120 years ago: Shepherd was Wilton’s most popular dog breed

Labrador and golden retrievers may be the most common dog breeds in Wilton today, but that title once belonged to shepherds. One hundred and 20 years ago, there were 33 shepherds registered in Wilton, according to the town’s 1898 Dog Register.

Mixed breeds or “mongrels” were the second-most popular type of dog in town — 30 of them are listed in the register. Newfoundland was the third most popular breed in Wilton with 12 listings. Other breeds listed in the 1898 register include:

  • Bird dog: 11.

  • Bull: 11.

  • Setter: 10.

  • Scotch collie: 9.

  • Hound: 8.

  • Terrier: 8.

  • Fox terrier: 6.

  • Pug: 5.

  • Collie: 5.

  • Gordon setter: 5.

  • Black and tan terrier: 4.

  • Saint Bernard: 4.

  • Pointer: 4.

  • Scotch terrier: 4.

  • Water spaniel: 4.

  • Mastiff: 2.

  • Beagle hound: 2.

  • Irish setter: 2.

  • Water shepherd: 2.

  • Bull terrier: 2.

  • Spaniel: 2.

  • Deerhound: 1.

  • Irish terrier: 1.


The most popular dog names in Wilton today are “Molly” and “Maggie” for females, and “Scout” and “Max,” for males, Assistant Town Clerk Ann R. Fiteni told The Bulletin in June .

While there were three dogs named “Max” listed in the 1898 register, the most popular dog name in town 120 years ago was “Prince,” with 12 listings. With 11 listings each, “Jack” and “Rover” tied for the second most-common dog name in 1898, followed by “Shep” with nine listings.

The 1898 register contains a number of dogs with human-like names, including five dogs named “Bob,” five named “Don,” two named “Joe,” two named “Pete,” one named “Tom,” and one named “Phill.”

Some Wilton dogs had names of other animals — there was a shepherd “Beaver,” a Scotch terrier named “Spider,” and a shepherd named “Chick” — while some had military-like names like “Colonel,” “General” and “Major.”

Two dogs in Wilton were named after the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. The most offensive name in the register belonged to Emily Comstock’s male Water Spaniel, whose name was the N-word.

Wilton’s 1898 Dog Register can be found in the Wilton Library History Room at 137 Old Ridgefield Road.