“It being produced by Linaria seems to us no less monstrous than a calf with a wolf’s head being produced by a cow.”
Nova acta eruditorum 1760, p. 409
This article is about an event that allegedly occurred in Indonesia in 2011, but that seems never to have made the news here in the United States.
According to Indonesian-, Malay- and Arabic-language news reports and blogs, on February 2nd of that year, a cow on the island of Madura, off the northeastern coast of Java, gave birth to a creature (pictured at right) that created widespread excitement and, given that cattle are often accorded sacred status in eastern Asia, even religious awe.
The owner, described in the various articles as the “farmer Misnoto” (also pictured at right), is a resident of the hamlet of Katuje in the Gate District of Sumenep, Madura. He told reporters that the “calf” was born early that Wednesday morning via normal processes and that he and his neighbors were all surprised when they saw its dog-like face.
The various reports seem not to identify the type of cow that served as maternal parent, but Maduran farmers do not keep European domestic cattle (Bos taurus), so the mother would most likely have been either a banteng cow (Bos javanicus), shown below at right, or a cow of the Madura breed (Bos javanicus × Bos indicus).
Several of the articles, which I translated into English with the Google translator, say that the male parent was a wolf. However, the word wolf is likely an artifact of the automated translation. For even if a canid-bovid cross were possible — and it is unknown whether such crosses might rarely occur — it seems highly unlikely that a wolf (Canis lupus) would be present at the locale in question to perform the requisite mating, let alone to produce such a hybrid (unless it were perhaps a pet, or a wolf in a zoo). C. lupus is not native to Indonesia. The only possibility for a canid sire, then, would be domestic dog. Unlike wolves, dogs are notorious for their willingness to mate with almost any type of animal. For example, male dogs have been observed mating with ducks, geese and chickens (see the section on dog hybrids elsewhere on this website). A video showing a male dog mating with a cow appears at the bottom of this page.
|Gape of a thylacine, an extinct carnivore|
As the photos show, this animal, which is male, is a very strange-looking creature. In particular, it has a huge mouth opening, as do many carnivores. Cattle and most herbivores have relatively small mouth openings. In this bizarre “calf,” the mouth opening reaches almost to the ears. It also has a lolling tongue like a dog. Also dog-like is the loose fur on the breast visible in the middle photo. Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but there’s something about its winsome expression in the middle picture that reminds me of my own dog in some of his more relaxed and satisfied moments.
|Cow’s dental pad. (Enlarge)|
However, as can be seen in the enlarged version of the lowermost photo, this animal has no upper incisors. Instead, there is a dental pad at the front of the upper jaw, as in cattle (see picture at right). The lower incisors, clearly visible in the enlargement of the middle picture, are cow-like. However, in the uppermost photo (also enlargeable) the erupting molars seem to be pointed like the carnassials of a dog, instead of flat like a cow’s. The lower jaw is much shorter than the upper and, according to the news reports, the mouth is constantly agape.
A typical banteng cow (Bos javanicus). |
A reader’s comment:
“Wow, who would think a dog could even get his willie up there, but hey, she may have been just lying down in the paddy field chewing her cud when that bounder came along. That is one strange animal. Bovound?”
It was healthy enough but, due to its bizarre mouth structure, it could not nurse from its mother, and at the time the photographs were taken, the owner was feeding it by hand, giving it three liters of milk a day. “What is even more strange,” Misnoto told reporters who came to interview him at his home, “is that this calf will not eat grass. It only drinks milk and eats snack foods like those eaten by humans.” (Does it perhaps have a dog-like digestive system?) Misnoto said he took the animal to a vet to see whether its mouth could be sewn together so that it would be able to suck milk from its mother, but the vet said with its mouth sewn it would not be able to chew its food. The mother had given birth to three normal calves in previous years.
According to the news reports, the creature shown is a young animal, which is consistent with the fact that it was still calf-sized, with teeth that had not yet fully erupted. I have seen no reports describing it after it had matured, so it may have died before reaching full growth. (If anyone has any recent information, I would like to learn more.)
— by Chris Millar
A dog atop a cow
A cow agog
Of course, the photos shown here, which were taken from Indonesian news sources on the internet, may be faked. But if so, they are expertly done. It’s certainly possible, too, that the photos are accurate, but of some animal other than a dog-cow hybrid. In that case, though, the question remains: What is it?
After reading about the Indonesian case described above, I wondered whether other dog-cow hybrids had been reported. So I started searching for other cases. As it turned out, there are many reports about such hybrids. I quote below those that I have thus far found. These additional reports come from ethnically European countries, so the maternal parents are all ordinary cows (Bos taurus).
From a scientific standpoint, the primary value that these reports have as evidence is in the fact that many different people living in different times and places provide what are substantially similar descriptions of this hybrid. In other words, how could these many witnesses, who did not know each other, tell the same general story if that story weren’t true?
The general picture that emerges from all these reports is one of a creature with a dog’s head attached to a calf’s body. Several reports refer to animals with pointed snouts, but most refer to ones having a face more like a pug or a bulldog.
At any rate, here are transcripts of the various reports I've found:
A birth remarkably similar to the Indonesian case was described in 1899 on the front page (column 2) of the of the The Border Vidette, a newspaper published in Nogales, Arizona (source).
Mr. O. H. Christy has lately deliberately destroyed what some men would have looked upon as a fortune, says the Phoenix [Arizona] Republican. A few days ago one of his cows dropped a calf which was a horrible monstrosity. It was perfectly formed as to every part except the head, which was that of a wolf. The ears were long and sharp and the lower one much the longer. The lower lip hung down about three inches and the jaws were filled with small serrated teeth. On account of the conformation of the mouth this strange beast was unable to suck. It had to be thrown down and milk was poured down its throat from a bottle. This kindly attention was resisted. The canine resemblance was carried beyond the shape of the head. The noise made by the calf was at times precisely like the whimper of a pup, and at others like the whining of one. The sight of it was revolting at times, and Mr. Christy reviewed it each succeeding time with increased disgust. Then he began regarding it with a sort of horror, which grew more pronounced as the animal seemed to thrive and give promise of living. His aversion to it thrived in equal ratio and at length he killed it. Its appearance dead was even more revolting than when it was living. Mr. Christy didn’t want even its dead body, to have lodgment on his farm or under it. He built a big bonfire over its carcass and kept it burning until nothing was left of this freak of nature, one of the strangest on record, for there is no record of anything like it.
This calf would have made the fortune of a dime museum proprietor.
One such ostensible dog-cow hybrid, which from the description, was rather similar to the Indonesian animal, is briefly reported on page 7 (column 2) of the January 4, 1913 issue of the The Donaldsonville Chief, a newspaper published in Donaldsonville, Louisiana (Access source). The report transcribed below was apparently a wire story that appeared in many papers around the U.S.
A dog-faced calf was born on the farm of Henry Krekelberg, near Perham, Minn., recently. The animal bore a startling resemblance to a dog, but unfortunately the carcass was not preserved. It had the long, narrow muzzle of a dog, droopy ears like a water spaniel, long lips and the teeth on the lower jaw were of the canine variety.
Another alleged dog-cow hybrid is described in a news story, entitled Calf Half Bulldog is Born at Laredo on page 2 of the February 13, 1925 issue of the The Victoria Advocate, a newspaper published in Victoria, Texas. It originally appeared in the Laredo Times, published in Laredo, Texas and reads as follows:
When it is half calf and half dog.
And such a freak of the animal kingdom was found right here in Laredo.
Yesterday afternoon John P. Dabbs telephoned to the “freak editor” of The Times to come posthaste to his dairy near the Holding Institute at Fort McIntosh and he would behold a freakiest freak that would furnish the gorm for a good story. And soon we were hastening to the Dabbs Dairy, aboard a Detroit Grief [apparently an old slang term for an automobile]. Reaching there, John Dabbs pointed to something prostrate on a gunny sack and said, “Get an eyeful of that.”
And holy shades of the founder of the Chacon and Zacete [sic], there we saw something that made us rub our eyes to make sure that somebody had not given us a shot of marihuanna [sic] or put some weird fire water under our belt. There lay an animal cold in the grip of death that, had it lived, would have had a hard time to find association with any other animal. The portion of the animal including its forelegs, and shoulders, head, nose, mouth, eyes, ears and neck were those of a British bulldog, while from the shoulders southward it was in the form of a heifer calf. We looked again and again. It was no illusion.
With the consent of Mr. Dabbs the freak animal was kidnapped and brought to Serrano’s Studio and there photographed, and then taken to Muter and Ince and turned over to Taxidermist Muter to be mounted. Talking about seeing pink elephants, legless camels, beakless pelicans and silk alligators during an attack of the d.t., you should, in your truly sober senses, see this half-and-half bulldog calf. And we didn’t even have a drink of water as a Rio Grande cocktail when we got an eyeful of this freak. And the best of the thing is the camera backs us up for we have the photographs of this freak for a magazine story. Bah! bah! Bow! wow!
Another case was reported from Asheville, North Carolina (U.S.). The following appears on page 5 of the Friday, April 16, 1920 issue of The Charlotte News from Charlotte, North Carolina (source):
Asheville, April 16. A calf with a perfect dog’s head was born yesterday at the dairy farm of A. P. Reed on the Fairview Road, although, it died within a few minutes after birth. The calf was dropped by a fine Holstein cow which the owner had recently imported from the north and weighed 100 pounds when found. Mr. Reed, who is one of the most reliable dairymen in this county, has had photos taken of the calf showing a head which looks very much like a bull dog’s head, with dog’s teeth, the tusks being prominent, with whiskers on its nose, the bull dog neck and short round head like a dog.
The next case was reported from the town of St. Georgen in what is now northwestern Austria. An account of the event appears in the January 16, 1909 issue of the Austro-Hungarian newspaper Neue Warte am Inn:
The next case reportedly occurred in Woodstock, Vermont, but appeared in papers across the country. The article quoted here appeared on page 6 (column 4) of the July 10, 1907 issue of the Daily Arizona Silver Belt, a newspaper published in Globe, Arizona (Access source). This individual was apparently completely viable.
The oddest freak animal born in Vermont in many years has appeared in the barnyard of H. L. Jones of this village [Woodstock, Vt.]. It is a calf which seems to be half bovine and half bull terrier dog.
The hybrid has the coat, color, body and hoofs of a calf, but its ears are cropped short, its tail is "screwed," and its lower jaw is undershot. The nose is wrinkled and its lower teeth are exactly like those of a dog. The animal wags its tail after the manner of a terrier, and has a habit of sniffing like one.
The day the calf was born it was taken from its mother, a fine cow of two years, and brought up on a bottle because its teeth made it unsafe for it to obtain its nourishment in the natural way. It is a healthy specimen, and up to the present time it has thrived and grown.
Hundreds of folks have called to see the oddity and Mr. Jones has been offered a considerable sum for it in case he can bring it to the weaning stage.—Woodstock, Vt., dispatch to New York World.
Another Vermont case is reported on page 3 (column 3) of the January 14, 1916 issue of the Middlebury Register, a newspaper published in Middlebury, Vermont (Access source).
A freak calf was born recently on the W. B. Locklin farm in Richford [a town in northwestern Vermont on the Canadian border]. The calf had a bull dog’s head, ears and tail. The nose and mouth were like those of a small pug dog, the tongue was about one-half inch wide or half round and protruded from its mouth about three inches and turned up to the forehead. The body was large for a young calf, the legs were about 10 inches long and natural in appearance except that they were large as those of a yearling.
A brief description of a another dog-cow hybrid appears on the front page (column 6) of the July 15, 1879 issue of the The Cincinnati Daily Star, a newspaper published in Cincinnati, Ohio (Access source). Jeffersonville is a town on the southern border of Indiana. Memphis is an unincorporated town, lying north of Jeffersonville in the same county (Clark).
Special to the Star.
Jeffersonville, Ind., July 15.—A calf with a genuine dog’s head, recently born in this county, is still alive and growing. It has the voice of a dog and keeps up such an incessant barking that the neighbors are sorry it ever came around. It is owned by a farmer near Memphis.
Another such account appears on the page 2, column 3, of the May 8, 1901 issue of the The Evening Bulletin, a newspaper published in Maysville, Kentucky (Access source).
Mr. William Marsh, of Moransburg, reports the birth of a monstrosity on his farm a few days ago in the shape of a calf. It was perfectly developed in every respect, except that its head resembled that of a dog more than the head of a calf. The ears were very small, and back of them was a development or formation of the skin that could be rolled over the head somewhat like a hood.
A Pennsylvania case is reported on page 8 (Section B) of the April 15, 1906 issue of the The Washington Times, a newspaper published in Washington, D.C. (Access source):
Altoona, Pa., April 14.—A calf with a dog’s head is the queer freak of nature which for the past ten days has been causing wonderment among the farming population of Mineral Point. The strange object is the offspring of a cow belonging to Charles Page, on Shaffer Hill, and it has been visted by a large number of people.
Yet another alleged dog-cow hybrid is mentioned in a news story on page 12 of the May 12, 1915 issue of the Lewiston Evening Journal, a newspaper published in Lewiston, Maine. The following is the relevant passage:
A one-sentence mention of such a hybrid appears on the front page of the second section of the May 05, 1889 issue of the Omaha Daily Bee, a newspaper published in Omaha, Nebraska (Access source): "A monstrosity of a calf with a dog’s head was born at Palatka, Fla."
The following appears in the June 24, 1881 issue of the Viennese newspaper Welt Blatt (p. 3, col. 3):
The Veterinary Institute, Vienna (German: Thierarznei-Institut) was the forerunner of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien), which is the oldest school of veterinary medicine in German-speaking Europe. Its Veterinary Pathological Museum houses the largest collection of veterinary pathological specimens in the world so this specimen may still be in their holdings. Wallsee-Sindelburg is a town in the district of Amstetten in the Austrian state of Niederösterreich.
The following appears in the January 27, 1881 issue (p. 1, col. 7) The Somerset Press a newspaper published in Somerset, Ohio (Access source):
The absence of one or more appendages, or portions of appendages, seems to be rather common phenomenon in distant hybrids.
Note: The next eight cases, as well as several quoted above, all state that the dog portion of the hybrid resembled a bulldog.
A brief notice (from the Elizabeth City Carolinian) appeared on page 3 (column 1) of the The Progressive Farmer, published in Winston, North Carolina on November 8, 1892 (Access source):
The following appeared on page 4 (column 5) of The Saturday Budget, a newspaper published in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada on June 4, 1892 (Source):
The following announcement appeared on page 4 of the Bloomfield Times, published in Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, on May 7, 1873 (Access original):
A brief article appearing on page 4 of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Wheeling, West Virginia, on Sept. 24, 1879 (Access original) reads as follows:
Mr. D. L. Reynolds, of South Strabane township, Washington County, Pa., has on his farm a cow that gave birth to a monstrosity last Saturday morning. The upper part of the head and body resembles a bull dog; also the lower parts of the hind legs, from the knees down, while the feet are those of a calf. The fore legs resemble a human arm, having the feet divided into five fingers, right and left, similar to the human hand. The under jaw is that of a calf. On Saturday evening the same cow gave birth to a perfect calf, and both are living and doing well. This freak of nature has created considerable excitement in the neighborhood, and many persons have visited the farmhouse to see it.
So here is a second case in which the apparent hybrid offspring was viable.
Another account, which appeared on page 8 of the Fort Worth Daily Gazette, Fort Worth, Texas, on July 8, 1887 (Access original):
A [Fort Worth Daily] Gazette man was shown one of the most curious freaks of nature yesterday ever seen. It was the premature offspring of a cow on the place of Mr. Joe Born, living near town. The monstrosity consisted in the fact that its head was a perfect facsimile of a bull dog’s, even to the ears and grinning teeth. The rest of the body was formed exactly like that of an ordinary calf, but the contrast between the face and the body was almost strartling. The freak was dead when found, and could not have survived its birth long, even if alive when brought forth. It was about two feet in length, of a pretty fawn color.
The following is a brief report that appeared on the front page (col. 4) of the Daily Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, on Feb. 19, 1878 (Access original):
In Australia, a “calf” was born at the newly founded Hawkesbury Agricultural College, Richmond, New South Wales, in 1894 that had two heads, one of them "like a bull-dog’s.” The account, which appeared in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, the local newspaper, on October 13, 1894, reads as follows:
An early case
Liceti (1665, 18) mentions an ostensible hybrid conjoined twin birthed by a cow, a calf with two dog’s heads with dog’s teeth, but seven hooves like a calf.
It’s of interest, then, that another alleged dog-cow hybrid conjoined twin is briefly mentioned on page 5 (column 2) of the July 01, 1915 issue of The Butler Weekly Times, a newspaper published in Butler, Missouri (Access source):
A second Australian hybrid is described on page 7 of the Apr. 8, 1881 issue of the Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, a newspaper published in Armidale, New South Wales (Access original):
So this hybrid was apparently viable. The fact that the Armidale individual was a hermaphrodite is not so surprising as the newspaper article suggests, given that hybrid crosses more often produce hermaphrodites than do ordinary matings.
A third Australian report appears on page 6 of the Apr. 30, 1896 issue of the Newcastle Morning Herald and-Miners Advocate (col. 1), a newspaper published in Newcastle, New South Wales (Access original). It reads as follows:
An additional case appears on page 7 of the Sept. 17, 1896 issue of the Rock Island, Illinois newspaper The Argus (Access original). An article about a fair then in town lists the exhibits on display, among which was
An additional case appears on page 3 of the May 28, 1903 issue of the Bennington Banner and Reformer, a newspaper published in Bennington, Vermont (Access original):
And in volume 6 (p. 70, col. 2) of the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, veterinary F. W. Allen, commenting on a monstrous birth that he himself delivered (Access original), writes:
A bulldog calf. Image: Armed|
Forces Inst. of Pathology.
Bulldog calves. In the news reports quoted on this page, calves described as having bulldog heads likely had the appearance of the animal pictured above. Some veterinarians, although they refer to such births as “bulldog calf syndrome,” allege they are simply abnormalities caused by genetic mutation, not hybridization. Veterinary pathologist J. Carroll Woodard states that “Bulldog calves usually are aborted before the seventh month. The animals are grotesquely malformed with protruding tongue; thick, rotated and abducted limbs; absent hard palate; and umbilical hernia and protruding viscera.”
However, I have not as yet been able to locate research characterizing the genetics producing this phenotype (if anyone knows of such research, please notify me through the contact page). So the question remains open whether such animals might be the result of hybridization. But some of the news reports allege that such animals often have the teeth of dogs. Thus, in the description of a bulldog calf born in Armidale, NSW, transcribed on this page, it is stated that "The greater number of the teeth are those of the dog, but those are large at the base, and are only like a calf’s at the back of the mouth." Such statements speak against the idea that this phenotype could be produced by a simple mutation since it is not the case that single mutation affecting the cranial region has deformed these animals to resemble bulldogs. Rather there has been some additional genetic alteration that causes them to develop teeth like a dog.
Two 18th century reports. It is of interest in the present context that in a list of deformed births, the Swiss anatomist Albrecht von Haller (1774, vol. 1, p. 562) lists a hybrid of this type (“un veau avec la tête d’un chien”), and that the Italian physician Antonio Vallisneri (1661-1730) mentions an alleged hybrid of this type. Thus, in his Opere fisico-mediche (Vallisneri, 1733, vol. 3, p. 453b) he comments that
Though Vallisineri dismissed the possibility that this animal might be a hybrid, the presence of a “sharp snout” seems to connect his “calf” more with the Indonesian specimen pictured near the top of this page than with any ordinary cow.
The following is a list of reported dog crosses discussed on this site. Some of these crosses are much better documented than others (as indicated by the reliability arrow). Moreover, some are extremely disparate, and so must be taken with a large grain of salt. But all have been reported at least once.
By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).
|A bit of doggerel—or is it cowwerel?|
A Dog-cow from Hangchow|
by Gene McCarthy
There was a young dog-cow from Hangchow,
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