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medieval-dogs-art - 9/1/07


"Introduction to Dogs in Our Period" by Pavla de la Satu Mare. Includes large bibliography and links list.


NOTE: See also the files: dogs-msg, dogs-lnks, hounds-lnks, Dog-Carts-art, Guinefort-art, coursing-SCA-msg, cats-msg, Cats-n-the-MA-art, pets-msg, hunting-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Introduction to Dogs in Our Period

by Pavla de la Satu Mare


I have long had an interest in animals. As I began to delve into our Society, I began to wonder about dogs in period.  What roles did they fulfill? What did they look like? My questions formed the bulk of research that helped me to start to understand what period dogs may have been like.


In period, dogs were often named by function (i.e. harrier, turn-spit, comforter etc.). Dog were commonly used for hunting, both for sport and for culinary purpose (greyhounds, running hounds, spaniels, setters, and terriers), draft and burden (cart dogs and turn spits), herding and protection (mastiff and shepherds), for personal protection from fleas (lady’s poppees, and comforters) and even in times of siege or famine, for food.


Place names or name of the breeder were also common. After a while that type may be known as the ‘type’ from/of a place such as Brittany Spaniel. Another common naming practice was the breeder’s name (often a noble or member of the clergy, or even a monastery) as well as the type.


Studbooks or registries like those of today were not often used. In the breeding practices of today, a written standard regarding size, color, coat type and confirmation is the major focus, as well as meticulous record of the ancestry. Modern breeders, following a breed standard, consistently create dogs that are easily recognizable in their physical consistency. This type of animal husbandry started to emerge in the late18th century. As our culture became more industrial, our uses for dogs decreased, as a result, most dogs are not used for the original purpose they were developed for. Inevitably, as the need to hunt your own dinner decreased, most modern examples of dogs cannot or do not perform the function that was the purpose of their breed development.


In our period of study, two dogs of the same type could be vastly different sizes, colors, and even shapes. Husbandry and breeding ethics were to improve the dogs’ function. Color, size, coat type and conformation, were only secondary. Crossbred dogs from different types were very common an example is greyhound / hound crosses, called lurchers. Often dogs were bred to contend with the particular local terrain or climatic conditions. Although the animals may be physically similar, coat variations may occur from place to place. An example of this would be short coat for mild climates, wire coat for more protection from dense or thorn ground cover, or long coat for colder climates.  Another factor was law, which, as laws do today, changes from time to time. Some people were prohibited from owning certain types of dogs, limitations on where certain types of dogs could go (such as only comforters or lap dogs allowed in court, small hounds accessing certain hunting lands, or even prohibition of a certain types entirely, poaching dogs). Most of the surviving texts regarding descriptions the appearance of types, are either very vague or differ dramatically in relation locality and time frame. Also, many sources of dog descriptions occur in unusual places, such as manor rolls, court rolls, and even diplomatic documents (quality dogs were often given as gifts between rulers of lands).


The first English printed attempt at classifying dogs is attributed to Dame Juliana Berners (Barnes or Bernes) in her Treatise on Hunting in the Boke of St Albans, which was first published in 1486. She had 14 categories and they were; Grehoun, Bastard, Mengrell, Mastiff, Lemor, Spanyel, Raches, Kenettyes, Teroures, Butchers’ Houndes, Myddyng dogges, Tryndel taylles, Prikherid currys, smalle ladyes’ poppees.


Dr. Johannes Caius wrote the earliest attempt at a thorough classification in 1570 in Latin. His Book De Canibus Britannicus was first translated into English in 1576. (My comments/ clarifications are in parenthesis)


I.             Hunting Dogs

                                            i.     Venatici Group

1.    Leverarws or Harriers             (rabbit hunting dogs)

2.    Terrarius or Terrars        (Terriers varied in size color and coat type)

3.    Sanguinarius or Bloodhounds  (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)

4.    Agaseus or Gazehounds             (greyhound like dogs)

5.    Leporanus or Grehounds            (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)

6.    Loranus or Lyemmer          (another type of scent hound or Bloodhound)

7.    Vertigus or Tumbler         (may be a turn spit)

8.    Cams Furax or Stealer             (sometimes believed to be a poaching dog)

                                          ii.     Aucupatorii

1.    Index or Setter                  (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)

2.    Aquaticus or Spaniell             (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)

II.           Spaniel Gentle or Comforter (Lap dogs)

III.        Farm Dogs

                                            i.     Canis Pastoalis or Shepherd’s Dogge       (herding types)

                                          ii.     Mastive or Bandogge,

called Canis Villacus or Carbenarius      (more size/coat variance than modern dogs)

IV.           Mongrels

                                            i.     Admonitor or Wapp

                                          ii.     Vernepator or Turnespet

                                       iii.     Saltator or Dauncer


Have you have noticed that our modern registries are grouped in similar categories? Even today reminders of this system of classification exist.


So what did these dogs look like? Well quite often they looked similar to the dogs of today, although perhaps larger or smaller, different colors, or coat length. Many of our modern breeds existed, or had prototypes in period. Below is a list of more common modern breeds that existed in period or had its earliest beginnings in period. I have tried to categorize them as they may have been in period.

Comforters or lap dogs - Bichon Frise, Italian Greyhounds, Japanese Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Miniature Dachshund, Papillion, Pug, Shih-Tsu, Toy Spaniel.

Terriers- Cairn Terrier, Irish Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Skye Terrier, Standard Dachshund, West Highland White Terrier.

Hounds / Hunting - Afghan Hound, Beagles, Bloodhound, Borzoi, Bulldog, Coonhound, Elkhound, Foxhound, Greyhound, Harrier, Irish Wolfhound, Ibizan Hound, Otterhound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Vizsla, Whippet.

Spaniels, Setters and Water Dogs - Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, Field Spaniel, Gordon Setter, Poodle, Springer Spaniel.

Herding/ protection/ working - Anatolian, Boxer, Chow Chow, Collie, Corgi, Doberman, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Mastiff, Old English Sheepdog, Pyrenees Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, St. Bernard, Samoyed, Schnauzer.

And of course, the ever useful, versatile and infinitely loveable, mutt or mongrel has always been popular.


My next question is how did these dogs do the jobs at hand, but alas, that must wait for another day.


Pavla de la Satu Mare

(Paula Brewer)

442 Sunny Dale Drive

Cranberry Twp PA 16066

pavla at zoominternet.net


Mundanely, I work in Law/ Finance. I enjoy training dogs and I am currently researching period Terriers and how they were used to hunt.





Forest Laws of Canute, 1016, England

‘A Treatise on Hunting in the Boke of St. Albans’ Dame Juliana Berners (Barnes or Bernes), England

‘A Short Treatise of Hunting’ Sir Thomas Cockaine, Published by Thomas Orwin, London, England 1591

‘De Canibus Britannieus’ Dr Johannes Caius, England, Latin 1570, (‘Of English dogges’) English 1576

‘Master of the Game’ Edward 2nd Duke of York, England, 1405-1413

‘The Art of Fowling’ Gervase Markham, 1621

‘Actions of the Low Countries’ Sir Roger William, England, 1618

‘The Wife of Bath’s Prologue’ Geoffrey Chaucer 1340-1400

‘Macbeth’ Act 3, sc. I’, William Shakespeare, 1599

‘It’s a Dog’s World’, Elizabeth College English Department

‘The British Dog- It’s History from Earliest Times’ Dr. Cameron A Ritchie, published by Robert Hale Lt., London 1981

‘Wakefield Court Rolls- Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield Vol. 1, 1274-1297’ by William Paley Bailon, Yorkshire Archaelogical Society, Record Series vol. 29, 1900, England



Bibliography of Canines in History


Sir Thomas Cockaine Knight, “ A short Treasie of Hunting: com-pyled for the delight of Noblemen and Gentlemen”, Imprinted at london by Thomas Orwin, for Thomas Woodcocke, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the black Beare. 1591,  from the 1932 Shakespeare Association facsimile of the edition of 1591. Webbed Facsimile at http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~rbear/ren.htm">http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~rbear/ren.htm


Leighton, Robert “Dogs and All About Them”, CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD. London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 1910.


http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/aMarkham%2C+Gervase%2C+1568%3F-1637./amarkham+gervase+1568+1637/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Markham, Gervase, 1568?-1637.   “http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/tCountrey+contentments/tcountrey+contentments/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Countrey contentments “, “Country contentments : or, The husbandmans recreations : contayning the wholesome experiences in which any man ought to recreate himself, after the toyle of more serious bussiness : as namely, hunting, hawking, coursing with greyhounds, and the lawes of the lease, shooting in longbow or crossbow, bowling, tennis, baloone : the whole art of angling, and the use of the fighting cock” G. M. London : Printed by W. Wilson, for E. Brewster, and George Sawbridge, 1654.  The 7th ed., newly corrected, enlarged, and adorned with many excellent additions [4], 92, [4] p. ; 20 cm. (4to)...


http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/aTwiti%2C+William%2C+d.+1328./atwiti+william+d+1328/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Twiti, William, d. 1328.   “The art of hunting” : 1327 / William Twiti ; ed. by Bror Danielsson.  Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1977. 116 p., [13] leaves of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/aDanielsson%2C+Bror%2C+1905-/adanielsson+bror+1905/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Danielsson, Bror, 1905-


http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/aCaius%2C+John%2C+1510-1573./acaius+john+1510+1573/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Caius, John, 1510-1573.  “De canibus Britannicis”. English   “Of Englishe dogges, the diuersities, the names, the natures, and the properties : a short treatise written in latine”, by Iohannes Caius of late memorie, ... and newly drawn into Englishe by Abraham Fleming.   London : A. Bradley, 1880.  10], 44, [26] p. : facsim. ; 21 cm.  Includes facsimile of title page of original 1576 ed. Includes catalogue of New and Practical Books dated March 1880 at end.  “Treatise of Englishe dogges”  


http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/aTurberville%2C+George%2C+1540-1610%3F/aturberville+george+1540+1610/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Turberville, George, 1540-1610?   “Tubervile's Booke of hunting” 1576. [Oxford] Clarendon press, 1908.


http://griffin.wsu.edu/search/aTurberville%2C+George%2C+1540-1610%3F/aturberville+george+1540+1610/-5,-1,0,B/browse">Turberville, George, 1540-1610? "The Noble Art of Venerie," written in 1575 “The Book of Falconry or Hawking and the Noble Art of Venerie” (printed together in 1575)  Webbed Facimile, incomplete, at http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/onlinebooks/vetmed/images7.htm">http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/onlinebooks/vetmed/images7.htm

Berners, Barnes or Bernes, Juliana (b. 1388 ?), “the Boke of St Albans”, The first and rarest edition was printed in 1486 by an unknown schoolmaster at St Albans. It has no title-page. Wynkyn de Worde's edition (fol. 1496), J. Haslewood, who published a facsimile of that of Wynkyn de Worde (London, 1811, folio), A facsimile, entitled “The Book of St Albans”, with an introduction by William Blades, appeared in 1881. During the i6th century the work was very popular, and was many times reprinted. It was edited by Gervase Markham in 1595 as “The Gentleman's Academic”.

Jaques du Fouilloux,  "La Venerie du Jaques du Fouilloux" 1561

Topsell, E., “The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents and Insects”. New York: Da Capo Press, 1967. (This is a facsimile of the original edition: London: Printed by William Iaggard, 1607.) It is worth noting that Topsell's first volume is a reworking, expansion, and popularization of a late 16th-century bestiary written by Konrad Gesner,” Historiae Animalium Liber Primus”.

Topsell, E.,” The Historie of Serpents or The second Booke of Liuing Creatures: ... “, New York: Da Capo Press, 1973. (This is facsimile of the original edition: London: Printed by William Iaggard, 1608.) His second volume is likewise derived from the work of Thomas Moffett, “Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum”.)

Chambers, Robert, “Domestic Annals of Scotland”, 3rd edition, R & W Chambers , Edinburgh and London, 1874
Reign of James VI. 1603 - 1625 Part I. Webbed facsimile at http://www.electricscotland.com/history/domestic/index.htm

Gace de la Vigne, “Le Roman des deduis”, 1359, France


Edward Duke of York, “Master of Game”, Edited by Wm. A. and F. Baillie-Grohman ; with a foreword by Theodore Roosevelt, New York : Duffield, 1909

Period Dog Links on the Web


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/General_Info_on_Dogs_001071846665/">General Info on Dogs in period - General info on dogs, breeding, husbandry, feeding, care, medical care etc


Make Your Own Gear
Collars, harnesses, carts, sleds






Greyhound Manor Crafts





http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Period_Research_Reso_001071847398/">Period Research Resources on the Web - Period documents or paintings on the web


A Short Treatise of Hunting, Thomas Cockaine
Imprinted at london by Thomas Orwin, 1591


Images of King John with dogs


Medieval Hunting, Falconry, Angling, and Horsemanship Bibliography


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/SCA_Articles_or_Rese_001071847451/">SCA Articles or Research Papers on Dogs - Our Research




Stefan's Florilegium: Dogs


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Type_or_Breed_Resear_001071847512/">Type or Breed Research - Types of dogs in period


The history of the dog in Britain
Lots of refernce to types/breeds of dogs


Bloodhounds: Noble Medieval Trackers


Borzois.com A brief Borzoi Time Line


Earth Dogs: Terrier History


UK Terrier Group Introduction


Elkhound History


English Springer History


Harrier History




Irish Wolfhound History


Longhaired Whippets in History


History of the Manchester Terrier - Mersey Manchester Terriers


Mastiff History


Poodle History Project
Molosserworld's Origins of the Molosser breed


Saluki: Origin & History




Sighthounds in Celtic Lands


Staffordshire Bull Terrier History




http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Burden_work__001071846466/">Burden work - Dogs used in helping people accomplish their career work, ie turnspits, pursers etc


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Coursing_001071846198/">Coursing - Links on all types of coursing from greyhound to lurcher


SCA Coursing
Known World Coursing


Ansteorra - Medieval Renaissance Greyhound Coursing SCA
Greyhound Coursing SCA Ansteorra


Artemisia Coursing
Artemisia Coursing


Trimaris Coursing
Trimaris Coursing


Greyhound Vocal Heraldry
Greyhound Vocal Heraldry - yes how to herald the coursing at your event


Rules of Renaissance Coursing


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Draft_Dogs_001071846527/">Draft Dogs - dogs used to haul or carry ie carters, midden dogs, butcher's dogs, manure dogs etc


Canine Carts in History
Summary of my documentable research into historic uses of dogs pulling wheeled vehicles.


Swiss Dog Breeds in History
An academic site which covers the history of Swiss Draft Breeds. Very good section on the St Bernard. This site has well researched facts and does not promote myths cherished by many draft dog breed clubs.


Technical Information on a Cart Dog's Pulling Power.
This webpage has very good technical information about a dog's ability to pull a wheeled vehicle.


Training methods for pulling carts and wagons
A very good website which summarizes how to train a dog to pull wheeled vehicles.


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Herding_dogs_001071846590/">Herding dogs - dogs used to guard, herd, or work other animals


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Hunting_001071846228/">Hunting - All types of using dogs for the hunt


Hunting in the Upper Class Society


Medieval Hunting
Hunting with Dogs in Medieval Times


Medieval Roughshooter's Companion


The History of Falconry


Training for a Career in the Hunt


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Protection_work_001071846553/">Protection work - dogs used to guard or protect


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volkshund/links/Terrier_or_Earthwork_001071846280/">Terrier or Earthwork - Hunting dogs used for underground quarry, ferret info in here as well


Terrier or Earth Work Dogs



Working Terrier


http://www.weaselwords.com/pages/art028.asp"> http://www.terrierman.com/hunting.htm






Earthdog Training for Fox Terriers




Go-to-Ground Division




Go To Ground




Stefan's Florilegium Ferrets-Hunt-art




Ferrets in Art History




The Historical Ferret




History of the Ferret





Copyright 2007 by Paula Brewer, 442 Sunny Dale Drive, Cranberry Twp PA 16066. <pavla at zoominternet.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org