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Dog Collection at Tring

A collection of dog breeds first made for the Natural History Museum, London in the early decades of the twentieth century and moved to Tring Museum in Hertfordshire in 1968. Some of the dog date back a hundred years. The 'stars' of the collection are three famous greyhounds displayed on the top shelves in the image above: Fullerton, Mick the Miller, and Ballyregan Bob.

The collection was established by English zoologist R. Lydekker.  He obtained dogs from many of the top breeders of his day and together the collection represents a unique display of taxidermied domesticated species and the ways animals are intimately bound with human social history.  It must always be remembered that dogs are not naturally occurring - they have been selectively bred to achieve desired qualities in shape, size, ability, and aptitude. Despite the stunning variety of dogs, from tea-cup poodles to bull mastiffs, from a whippet’s speed to a bloodhound’s nose, all dogs belong to the one species, Canis familiaris, they can all interbred, and are believed to be all descended from a single species: the Asian grey wolf.  In short, what is on display at Tring is our human ability to mould and engineer parts of nature so successfully that all traces of human interference become transparent – the ultimate achievement of any creator.

Image of a Russian Lap Dog (right) and Mexican Lap Dog (left). The Mexican Lap dog was acquired by the British Museum in 1843, making it one of the oldest dogs in the collection.

A Papillon named Wendy. She was born on October 15th, 1942 and died in 1954.

 A Black and Tan Spaniel named Nina Advocate. Died in 1980.

If you're interested in knowing more about this strange and unique collection, a fascinating history was published in 1988, Dogs of the Last Hundred Yeras at the British Museum (Natural History),researched and written by Kim Dennis-Bryan and Juliet Clutton-Brock.  The book includes images of nearly every dog, a brief history of the breed, and often the pedigree record of the animal on display. Click BOOKS TO BUY to purchase a copy.  All images from the Natural History Museum, London's picture library: http://piclib.nhm.ac.uk/piclib/www/


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Reader Comments (5)

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February 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersatria
This website is slightly disturbing.Idont like seeing heads cut off of adorable dogs
if there fake it would be a totaly diffrent story
December 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeaghan Boyd
Great site. I especially like the stuffed heads.
May 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthanatos
I found your site quite a bit more than just a little disturbing! Words can't really express how appalled I was upon seeing Nina Advocate - the black and tan spaniel. Her innocent and loving face was memorialized in such a gruesome manner.

Hmmm . . . let's see. Someone actually cut off her head and placed it on a trophy-like surface so that it could be displayed like it was some kind of memento of a kill. It's bad enough when hunters think it is admirable to display dead animals for all the world to see - it represents yet another psychotic dimension when that creature on such a grotesque display is one's best friend.

Taxidermy is barbaric. It serves no useful purpose to society or humanity.
September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeah
I have been to this museum and found it very fascinating. I especially enjoyed the plaques that spoke of hour our dog breeds have changed over time and there were comparisons at the museum. The taxidermist also stuffed people's best friends for them to have in their home forever. I think it is a wonderful thing and great for Science.
December 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTonya

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