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Turnspit, Pt. II

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).

Comments (5)


I don't have a comment but I have A real Picture of a turnspit dog. If you do please send me one.


if you want to see a picture of the last turnspit. you can go to search and type "turspit" one of those sites is a bout the breed and they have a pic of a stuffed turnspit dog.

Wow. I don't know who posted that last comment, but I did find this. What a unique breed. Looking at Whiskey makes me sad.


I liked them. I am so sorry they are gone.


the extintion of the turnspit made me sad i think it was cruel what thry did to then and whiskey is a very unique dog she is the only pic of i turnspit ive ever seen

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 4, 2003 11:59 PM.

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