Hey @spokinSGF: I’ve been watching the National Dog Show and now I’m wondering: Does Missouri have an official dog?
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Missouri has a State Historical Dog and it has a State Wonder Dog (I’ll explain in a moment), but it does not have a particular breed of dog as a state dog, which I think is what you’re asking.
As best I can tell, there are 11 states that do, in fact, have a designated breed of dog as a state dog. Usually, the breed is historically linked to the state.
I am not including the state of Delaware, which once had the Golden Retriever as its state dog, but lawmakers this year changed it to the state “rescue dog.”
I’m also not including the state of South Carolina. Just because the South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Commission endorsed the Boykin Spaniel as state dog in 1984 doesn’t make it so.
I’m looking for “state dogs” designated by “state lawmakers.”
Missouri really doesn’t deserve a state dog
To me, Pennsylvania’s 1965 selection of the Great Dane as its state dog is dubious.
When it came time for a vote, lawmakers did not shout “aye.” They barked.
Miss Dazey, upon reflection, the fact we don’t have a state dog is not surprising.
Missouri is known as the puppy mill capital of the nation. Our state is notorious for breeding puppies in horrible conditions — like in stacked cages.
In my view, our state dog should be Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard that contracts rabies and roams the hills and hollers of rural Missouri feasting on the flesh of the people who run puppy mills.
Old Drum, State Historical Dog, was murdered
OK, I know what you’re thinking. What is our State Historical Dog and what is our State Wonder Dog?
Old Drum is our State Historical Dog. Old Drum has been dead a long time. He was a black-and-tan hunting hound owned by Charles Burden. He was murdered on the night of Oct. 28, 1869.
It was Burden’s uncle, Samuel Ferguson, who shot and killed Old Drum because Old Drum had ventured onto Ferguson’s property.
Burden sued his uncle, and two years later the Supreme Court of Missouri ruled in Burden’s favor and awarded him $50 and court costs.
A bust of Old Drum stands in the Missouri Supreme Court building.
If you gave the Wonder Dog a license plate, he could identify the vehicle — allegedly
The State Wonder Dog is Jim, specifically “Jim the Wonder Dog.”
This, too, is an old tale. Jim was a Llewellyn Setter that died in 1937. Sam Van Arsdale was Jim’s owner and he swore Jim exhibited a wide range of extraordinary skills.
Jim allegedly could identify a car on the street if told the license plate number, could recognize unknown people in a crowd if given a description and could correctly predict Kentucky Derby winners.
If you want to pay your respects to Jim the Wonder Dog, he is buried in Park Ridge Cemetery, in Marshall, east of Kansas City.
States with a state-designated breed of dog:
Alaska: The Alaskan Malamute. (2010)
The driving force for the designation were the students at an Anchorage elementary school. For thousands of years, malamutes were valuable work dogs to an Inuit tribe — the Malamutes. The dogs could haul heavy loads over long distances across the Arctic Circle. They resemble huskies, but are stronger and are the largest of the Arctic sled dogs.
Louisiana: Catahoula Leopard Dog (1979)
“Catahoula” in Choctaw means “sacred lake.” This breed originated in north central Louisiana, near a lake named Catahoula. It is a cross of the domestic dog the Indians of the Catahoula Lake region raised and the Spanish “war dog” that came through the area in the early 1500s.
The Catahoula has glassy eyes, webbed feet, a spotted coat and is gentle with children.
Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Retriever (1964)
This breed is popular with hunters for its ability to retrieve water birds such as ducks and geese. “Chessies” seem to be descendants of a pair of dogs rescued from a sinking British fishing boat in 1807.
Massachusetts: Boston Terrier (1979)
The breed originated after the U.S. Civil War from a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier. Boston Terriers look as though they’re dressed in black jackets for a formal evening out.
New Hampshire: Chinook (2009)
The Chinook is a sled and work dog and the only breed that originated in New Hampshire
North Carolina: Plott Hound (1989)
It was originally bred for hunting and tracking by the Plott family in the 1750s.
Pennsylvania: Great Dane (1965)
When Pennsylvania was considered the frontier, Great Danes were used as a hunting and working dog. Pennsylvania founder William Penn had a Great Dane. A portrait of Penn and his Great Dane hangs in the governor’s reception room.
Tennessee: Bluetick Coonhound (2019)
The Bluetick Coonhound is one of the University of Tennessee’s mascots. The mascot dog is always called “Smokey” followed by a Roman numeral. The current University of Tennessee mascot dog is Smokey X.
Texas: Blue Lacy (2005)
The Blue Lacy is the only dog breed that originated in Texas. It is named after brothers George, Ewin, Frank and Harry Lacy who settled in Texas in 1858. It is said that the family used greyhound, scenthound and coyote in creating the breed. In the mid-1800s, the dogs became popular for herding cattle, hogs and chickens.
Virginia: American Foxhound (1966)
The breed originated in the 1700s as a cross of English and French hounds primarily for use in fox hunting.
Wisconsin: American Water Spaniel (1985)
The state designation came after years of effort by junior high students in New London. It is a smart hunting dog and the only breed native to Wisconsin.
The breed originated in the areas along the Fox River and its tributary the Wolf River during the early 19th century. Hunters needed a dog that could work on land and water. They also needed a versatile retriever, skilled at bringing in a variety of game.
Hunters also wanted a dog compact enough to be transported in a small skiff and one that could withstand Wisconsin’s cold water temperatures.
This is Answer Man column No. 60.