EDIBLE DOGS

From: “ Dogs In Britain, A Description of All native Breeds and Most Foreign Breeds in Britain” by Clifford LB Hubbard, 1948

The Chow Chow too was for centuries well fattened with rice and eaten as part of the staple diet although as time advanced its meat became a delicacy rather than a commonplace. Until about fifty years ago, however, eating-houses catering for artisans and trades-people were daily serving up dishes of dog meat, and quite recently [to 1948] the flesh of dogs and cats was openly on sale in the Chinese butcher shops, despite the prohibition on such sales made about the year 1915. In Canton the custom is dying less gradually where the Buddhist priests frown on such an unwarranted end to the faithful servants of man.

The Phillipinos, particularly the inhabitants of the largest island of the group, Luzon, frequently eat the flesh of the native breed of dog. This breed is also fattened with rice and roast with a stuffing of local roots and spices. The American authorities do not encourage the custom, but it nevertheless survives in the mountainous hinterland.

Many breeds of dogs indigenous to the Central African regions are eaten by natives, especially those in the areas east of the Congo and North-east to the Nile, although not all the Nilotic races regard the dog as being edible. Such breeds as the Niam Niam and Manboutou are bred principally for food and comparatively few are retained for hunting and the guarding of villages.

It is rather remarkable that edible dogs have, so far as the author can trace, been small or medium in size; the quality of the meat rather than the quantity seems to have been the determining point. Not one really large breed has been habitually regarded as an edible dog, and in fact most of the well-appreciated dog dishes appear to have been from the midget varieties. One such breed was the Teechichi, the fourteenth-century representative of the modern Chihuahua of Mexico. The Teechichi was an unusually small variety of lap-dog which was chiefly bred for use in various sacrificial rites, and ordinarily the sacred dish of the Aztec high priests.

Dogs have been eaten not only habitually by primitive tribesmen but also on many occasions by white men, particularly by explorers who, finding their stock of food exhausted, have had recourse to cook animals other than those usually eaten. Most of the old references to the flesh of dog meat have stated that to the white man the taste was very much like veal: the author has eaten domestic dog roasted in the usual way and can confirm that the flavour is indeed remarkably like veal and quite pleasing to the palate. Boiled dog hams are also tasty; these are popular in Inner Mongolia and are marketed in thousands.

The Chihuahua is descended from the Aztec Sacred Dog and was once a sacred dish of the high priests (see Edible Dogs and Sacred Dogs). The Aztecs (tribal name for the last Nahuati irnigrants into the Mexican valleys) first arrived in Mexico in about 1250 although they did not settle until 1325 when they founded the two original communities of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelulco; in both of these settlements sacred dogs were bred, which were castrated and fattened with rice. Even after the Spanish conquest these Aztec Sacred Dogs or Teechichi were mainly bred for food, though a few were kept as pets, foot warmers and pillows.

[...]Mexican Hairless Dog, which is recognised by the American Kennel Club and classified as a Toy Dog. This type is supported in a small way and exhibited from time to time. The earliest and most typical specimens to have been imported into Britain were those owned by Mr. H. C. Brooke who was never really happy unless he had a full kennel of some or other exotic breed. Its colour is usually pink, light slate blue, dark slate, black, or mottled. In build it is generally light in bone and roach-backed, something like an Italian Greyhound. Height is about 11 inches and weight about 10 pounds. At one time it was used for food.

TURNSPIT DOGS

From: “The Illustrated natural History (Mammalia)” The Rev J G Wood (1853, 1874)

Just as the invention of the spinning-jenny abolished the use of distaff and wheel, which were formerly the occupants of every well-ordained English cottage, so the invention of automaton roasting-jacks has destroyed the occupation of theTURNSPIT DOG, and by degrees has almost annihilated its very existence. Here and there a solitary Turnspit may be seen, just as a spinning-wheel or a distaff may be seen in a few isolated cottages; but both the Dog and the implement are exceptions to the general rule, and are only worthy of notice as being curious relics of a bygone time.

In former days, and even within the remembrance of the present generation, the task of roasting a joint of meat or a fowl was a comparatively serious one, and required the constant attendance of the cook, in order to prevent the meat from being spoiled by the unequal action of the fire. The smoke-jack, as it was rather improperly termed - inasmuch as it was turned, not by the smoke, but by the heated air that rushed up the chimney - was a great improvement, because the spit revolved at a rate that corresponded with the heat of the fire.

So complicated an apparatus, however, could not be applied to all chimneys, or in all localities, and therefore the services of the Turnspit Dog were brought into requisition. At one extremity of the spit was fastened a large circular box, or hollow wheel, something like the wire wheels which are so often appended to squirrel-cages; and in this wheel the Dog was accustomed to perform its daily task, by keeping it continually working. As the labour would be too great for a single Dog, it was usual to keep at least two animals for the purpose, and to make them relieve each other at regular intervals. The dogs were quite able to appreciate the lapse of time, and, if not relieved from their toils at the proper hour, would leap out of the wheel without orders, and force their companions to take their place, and complete their portion of the daily toil.

There are one or two varieties of this Dog, but the true Turnspit breed is now nearly extinct in this country. On the Continent, the spits are still turned by canine labour in localities; but the owners of spit and Dog are not particular about the genealogy of the animal, and press into their service any kind of Dog, provided that it is adequately small and sufficiently amenable to authority.

From "The Harmsworth Natural History" (R Lydekker) in 1910:

With the cessation of its monotonous occupation has come about the practical extinction of the old English turnspit, which was a long-bodied, short-limbed dog, with the fore feet everted, closely allied to the dachshund, but relatively taller, with a longer head and nose, straighter forehead, less bent fore limbs, and a longer and- thinner tail; the ears being small and placed relatively far back. In colour the turnspit was black and tan. These dogs performed their task in a kind of wire barrel, somewhat like that in a squirrel cage; in England two of them were generally kept, which worked turn and turn about.

RAMPUR HOUND

The Rampur Hound is also known as the Rampur Greyhound and North-Indian Greyhound and was bred to hunt jackals. They were bred from the powerful but ferocious Tazi (an Afghan breed) and the English Greyhound that was too delicate for the Indian climate. It inherited the looks and courage of the Tazi, and the speed and agility of the English Greyhound. Its head is broader and coarser than the English Greyhound. A few exist in the USA, but the Rampurs were so extensively interbred with English Greyhounds, the type shown in the 1800s photo has been lost, and the modern breed appears as a robust English Greyhound.

TIBETAN HUNTING DOG

A dog of rural Tibet. About 23 inches tall and bred in fawn or grey, this was used for holding game, such as wild sheep, at bay and barking until the hunter came to make the kill. Usually the dog was taken within sight of the game before being unleashed for the chase. The training of Tibetan Hunting Dogs was harsh. Puppies were leashed to their mother when she went after game and were dragged along after her. Not all survived, but those that did were supposedly fierce and keen. It also meant only the fitter and faster youngsters survived, keeping the gene pool healthy. Their temperament makes them unsuitable as pets - as one writer of the 1930s put it, they were "tiresome in attcking strangers."

 

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