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Johns Hopkins University Press
04 July 2022
The story of the thoroughly Victorian origins of dog breeds.

For centuries, different types of dogs were bred around the world for work, sport, or companionship. But it was not until Victorian times that breeders started to produce discrete, differentiated, standardized breeds.

In The Invention of the Modern Dog, Michael Worboys, Julie-Marie Strange, and Neil Pemberton explore when, where, why, and how Victorians invented the modern way of ordering and breeding dogs. Though talk of breed was common before this period in the context of livestock, the modern idea of a dog breed defined in terms of shape, size, coat, and color arose during the Victorian period in response to a burgeoning competitive dog show culture. The authors explain how breeders, exhibitors, and showmen borrowed ideas of inheritance and pure blood, as well as breeding practices of livestock, horse, poultry and other fancy breeders, and applied them to a species that was long thought about solely in terms of work and companionship.

The new dog breeds embodied and reflected key aspects of Victorian culture, and they quickly spread across the world, as some of Britain's top dogs were taken on stud tours or exported in a growing international trade. Connecting the emergence and development of certain dog breeds to both scientific understandings of race and blood as well as Britain's posture in a global empire, The Invention of the Modern Dog demonstrates that studying dog breeding cultures allows historians to better understand the complex social relationships of late-nineteenth-century Britain.
By:   , , , ,
Imprint:   Johns Hopkins University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   408g
ISBN:   9781421443294
ISBN 10:   1421443295
Series:   Animals, History, Culture
Pages:   304
Publication Date:  
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Forthcoming

Michael Worboys is an emeritus professor in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester. He is the coauthor of Rabies in Britain: Dogs, Disease and Culture, 1830-2000. Julie-Marie Strange is a professor of British history at Durham University. She is the author of Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, 1870-1914. Neil Pemberton is a Senior Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester. He is the coauthor of Murder and the Making of English CSI.

Reviews for The Invention of the Modern Dog: Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain

Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and P. T. Barnum walk into a pub . . . a classic comic set-up that can only lead to one punch line: The Invention of the Modern Dog. This chronicle-by science historians Michael Worboys and Neil Pemberton and historian Julie-Marie Strange-charts the confluence of biology, class, and popular entertainment that resulted in an unprecedented burst of nineteenth-century canine breeding. That tumult, they argue, stares out at us today from the eyes of our dogs. * Nature * Reveals how the Victorians invented the modern way of ordering and breeding man's best friend. * The Sunday Post * In The Invention of the Modern Dog, the authors show how our modern attitudes to breeds have been shaped by Victorian cultural ideals. The book makes for a fascinating read for anyone interested in the origins of today's dog breeds. * Pets Magazine * Worboys, Strange and Pemberton have produced a magnificent book . . . a wonderfully lively text that traces the sources of our own obsession with doggy design and offers a gentle warning about what is at stake when we fiddle too far. * The Guardian * Highly entertaining and plentifully illustrated. * Times Literary Supplement *

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