Austen Authors March 6, 2017: Jane Austen and Dogs

Normally, it’s not terribly difficult for me to come up with a good blog post. This month was different. I have had so many things on my mind lately, about writing and reviews and author notes and Elizabeth Bennet’s character and the differences between JAFF and regular Regency romances and on and on…that it was a struggle to come up with something to write about that would be both interesting and non-controversial. In the end, I decided to write about something that has been at the forefront of my mind for the past couple months: dogs.

   Once I chose my topic, my first thought was to write about Boxers, which is the breed I have. Unfortunately, the first boxers were not bred until the late 1800’s, and so would not have been in existence in Jane Austen’s time. There were, however, many other breeds. Some, like my Jasper and Selena, were pets. Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park had a pug. Others, like Willoughby’s two pointers, were working dogs, generally being a great part of the hunt. Henry Tilney had a large Newfoundland puppy and two or three terriers. His were companion dogs like Lady Bertram’s pug was. As far as hunting dogs, almost every male character in a Jane Austen novel…seems to have at least one. I’d say that dogs were pretty popular back then, as they are now.

English Bulldog then and now

Specific breeds common to Georgian/Regency England were, obviously, pugs and pointers. Other common breeds were English Bulldogs, Dalmatians, English Mastiffs, Great Danes (which are one of my favorite breeds), Pomeranians, and Spaniels. To my great surprise, many of these breeds looked differently back then than they do now. For example, the Pomeranian that Queen Charlotte brought to England was something like 30 pounds. Today, the breed is a lot smaller…3 to 7 pounds. Even pugs are different…smaller and more wrinkly. Some of the changes, like those in mastiffs and bulldogs, were the result of the outlawing of dog fighting and bear baiting and the like.

Pomeranians then and now

    It occurs to me as I end this post, that readers might like an update on the gate situation. I am happy to report that, while not totally finished, the gates are up so I can use them. They are held closed with a bungee cord and the garbage can is laid on its back to block the empty space at the bottom of the one side, but the dogs are leash-free and happy…and so am I! 🙂    


Zoe’s personal photos 🙂

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