WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Rum Bugher

Dogs are so much fun. I mean, surely it’s physically impossible to be unhappy in the presence of a dog. They play, they love, they think you are the reason the sun rises and sets each day, and they worship you as they giver of all treats and full bowls of food.

During the Regency, as in other eras, they also worked for their food, and this week I’m looking to see if there was a difference between the Carriage and Coach dog. I’ve encountered both terms in Regency research and fiction; since there was a distinct difference between a coach and carriage, I wonder if there existed two types of dogs as well.

Rum Bugher

A valuable dog. CANT.

According to Wikipedia, the terms carriage dog and coach dog are interchangeable, and refer not to a specific breed but rather a general type of dog. These dogs would run next to the carriages and coaches of their wealthy owners to protect them when traveling, attacking the horses of highwaymen so the coachmen would have time to attack the human bandits. Since carriage/coach dogs were raised in the stables with their owner’s horses, bonding with them only so that they would regard other horses as unfriendly, it would be quite a ferocious beast that would greet another horse on a journey.

It does make one wonder how a host stabled the cattle of his guests during house parties, with carriage dogs on the prowl for hostiles.

Great Dane (possibly?) – Unknown title, unknown artist.

When Dalmatians were introduced to England in the 18th century, Wikipedia reports they became the carriage dog of choice; thus their name became synonymous with the term. During the Regency, Dalmatians became a status symbol for their owners as they trotted alongside their carriages. According to The Kennel Club, the breed earned the name “the Spotted Coach Dog” for their markings; the more decorative the spots, the more prized the animal. The American Kennel Club goes further in its descriptors: “The Dalmatian is also known as the English Coach Dog, the Carriage Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, and the Spotted Dick.”

Dalmatian carriage dogs – Unknown title, unknown artist.

I think it’s safe to say that be it research or fiction, books may safely use the terms carriage dog or coach dog interchangeably.