Tuesday 10 July 2012

Dutch dogs 1922

Click to go to archive site

Fascinating footage this, from a dog show in Amsterdam in 1922.  As ever, I prefer most of the dogs from this time compared to their current counterparts, and many of the breeds are a revelation. I particularly love the Setters, which have so much more substance than the breed today and smaller, more natural heads.  Many of the dogs look more real to me. And as for the Boston Terrier... how amazing that they used to have so much muzzle.

Hook's Punch - the first AKC registered Boston Terrier
 More pictures of Bostons as they used to be here.

And a provocative post on today's Boston Terriers from Terrierman here.

My thanks to Alan Hedges for this link, which he posted last eve on the naughty Gossip Hound site (mainly UK dog show goss, so will have overseas visitors scratching their heads). He captioned it:
"film from 1922 in holland, seems lots of things haven't changed, although it appears film makers had integrity in those days. How times have changed in that area."

Now I normally don't rise to that kind of bait. I've learned that it's pointless as some breeders simply see Pedigree Dogs Exposed as free license to say anything they like about me for the rest of time, however rude and however loosely based on reality. But, stupidly, I responded on this occasion, commenting that the archive footage was surely evidence of how "dog breeders had integrity in those days and how times had changed in that area".   I was, rather clunkily, trying to point out that it was nonsensical to draw conclusions about either dog breeders' or film-maker's integrity from some archive reportage shots with no sound.  Hardly the height of witty repartee,  though, and realising it would probably backfire, I quickly deleted the comment and apologised.

I know. I should have known better.

Back came the following tirade from Mr Hedges.
"You have demonstrated you are not straightforward, or honest, and are generally pretty despicable. How does that sound for starters? You caused a lot of good people a whole lot of grief and I hope you get your share in due course. You are not fooling me in your "concern" about dogs. Its all about your career and no care as to who gets hurt along the way. I think you are a straightforward waste of good oxygen. I may know nothing about film making but I recognise when there is a bad smell on my shoe."
Bit between the teeth, Mr Hedges has now gone even further and made the untrue and damaging claim that we withheld medication from Boxer Zak in PDE in order to get the dog to fit for the cameras - a horrible rumour made up by someone and oft-repeated in the dog world (including by KC Chairman Steve Dean) by those who are determined to not let the truth get in the way of a good demonisation.

I understand Mr Hedges has launched something called the Dog Union as an alternative to the Canine Alliance.  I'd been told the DU might be a more interesting/level-headed/open-minded version of the CA.

Indeed, the Dog Union's Facebook page claims:

"The Dog Union... Working for the Health and Welfare of Dogs Through Negotiation not Confrontation."
Obviously not universally.


  1. Video is not working.. The URL appears to be the name of the file.

    1. I don't think I've ever seen so many unhappy insecure dogs in one film before; terribly sad to watch.

      Are they sure the Boston Terrier wasn't a Staffy?

    2. Mary @ 19:05 said:

      "I don't think I've ever seen so many unhappy insecure dogs in one film before; terribly sad to watch."

      I wonder how much of that had to do with the camera, a movie camera was a new, and probably big and scary thing in the 20's. My own modern dog does not like regular cameras pointed at him, I imagine having a movie camera pointed at them was probably unusual and frightening.

    3. It's amazing how you have reasons for things in pictures that suit your ideals but the moment anyone says she camera lies with a modern dog it's were all just blind to the monsters we created, do many hypocrites on this blog!

    4. I agree, the dogs are scared to death of the camera. It is huge, right up in their faces, and probably incredibly noisy.

    5. Considering cameras were the size of tractors and as noisy as an old fashioned diesel engine I think they coped remarkably well.

      Someone was saying how nice the Borzoi are "less curvy". I disagree they are more curvy and in all the wrong places. Notably the bitches are built like kangaroos. But both dogs and bitches roach hump backs. The bitches are particularly "bad", low fronts, bowed legs and wide chests, high splayed rears all joined by a banana shaped arc. The heads are much the same as today where you still get subtle differences even in the show ring.

      I don't say "incorrect" as to a rigid standard but bad. Surely they don't have what even a modern racing greyhound has that enables them to run at speed. Form and function questions. This is taking into account that most of the sporting breeds shown here look like they are in fact in working shape. Hard muscled and ready to go which is a pleasure to see.

      I like the "English hare hounds" a lot. Think these were never actually a breed but F1 crosses for hunting hares along the lines of the English lurcher. My type of dogs.

      All round the working dogs have good hard substance and bone, with charming heads subtly unique to each dog. No trace of powder, brush mad grooming and forced stacking. Bliss.

      For me a true revelation is the "Belgische Trek Hond". What a magnificent dog that was! Compared to any of the show mastiff types today and you have to be left speechless in awe. Not a trace of looseness in the joints, skin, distorted exaggerations or from what we can tell by a simple silent movie ill health. Each dog maintaining substance size and function but also uniqueness in outlook. Subtle and not so subtle variety in head for example yet all look admirably suited to the work they were doing and instantly recognisable as such. No doubt about it selected for function alone. They look remarkably similar to working Caucasian Shepherd dogs not those shown in Russia but those living under the stars.

      How very sad that one of the very best breeds are extinct. Not sure when this happened but it probably had something to do with draft dogs "trek hond" being banned or no longer needed, I know they were banned in the UK a long time ago? One of those dogs is absolutely magnificent.

      The short haired German "Staand hond" can also not be ignored what a pleasure, wow what bone and instantly recognisable robustness.

      Loved this film thanks.

    6. Wonder how the modern show pointer ended up with a face like a duck. Amongst all its health problems its also lost its honest head!

      We had one and it died of skin cancer at five. Our farm managers one was put down because of epilepsy it also had chronic alergies it's whole life.

      Then we got Preston who was a black lab crossed pointer he lived to sixteen. What a remarkable dog that was. He was quite short but he could keep up with the horses all day under the African sun throwing himself into the cold mountain river at the end to cool off.

      Yes what nice heads many of these hunting dogs had.

  2. Over here in the US. out pointers used to run big and heavy because they were hunted with horses -- you needed a dog that could keep up. That might be the case with setters in mainland Europe too -- don't know.

    Notice that the Boxers are very pit bull like -- betraying their origins. All the "butcher dogs" come from the same pool. The difference is that boxers and rotts have been bred to be more "Pet Bull" than "Pit Bull" -- a case of the Kennel Clubs probably being useful so far as temperament goes.

    1. Setters have always been used over here by people shooting on foot. Until a few decades back there was enough game that they didnt have to cover a lot of ground to find it. But by the 1960s grouse were becoming more scarce, especially in Ireland. Partridge were fewer in many parts of continental Europe, and the field triallers needed faster lighter dogs to cover more ground at speed to find birds. And the show setters were going in another and different direction! For me the 1930s were probably the highest point of Irish Setters, if I could find an Irish Setter now that looked like what they were breeding then, I would have one. Instead I have Irish Red and Whites, which for me are still most unspoilt and original of the four setter breeds

    2. dalriach, I think you raise an important point: dogs that are still used for their historical function continue to change as conditions change. They don't breed to a strict "standard" based on what a dog allegedly used to look like for a job it did 150 years ago. It gives more flexibility, and wider variations in phenotype are tolerated if it gets the job done.

    3. To be fair to the Boston terrier people, my understanding is the breed was not even developed at all til the late 1800's, and so the ones from the era of the film may not have yet reached the look that the founders envisioned for them.

  3. A really good piece of old film. No date on it, looks like early 1920's? I like all the gundogs shown, except the Weimaraner is a bit long in the back. Both the Gordon and Irish Setters have good bone and substance, short strong necks and honest heads. The last Irish Setters of this type in the UK were Mrs Nagle's Sulhamstead dogs. She made up many field trial champions but never made up a show champion as the show type had changed so much. Eventually she gave up on Irish Setters in the 1960s as the field trial Irish Setters were being taken over by the smaller faster Moanruad type dogs, and as game became scarcer, and setters had to cover more ground to find birds, the slower Sulhamsteads were handicapped. All the gundogs shown look fit and muscular, great muscle on the hindquarters of the German pointers. The setters have changed a lot since then, both show and working. The modern working and FT dogs are smaller , lighter built, and built for speed.
    All the breeds shown look pretty fit, no obviously overweight or flabby dogs. Some of the feet look rather large and flat, even on the gundog breeds but that could be due to untrimmed hair. The lack of trimming and grooming on the coated dogs makes it harder to compare them with the modern , over grooomed and "sculpted" forms of modern show dogs
    Fascinated to look at the types of dogs shown, loved the Borzois too, less curved muzzles and spines than on the modern dogs
    This could have been a good discussion on Gossip Hound, instead it was used to bait Jemima and degenerated into an attack on her and PDE. Wasted opportunity. Nearly four years after PDE, for those who have learned something from the aftermath, things have changed and moved on. For those who are still stuck repeating the same old, same old, that's their problem, leave them to it

    1. I agree! An interesting film with some breeds very changed, some not so changed. The degree of preparation has obviously changed though....many of these looked fresh off the field! Amazing how similar the boxer and boston looked.....both rather 'pit bull' like as has been commented on elsewhere. Even back then still some problems though...the Griffons and King Charles spaniels for instance were as exagerated then as now.

  4. No question that there are health problems with the Boston Terrier, but you must give the Boston Club some credit for being frank about them and posting good advice. A decade ago, they were advising breeders to breed FOR diversity and avoid popular sires to avoid homozygosity. They are also frank about the brachycephalic syndrome, posting an article on Frenchies but saying it applies equally well to Bostons. See:

    As for flattening of the face, I think the choice of photos used greatly influences conclusions about historical trends. Reviewing my favorite historical dog breed site, I conclude that flat faces were present a century ago and while there may be a trend, the greatest changes occurred in the first couple decades of breed history. Leading dogs of 1905 to 1906 look a lot like modern dogs. See:

    I think the biggest problem with brachy- development comes from the public at least as much as from the show ring. People find flat faces appealing and want a 'cute' dog. This is also true, to some extent, with loose flews. People like the 'melancholic' look of droopy eyes, and favoring of dark brown, rather than yellowish eyes. Not saying that breeders aren't responsible. Simply that they, and show-ring trends, sometimes follow rather than leading popular tastes.

  5. I can't help but admire the look of the wire-haired terriers (and Schnauzers) in the video - much less beard and leg hair but still looking smart and attractive. The Scottish Terrier has changed beyond recognition, and not for the better.

    How can breeders say they have preserved a breed if it is "improved" (as breeders like to tell you) beyond recognition and looks nothing like the early specimens?

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  7. It's a fine line between advocacy and activism, and all things need to be viewed with a critical eye. The biggest revelation in this footage is the nares in ALL the breeds- small alar fold, large nares and seemingly oversized rhinarium. Then there's the less than elegant stuff - at least two cases of clinical ricketts that I could see, apparently fearful dogs, poor to negligible grooming and some skull oversizes and strangely tilted nasal bones - looks like fashion might have been a problem in breeding even in those days. The issue is NOT whether the older breeds were "better" or "worse" but to define physiological and genetic fitness problems in current breeds and work to correct them with a good heart. It's the dogma (pun intended)over pragmatism that causes grief...

  8. What I initially noticed is some very rough handling and dirty dogs. Some breeds look equally as exaggerated as now and I noticed a few who were not "fit for working purpose". Beauty Pageants will never get it right... Look what they do to young girls and women!

  9. To be honest I see as many improvements as deteriorations in the conditions of the breeds shown there, as compared with their modern counterparts. Look at the Miniature Pinschers, look how degenerate they are, goggly eyes and fragile bones like chickens. The best dogs nowadays are sturdy and sound while still being true miniatures. Some breeds are in prototype form in this video and were improved since then, but subsequently were "improved" too far (e.g. the Boxer). Then there are the breeds which seem to be in exactly the same form now as then (Griffons, Chin, King Charles Spaniels). I will agree that the dogs are not kept in a satisfactory manner and are choked on those ultra-short tethers but I suppose that was the standard of the time. That is a different issue.

  10. Here's someone who is trying to produce a decent Boston terrier:


    She crossed Olde English Bulldogges with her Bostons and then selected for muzzle.

  11. One of my readers breeds dogs that look a lot like the old Boston Terriers:


  12. There have been attempts to produce a Boston terrier with a healthier muzzle.

    The Olde Boston Bulldogge is probably the most successful:


  13. Another great post, thanks JH!