Woof! Dog Breeds from the 1800s #amwriting #histfic #dogs #research #Alabama200 #history

Last week I talked about the Florida Cracker Horse, a horse breed that I’d never heard of before and chose to include in my new supernatural historical fiction series, Fury Falls Inn. There are also some paint horses and Morgans, too. But there also had to be dogs.

I’m a dog lover, there’s no doubt about that. My family has had dogs all my life. I’ve been in the 4-H dog training project as a teen, winning ribbons for dog obedience and grooming way back in the 1970s. We have two dogs now, both Chow mixes, Zola (the golden one) and Sierra (the sable one). So I simply had to have dogs in my series! These dogs are all sensitive to ghostly presence, too. They confirm for Flint that he’s not imagining the ghosts when they appear to him.

Sierra and Zola after their bath and clip!

No self-respecting (I imagine, anyway) farm would be without either hunting dogs or herding/watch dogs to protect the livestock. But then the question arises as to which breed(s) were most likely to be found in 1821 Alabama?

A bit of online search yielded the Dogluvers site with Dogs Breads By Year of Origin, which answered my question nicely.

Given that the inn is out in the wilderness and foothills, it seemed logical they’d have hunting dogs around, so I perused the list until I found the ones I thought most useful for my story. Which did I settle upon?

I have four dogs, and three breeds in my series, all of which originated in the 1800s, though I don’t the precise date. Still, it’s better than having a breed that didn’t originate until a later century. Anyway, I chose to have a male Golden retriever named Red; a male chocolate Labrador retriever named Beau; a female black Lab named Pickles; and a female tawny and white Cocker Spaniel named Cocoa.

The Golden retriever is a large, active dog but “extremely sociable” and a “friendly watch dog,” as well as “good natured.” Those characteristics made it a good fit for a place catering to guests and people coming and going. It’s also easy to train. I think they’re beautiful, too, so wanted to include this breed in my story.

The Labs are also “friendly” and “responsive” as well as easy to train. They are very similar to the Golden retriever in temperament and they come in three colors: yellow, liver/chocolate, and black. So I could distinguish the two Labs by having one chocolate and one black. I like a variety…

Qualities of the Cocker Spaniel breed which made it a good pick for living at the Fury Falls Inn included that they are sociable and a moderately good watch dog. I also thought that since they are considered to be “affectionate” and “responsive” any younger guests at the inn wouldn’t be scared of her. On top of that, I have fond memories of Polly, our Cocker Spaniel when I was a little girl. Even when she piddled across the driveway when she was nervous or excited. She was very loving and friendly, though.

Writing any story, I’ve found, requires sleuthing out some answers to particular questions. Naturally, historical settings require more research than contemporary stories. Some of the questions I had to find answers for may surprise you… Until next time!


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