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Thomas Bewick’s Dogs

September 5, 2022
by the gentle author

Tickets are available for my tour throughout September & October



I consulted my copy of Thomas Bewick’s General History of Quadrupeds 1824 that I found in the Spitalfields Market recently to see what breeds were familiar two hundred years ago – and perhaps the major difference I discovered is that many breeds which were working dogs then are domestic now.

The Shepherd’s Dog


The Cur Dog

The Greenland Dog

The Bulldog

The Mastiff

The Ban Dog

The Dalmatian

The Irish Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Lurcher

The Terrier

The Beagle

The Harrier

The Fox Hound

The Old English Hound

The Spanish Pointer

The English Setter

The Newfoundland Dog

The Large Rough Water Dog

The Large Water Spaniel

The Small Water Spaniel

The Springer

The Comforter

The Turnspit

You may also like to take a look at

Thomas Bewick’s Cat

The Birds of Spitalfields

More Birds of Spitalfields

6 Responses leave one →
  1. September 5, 2022

    The turnspit dog might well warrant a whole new posting. It could turn out to be the most common dog to be found in Spitalfields in the eighteenth century. Apparently they were taken to church on chilly Sunday mornings to be footwarmers and then presumable had to get back into their treadmill to turn the Sunday roast.

  2. September 5, 2022

    How wonderful to have found an early edition! I have to make do with the 2013 reissue for which I was partly responsible:

  3. Helen permalink
    September 5, 2022

    The Turnspit dog is indeed interesting. I remember some years ago I watched a domestic history programme in which a a wheel spit still existed in an old kitchen, and for the sake of research some meat was cooked on the open fire using the wheel. A little dog similar to the Turnspit dog was placed inside to illustrate how it worked. Although the little dog did his best, he couldn’t turn the wheel that well because he couldn’t get the traction with his legs. It was indicated that the original dog must have had a longer body…as the above drawing shows!

  4. September 5, 2022

    Sounds slightly odd but both this on dogs and yesterdays’ cats, also from Bewick, is interesting because of the date in 1824. It comes after the first passing of law to defend several types of animals in 1822 called The Martin’s Act.However, it then became realised after 1822 that the new law did NOT cover domestic animals such as dogs and cats. Despite many campaigns – and the work of several artists on themes of such animals – the law to protect them was not agreed until 1835. Here Joseph Pease, Quaker and MP for South Durham and committee member in then Society for the Protection of Animals had the law passed and royal assent and called The Protection of Animals Act. There had been a range of writing and images as well as campaigns to bring about this new law since 1822.

  5. September 5, 2022

    A friend and antique dealer told me: Amazing how much some of the breeds have changed. Some ceramic artists copied the Bewick images onto pottery and porcelain so I recognise quite a few of the images. The pointer was even turned into a porcelain sculpture by Derby around 1825.

  6. mlaiuppa permalink
    September 6, 2022

    It was my understanding that the Turnspit Dog is now extinct as a breed. Many of the others have changed and some were merged with other dogs. The Victorians were responsible for a lot of that with breeding for shows. I guess the Turnspit didn’t make the cut with the Victorians. Too common?

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