A hound by any other name…

Most people know how I dislike (haha) animals, so it should come as no surprise that I was doing some research on the breeds of dogs that were common during the early 1800’s in England.

Contrary to how we see dogs, during the 1800’s dogs were used to do tasks for humans.  Dogs were usually not pets, kept inside the house with no task.  In a way, it is sad, as most dogs can be beneficial to their humans.  I speak from experience, as my sweet boy, Darcy (or Mr Darcy), is my service dog. There are many tasks dogs can do to aid us, and give them purpose in their life.  I know I get on my soapbox when I speak of this subject, but dogs (unlike cats) need a purpose.  When they do not have purpose, they can become depressed.  Personally, I prefer having a dog who is able to assist me, and he is happy in life.

But now, let’s discuss the dogs that would have been a part of life in Jane Austen’s day.  It was interesting to see the different breeds and for what they were bred.

One of the first to pop up on my screen was the Airedale Terrier, which was also known as the Bingley Terrier.  Seeing that, I had to learn more.  It was as if the dog called to me.

220px-Airedale_TerrierBingley Terrier

Most of the breeds were types of terriers, hounds, and spaniels, mainly used for specific types of hunting.  Some breeds were specifically used to for hunting otters (such as the obvious name of Otterhound, but the Bingley Terrier was also bred for such work), while some of the dogs who were great for retrieving waterfowl were the now extinct English Water Spaniel and the extinct Tweed Water Spaniel.220px-English_Water_Spaniel

English Water Spaniel


Bloodhounds were able to distinguish between human and animal scents, which made them perfect for tracking people.  Having worked with bloodhounds personally, I can tell you they are amazing when tracking.

There were other dogs that were bred to work the herds, such as border collies and shelties (Shetland Sheepdog).  Yes, I have a lot of experience with Border Collies and Shelties, and how smart they are.  Shelties are believed to be descendants of Scottish Collies and King Charles Spaniels.  Border Collies are descendant from a landrace breed, which means that it was domesticated from a standardized animal breed, before it was formalized in the breed registry.  They were most common in the Anglo-Scottish border region, bred for intelligence and obedience.  The word collie is believed to be from the Celtic word for useful.  In the herd dogs, there were also Lancashire Heelers, which were used to drive and herd cattle.

220px-Shetland_Sheepdog_600  Sheltie   Buddy_the_border_collie_at_one_years_oldBorder Collie     shetland_sheepdog_sheltie_dog-300x225Sheltie

Border Terriers were bred to keep up with the horses during a fox hunt, yet small enough to be able to crawl into the burrows to scare the animals out. Other fox hunt dogs were Russell Terriers and Jack Russell Terriers

Border_TerrierBorder Terrier  jack russell terrier Jack Russell Terrier

There were several breeds of dogs who were good as gun dogs or bird dogs, for hunting.  They include the English Setter, the English Cocker Spaniel, Clumber Spaniels, and English Pointers.

220px-Clumber_spaniel_rybnik_kamien_pppl Clumber Spaniel  220px-English_pointer English Pointer 220px-EnglishCockerSpaniel_simonEnglish Spaniel

In the early 1800’s, due to sanitation problems, places like London became a haven for rats, which led to the sport of rat-baiting.  The Manchester Terrier was bred from a whippet and a cross bred terrier, and were perfectly designed for the task due to their size.  They were also aggressive, and sort of had a reputation.  They also became known as the “gentleman’s terrier” due to their ability of being able to gain access to its prey in smaller quarters, unlike hounds who chased the fox into dense vegetation and could not reach the fox.

220px-Mancherster_Terrier Manchester Terrier

Even Yorkshire Terriers were bred for a purpose, that of catching rats in the clothing mills.  They are now thought of as show dogs or ornamental toy dogs, but they did work years ago.


The Whippet were descendants of greyhounds, and are considered a sighthound, relying on seeing what they were chasing rather than the use of scent.  They are also extremely fast, and, like the greyhounds, were used for dog racing.  Their size was not favorable for hunting, as they were too easily injured.


Now, it is illegal in modern day England to have a Pit Bull breed of dog, which includes the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  Even the American Bulldog is lumped into the Pit Bull category.  Though they have often been bred for fighting, they were also used as catch dogs, hunting and driving livestock such as cattle and hogs.  I know for a fact that they can be good family dogs, as my daughter by choice has 2 of them.  They loyal to their family, and when treated properly, can be extremely docile.

220px-Staffordshire_Bull_Terrier_600 Staffordshire Bull Terrier  Pit_bull_sampler Pit Bull Breeds

Well, that is only a few of the many breeds of dogs.  Don’t be surprised to see more canines appear in my future stories.

This has been a fun adventure to learn more of dogs.  It is awesome to see dogs being trained to do more than just fetch a ball and be cute.  And, for those of you who have not met him or seen his photo before, this is my Mr Darcy.  He fits the name, and it is easy to see that he is Sheltie/Border Collie mix.   I am very fortunate to have him at my side.

IMG_20130601_112008         DSC_0184      DSC_0586

19 Responses to A hound by any other name…

  1. I’m sure this was a total bore for you to research, Melanie. Such cute dogs. I’ve spent the morning at the vet with my dog. He got ahold of some gum. I did not know xylitol was poisonous to dogs. Luckily, my son got it out of his mouth, so he’s going to be okay, just really lethargic today.

  2. Until I was three, when my mother gave me a brother, my companion was a black spaniel with white feet that I called Boots. Why I didn’t call him Socks, I’ll never know. Mother said she had to keep a close watch on me because I would share my suckers with him. I would lick one side and then let him lick the other side. Guess I learned to share early.

    I don’t remember that part; however I do remember being intrigued by the way he lapped at his water bowl. I couldn’t figure out how he did it so after he would drink, I would try it. When he licked the concrete porch, I wondered why so I tried it to see what all the fuss was about. Apparently curiosity was an early venture for me also. I loved that dog.

  3. Hi, Just thought i would say that staffordshire bull terriers aren’t illegal in the UK, in fact Staffies are probably one of the most common breeds over here.

    • Pit Bulls are illegal though, correct? It was interesting that some of the other dogs were lumped in as Pit bull breed, which is where the Staffordshire Terriers fit in. Even some of the bulldogs were lumped in the breed. Pit bull was an umbrella breed over what they termed “angry appearing dogs”.

      • Yeah pit bulls are illegal, i think some of the others are lumped in with the pit bull breed as they are often crossed with pit bull so when dogs are destroyed because something has happened they often say that they were assessed and found to have pit bull in them.

  4. I have always had dachshunds who were originally bred to hunt badgers and other tunneling things. The thing that has always amused me is that mine are pure bred domesticated lap puppies, yet you leave them in the backyard and they will tunnel out gophers, rabbits and catch squirrels like nobody’s business. I even had one that would snatch low flying birds out of the air. I guess she (like her momma) thought she was back in another time. LOL I used to work with a woman who always referred to dogs as “stupid”, that has not been my experience. Dogs are smart and have personalities just like people do.

    • It is amazing to see what they can do. So much comes naturally, like Darcy has great herding abilities. I’ve watched him herd my daughter’s dogs, and even our cats. My daughter has a dog that is part Kelpie, and she jumps over 6 foot fences to go steal toys from the neighbor’s yard. Kelpies are herding, and will jump to get on the back of animals to guide them.

  5. Thanks for such an interesting article, Melanie. I knew there was a breed called an Airedale Terrier but not that it was also known as a Bingley Terrier.

    Did you know that the town of Bingley in Yorkshire sits on the banks of the River Aire? This river is one of the major rivers that forms the valleys known as the Yorkshire Dales, hence Airedale. I live in Nidderdale, not far from the River Nidd, but sometimes have to venture into Airedale to work. Whenever I pass through the town of Bingley, or especially if that’s where I’m working, I always smile when I pass by the sign marking the outer limits of the town.

    • Fascinating facts Mel! And thanks for adding the information about Airedale Terriers ANJI! I love when those who live in England add interesting bits of information. Nidderdale sounds heavenly. 🙂

      • Brenda, the Yorkshire Dales in general are absolutely beautiful, once you get out of the towns and cities. We actually live on the northwestern edge of the town of Harrogate but five minutes in the car and we’re in open countryside. Unless I’m working in the northern suburbs of Leeds or Bradford, I actually get to drive through that same countryside on a lot of my commutes. Am I lucky or what?

      • I know, it helps us colonists (heehee) learn more. One day, one day I will get to visit there.

    • That is awesome. I think I would smile too. As long as there wasn’t a red headed woman in a burnt orange gown, as we should use caution around Caroline Bingley.

Comments are precious!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.