Nind (1/77. Quoted by Mr. Galton 'Domestication of Animals' page 13.), the dogs are sometimes compelled by want to leave their masters and provide for themselves; but in a few days they generally return. And we may infer that dogs of different shapes, sizes, and habits, would have the best chance of surviving under different circumstances,--on open sterile plains, where they have to run down their own prey,--on rocky coasts, where they have to feed on crabs and fish left in the tidal pools, as in the case of New Guinea and Tierra del Fuego. In this latter country, as I am informed by Mr. Bridges, the Catechist to the Mission, the dogs turn over the stones on the shore to catch the crustaceans which lie beneath, and they "are clever enough to knock off the shell-fish at a first blow;" for if this be not done, shell-fish are well-known to have an almost invincible power of adhesion.
It has already been remarked that dogs differ in the degree to which their feet are webbed. In dogs of the Newfoundland breed, which are eminently aquatic in their habits, the skin, according to Isidore Geoffroy (1/78. 'Hist. Nat. Gen.' tome 3 page 450.), extends to the third phalanges whilst in ordinary dogs it extends only to the second. In two Newfoundland dogs which I examined, when the toes were stretched apart and viewed on the under side, the skin extended in a nearly straight line between the outer margins of the balls of the toes; whereas, in two terriers of distinct sub- breeds, the skin viewed in the same manner was deeply scooped out. In Canada there is a dog which is peculiar to the country and common there, and this has "half-webbed feet and is fond of the water." (1/79. Mr. Greenhow on the Canadian Dog in Loudon's 'Mag. of Nat. Hist.' volume 6 1833 page 511.) English otter-hounds are said to have webbed feet: a friend examined for me the feet of two, in comparison with the feet of some harriers and bloodhounds; he found the skin variable in extent in all, but more developed in the otter-hounds than in the others. (1/80. See Mr. C.O. Groom-Napier on the webbing of the hind feet of Otterhounds in 'Land and Water' October 13, 1866 page 270.) As aquatic animals which belong to quite different orders have webbed feet, there can be no doubt that this structure would be serviceable to dogs that frequent the water. We may confidently infer that no man ever selected his water-dogs by the extent to which the skin was developed between their toes; but what he does, is to preserve and breed from those individuals which hunt best in the water, or best retrieve wounded game, and thus he unconsciously selects dogs with feet slightly better webbed. The effects of use from the frequent stretching apart of the toes will likewise aid in the result. Man thus closely imitates Natural Selection. We have an excellent illustration of this same process in North America, where, according to Sir J. Richardson (1/81. 'Fauna Boreali-Americana' 1829 page 62.), all the wolves, foxes, and aboriginal domestic dogs have their feet broader than in the corresponding species of the Old World, and "well calculated for running on the snow." Now, in these Arctic regions, the life or death of every animal will often depend on its success in hunting over the snow when soft; and this will in part depend on the feet being broad; yet they must not be so broad as to interfere with the activity of the animal when the ground is sticky, or with its power of burrowing holes, or with other necessary habits of life.
As changes in domestic breeds which take place so slowly are not to be noticed at any one period, whether due to the selection of individual variations or of differences resulting from crosses, are most important in understanding the origin of our domestic productions, and likewise in throwing indirect light on the changes effected under nature, I will give in detail such cases as I have been able to collect. Lawrence (1/82. 'The Horse in all his Varieties, etc.' 1829 pages 230, 234.), who paid particular attention to the history of the foxhound, writing in 1829, says that between eighty and ninety years before "an entirely new foxhound was raised through the breeder's art," the ears of the old southern hound being reduced, the bone and bulk lightened, the waist increased in length, and the stature somewhat added to.