thoroughly well broken in till the second or third generation. These facts show that there can be but little, if any, sterility between the Esquimaux dog and the wolf, for otherwise they would not be used to improve the breed. As Dr. Hayes says of these dogs, "reclaimed wolves they doubtless are." (1/14. The authorities for the foregoing statements are as follow:--Richardson in 'Fauna Boreali-Americana' 1829 pages 64, 75; Dr. Kane 'Arctic Explorations' 1856 volume 1 pages 398, 455; Dr. Hayes 'Arctic Boat Journey' 1860 page 167. Franklin's 'Narrative' volume 1 page 269, gives the case of three whelps of a black wolf being carried away by the Indians. Parry, Richardson, and others, give accounts of wolves and dogs naturally crossing in the eastern parts of North America. Seeman in his 'Voyage of H.M.S. "Herald"' 1853 volume 2 page 26, says the wolf is often caught by the Esquimaux for the purpose of crossing with their dogs, and thus adding to their size and strength. M. Lamare-Picquot in 'Bull. de la Soc. d'Acclimat.' tome 7 1860 page 148, gives a good account of the half- bred Esquimaux dogs.)

North America is inhabited by a second kind of wolf, the prairie-wolf (Canis latrans), which is now looked at by all naturalists as specifically distinct from the common wolf; and is, according to Mr. J.K. Lord, in some respects intermediate in habits between a wolf and a fox. Sir J. Richardson, after describing the Hare Indian dog, which differs in many respects from the Esquimaux dog, says, "It bears the same relation to the prairie-wolf that the Esquimaux dog does to the great grey wolf." He could, in fact, detect no marked difference between them; and Messrs. Nott and Gliddon give additional details showing their close resemblance. The dogs derived from the above two aboriginal sources cross together and with the wild wolves, at least with the C. occidentalis, and with European dogs. In Florida, according to Bartram, the black wolf-dog of the Indians differs in nothing from the wolves of that country except in barking. (1/15. 'Fauna Boreali-Americana' 1829 pages 73, 78, 80. Nott and Gliddon, 'Types of Mankind' page 383. The naturalist and traveller Bartram is quoted by Hamilton Smith in 'Naturalist Lib.' volume 10 page 156. A Mexican domestic dog seems also to resemble a wild dog of the same country; but this may be the prairie-wolf. Another capable judge, Mr. J.K. Lord ('The Naturalist in Vancouver Island' 1866 volume 2 page 218), says that the Indian dog of the Spokans, near the Rocky Mountains, "is beyond all question nothing more than a tamed Cayote or prairie-wolf," or Canis latrans.)

Turning to the southern parts of the new world, Columbus found two kinds of dogs in the West Indies; and Fernandez (1/16. I quote this from Mr. R. Hill's excellent account of the Alco or domestic dog of Mexico, in Gosse's 'Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica' 1851 page 329.) describes three in Mexico: some of these native dogs were dumb--that is, did not bark.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V1 Page 17

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book