We have already seen how often savages cross their dogs with wild native species; and Pennant gives a curious account (1/74. 'History of Quadrupeds' 1793 volume 1 page 238.) of the manner in which Fochabers, in Scotland, was stocked "with a multitude of curs of a most wolfish aspect" from a single hybrid-wolf brought into that district.

It would appear that climate to a certain extent directly modifies the forms of dogs. We have lately seen that several of our English breeds cannot live in India, and it is positively asserted that when bred there for a few generations they degenerate not only in their mental faculties, but in form. Captain Williamson (1/75. 'Oriental Field Sports' quoted by Youatt 'The Dog' page 15.), who carefully attended to this subject, states that "hounds are the most rapid in their decline;" "greyhounds and pointers, also, rapidly decline." But spaniels, after eight or nine generations, and without a cross from Europe, are as good as their ancestors. Dr. Falconer informs me that bulldogs, which have been known, when first brought into the country, to pin down even an elephant by its trunk, not only fall off after two or three generations in pluck and ferocity, but lose the under-hung character of their lower jaws; their muzzles become finer and their bodies lighter. English dogs imported into India are so valuable that probably due care has been taken to prevent their crossing with native dogs; so that the deterioration cannot be thus accounted for. The Rev. R. Everest informs me that he obtained a pair of setters, born in India, which perfectly resembled their Scotch parents: he raised several litters from them in Delhi, taking the most stringent precautions to prevent a cross, but he never succeeded, though this was only the second generation in India, in obtaining a single young dog like its parents in size or make; their nostrils were more contracted, their noses more pointed, their size inferior, and their limbs more slender. So again on the coast of Guinea, dogs, according to Bosman, "alter strangely; their ears grow long and stiff like those of foxes, to which colour they also incline, so that in three or four years, they degenerate into very ugly creatures; and in three or four broods their barking turns into a howl." (1/76. A. Murray gives this passage in his 'Geographical Distribution of Mammals' 4to 1866 page 8.) This remarkable tendency to rapid deterioration in European dogs subjected to the climate of India and Africa, may be largely accounted for by reversion to a primordial condition which many animals exhibit, as we shall hereafter see, when their constitutions are in any way disturbed.

Some of the peculiarities characteristic of the several breeds of the dog have probably arisen suddenly, and, though strictly inherited, may be called monstrosities; for instance, the shape of the legs and body in the turnspit of Europe and India; the shape of the head and the under-hanging jaw in the bull-and pug-dog, so alike in this one respect and so unlike in all others. A peculiarity suddenly arising, and therefore in one sense deserving to be called a monstrosity, may, however, be increased and fixed by man's selection. We can hardly doubt that long-continued training, as with the greyhound in coursing hares, as with water-dogs in swimming--and the want of exercise, in the case of lapdogs--must have produced some direct effect on their structure and instincts. But we shall immediately see that the most potent cause of change has probably been the selection, both methodical and unconscious, of slight individual differences,--the latter kind of selection resulting from the occasional preservation, during hundreds of generations, of those individual dogs which were the most useful to man for certain purposes and under certain conditions of life. In a future chapter on Selection I shall show that even barbarians attend closely to the qualities of their dogs. This unconscious selection by man would be aided by a kind of natural selection; for the dogs of savages have partly to gain their own subsistence: for instance, in Australia, as we hear from Mr.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V1 Page 28

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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