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It’s all in the name!
4 March 2016
Following on with the theme of how some dog breed names came about, this week we look at four more breeds - all of which have been around for centuries.
It is believed that by Roman times, most of the breed types known today were well-defined and their qualities and functions recorded. Don't forget to post a photo of your dog on our Facebook page in the comments, in honour of our wonderful canine companions.
Often known as the ‘silver ghost’, these beautiful grey dogs take their name from the place in Germany where Grand Duke Karl August of Weimar began to selectively breed hunting dogs that were fast, had strong noses, wouldn't back down from large game like wolves or wildcats, and were smart. Karl August's breed allegedly became fashionable among his fellow Weimar noblemen, and the breed gained popularity as a bird-hunting dog as well. In 1897 in Germany, a club was set up to maintain the breed and ensure that responsible breeders would oversee its development. Unless you joined this club, you were not allowed to buy a Weimeraner, however this changed during World War II when many German breeders were unable to keep their dogs, and many servicemen took them home to their own countries.
Originating in Germany, the name Dachshund means badger dog. When the breed was first created in the early 17th century, German foresters were attempting to create a fearless, elongated dog that could dig its way into a badger's hole and do battle to the death, if necessary. The breed became very unpopular in the UK during both World War I and World War II because of their association with Germany but they soon made a comeback once the wars had ended. A Dachshund named Waldi was the first ever Olympic mascot, chosen for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
Unsurprisingly, this dog comes from Afghanistan, where the original breed name was Tazi. It has long been believed that this breed dates back to the pre-Christian era, however DNS researchers have recently discovered that the Afghan Hound is one of the most ancient dog breeds and does date back over thousands of years.
The first documented Western Afghan breeder was an English Officer, stationed near Kabul, who took an Afghan Hound home to England in 1925. Zeppo Marx (one of the famous Marx Brothers) was one of the first to take Afghan Hounds to America, but they did not really take off there until Barbie had a pet Afghan Hound, at which point, their popularity soared!
The Bichon Frise is of Mediterranean ancestry. His oldest ancestor is the Barbet, or Water Spaniel, from which the name Barbichon came. This was later shortened to Bichon.
The Barbichon group of dogs developed into four breeds: The Bichon Bolognese, the Bichon Havanese, the Bichon Maltese and the Bichon Tenerife. Today's Bichon Frise comes from the Bichon Tenerife. These dogs found their way from the Mediterranean area to the Canary Islands, specifically to the Island of Tenerife. They probably travelled as the companions of Spanish sailors, who used them as items to barter with.
The Bichon Frise made his first appearance in France during the reign of Francis I in the early 1500s. They were also adored by King Henry III of England, who is said to have carried them around in a special basket hung from his neck. By the end of the 1800s, they fell from favour as they were considered common, but after World War I, French breeders took up their cause and worked hard to preserve and promote the breed.