I watched a fascinating show last night, BBC ‘Horizon: The Secret Life of the Dog,’ and got to thinking about dogs of the past, and what is a “period correct” dog. I think this is a question that pops up in every dog-owning costumer’s mind, at some point, when considering if his or her dog could attend faires and events…I suppose as a costume “prop?” I know I’ve thought about it…
So what are some dogs we’d see in the 18th century?
A hound, although looks a bit like a spaniel, with those ears.
Other breeds such as poodles and pugs were popular then as they are today, but some looked significantly different. Marie Antoinette’s “Mops” we all know as the fat little pug from the 2006 movie, likely looked more like this…
We are familiar with other toy breeds from the 18th c., such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bichon Frise, Pappilons, and various terriers (this last being a group of dogs that were bred for specific hunting, but became the pets of the aristocracy)
Queen Charlotte, with what looks like a King Charles’ Spaniel
A delighful painting by Fragonard (if not a little voyeuristic?). Not sure of the breed, but looks like some kind of poodle?
Another interesting painting by Fragonard, the woman with an odd costume (maybe for theater?), with her lapdog, possibly a pappilon
For thousands of years dogs have been our companions and assistants. It’s fascinating to see them appear in portraits, next to famous 18th c. figures, or all on their own. They were as beloved and essential to the people of the 18th c. as they are to us today (perhaps moreso), and ought not to be overlooked when we think back on and study this time in history.