One of the most incredible things about the widespread adoption of photography in the early 20th century is how well it allows us to compare our own times to what has gone past. A perfect example of this has been put together by the website Science of Dogs, which has culled historical images of dog breeds, and compared them to what modern specimins of that same breed look like.
The images come from a 1915 book called Breeds of All Nations, and the eponymous blog author has gone through, and created a series of matching modern images, that show the same breeds, in the same pose.
The author makes an excellent point about the extremes of the modern breeding circuit, and how the last century of “purebreeding” has lead to major genetic problems in a lot of these animals. What were once healthy, vibrant dog types are now prone to all manner of physical problems, such as spine damage in dachshunds, breathing problems in pugs, excessive skin in bassetts, and more.
What’s interesting is that the only reason we can make these comparisons accurately is due to these photographs. Prior to that, you would have to rely on artistic renderings of species, which might not always be as true to life — like was done with the attempts to create the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
But even in 1915, photography wasn’t that common — especially compared with its current ubiquity. But the rapid spread of cameras and film in the 20th century means that the more recently we look, the more widespread images to compare will be. And 100 years from now, who knows what old cellphone pics will be compared to.