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2 The Kennel Club and the Early History of Dog Shows and Breed Clubs

J. Sampson, M.M. Binns


A recent book about different pedigree dog breeds (Morris 2001) described some 1000 breeds around the world. This chapter aims in part to explain how this wealth of variety has come about as a result of the enthusiasm of dog breeders for the organization of showing, trialing, and classifying the species they are so fascinated with.

Animal breeds have been defined as “a group of animals that has been selected by man to possess a uniform appearance that is inheritable and distinguishes it from other groups of animals within the same species.” The accurate classification of dog breeds based on their interrelationship presents particular difficulties. It is clear that certain features, such as size, are unhelpful, since breeds such as the mastiff and the pug are anatomically similar, though of vastly different size. Indeed, for each of the toy breeds there exists a full-size equivalent. The division into function is also not likely to group the most closely related breeds, as a wide variety of different types have historically been used for similar purposes.

The first list of recognized breeds printed in English is that published in 1486 of Dame Juliana Berners, a treatise on hunting in the Boke of St Albans. “Thyse ben the names of houndes, fyrste there is the Grehoun, a Bastard, a Mengrell, a Mastiff, a Lemor, a Spanyel, Raches, Kennettys, Teroures, Butchers’ Houndes, Myddyng dogges, Tryndel-taylles, and Prikherid currys, and small ladyes’poppees.” Although the list only describes a small number of varieties...

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