Saturday, March 30, 2013

The most popular dog names since 1400

I've updated this post so I could include a link to, a website that includes everything medieval.  The June 23, 2013 post includes a comprehensive list of medieval dog names.  (It also lists medieval cat names, but I won't mention that because after all, this is a dog blog.)  
Medieval Dogs
By Kathleen Walker-Meikie
Published May 15, 2013

The most popular dog names in 2012:  Bella for females (#2 for baby girls); Max for males (#96 for boys).
Does this mean that we treat our dogs as children? 

I don't know. Maybe. I certainly do. Mostly it's proof that humans follow fashion trends, whether we think so or not. If you look at names over hundreds of years, you can see that the way we name dogs says a whole lot about society's expectation of dogs.

An English Setter named Dash 
At one time dog names were
based on behavior.
Look at what Brits and Yanks named hunting dogs in the early 1700s. I think it's notable that all were listed lower case:
"The names of hounds are very numerous, but the following are common:  beauty, bangor, boman, bonny, bouncer, captain, chanter, countess, ceasar, dido, driver, dancer, daphne, dutchess, faney, flippant, fiddler, gallant, hector, juggler, jewel, joler, jolly, juno kilbuck, lively, lady, madam, merryboy, mopsie, motley, nancy, plunder pluto, rockwood, ringwood, rover, ranter, ranger, ruffler, soundwell, stately, thisbe, thunder, tattler, touchstone, traveller, trouncer, trusty, trier, venus, vulcan, violet, wanton, wonder whisper, younker." 
In the early 1800s, these names were popular:  
"Choose some sort of strong word to name your dog, as it will be easier pronounced and better heard when calling him in the field, such as Don, Dash, Flush, Fido, Ponto, Sancho, Carlo.”
Around mid 19th century, sentimental names replaced functional ones. 
Here are some popular dog names, plucked from journals written between 1800 -1900:
Watch, Citizen, Teague, Phillis, Chance, Bull, Prince, Rover, Fido, Old Shep, and Rubie.
Abe Lincoln's dog was named Fido.
Fido means Faithful
Read more about Lincoln's dog here.
I wrote a post about the very interesting way some Native American tribes named themselves after their favorite dogs.

Here are the top 20 names for female dogs in 2012:
Bella, Molly, Lucy, Maggie, Daisy, Sophie, Sadie, Chloe, Bailey, Lola, Zoe, Abby, Ginger, Coco, Sasha, Lily, Angel, and Princess
And male pooches:
Max, Buddy, Rocky, Bailey, Jake, Charlie, Jack, Toby, Cody, Buster, Duke, Cooper, Riley, Harley, Bear, Tucker, Murphy, Lucky, Oliver and Sam
To see more popular dog name, click here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dogs that don't shed

Do you want to know which dog breeds don't shed? The truth is there aren't any.
Fur and hair are the same thing.
What matters is: How much hair falls out and how often? What kind of hair is it? And where does it go?

Whew. That feels better.

If you're allergic to dogs, the thing that makes you wheeze is not the hair, but dander that sticks to it. Coat hair in so-called hypoallergenic breeds falls out, but gets tangled in the coat rather than the furniture.  Because the hair and most of the allergens are removed with grooming, the breed  throws fewer allergens into the air, that is, as long as you don't groom the dog in the house.

Out with the fur and
out with the allergens.
I can't explain why Poodles are traditionally groomed with fancy cuts and other water spaniels are not.  Some historians say the exaggerated cut reduced drag in the water, but skeptics like Dr. Barkman think it was for entertainment value. See below.

I rest my case.

What makes dog coat textures different?  Combinations of mutations in only three genes. Each follicle bundle in the canine coat is made up of a stiff outer coat primary hair, and multiple secondary accessory hairs of different textures, from silky to fuzzy to wiry.  In the process of artificial selection, we've selected for different combinations of hair.
Source: Miller's Anatomy of the Dog

 Like wolves, German Shepherds, Huskies and many other breeds have the full coat.  When they shed each spring, there is usually enough hair to make several other dogs.

A little hair of the dog? 
Poodles, Pulis, water spaniels and some other breeds have coats devoid of the course primary hair. Whereas most canine hair follicles are instructed to stop growing somewhere between less than an inch to as long as 12 inches, the Poodle's hair is programmed to grow very long.  To create the chorded coat, the groomer twists naturally occurring tightly curled fur,  then locks it into regular patterns to encourage dreds. Popular in the Victorian era, it's a look rarely seen these days.

Terrier coats are combinations of secondary stiff, 
wiry accessory hairs with small primary hairs.

For more information on all types of dog hair, read this no-nonsense article on canine coats.
And this link takes you to a list of breeds least likely to cause allergic reactions.
And, if the idea of hair all over your house is too overwhelming, you can check out a list of
animals that don't shed here.

As for me, an outfit without dog hair is an incomplete fashion statement.

Monday, March 11, 2013

History and vintage photos of Native American dogs

Dogs are so inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives that we rarely think of them as the strange beasts that they truly are - human made tools engineered for herding, guarding, hauling, hunting and of course, companionship.

Pacific Northwest Tribe
Source: University of Washington

Arctic people's very existence depended on their specially bred sled dogs.
Three little arctic girls with three puppies. 
Source: Library of Congress

Almost every culture interacts with dogs.  A comparison of the way dogs are named tells a lot about the people who name them.
Pacific Northwest Native American child with puppy.
Source: University of Washington

The dog was the only work animal indigenous Americans had until the horse was introduced. In many native languages the word for horse derives from dog.

A typical day's work for a dog.  He's pulling a travois.
Note that the dog is costumed as decoratively as the man.

The mystical word for horse in Dakota is schanka-wankan, the holy spirit of the dog. The Dakota Sioux word for horse means great mysterious dog.

Source: Library of Congress

The Teton Dakota word for dog means horse of the woman
Note the dog sitting next to women on far left.
Source: Library of Congress

The Karankawa Indians of the Texas gulf coast called the dog a word that translates to kiss. Karankawa means dog lovers or dog raisers.
A man and his dog, not Karankawa though.

To be named after a special dog, or to be asked to name a special dog, was a great honor in the Hidatsa culture.  
Hidatsa Chief, Long Time Dog
Source: Library of Congress
Dogs were managed by Hidatsa women. Sometimes a man who had earned honor named a special dog.  Glorifying violence is apparently not a new thing.  Some Hidatsa dog names:
first-strike, last-strike, caught-with a-hand, killed-many-enemies, stabbed, shot-with-an-arrow, killed-by-a-club, ran-over-him, brought-an-enemy’s-horse, took-an-enemy’s–horse,  brave-man, chased-an-enemy, he wept –being-caught-by-the-hair.  They must have had nicknames as it would be difficult to call these pooches from the field.

One tribe called the dog kadosch which means son-in-law.
A son-in-law with his son-in-law?
Source: Library of Congress

Until the mid 1800s, when Anglo sailors arrived on the Mortlock Islands, people had never seen such an unusual animal. Their word for dog translates to comehere.  Apparently that's what they thought the sailors called them.  (In sign language it's the same. Dog is indicated by snapping your fingers then slapping your right flat hand against your leg, as in "come here.")

Full disclosure - there are a whole lot of words for dog that translate to things that are edible. But I'd rather not discuss that.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How long do dogs live?

Dogs seem to die too young, no matter how long they live.  That's just the way it is.
Dobies usually die at the young age of 9 or 10

On average, their life span is 11 to 12 years, depending on the breed.  (Click here to read about life expectancy by breed.) Contrary to the general principle that big mammals live longer than little ones -for example squirrels die around 6 and elephants about 70 - lifespan in dogs is opposite.  It's not unusual for little dogs to live well into their teens, whereas large dogs live to 11 or 12, and the super giants usually die as early as 5 or 6.  This contradiction is a weird dog phenomenon that scientist are actually studying at Texas A&M University.
Daisy is over 25 years old

The other weird thing is the exceptionally long time a few dogs live.  Regardless of heritage or lifestyle, some pooches live two to almost three times longer than their normal life expectancy. Translating human years to dog years, that would be like people living 140 to 200 years.

Kelpie mix, Sako lived
more than 22 years.
The better question might be, "How long should my dog live?"  Are dogs dying sooner than they used to?
Pusuke, Shiba mix,
26 years and 8 months
Reviewing 17th, 18th and 19th century books at the world's greatest dog library, Chapin-Horowitz Collection, College of William & Mary, I found only one reference to life expectancy, in a book published in 1824: "The natural life span of the dog may be considered as ranging between fourteen and fifteen years." (Canine Pathology, by Delebere P. Blaine, 1824).   If the writer was accurate, that's significantly longer than today's life span.

Bella, a lab mix, more than 29 years 
The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog, Bluey, who lived 29 years, 160 days.  

Bluey as a youngster in her 20s
Here are some other record setters:

Chanel, 21 years plus

Max, terrier cross, 26 years and still going

Pip, terrier mix, 24 years plus
Sooty, lab mix, more than 26 years
Check out a comprehensive list on Wikipedia's  world's oldest dogs.

Old dogs are the best dogs. Consider adopting a senior.  I adopted Lolly when she was 9, and every day we were together, for the 5 more years she lived, she made my life better.
Lolly at 14