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The Collie, on a continual climb since its number-seven position in the 1880s, became the number-one breed of the first decade of new century. The breed ranked in the top ten breeds for seven decades of the 20th century. The number-two breed of the decade, the Boston Terrier, is the first small companion dog to get to this position; the breed would stay in the top three for five decades, peaking at number-one in the 1910s and 1930s.


1. Collies

The precise origin of the Collie remains an enigma, but the two varieties, the rough-coated and the smooth-coated, existed long ago in the unwritten history of the herding dogs of Scotland and northern England. Prior to the past two centuries, both varieties were strictly working dogs without written pedigrees. Their untutored masters saw no need for pedigrees and were likely incapable of keeping stud books.


2. Boston Terriers

The breed is a true American creation, bred as a cross between an English bulldog and a white English Terrier. The new breed’s supporters established the Boston Terrier Club of America in 1891, changing the name of the breed from Round Heads or Bull Terriers to Boston Terriers, named after the city where the breed originated.


3. English Setters

The best authorities trace the origin of the English Setter to their appearance as a trained bird dog in England more than 400 years ago. Evidence points to the breed’s origin as crosses of the Spanish Pointer, large Water Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel. These breeds combined to produce a superb bird dog with a high degree of proficiency in finding and pointing game in open country.


4. Bull Terriers

The breed, crosses between bulldogs and various terriers, gained popularity in the early 1800s among the sporting fraternity. These crosses combined the determination and courage of the bulldog with the natural agility and intensity of the terrier. They ranged in size and color. Some show more bulldog heritage, while others are more terrier-like.


5. Pointers

The first Pointers appeared in England around 1650, some time before wing-shooting with guns became popular. Pointers were also often used to locate and point hares in conjunction with Greyhound coursing. By the 18th century, however, wing-shooting had come into vogue and the “shorthair” has been considered by the majority of sportsmen to be the equal, if not the superior, to any of the gun dogs.


6. Cocker Spaniels

The Spaniel family is a large one of considerable antiquity. As far back as the 14th century, we have mention of the Spanyell, which came to be divided into water and land spaniels. Further divisions in land spaniels were based on size. “Cockers” were the smaller of the two types of spaniels and are to this day the smallest in the Sporting Group.


7. Bulldogs

The Bulldog, to the best of our knowledge, had its origin in the British Isles. The “bull” in its name referred to the dog’s use in the sport of bull baiting, an extremely cruel practice in which dogs attempted to immobilize a bull by attacking and biting it. In addition to its supposed entertainment value, it was believed at the time that stimulating the bull in such fashion improved its meat prior to slaughter for sale in the markets. The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 put an end to the sport.


8. Airedale Terriers

The breed is thought to have originated in the valley of the Aire in England and descended from the now extinct black-and-tan terrier. The first Airedales looked completely different from how they appear today, and were known as Working, Waterside and Bingley Terriers. The Airedale eventually became known as a dog that could do it all, and was used as a wartime guard and messenger, as well as for rodent control and for hunting birds and game.


9. Beagles

The actual origin of the Beagle seems to be obscure because of the absence of reliable documentation on the earliest days of development. The turning point for American Beagles came in the 1860s, when dogs from a well-bred strain in England were imported to inject a beautiful breed type.


10. Irish Terriers

The breed’s origin has been much debated, but there is indisputable evidence that it is one of the oldest of terrier breeds. The first record of an Irish Terrier being shown as a recognized breed dates back to 1875, when a class was held for it at a show in Glasgow in 1879. Two years later, Westminster held its first class for the breed.


Click here for Top Ten Breeds of the 1910s
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