University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, May 8th 2015
Speaker: Michael Worboys, Life Sciences, University of Manchester
Subject: The Making of the Modern Dog: Breed, Blood and Britishness
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics at 3:15 p.m.

In this talk I discuss the material and cultural manufacture of the modern dog. By 'modern dog', I mean an animal seen principally in terms of its 'breed'; that is, a specific physical conformation and related behavioural characteristics. Its inventors were British middle and upper class aficionados of dog shows, which were events of sporting competition, commercial speculation and sociality. They grew in popularity from the 1860s and by 1900 had spread, with their new types of canine, across the world. The ways in which dog shows were organised encouraged, and then required, dog breeders to reshape the existing variety of dog types into standardised forms called breeds, and to record the breed history of dogs in pedigree. The very first modern dog was a pointer named 'Major', so defined in 1865 by John Henry Walsh (aka 'Stonehenge'). He became the model for all subsequent members of the breed; however, in the spirit of the times, the 'improvement' was expected through breeding with and for good blood.

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