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Posts Tagged ‘Ruby toy spaniel’

This puppy was bred by Judith Blunt-Lytton, 16th Baroness Wentworth (“Lady Wentworth”), and its image appears in Lady Wentworth’s Toy Dogs and Their Ancestors (1911).

Lady Wentworth was a dog breeder and exhibitor who was often quite critical of the institutionalized fancy and what dog shows had become.

Although she bred brachycephalic English toy spaniels (what we Americans call them), she was somewhat worried where this might lead. She was fully aware that there was always a chance of producing a puppy with so little muzzle that it would be a monstrosity as a result of the selection pressures to produce the shortest muzzle in the show dogs.

Short muzzled dog have issues cooling themselves and breathing, and I think a dog with a muzzle this short would have a hard time feeding itself.

I’m very glad that Lady Wentworth had the presence of mind and the courage of her convictions to post this image. She was very critical of the extreme brachycephaly in this breed, and she was worried about producing dogs like this. However, she published the image of this dog, even though she bred it:

We do not want to breed Bull-spaniels any more than Jap Spaniels, neither do we want noseless cripples, or animals with heads like a Dutch cheese, or dogs like the deformed “golliwogs” which have recently been such a favourite present for children. The result of the spread of the Bull-spaniel type, without regard to general prettiness and beauty of expression, is that only trained experts can see any attraction in the breed, and that Toy Spaniels decrease yearly in popularity with the outside public. Heavy, massive, ugly animals will never be popular as pets; what people want is a pretty, intelligent, dainty, lively little pet, with lots of fluff and feather, and not a burglar’s terror, and as long as we persist in breeding these burglar’s terrors, as evidence of our skill in outdoing our neighbours in special points, so long will our Toy Spaniels be a byword for grotesqueness with the general public, and appeal to none but specialists, or possibly to the children who have been trained to ” golliwogs.”

The more noseless a Spaniel is, the more delicate his lines should be. The curves must be extraordinarily subtle so as not to offend the eye. Remember, there are only two canons of proportion possible in a noseless type; one is that of the Bulldog, and the other that to which the Japanese type is the nearest approach. Anything which deviates from the laws of proportion belonging to these two types is a mathematical abomination. In one the curves are all strong and rugged (pg. 144-145).

Not many people would do something like this.

I feel very sorry for this little Ruby.

Rubies remind me of Elmo.

Ironically, this breed is healthier on average than the Cavalier King Charles spaniel that was bred to be a more healthily conformed version of the toy spaniel.

In the modern era, I haven’t seen anyone famous with an English toy spaniel. Reagan had a cavalier, and worldwide,  cavaliers are pretty popular.

But no one gives the little toy spaniel any love.

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