Over on an old post, Elaine asks about the fate of the poor, forgotten Turnspit dog. “how did they become extinct and do you have any picture of the dogs?” she asks. I have to confess, when I first posted about the Turnspit dogs, I thought the name described their avocation (turning the spit round-and-round the cooking fire) rather than an actual breed. As it turns out, I was wrong:
The Turnspit dog is one of the few -- perhaps the only -- breed of dog to ever be recorded and identified, and then go extinct. The Glen of Imaal terrier is believed to be a distant relative of the Turnspit today. But Turnspits were so lowly, no one was particularly interested in keeping the breed going.
That article also has some pictures (engravings.)
If you're still interested, you should re-read that original article I linked to as well. It provides another piece of the puzzle. Apparently, once early animal rights activists succesfully lobbied for an end to dogs turning spits, the need for the breed dwindled:
Henry Bergh, a wealthy American dilettante, took up the canine cause and in 1866 founded the A.S.P.C.A. One of his chief concerns was preventing the use of dogs to turn spits (although twice when he showed up at restaurants to make sure they were no longer using dogs for this purpose he discovered that they had started using black children instead).