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DogTipper

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Friday Funny: Tucker Budzyn

Love me some Tucker. Happy Friday! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Bulldog History III: The Bulldogs of Northwestern Europe

The bulldog family as we understand now is a bit complicated.

One of the harder distinctions in the literature is to come across distinctions between mastiff and bulldog, but it is very clear that by the late Middle Ages, there were specialized dogs that were used as catch dogs on wild boar and to control cattle through gripping.

A certain lineage of these dogs became known as bulldogs in the British Isles, but there are three other lines that are not as well explore.

The first of these lines is the Bullenbeisser and the Bärenbeisser lineage. These dogs appeared in Germanic Europe, including areas of the Netherlands and Belgium.

These dogs were evident in that region by the seventeenth century, where nobles used them to hunt wild boar and bears, and in some eastern region, the relict populations of aurochs. They also likely grappled with wolves, but I could find very few accounts of them being used for that purpose. These were the dogs of the nobles, and they were famous in their courage as catch dogs.

When the Napoleonic Wars transformed this part of Europe, things changed dramatically.  Although Napoleon was an autocratic ruler, his revolutionary ideas changed the remnants of feudal society in that region, which meant that nobles had to give up a lot of their traditional hunting estates.

These Germanic bulldogs wound up in the hands of cattle dealers, who used them in much the same way the British had used them. They were cattle controlling dogs that were sometimes used for baiting contests.

By the nineteenth century, two distinct strains were evident.  In the region around Danzig, a large bulldog called the Danziger bullenbeisser was pretty common.  In Belgium and the Netherlands, a smaller strain was developed called the Brabanter bullenbeisser,

We know now that the Brabanter bullenbeisser was quite common as a pet in Munich, and in the very last few years of the nineteenth century, this breed was bred with the variants of the English bulldog (and supposedly one black schnauzer) to found the modern boxer breed.

In France, a very similar story went with their bulldogs.  What we call the Dogue de Bordeaux is actually a bulldog, not a mastiff. It is the last survivor of a long line of French catch dogs. The larger ones were called dogues and the smaller ones were called doguin. Noble families used them as catch dogs, but as France lurched into a Republic, the dogs became commonly used as working bulldogs in much the same way that the English used theirs.

Today, when we think of French bulldogs, we think of the small ones that became popular in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. These dogs were largely created by the pet market in England, then transported to France, where they were widely accepted. I will have more on these bulldogs in a later post, but they are not the traditional bulldog of France. The dogue and the doguin are.

Some may quibble with my inclusion of the dogue as a bulldog. But we know from genome-wide assays that the bulldog of England, the boxer, and the Dogue de Bordeaux form a clade.

That means that these dogs share a deep common ancestry in Northwestern Europe. Indeed, these three breeds share a close common ancestry that puts them closer to each other than to the other bulldog breeds.

This discovery raises an interesting idea. There have been attempts to re-create the Brabanter bullenbeisser through crossbreeding boxers with other bull breeds.  The result is the Banter bulldogge.

However, I’ve been more interested in the Danziger bullenbeisser, which was larger, and my guess is to recreate that breed, you would breed the boxer to the Dogue de Bordeaux and then select for black skin pigment, brindle and fawn color, and a more athletic build.

So it has captured my imagination a bit. Big, fell bulldogs really didn’t have much of a place in Europe as the larger game species disappeared, but in the American South, the larger bulldog would hold on.

That will be the next installment of the this series.

***

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Natural History

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Chicken study complicates brain size and domestication assumptions

One of the issues I’m most careful with in looking at domestication literature is claims about brain size reduction. Brain size reduction from wolf to dog is a way more complex topic than some popularizers of science would have you believe.

We should also not assume that smaller brains in domestic animals means that the domestic animal are automatically less intelligent than the wild form. In dogs, there is an argument to be made that domestication has enhanced some parts of their intelligence.  I believe part of this problem comes from the romantic delusions that existed in the early study of animal behavior, some of which were openly fascistic in their understanding of wild versus domestic.

A more nuanced way of looking at domestic animals is that their evolution changes to fit an environment that is fully dominated by human society.  In this world, humans are not a major predator, though humans certain do eat many of the animals.  However, the animals live out their lives with humans as benefactors and protectors, and the evolutionary pressures that work on domestic animals change how their brains operate.

A recent study on red junglefowl found that selection for a lack of fear does change their and brain anatomy. The researchers bred a high fear line and a low fear line of red junglefowl. The low fear line birds had smaller overall brains.  However, they much reduced brainstems and tended to have larger cerebra than the high fear line ones. They had a harder time with remembering fearful situations that the high fear line birds easily remembered, but both strains were of equal ability in terms of general associative learning.

This means that the domestication process does not just dull the intelligence of a species and make its brain smaller. Instead, the process makes it easier for the species to live in concert with our societies.

Our popular understanding is that dog domestication made them significantly less intelligent than wolves, and the best proof we have is the proportionality of brain size, as well as some low n experiments that looked at problem-solving ability between captive wolves and very well-trained domestic dogs.

We need to be very careful about what these studies say, for domestication is a process of evolution as much as anything that goes on in the wild. To live with humans in the way that domestic dogs do, their brains have experienced rather dramatic changes from the wild form, and we must be careful about making simplistic explanations that posit “domesticated” as a synonym for “dumber.”

It’s a much more complex conversation, and this study on red junglefowl clearly demonstrates how difficult the reality of brain changes and domestication clearly is.

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Natural History

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Trick-or-Treat?

It’s October, and for many of us that means Halloween celebrations! Other than fun costumes and decorations, Halloween is synonymous with treats. But just how many treats are ok for your furry friend?

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Halo Pets Blog

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Friday Funny: Smiling Pumpkin

Have a happy Halloween weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Protected: We now have the first evidence of a 20,000-year-old dogs in Italy: Premium Member Content

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Natural History

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Should we dress up our pets for Halloween?

Should we dress up our pets for Halloween? Dressing up on Halloween can be great fun for children and adults alike, but what about our furry friends? Just like people, dogs and cats are individuals, and no two animals are the same. For some pets, getting dressed up and the attention their costume brings, is

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Halo Pets Blog

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Shelter Sunday: Baby Blue / Out of the Woods Rescue / Little Rock, Arkansas

Meet Baby Blue! Here’s what her rescuers have to say about this Husky / Shepherd mix: Baby Blue was born after a pregnant dog was dumped in a rural part of Arkansas. We think she is a Shepherd/Husky mix. She was born around September 1st. Baby Blue has one blue eye, which makes her very … Continue reading Shelter Sunday: Baby Blue / Out of the Woods Rescue / Little Rock, Arkansas


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Big News from Westminster

From the Dog Lady’s mailbag: New York, NY – The 145th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be held at Lyndhurst, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in Tarrytown, New York on Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13, 2021, with live coverage across FOX Sports networks. Due to the ever-changing … Continue reading Big News from Westminster


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