This section is from the book "All About Dogs - A Book For Doggy People", by Charles Henry Lane. Also available from Amazon: All About Dogs: A Book For Doggy People.
I suppose, if we take the whole of the Animal Kingdom, in any way associated with man, either as companion, or helper, there is none to compare, in popularity, with the subject of these notes; but yet I have often found in conversation, even with lovers of animals, very mistaken notions about dogs, their varieties, characteristics and peculiarities. I think there are more known and acknowledged varieties of dog, than of any other of the animals, we are at all familiar with, and the ways, sizes, appearance and characteristics differ so greatly that it is hardly possible, one would imagine, to find any person to whom some kind of a dog would not appeal. I wish, if possible, to say something to stir up in the minds of some not hitherto keeping a dog, the desire to do so, and whether merely as a guard or companion or with a view to trying to breed some good specimens, and, occasionally, to send to some of the Exhibitions of Dogs, which have so increased in number and quality during the last twenty years, that I have frequently heard it stated, that taking out Saturdays and Sundays, there is a Dog Show being held somewhere or other on every ordinary day in the year!
I would strongly advise the obtaining a well-bred dog, of whatever variety is selected, as, not only is it more satisfactory to have about you the best procurable type of any breed you may fancy, whether dogs or anything else, but if you want to part with either the originals, or any of their progeny, it is usually much easier to find purchasers and at much better prices for what is called "pedigree stock," that is of which the parentage for one or more generations is known, than when no particulars or references can be given.
There are fashions in dogs, the same as in other things, and I can remember a great many "crazes" for different breeds of dog. Fox Terriers, which are smart, lively, game little fellows, well able to adapt themselves to almost any circumstances, have had a long term of favour, and are still largely kept, perhaps as largely as any breed of their size; another element in their favour, is their not having much coat, and so not bringing in much mud upon them, even in dirty weather, if kept in the house. This, of course, has been rather against Skye Terriers, which are otherwise capital dogs for the house, full of life and spirit, but, to be kept in any order, they must be occasionally brushed, or their coats, which should be hard and straight, somewhat of the texture and straightness of a horse's tail, will get matted, and be a disfigurement, instead of an ornament.
A great movement has existed, for sometime, in favour of the Irish Terrier, who should be almost unbroken in reddish-brown colour, I mean with little or no shading, what is called self colour. This is a "good all round" breed, able to follow a horse, a trap, be a good guard or companion, take care of himself in his "walks abroad," or have a turn at anything which comes in his way in the vermin line.
Two more breeds I can strongly recommend to any in doubt as to a suitable dog to take up as household guard or companion. These are the Scottish Terrier, often called the Die-hard, or Aberdeen-Terrier, a rather cobby, short legged breed, with a pointed head, ears standing straight up, short back, and gaily carried tail, colour generally, nearly black, grizzled, or brindled. I believe I brought, in 1868, the first of the breed ever seen in England (at any rate I had not seen one before), from a place called Uig, in the island of Skye, and quite a character he was, and I could give many instances of his great sagacity, and very quaint ways, during the many years he lived with me. I regret to say he has long gone to the "happy hunting grounds." I shall say something more of him amongst the "Anecdotes of Dogs," further on.
The other breed I referred to is the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, immortalized by Sir Walter Scott. For intelligence, pluck, faithfulness, and general adaptability to the ways, and wishes, of his owner, I do not know any breed to surpass it. In many cases, I have known a strain of Dandies kept up for generations, in families, and the affection between the dogs, and their owners, is so great, that no money would bring about a parting, and I have often seen pedigrees and genealogical trees of well known strains of Dandies, taking them back a dozen generations, and prized very highly by their owners or breeders.
Whatever the decision come to by an intending keeper of a dog, if it is to be an inmate of the house, and is one of the smaller breeds, a box or basket should be provided in some place free from draughts, and after sprinkling either a little sawdust impregnated with disinfectant, or the disinfectant itself, put in some straw for a bed, this is better and less likely to harbour insect life, than hay, or any kind of rug, or mat.
But if the dog is to be kept out of doors, obtain one of the improved kennels, with the entrance at the side, which affords a shelter from the wind, rain, and snow, and have a chain constructed with two or, preferably, three swivels in it, that it cannot become twisted up. Many a dog has been injured and even killed by neglect of these little matters.
Of course, if convenience can be found, it is much better not to tie up a dog at all. No dog of mine, (and I have had hundreds during the last twenty-five years, of almost every known breed) ever catches sight of a collar or chain, except at a show, and, contrary to the popular idea which I have often heard expressed by sympathisers with the dogs on the show benches, dogs accustomed to exhibition work delight in it, and the sight of a dog's travelling box or basket, or the rattle of a chain, with the show label on it, is sufficient to cause the wildest excitement amongst my dogs at any time, each dog hoping it may be his good fortune to go to the show, which they look upon as great entertainment.
I will undertake to say, that, if a dozen boxes or baskets are placed in the yard, with the lids open, and as many dogs let out of their kennels, you shall find an occupant in every box, within five minutes, and that each shall choose the box he usually travels in! It is far better to enclose your dog, or dogs, in one of the many forms of loose boxes, or kennels, now procurable of so many firms who cater for dogs' requirements, something in the way of a kennel, or sleeping box, with railed in run attached. One of the neatest and best, at anything like the price, (ninety shillings, if my memory serves me,) I have seen, is made by Mr. William Calway, Sharpness, Gloucestershire, who has made quite a leading article in his trade, of this kind of work.
Another matter to be attended to is, to give the dog plenty of exercise, unless the weather positively prevents it. Many people seem to fancy, if a dog is taken into the air, in a carriage, or other conveyance, that this is sufficient, but, it is not so, and the generality of dogs are all the better, for at least two hours' walking exercise every day, during which time, they will nearly, or quite, double the distance traversed by their master or mistress, and perhaps get a drink, pick up some grass, or otherwise amuse themselves!
As regards water, dogs do not drink so much as many people suppose, and it is better to keep a supply, of course frequently changed, in the yard outside the kennel, or sleeping box. Dogs, as a rule, like a drink when going out or returning from exercise, more than they do in their own quarters, and if it be kept there, particularly when two or more inmates are together, it is almost sure to be upset, and make the place look bad, besides being uncomfortable.
A very important matter is the feeding of the dogs. In these days, when so many firms are producing biscuits, on purpose to cater for the wants of the vast doggy community, there is no difficulty in getting some of them, but, I have found, in a long experience with dogs, that, although almost all breeds will eat dog biscuits - some even take them when given whole, and chop them up like bones, even dry - it is better, in most cases, to break them up, about the size of walnuts, and soak them the day previously to use, in hot water, or broth, or even cold water. If boiled vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, or some such, be mixed with them afterwards, it is not only more palatable, but better for the dogs, than the biscuit alone, and occasionally, say once in a week or ten days, a little flour of brimstone, in the proportion of about a teaspoonful for a fair-sized dog, should be mixed with the food.
We know, ourselves, that whatever our food, the most tempting that money could buy, we should tire of it, if always the same, and it is precisely the same with animals, so that, the more it is varied, the better, even if the change is slight, and all who have had much to do with dogs, will know that some dogs, and even some breeds of dogs, are very fanciful and capricious in their appetites, and not always disposed to do well.
When dogs are "off their feed," a sheep's head, boiled, and then broken up, and the bones, meat, and broth mixed with their ordinary food, will generally "fetch" the most dainty feeder; other dogs are very keen on oatmeal porridge, made as for human beings, but, of course, with no sugar, which I may say should never be given, in any form, to dogs, as it is an unnatural and injurious food for them, although they are usually quite willing to eat a lump of sugar at almost any time, but they are much better without it. Milk (unskimmed, otherwise it is likely to upset their stomachs), is also a capital thing for dogs in low condition, or out of sorts. It is best given cold, or lukewarm, after being boiled, as in its natural state it is thought liable to cause worms, but, of course, this is not always the case. I have also found "bovril" useful as a "pick-me-up," or appetizer, for animals on the sick list or those who are "bad doers".