Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Victorian Dogs

The long reign of Queen Victoria has left a deep imprint on peoples lives, in so many different fields, noticeable even today, but I will limit this posts to the Victorian dog lovers. The dog, as a pet, has been popular with aristocrats going back centuries, but the Victorian era and the industrial revolution dramatically changed the status of the dog in the home. The new wealthy merchant class wanting to emulate the lifestyle of the upper class made the dog a must in their acquisitions. It can be said that the Victorians are the source of the breeding problems many dogs have today. Breeding genetic anomalies in dogs for esthetic purposes only. This said, the Victorians fell hard and deeply for their dogs and the love affair still continues today.

Here are old photographs from Montreal's McCord Museum, held in their Notman Photographic Archives (William Notman), depicting wealthy Montrealers and their dogs. In some cases, the dog in the photographs belonged to the subject, but often, a dog was added as a "prop" because it symbolized wealth and status. The photographs of the dogs alone, are particularly significant, in my opinion, since the owner held his/her dog in such high regards and affection that it was worth the expense.

Margaret Marshall Saunders, a very special Victorian lady and author of Beautiful Joe, was awarded the C.B.E. in recognition of her contribution toward securing humane treatment for animals. Please drop by my Studio Vignette to learn more about her.


Laura said...

"Beautiful Joe"! I remember reading and loving that book when I was a girl. :) I cried so hard at the beginning of it. Reading about how badly the mother dog was treated. That's all I can remember about the book! I should go to the library and look for it.

Those are beautiful pictures! I never realized that dogs were held in such high regard during those times. Thanks for the information. I really, really enjoyed this post. :)


The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Laura,
The dogs of the wealthy were so much better off than the working farm dog or the street mutt left to survive on garbage. For every ying there's a yang. I chose to show the pampered dog at the Dusty Victorian and the abused dog at Studio Vignette. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
Always a pleasure,

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...


I love the photo of you with your precious pooches... do I count 4? So cute! Those are great Victorian photos of well-to-do people and their dogs. I always come across a lot more photos with dogs than of cats, which I collect. What an interesting post!


The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Pam,
The fourth one under my desk is actually a big stuffed dog we call Daisy. She is kept for when we foster puppies. Thank you for dropping in and so pleased you enjoyed it.

Hels said...

The photos of dogs with family members are fantastic. I wonder if the photographers included the dogs because they were part of the family circle OR because the dogs stood for some important Victorian value, like loyalty.

The Dusty Victorian said...

Welcome to the DV Hels,
I'm certain that many included their dogs or a dog for that symbolism, considering the high moral ideals of the Victorians. Took a peek at your blog and I'm looking forward to know more about it. Thank you for dropping in.