14 November 2011

Pets during the Victorian Era

By: Isabel Roman
During most of history dogs weren't exactly considered pets. I'm sure there were exeptions, but then again, there always are.Dogs were working animals who could get on with the household enough for some friendly play during off hours. But as pets? As with so many things during the 1800s this, too changed. Dogs as pets became not only the fashion but a family dog (as opposed to a working dog) as well.

From Victoriana

For a fashionable woman in Victorian England a pet miniature dog was as indispensable as an opera box or presentation at court.  She was nobody without her pet who accompanied her wherever she went, and was fed and housed, according to canine requirements, as daintily as the heir to the title and estates.  In spite of the devotion of mistresses to their dogs, however, it must be admitted that they were extremely fickle in their attachments, as the fashion in lapdogs changed as rapidly as that in gowns and bonnets. 
During one London season, the favorite miniature dog had been the small animal known as the Schipperke, mainly because its hair was short and black. Long-haired dogs in drawing-rooms and boudoirs were found to be incompatible because white hairs on furniture and gowns were absolutely distressing. Even a poodle was found to be a nuisance, and required its own valet or maid to keep it in condition.
 “Lapdog” was the old-fashioned name for the miniature dogs called toys, and quaintly indicated where the line was drawn between household animals. They were dogs small enough to be held in the lap, and they were emphatically pets for the parlor, requiring the care of the lady herself, or of a well-trained maid.
It goes on about which kind of dogs, but I’m sure Labs and German Shepards weren’t allowed. They were outside dogs, not yappers.

Isabel Roman is the pseudonym used by writing team Christine Koehler and Marisa Velez. Their Victorian Druids series has been featured on The Home Shopping Network and is available in bookstores everywhere. Currently they're working on a Prohibition-era series and wondering why time flies so quickly. Visit the Isabel Roman blog!