Pugs, Boxers & Glorious Chow Chows
Friday, 19 September 2014

Pugs, Boxers & Glorious Chow Chows

From huge hounds to tiny tearaways, dogs come in all shapes and sizes, says Myles McLeod. And most are absolutely barking…

Written by Myles McLeod
We three siblings grew up in a household that at one time or another had two guinea pigs, a rabbit, two chickens, about 15 stick insects, three goldfish, four cats and three dogs. This is surely a testimony to our mother’s love for animals and, considering our father’s allergy to most animals, a testimony to our father’s love of our mother.


Our first dog arrived in 1985 when I was only 10. She was a West Highland white terrier called Suzie. Shortly after, she was joined by Sophie, a bat-eared Yorkshire terrier. The cat wasn’t impressed. I wasn’t either. I had really wanted a dog, but my idea of a dog was fairly fixed. Dogs were big and yellow (basically golden retriev- ers) or were very yappy and shaped like a black sausage (like our Auntie Pam’s dachshund ‘Zonty’). They were not small, white and cute. Despite this early setback, I grew to love Suzie very much. She was a wonderful dog, spirited, full of energy and very loving. And since then, our family has included a cairn, a Border terrier, a Border collie and a black Labrador.


Of course, I now know that dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Thanks to the plasticity of the dog genome, these domesticated wolves can be as small as a chihuahua or as tall as a Great Dane. Researching for this book revealed that dogs were even more diverse than we knew. Before we began, I’d never heard of the forknosed Catalburun, for example, or the hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid.


My sister Fenella and I had great fun writing the entries, and it has been a joy to see what our brother Greg came up with when he started to illustrate them. Our book is a celebration of the dog in its many forms.


Breeds: A Canine Compendium, by Fenella Smith and The Brothers McLeod, is published by Square Peg, priced £9.99.

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