150 Years Ago Your Dog’s “Breed” Didn’t Even Exist

Reviewed by Tori Holmes

April 14, 2016

Dogs may have been man’s best friends for thousands of years, but the furry creatures we keep today are nothing like the dogs of yester-year. This is because nearly all of the dog breeds we know and love actually didn’t exist until relatively recently.


Believe it or not, but the majority of dog breeds today can only be traced back about 150 years to Victorian Era England. This is a very small period of time, especially when you consider the fact that our relationship with dogs began between 30,000 and 100,000 years ago.


In the Victoria Era, the idea of a dogs “breed” had more to do with the work they performed rather than their appearance. Dogs were categorized based on their propensity to hunt, to pull carts, to do farm work, and other such jobs. While there may have been some similarity in the appearance of the dogs in each category, there was no distinct “breeds”.

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This began to change around the same time that our relationship with canines began to change. During the mid-19th century, England was in the thick of the Industrial Revolution, expanding their global empire, and hygiene reforms were instated that required farm animals to be relocated from the city. When choosing which animals to relocate, dogs were one of the lucky species that were invited to stay. It was this decision that changed our relationships with dogs forever.


After the farm animals had left the city, the dog’s place in society flipped. No longer were they just working animals meant to live outside with the other farm animals; they were invited inside the homes of their owners as pets. Dogs that were left outside became strays that, in the eyes of the public, needed saving.


Overtime our relationships with dogs became more personal; they began to be seen as something that could be molded by humans to display specific traits. This resulted in “designing” dogs to become a popular hobby.

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As dogs began to be bred to display these selective traits, kennel clubs started to be established to oversee the dog shows that presented these newly designed dogs. They were also in charge of developing a strict “stud book”, or registry of each breeds lineage.


The Victorian Era’s systematic organization of dogs led to the development of many of today’s most popular breeds, such as Golden Retrievers and English Setters. Today, we continue to add new breeds to these registries, as well as tweak breeding practices and standards to improve the health of breeds, such as the Olde English Bulldogge.

H/t to Tech Insider

Featured image from SSPL via Daily Mail

Reviewed by Tori Holmes

April 14, 2016