Archiver > GLAMORGAN > 2006-08 > 1156234534

From: "Michael J Roberts" <>
Subject: Re: [GLA] Slightly OT: China Dog Figurines
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 09:15:34 +0100
References: <>

Hi Pam,

It sounds to me as if the dogs you are referring to are Spaniel dogs made in
Staffordshire and known in England as Comforters and in Scotland as "Wally
Dogs". Their inspiration is thought to be Queen Victoria's, King Charles
spaniel named Dash, which she owned as a young girl. Staffordshire dogs were
made in vast numbers and first appeared 1840c and continued to be produced
into the 1900s, the basic Spaniel generally came in five sizes, the
smallest being 5.5" the tallest being 12.5".

The earlier models had fine modeling, often having seperately moulded front
legs. They were decorated in a range of colours, red and white, black and
white, copper lustre, white and gold and the "Jackfield" spaniel, was all
black. The gilding used had the appearnce of a well worn wedding ring and
did not shine. From about 1880 onwards their quality deteriorated, the dogs
were white and poorly moulded. The gilded collars were of a brassy
appearance and they often had glass eyes as compared with painted eyes of
the early models.

There were many variations on the standard Staffordshire spaniel, there were
Disraelli dogs, dogs holding baskets of flowers in their mouths, a very rare
model of a spaniel smoking a pipe and spaniels with puppies, barrels and
children. Apart from the spaniel there were many other types of dogs popular
in the Victorian era. The Staffordshire dog was very common in Victorian
times and can still be found in lots of homes, being a collector of
Staffordshire figures I have several pairs.

As far as bringing good luck to a household is concerned the only luck I can
think of derives from why they were called Wally Dogs. The story relates to
a Scottish seaport where the sailors were frequently away at sea. One
particular sailor who had a woman in every port felt guilty and bought his
wife a pair of Spaniels. His wife was delighted with the dogs until she
eventually learned of her husbands exploits. To exact her revenge she use
to place the two spaniels facing each other in the window when her husband
was at home. When her husband was at sea she would place the spaniels back
to back indicating to any interested lads that she was alone and free. This
practice caught on amongst the other sailors and wives and as a result the
husbands became known as Wallys and the dogs as Wally Dogs. Though I am sure
this practice would not have happened in the Rhondda, there were no sailors
there !

Kind Regards,

( Penally Pembs )

----- Original Message -----
From: "Pamela J. Nixon" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 2:59 AM
Subject: [GLA] Slightly OT: China Dog Figurines

Dear Listers:
My aunt is in possession of two large white china dog figurines that
my grandfather, Matthew Mack brought with him from Wales to the States in
1911 and gave them to my grandmother when they were courting. The dogs look
to me as if they are some type of Spaniel dog with painted gold collars,
wavy white coat, black nose, gold-colored eyes and black floppy ears. They
are a matched set that face one another. The only markings on them are the
right facing dog has a raised XI on the bottom. My family has always
referred to them as the Welsh china dogs.
My aunt was in Wales in the 1970's and she said she saw these dog
figurines in various places in smaller versions in shop windows, restaurants
and hotels. She vaguely remembers them being called "Wylie Dogs". While
watching the 1940's movie, "How Green Was My Valley" about the Morgan family
in the Rhonda Valley, there was one of these dogs sitting on a sideboard in
the living room of the Morgan household so I'm assuming these are a very
common knick-knack in Welsh households.
Is there a specific name for these white china dogs and do they have
some significant history such as bringing good luck to a household?
Pam (Mack) Nixon
Westland, Pennsylvania USA

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