In Guiana it has been known since the time of Buffon that the natives cross their dogs with an aboriginal species, apparently the Canis cancrivorus. Sir R. Schomburgk, who has so carefully explored these regions, writes to me, "I have been repeatedly told by the Arawaak Indians, who reside near the coast, that they cross their dogs with a wild species to improve the breed, and individual dogs have been shown to me which certainly resembled the C. cancrivorus much more than the common breed. It is but seldom that the Indians keep the C. cancrivorus for domestic purposes, nor is the Ai, another species of wild dog, and which I consider to be identical with the Dusicyon silvestris of H. Smith, now much used by the Arecunas for the purpose of hunting. The dogs of the Taruma Indians are quite distinct, and resemble Buffon's St. Domingo greyhound." It thus appears that the natives of Guiana have partially domesticated two aboriginal species, and still cross their dogs with them; these two species belong to a quite different type from the North American and European wolves. A careful observer, Rengger (1/17. 'Naturgeschichte der Saugethiere von Paraguay' 1830 s. 151.), gives reasons for believing that a hairless dog was domesticated when America was first visited by Europeans: some of these dogs in Paraguay are still dumb, and Tschudi (1/18. Quoted in Humboldt 'Aspects of Nature' (English translation) volume 1 page 108.) states that they suffer from cold in the Cordillera. This naked dog is, however quite distinct from that found preserved in the ancient Peruvian burial-places, and described by Tschudi, under the name of Canis ingae, as withstanding cold well and as barking. It is not known whether these two distinct kinds of dog are the descendants of native species, and it might be argued that when man first migrated into America he brought with him from the Asiatic continent dogs which had not learned to bark; but this view does not seem probable, as the natives along the line of their march from the north reclaimed, as we have seen, at least two N. American species of Canidae.

Turning to the Old World, some European dogs closely resemble the wolf; thus the shepherd dog of the plains of Hungary is white or reddish-brown, has a sharp nose, short, erect ears, shaggy coat, and bushy tail, and so much resembles a wolf that Mr. Paget, who gives this description, says he has known a Hungarian mistake a wolf for one of his own dogs. Jeitteles, also, remarks on the close similarity of the Hungarian dog and wolf. Shepherd dogs in Italy must anciently have closely resembled wolves, for Columella (vii. 12) advises that white dogs be kept, adding, "pastor album probat, ne pro lupo canem feriat." Several accounts have been given of dogs and wolves crossing naturally; and Pliny asserts that the Gauls tied their female dogs in the woods that they might cross with wolves. (1/19. Paget 'Travels in Hungary and Transylvania' volume 1 page 501. Jeitteles 'Fauna Hungariae Superioris' 1862 s. 13. See Pliny 'History of the World' (English translation) 8th book ch. 40 about the Gauls crossing their dogs. See also Aristotle 'Hist. Animal.' Lib. 8 c. 28. For good evidence about wolves and dogs naturally crossing near the Pyrenees, see M. Mauduyt 'Du Loup et de ses Races' Poitiers, 1851; also Pallas in 'Acta Acad. St. Petersburgh' 1780 part 2 page 94.) The European wolf differs slightly from that of North America, and has been ranked by many naturalists as a distinct species. The common wolf of India is also by some esteemed as a third species, and here again we find a marked resemblance between the pariah dogs of certain districts of India and the Indian wolf. (1/20. I give this on excellent authority, namely Mr. Blyth (under the signature of Zoophilus) in the 'Indian Sporting Review' October 1856 page 134. Mr. Blyth states that he was struck with the resemblance between a brush-tailed race of pariah-dogs, north-west of Cawnpore, and the Indian wolf. He gives corroborative evidence with respect to the dogs of the valley of the Nerbudda.)

With respect to Jackals, Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1/21.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V1 Page 18

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book