Books on Dogs

A Selected Bibliography of Books on Breeds with an Introduction on Early and General Works

Having in mind die overall aim of this work to help the reader identity and study specific breeds of dogs I have in the pages that follow this article presented a list of breed books recommended for further reading. This list is a very selected one indeed, for almost thirty classes of canine literature have been purposely omitted: the appearance of the dog in art. literature, poetry, fiction and so on would have taken up half the present work; and as the reader is presumed to be more interested in breed researches it was felt that a workable list of books concentrating on breed origin, history and show point, would be of greater use and more appreciated. I was reluctant to omit stud books as such, and breed periodicals, but with limited space even in such a generous volume as this the barrier had to be lowered on all entries other than those which substantially contributed to serious brad researches, yet withal being available through public library borrowing arrangements or purchase from antiquarian booksellers, and (what is most important) not involving the housing of hundreds of volumes as would, say, the Kennel Club Stud Hook series.

Moreover, even among the breed books many recent monographs have been deliberately left out – for their production has it seems been governed more by the shovel than the sieve, and I do so want every line in my list to be of value. Mind you there are a few exceptions where the contents of a book however slim or little known approximate the yardstick in breeds which suffer a lack of print. Conversely there are several dozens of hooks on specific breeds which are unlisted because they are of the utmost rarity despite my having them in inv private collection – there is little point in teasing a cynological student with titles which are unobtainable in the general sense! Therefore the reader is asked to regard the list as a working library of hooks on breeds and remember that a hill catalog of dog books would run up to about 20,000 items.

As an additional guide to research material a similarly selective list is given of books on groups of breeds, where more often than not information on an uncommon breed may be found or additional references supplementary to the main catalog.

However, before wielding the sieve to these two ends I feel a good few words should be said on the importance of our general dog books. Many of the breed books published today quote or misquote the earliest of our authors with great reverence yet reveal little know ledge of whether the extracts concerned are of any real value out of context, and in too many instances reveal a lamentable ignorance of the original authors and their works. (Poor old Caius of 1570 has had more piffle attributed to him at the wrong time and wrong place than even dear old “Stonehenge”, who so many people seem to think wrote a book called “Stonehenge on the Dog” in 18-something-or-other). So let us briefly run over the last tour centuries of British dog books and see for ourselves which have stood the acid test of time through the painstaking diligence and comprehension of their authors – giants in their class whose like we shall never enjoy again.

Although dog appeared in even the very first printed books (see Dame Juliana Berners of 1486) they were first given an entire treatise to themselves in English in 1576 when Abraham Fleming was responsible for a very free translation of the Caius work (De Canibus Britannicis, 1570) as of Englishe Dogges. In this little book (now of the utmost rarity) Fleming deals with “the diversities, the names, the natures, and the properties” of the then known breeds – and although it is an interpretation rather than a literal translation of Caius, is a work in strong demand. Usually a reader has to do with the excellent 1880 facsimile edition, when a copy can be found at all!

Skipping past a number of 16th century hunting treatises which embrace both the fast and the slow Hounds of the time the next work in English well worth searching for is John Manwood’s Laws of the Forest, 1598 (in each case here I give the date of the first edition). This work has a long chapter on dogs with particular reference to Mastiffs and Greyhounds, and for this reason alone any edition is valuable. During the next two centuries much was published which dealt with dogs but it was rather an embarrassment of riches for the huntsmen than, a library of useful knowledge for the dog breeder. Turberville, Markham, Cox, Blome and others of the time wrote so much that indeed one of them (Gervase Markham) was even bribed by the booksellers to please not write any more! Still, we at least owe it to Nicholas Cox for having advocated the use of a different breed of Hound for each hunt – and a close study of the many Hounds in this book indicate how well his advice was taken.

But in 1800 appeared at last a work of the first magnitude, Sydenham Teak Edwards Cynographia Britannica. Here we had a superb labor and the first dog book to be illustrated with colored plates. The plates are, of course, the most vital feature of the book – and being a rare book anyway it is almost impossible today to find a complete copy with all the plates intact. A folio work, it was first issued in parts in blue wrappers. It was never completed as it proved too costly a venture – it had planned to cover all breeds, but even so twenty-three breeds appear in its twelve very fine plates. Odd plates appear occasionally in the salerooms and as these are to the cynologist what Gould’s or Audubon’s exquisite pictures are to the naturalist the prices are high. However, many have been reproduced in the general works of Shaw, Watson, Ash (in particular) and Hutchinson. About this time several large works appeared which are still of great value to the fancier: Bewick’s History of British Quadrupeds, 1790, with his exquisite woodcuts of Bulldogs, Mastiffs and others; Taplin’s The Sportsman’s Cabinet, 1803-1804, a two-volume folio work of immense importance with fifty plates by Reinagle, Rysbrack, Pugin and Bewick: Daniels Rural Sports, 1801-1802, an even larger but less virile book; and a whole heap of companions, repositories, directories and guides for sportsmen of rather less value. But of the serious productions of the time Church’s Cabinet of Quadrupeds, 1805, a two-volume folio work should be studied for its eighty-four excellent engravings. And we must not forget the two little volumes on dogs in Jardine’s Naturalist’s Library, of 1839-1840, although too many of the hand-colored plates have been filched by the print dealers. Yet another book not to be overlooked is Youatt’s The Dog, 1845, which ran to many editions and is now in demand again.

Now that we have reached the middle of the 19th century it behoves us to sieve even more carefully, and by enlarging the mesh rescue only the really outstanding tomes of yesteryear. They are not really numerous and I know a number of private collectors who are able to fill the caps in their libraries even now as and when copies appear on the market. Each of the following items is of considerable importance and is worth every bit as much for its real information as for its investment value.

Firstly G. R. Jesse’s History of the British Dog, 1866, a two-volume pioneer study of all native and some foreign breeds, and E. Jesses Anecdotes of Dogs, 1846, so much sought after for its large-paper fine engravings – together these books give us a considerable insight into breed histories and formation. Then in 1867 came the best general book by J. H. Walsh (“Stonehenge”), The Dogs of the British Islands, which ran to five editions all of which are very scarce and much in demand. This work is far superior to his other books and should be studied again and again. Mind you, his The Dog in Health and Disease, 1859, and The Dog: Its Varieties and Management, 1874, each ran to many editions and are useful reading indeed yet Dogs of the British Islands stands head and shoulders above them.

Walsh’s best work I believe to be The Greyhound, 1853, which with Ash’s classic monograph of 1933 make the two finest works in the English language on the Greyhound. But then I must not allow myself to think of the sumptuous breed books as such for these are listed at the tail of this article; although it is unthinkable not to mention in the same breath that books like Arkwright’s The Pointer, Laverack’s The Setter, Farman’s The Bulldog, Cook’s The Dandie Dinmont, Scott and Middleton’s The Labrador, Gatacre’s The Keeshond and Buchanan-Jardine’s Hounds of the World – mere lines in the catalog, are in fact each and all superb treasures deserving of the closest study by the most assiduous of scholars.

But to return to the general picture; it should be mentioned that T. Pearce (“Idstone”) wrote a quite useful little book in 1872 called The Dog, which still turns up from time to time. Then in 1879-1881 Vein Shaw’s magnum opus appeared, and with its excellent colored plates caught on at once. It began in parts and was later issued as bound volumes a heavy quarto which has often had to surfer repair at the binders. It won a number of literary awards in its time, and still commands a good price today – when its twenty-eight colored plates are intact!

In the meantime quite comprehensive works by Dalziel, Drury, Lee and Stables burst forth, following the immense interest in dogs alter the first Great International Dog Show of 1863 and the later series of world-famous Cruft’s Dog Shows. Dalziel was undoubtedly the giant of the four with his excellent British Dogs, 1880, and several valuable breed monographs. British Dogs poured out in over a score of issues yet not even the Druryfied addenda lack vitality. Hugh Dalziel was closely rivaled by Lee, whose Modern Dogs, 1894; proved so popular, and whose beautiful work on the Fox Terrier will ever be praised. Even while in the middle of a work in progress I was recently able to add to my forty variant issues of Modern Dogs the personal copies of all Lee’s books, each graingerized with relevant extra prints and cuttings, and carrying his manuscript notes in the margins ready for the final editions which never were – for be died before seeing them through to the printers. I believe even J. T. Marvin and John Best, two of the greatest authorities on Terrier literature will agree with me that Rawdon Briggs Lee was ever an indefatigable worker – his Sporting, Non-Sporting and Terrier divisions of his major work are m constant demand the world over.

Now the fourth writer, Gordon Stables, was a funny chap: not only because he wrote at least two boys’ adventure stories and half a cat book to every dog volume be produced, but because his hearty style made the reading so much easier. His Our Friend the Dog is in any edition considered a good and reliable book still. A similar wag was R. L. Price, the man who held the first Sheepdog Trials on his estate at Bala, Wales, in 1893; and whose Dogs: Ancient and Modern is a delightful little work.

Mention of this Welshman reminds me of Thompson Gray the author of Dogs of Scotland, 1891, a book now extremely scarce; and of H. D. Richardson whose Dogs, 1847, was the first important Irish general work. A Scot whose truly magnificent work was first published in New York (and later, 1906, in London) was James Watson, whose The Dog Book eventually appeared in two quarto volumes, copiously illustrated and full of first-class material – in fact it was the forerunner of Ash’s supreme monument Dogs: Their History and Development, 1927.

Or other major works two early American books were G. O. Shield’s The American Book of the Dog, Chicago, 1891, a classic of over 700 pages, and F. J. Perry’s Kennel Secrets, Boston, 1893, both of which are invaluable to fanciers of the principal breeds. The little book of W. E. Mason, Dogs of All Nations, 1915, was but a potted extract of the tremendous work by Count H. de Bylandt, of which the best edition is the third of 1905. Further afield appeared the very solid work of W. Beilby on Dogs of Australasia, 1897, an invaluable reference work on the earlv importations into Australia of British-bred stock.

By this time the first dog books carrying photographic illustrations had been produced; the generally accepted “first” in this departure from woodcuts and engravings was Henry Webb’s Dogs: Their Points, Whims, Instincts and Peculiarities, 1872, which ran to many issues, and is today a most important reference for Mastiff and Bulldog researchers. (In passing, however, I should mention that several dog books had already appeared during the preceding decade carrying actual photographs – though certainly not as important works as the Webb volume).

C. H. Lane wrote two very important dog books of which the major is his Dog Shows – and Doggy People, 1902. Tins is extremely useful not only for referring to the canine celebrities of the last century and their dogs but to cheek their actual wins at the first shows held; the book reporting quite fully on every major exhibition from 1859 to the turn of the century; as Vol. I of the Kennel Club Stud Book is a rarity it can be readily appreciated how useful this record is to researchers. Another publication relating to leading fanciers and dog show politics is E. W. Jaquet’s The Kennel Club, 1905.

Then followed the multi-volume works which without exception have become absolute “musts” for research purposes. Following the Watson and the de Bylandt two-volume publications came Herbert Compton’s The Twentieth Century Dog, also in two volumes, in 1904. The year 1906 introduced Harding Cox’s most excellent folio issues of Dogs by Well-Known Authorities, a series which was never completed owing to the very high cost of production. Very few sets exist today. Then Robert Leighton (husband of a writer and father of a writer, and like Stables, the author of rattling good boys’ yarns) produced his The New Book of the Dog in 1907. It was variously issued in one, two and four volumes the last being a special subscribers’ edition carrying a folding anatomical plate extra to its score of exquisite colored plates by Lilian Cheviot, Maud Earl and five other fine artists. In 1911 J. Sidney Turner and Nicholas Vale’s very important work The Kennel Encyclopedia appeared in lour volumes – though as often as not it is found in three.

Also in 1911 came the classic Toy Dogs and Their Ancestors by Judith Lytton, a superb example of fine book production, rich in colored plates and extremely scarce today – without any doubt the best work on small breeds. Related in a sense was another fine production, usually known as Collier’s Dogs of China mid Japan in Nature and Art, 1921, but actually written by W. F. Collins. This also has colored plates and much of value on Toy Dogs – altogether a very beautiful book.

The year 1927 brought what proved to be the all-important and most comprehensive dog book ever published: H. C. Ash’s Dogs: Their History and Development. It was of two very thick volumes with 160 plates in its ordinary edition, while the de luxe edition was limited to only fifty copies and carried an extra colored frontispiece in each volume, which, being bound in full pigskin is understandably almost unobtainable today. Its many hundreds of illustrations include reproductions of early paintings and engravings relating to most breeds; whilst the text reveals at once Ash’s unwillingness to accept as gospel all the tall tales told by some earlier writers, preferring to dig deeply into the past, and the racks of the British Museum Library, and do his own research.

A single volume by C. C. Sanderson, Pedigree Dogs, 1927, is to be recommended for the criticisms on each breed by carefully selected breeders. A slightly thicker book of 1928 is F. T. Barton’s The Kennel Encyclopedia, which has slimmed with the times, yet it is still a very useful work indeed. Barton was a veterinary surgeon who was a prolific writer on dogs and farm animals.

Of all the encyclopedias the most copious is still the Hutchinson’s Dog Encyclopedia of 1935. First issued in fifty-six parts at 7d. each, it was later issued in three thick quarto volumes in red cloth, green rexine, and a few in half leather. Having fifty-eight plates (thirty-four in color) and covering almost every then known breed it has been in wide demand (R. C. Bayldon, A. Croxton Smith and I were busy many years ago at revising it but after several years of work Capt. Bayldon dud and the work was abandoned). Its main value lies in its articles on the lesser breeds and those of eastern Europe and Asia.

Ultimately appeared in 1948 the last of the great works, The Book of the Dog, edited by Brian Vesey-FitzGerald, and carrying excellent articles on all major breeds, with superb sections on the dog in art and literature by Hesketh Hubbard and A. Croxton Smith, respectively. It was also the first general dog book to give an extensive bibliography. With its superb colored plates its several issues are much sought alter (its full pigskin de luxe edition is already rare) for, as Herm David, the collector, so rightly says, it is an indispensable work indeed.

Selections from the book: “The World encyclopedia of Dogs” (1971)