Vintage Books #12

Title: Dogs, Wild and Domestic

From: Penny Magazine, January 2, 1841

Published by: Society of the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

As of all animals (we of course except man) the dog is that which has its mental constitution the most susceptible of impression, and therefore the most readily influenced by education, so of all animals the dog is that the physical constitution of which is the most extensive modified by the agencies of climate and the culture of man. The almost innumerable varieties in which the dog has ramified,—the distinctions which these varieties display in habits, instinct, form, and size, are so perplexing, and render it so difficult to conceive that all are the lineal descendants of one common origin, that some naturalists have been disposed to assign to each of the well-marked breeds a distinct primitive source.

Without advocating the opinion that the dog is derived from the intermixture of distinct primitive races, or contending on the other hand that its numerous varieties are all deferrable to one origin, let us endeavour to ascertain whether among the wild species of the genus Canis there be one to which we can refer as the type of the domesticated dog, and which of the numerous varieties of the latter approaches to the primitive stock.

“Those species,” observes Buffon, “which man has greatly cultivated, whether belonging to the animal or the vegetable world, are beyond all those which are the most altered; and as the alteration is sometimes to such a degree that we cannot recognise them in anything of their primitive form (such being the case with wheat, which has no resemblance to the plant from which it is supposed to have derived its origin), it is not impossible that among the numerous varieties of the dog, which we see in the present day, there is not one which bears a resemblance to the original type, or rather, to the first animal of this species.”
Dogs Page One
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Dogs Pages Two and Three
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Dogs Illustration
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Dogs Page 4
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© L. A. Davenport 2019.