This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The dog has been domesticated from the earliest times, numerous representations of the noble animal and companion of man appearing in the ancient monuments of Egypt and Assyria, even in various breeds, several of which can easily be identified with those of present times. At a period coeval with or anterior to the Exodus out of Egypt the dog was there regarded as the friend and servant of man, employed in the care of flocks, and as the guardian of the house.
Fig. 138. - English Terrier and Rat.
Dogs are divided into three great classes or groups. Class I, Greyhounds, sub-divided into two families - the Rough, embracing the Irish wolfdog, Highland deerhound, and the Russian, etc., greyhounds; and the Smooth, including the common greyhound, Italian, etc. Class II. This includes four families: Hounds-bloodhound, staghound, foxhound, harrier, beagle, otterhound, etc., with Shooting Dogs - English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian pointers. Terriers - English (Fig. 138), Scottish, Skye, Irish, etc. Newfoundland includes the dog of that name, Labrador (major and minor), Pyrenean wolfdog, Esquimaux dog, etc.; Shepherd Dogs - of England, France, "collie" of Scotland, drovers, and cur-dog. Spaniels - setter or land spaniel, water spaniel, springer, etc. Class III. Two families come under this, namely - Mastiff - British, Mount St. Bernard, Spanish, Thibet, bulldog, pug dog, etc. Mongrels - lurcher, bull terrier, etc.
Of the sagacity, fidelity, affection, courage and other qualities of the dog, with the several uses, mostly indicated by their names, we have no occasion to speak; but we may say that a majority of their numbers are kept for no essential purpose, and in such a mongrelity of breed as to baffle a Darwinian in respect of origin and variation under domestication. In many, if not most, instances of dog-keeping the plea is urged of necessity as guardian of the homestead and companionship in the highways, which is a strange reflection on civilization, inasmuch as it implies safeguarding from the vicious of its own species.
Where a good dog is kept, particularly of the terrier breed, vermin, especially rats, are not troublesome, for the dog either effects capture or gives the owner no peace until the intruder is trapped. But a dog of this description not kept well in hand intrudes into neighbours' back-yards, ashpits and gardens, ever raising "a bone of contention"; and in the highways concerns itself chiefly in hunting hedgebanks for rats and rabbits, and for a long time makes frantic efforts at the mouths of the holes or burrows to "dig" out the vermin. This leads to pot-hunting in bye-lanes. The terrier gives place to the lurcher, and the rabbit and hare lead the dog sooner or later into the wood, there as a mark for the keeper's gun, or its putting its leg into a trap, or perchance its head into the "hugger," while its owner drifts from fine to imprisonment and ends on gallows.
Self-hunting Dogs are caught by a large and powerful Hugger Trap (Wm. Burgess & Co., Malvern Wells), worked with two springs instead of one, and 20-in. jaws, or for general trapping of stray dogs, the Hugger with 10-in. jaws. Sheep-worrying dogs are generally of the large mongrel breeds, and their owners mainly conducive to their onslaught on sheep by allowing them to stray unmuzzled, or even to run where they like by turning them astray at night.
In towns dogs are a great nuisance. The owners turn their dogs into the streets at stated times, or they take them for a run out, and the "messes" made against walls, fences, posts, etc., and on pavements and footpaths render many so-called residential parts of towns nauseous to the olfactory organs, unsightly to the eyes, unsafe for the feet, and the odour given to besmeared garments not as savoury as eau de cologne. Indeed, the eructations of the dog only differ in degree from those of the cat, notable for its fetor and the powerfully offensive and phosphorous-like odour of its urine.
The female has six to ten mammae: she goes with young nine weeks as a rule. The pups are born blind, their eyes opening in ten to twelve days; their first teeth begin to shed at the fourth month; their growth ceases at two years of age. The ordinary period of life is about ten to twelve years, but dogs not uncommonly live till considerably over this age, and sometimes as long as twenty years.