If a woman gives birth to a child with a dog’s head, the city will be in distress, and evil will be in the country.
|A dog-human hybrid, as depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493, p. 12)|
In the various discussions of mammalian hybrids on this site I generally include all relevant claims that I have encountered, at least those made by serious people, especially by scholars. In setting my own beliefs aside and following this policy of listing all such reports, my intention is to avoid introducing a systematic reporting bias. And I do the same here with respect to allegations of hybridization between primates and dogs.
Cynocephaly, the condition of a human having the head of a dog, is described in the writings of many different cultures, both ancient and recent. As myth, there is an extensive literature on dog-human hybrids. For millennia, authors from China to Greece have written of these creatures, the Cynocephali, strange beings who always, it seems, preferred to occupy the gray, unknown regions of the map.
|A medieval depiction of five cynocephali (dog-human hybrids).|
It was widely believed that entire races of dog-headed men existed (for example, see the extracts from Ctesias and Marco Polo at the bottom of this page). Writing in the early fifth century CE (City of God, 16:8), St. Augustine expresses his puzzlement on the topic: “What shall I say of the Cynocephali, whose dog-like head and barking proclaim them beasts rather than men?” Pliny the Elder (Natural History, 7.2) reported that in the mountains of India “there is a tribe of human beings with
|The Egyptian god Anubis had the form of a dog-human hybrid (from The Papyrus of Ani, c. 1250 BCE) Enlarge Image|
The Egyptians worshiped various dog-headed gods, including the major deity Anubis (pictured at right). In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians revered the goddess Bau, who, under the name of Nininsina, was long represented with a dog’s head. And in some parts of the world, such beliefs linger even today. For example, effigies of dog-headed men still stand duty as temple demons in the wats of Thailand.
Many traditions exist, too, about women mating with dogs. For example, an Inuit story tells of a woman who marries a dog and has hybrid offspring, called Adlets in the Inuit tongue (see quoted story at the bottom of this page). Similarly, in their book The Mythology of Dogs (1997), Hausman and Hausman write about the reverence the Ainu people of northern Japan evince for dogs: “The word ‘Ainu’ in Japanese means ‘sons of dogs.’ The respect accorded to these animals comes from a legend which states that Ainus are people descended from the union of a dog and a woman.” Nansen (1893, 272) notes “Analogous myths of
And then, there are those reports that are non-fictional, at least in tone, but so ancient that they, too, verge on myth. One such is that of Phlegon of Trailles, the second-century Roman writer, who mentions that “The wife of Cornelius Gallicanus gave birth near Rome to a child having the head of Anubis” (23; trans. Hansen 1996), that is, the head of a dog.
But here the focus will be on serious allegations made in relatively recent times, of humans, or other primates, crossing with dogs. As one might expect, such claims by scientists, physicians and scholars are rare. But they are not nonexistent.
With regard to the simple act of mating, it’s well known that male dogs are extremely promiscuous with respect to choice of mate (as is documented elsewhere on this website). They have been observed in coitu with a wide variety of animals, including not only various primates, but even birds, for example, chickens and geese.
Primates, too, can be quite promiscuous, a fact well attested by videos on YouTube and by information presented in the pages on primate hybridization on this website. For example, Morris reports a case of a male squirrel monkey regularly mating with a female springhare (a rodent).
Indeed, there are even cases known in which non-human primates form permanent, family-like associations with dogs in the wild, such as the case documented in the following video:
In the present context, it’s interesting that the scientific name of the yellow baboon, shown in the video immediately above, is Papio cynocephalus, an epithet that refers to its dog-like head.
It’s also interesting that an Australian reporter attending the 1901 Sydney Exposition (see col. 6, p. 7 of the April 13, 1901 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald, access source) describes one of the animals exhibited as
Photograph taken by Dr. H. P. A. de Boom, of the Veterinary Laboratory at Onderstepoort, Transvaal, South Africa, of one of what he describes as the baboon dogs that occur with some frequency in that country. Here in the U.S. this condition is known as “short-spine disorder” and is typically attributed to mutation, not hybridity. Hutt (1964, p. 475) states that the viability of puppies with this syndrome is reduced and that male pups have not been reared. Females, however, do reach maturity and produce offspring. This distinction between the sexes in viability and fertility is consistent with Haldane’s rule.|
Baboon dog: Pregnant female (from Hutt 1964). The chacma baboon occurs throughout Transvaal.|
|A comparison of a baboon-dog with a chacma baboon (Papio ursinus), also known as the Cape baboon, native to South Africa.|
A preliminary search of the formal literature has revealed relatively few accounts of dog-primate hybrids, but some do exist in older scientific journals, all involving human mothers. (If you know of other such reports, please communicate the relevant information through the contact page of this website.) One appeared on page 197 of the Transactions of the Medical Society of New Jersey (1889). It reads as follows:
In this city, February 3, 1886, Mrs. C., after several "false alarms," gave birth to a singular specimen of humanity in the shape of a well-developed male child with a dog’s head. The head lacks the occipital bone, and the two parietal bones are long and narrow, diverging towards the base of the skull, making the head flat on top. The brain is atrophied, and is exposed at the cerebellum. There is no neck nor chin. The mouth is very large, the tongue long, and the nose reaches from the top of the forehead to within half an inch of the upper lip. The eyes bulge out like those of a frog. The ears resemble those of a dog, cropped.
When born, it had been dead only about four minutes. The tongue protruded from the mouth. The head was drawn out to a point, thus bringing the eyes, nose and mouth, close together, making it resemble very much the head of a pug dog. Since its birth it has changed somewhat in appearance. The color of the head has changed from a black to a copper color; the face has become more rounded: it has also become wrinkled.
The second appeared on page 126 of The Atlanta Medical and Surgical Journal (vol. 25, 1885). It reads as follows:
Dr. C. Hard of Ottawa, Ill., reports the following case: A German woman was delivered of a very large female child, weighing fourteen and a half pounds. The body was well formed and perfect but the head was almost the exact counterpart of a bull pup, and was the most hideous monstrosity I ever saw. The eyes were high up on the forehead, large and round, and protuberant, and were two and a half inches apart; no eyebrows. The nose was long and flat, and continued to the mouth, with wide open nostrils; the distance from forehead to nose and mouth 3 1/2 inches. The ears were small and long, standing out from the sides of the head one inch, and looked like the cropped ears of a stable dog; they were 3 1/2 inches apart. Back of the ears was a single tuft of coarse reddish hair, about one inch long. There was no back part to the head; or rather, no bones, but a simple sac containing a soft, semi-fluid mass. Taking the whole face together, the resemblance to a dog was most striking, and was at once remarked upon by all present, some of whom were anxious that I should dispatch it at once, but I allayed their fears by assuring them that the child would not live. It did live four hours, giving out faint moans from time to time.
The third is from page 455 of The Northwestern Medical and Surgical Journal (vol. 1, 1848). It reads as follows:
P. J. Hamilton, M.D., of Franklin, Wis., in a communication relates the following:
On the 9th inst., I was called to see Mrs. R___, whom I found in labor with her fifth child. The pains were very strong when I arrived. The waters were discharged in a short time. I made an examination, and was at a loss to determine the presentation. The pains being strong, I was not long kept in suspense. A child was born with a dog's head. In every other respect, it was perfect. The cerebellum and part of the cerebrum were covered with their proper membrane; the dura mater. A cartilaginous substance formed part of the os frontis. The ears were long, and lopped down, like a dog's. The eyes were very large, and in every respect resembled a dog’s.
A fourth is from a physicians’ round-table discussion of monstrosities, transcribed on page 454 of the Weekly Medical Review (vol. 9, 1884), a journal published in Chicago, Illinois. The relevant passage is an excerpt from the comments of one of the participants, one Dr. Dickinson, who gives a description of a supposed dog-headed child born in Georgia. Dickinson says, "I saw some months ago a publication in the papers in regard to a child in Georgia that had a dog’s head. The name of the physician was given, and I wrote to him out of curiosity to know what he had to say about it. He replied as follows:
Dear Doctor—In regard to the account you speak of, I must say it is a great wonder indeed, but as to its being part dog and part man, I don’t know what to say to you. I will just give you a short account of the case and let you judge. The child is from an unmarried woman, her first, a male child. It presented pedalic extremities first, and flexed upon themselves, and with a good effort I succeeded with great difficulty to deliver, and when I delivered it, I found it perfect male up to the head and face. It has no mouth, no chin, and just where the mouth and chin ought to be, there is a something extending out like a dog or fox, or something of that kind, and its ears are down, under its jaws, or where its jaws ought to be, on its neck. Its eyes are not square across as usual, but diagonal ranging from outwards and upwards at an angle of about 45 degrees. The nose rested upon this, the human nose, and in the center of this strange nose or proboscis, is a little round opening about as large as a knitting needle. Now to elevate the face or head, and look it in the face, it does not look like a human. and has some appearance of an animal, favoring a fox about as much as the dog, but the features are not that of a perfect dog. I must say I never saw anything like unto it in all my days. It is one of the great wonders of the age. I asked the mother if she got alarmed at a dog or anything. She said no. I cannot learn who or what was its father, as she is not very communicative upon that subject.
A fifth medical report|
A similar, but less explicit report appears in volume 6 of the Transactions of the Michigan Medical Society (1873, p. 402). In describing an anomalous birth, the attending physician, Dr. E. P. Christian of Wyandotte, Michigan, says, "Altogether a very odd and monstrous appearance was presented, realizing in aspect what is popularly described as a dog-headed child." (Access original)
In the present context, it’s interesting that some English legal texts dealing with inheritance refer specifically to dog-headed humans. For example, Hawkins (1751, p. 11) states that "None born out of lawful Wedlock can be an Heir. Nor a Monster, i.e., one wanting Human Shape, as having a Dog’s Head, but one having Fingers or Toes too many or too few, or Limbs distorted, is no Monster."
In the first three cases above, the physician making the report goes on to attribute the unusual appearance of the infant to various disturbing experiences that the mother had with dogs while pregnant. And in the fourth case, reported from Georgia, the attending doctor tried to do the same, though the mother provided him with no basis for doing so. Up until the early twentieth century doctors often attributed birth defects to emotional experiences undergone by mothers during pregnancy. Often the specific form of the defect was thought of as the effect of a particular type of experience. Thus, in the cases quoted here, the attending physicians thought that the babies had dog’s heads because the mothers had mentally striking experiences involving dogs.
To my knowledge, no other reports of a dog crossing with a primate have appeared in any formal journal within the last two centuries (other than the brief account mentioned in the sidebar at right). There are, however, various news reports of such creatures. Some are mere allegations mailed in by readers, such as the following message from reader "X.D." printed in the Ann Landers column of the Chicago Tribune on 10/9/1987:
But others are actual reports by journalists. The following appeared on page 4 of the March 25, 1881 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a newspaper published in St. Louis, Missouri (Access Source).
The astounding rumor that a baby, half human and half dog, had been born in the neighborhood of Eighteenth and Morgan streets this morning was current upon ‘Change, and was regarded as an absurd hoax. A reporter, however, went out to the place indicated, and after a great many inquiries was directed to an old two-story frame house, which had evidently seen better days, which is situated on Orange Alley, the thoroughfare running east and west between Franklin Avenue and Nineteenth Street. A trip was made up the shakiest flight of stairs which it has entered the human mind to conceive, and being careful of the weak places on a porch, the reporter at last secured admittance to a room which served as bed-room, parlor, kitchen and dining-room for a small, but interesting family of African fellow-citizens. A large negro woman, was lying on the bed with a weight of bed-clothing upon her. She is what used to be called a “likely” woman, weighing close to 200 pounds, and displaying an undraped arm of which a coal-heaver or a blacksmith might have been proud.
“I’m looking for Samantha Willis.”
“That’s my name,” said the lady in the bed turning away from the wall and grinning at the scribe.
“I understand that you have had a child?”
“Huh! Huh! I done hab free of um [three of them]. N’f [And if the] ole man doan keep’s mouf [doesn’t keep his mouth] shut, I’ll des turn to an hab free or fo’ mo’! [have three or four more]”
At this sable sally, the colored ladies and gentlemen about the bed laughed uproariously. Samantha looked to the reporter for more conversation.
“Yes, I heard that,” said he, “but they said that one of them had a queer head!”
“Well, gimme a dime, boss, ‘n I’ll show you the chile; it is queer for sho’.”
The dime changed hands, the coverlet was thrown down, and a little ebony cherub about eight inches long was fished out of the intricacies of the bedding. He was clothed like Lady Godiva in the legend of Coventry, simply with purity, and at first glance there was little to distinguish him from the average African infant. A close inspection showed, however, that his head was exactly like that of a dog. It was covered with fur rather than wool, and the facial contour was just that of a young bull pup’s. The nose and mouth projected almost an inch from the balance of the countenance, and the ears are long, pendulous and like a spaniel’s. It has the power of moving its ears, which it does continuously, and is apparently a strong, healthy child, although Dr. Carstairs says it cannot live. The whole body is covered with very fine and short hair almost like the down on a peach, it is so soft and so almost imperceptible. The hands are all right, but the feet are malformed, there being a very perceptible dew-claw on the left ankle, and the whole foot is that of a dog’s. The right foot is amorphous, simply being a piece of flesh not differentiated into toes. The other two children have none of the marks of the dog upon them except their ears, which are pendulous like their brother’s, and their bodies are covered with the same downy fur. Mrs. Willis was attacked by a savage dog about three months ago and badly bitten in the side, and Dr. Carstairs traces the lusus naturae to that cause. He thinks two of the children will live, but that the one who is most strongly marked with canine characteristics will die.
The following is a wire story from page 6 (column 3) of the October 8, 1888 issue of the Omaha Daily Bee, a newspaper published in Omaha, Nebraska (Access Source). It originally appeared in the New York Sun.
In a lonely cabin on the banks of Otselic Creek, in the town of Willet, Cortland County, New York, says the New York Sun, may be found a remarkable freak of nature, known through the country as the "dog-faced girl." Here mother and daughter, named respectively Orilla and Sarah Walls, live alone and in poverty, gaining a precarious support by picking berries and gathering roots and herbs, and from gifts at the hands of the numerous visitors whom curiosity brings to their hut.
The peculiarity of the dog-faced girl’s features lies in the chin, mouth and nose, which protrude from the head and neck to such an excessive and unnatural degree, and in a shape strikingly like a dog’s snout or muzzle. Otherwise she is well formed and fully developed for a girl of fifteen years and is notably robust and active. But she is weak-minded, and the wonderful thing about her imbecility is its canine characteristic in voice and movement.
Up to about ten years old the girl persisted in running about on all fours and in this posture she could outrun any child of her age. Her vocal utterances, also, were marvelously like the barking or howling of a dog. As she approached the period of womanhood she learned to walk erect, and her voice lost something of its canine tone, but her features and utterances are still so unmistakably dog-like as to attract marked attention and wonder.
She has a constant stream of visitors, including physicians and scientists as well as ordinary curiosity mongers, and these are told truthfully that her father who died shortly after her birth, was in no way malformed or peculiar. Her mother is good looking in feature and figure, and ordinarily intelligent. None of the dog-faced girl’s visitors have as yet suggested any plausible theory of the freak that gave her to the world.
The next article, which is merely hearsay, is from the front page of the March 12, 1881 issue of the Louisiana Capitolian, a newspaper published in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Access Source).
There is a singular freak of nature near Greensburg [Louisiana, a town about 30 miles northeast of Baton Rouge], which has never been made public. There is a family residing near there which has a child that was born in human form, with the exception that the child had a dog’s head on its body. It is now in its twelfth year, hale and hearty, but barks like a dog. The family served, at the time of his birth, a death warrant on the doctor attending and a neighbor woman who had been called in for the occasion, stated that they would be killed if they ever revealed the misfortune. There are five other children in the family, who are all perfect and intelligent. How this fact reached the ear of the writer is that a party who was on its way to Colorado revealed it to him just before departing. He said he visited the house one day on business, but found the parents out and the children were too small to explain intelligently their whereabouts. In looking about the house to see whether they were in any of the rooms, he opened the door of the room in which the monstrosity was confined; after taking a good look at it he was about to close the door when the parents came in at another door. The father immediately drew his revolver on the man, and there made him promise never to reveal the fact or then and there meet his death. He answered in the affirmative, and there learned that while the mother was enciente [i.e., pregnant], she had visited a neighboring family who had a large, ferocious dog, which attacked her. The family says that no one living has seen the child but the doctor and the female attendant upon its birth, and themselves. The matter has made their life a torture, and while they have prayed daily for its death, it continues to remain hearty. It barks occasionally and raises quite a furor in the room, but to prevent the public from suspecting anything, they constantly keep several dogs about the place. The family are well-to-do and own quite a valuable farm.
The next article is from the front page (column 1) of the August 8, 1890 issue of the Dodge City Times, a newspaper published in Dodge City, Kansas (Access Source).
Cairo, Ill., Aug. 4.—A lady named McLaughlin, residing on Twenty-first street, this city, recently gave birth to a child whose face and head was the image of a bulldog, the rest of the monstrosity retaining the normal condition and appearance of a healthy child. Sometime past the father of the child purchased a large bulldog, whose care he entrusted to the wife. About ten days ago the dog became vicious and frightened the woman so much so that she took to her bed. Yesterday the monstrosity was born. The child died a few hours after birth.
A brief account of the same event appears on page 2 (column 3) of the August 2, 1890 issue of the Daily Tobacco Leaf Chronicle, a newspaper published in Clarksville, Tennessee) (Access Source): "A child with a well formed dog’s head was born at Cairo Wednesday. It lived several hours."
Another, very brief account of a different event appears on page 3 (column 1) of the August 10, 1894 issue of the The Lebanon Express, a newspaper published in Lebanon, Oregon (Access Source): "A child was recently born in Albina with the head of a dog."
An additional single-sentence report is given on page 4 (column 2) of the July 27, 1867 issue of the The Bossier Banner, a newspaper published in Bellevue, Louisiana (Access Source): “A special to the Cincinnati Commercial says that on the 26th inst. ‘A child was born in Milwaukee with a perfect dog’s head.’”
The following report appeared in the April 17, 1880 issue of the Miami Union a newspaper published in Troy, Ohio (Access Source).
Mr. C. F. Grosvenor, Troy correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette sends the following to his paper of the 14th inst. It is a good description of one of the most remarkable monstrosities on record.
Troy, O., April 13.—A singular and somewhat horrible case of the birth of a monstrosity occurred at or near Nashville, [an unincorporated place] in [southwestern] Miami County, last Friday, April 9. Dr. John G. Senour, of Troy, was called to attend a lady in child birth, and the result was a stillborn monster — a male child having a face resembling a bulldog, but otherwise fully developed. It seems that the mother at the period of two months gestation had received a fright caused by the shooting of a bulldog, and the child was delivered at seven months. The countenance is an almost exact imitation of a bulldog, with hair lip [sic], flat nose, flattened eyes, large mouth, and the head set upon the shoulders with no development of neck. There was a peculiar hole in the back of the head [anencephaly and/or spina bifida?], said to be at the same position where the bullet struck the dog, and on the back of the child is a mark like that left on the neck of the dog by the burning of the powder. Dr. Senour has the child preserved in alcohol, and it has been visited by many of our citizens, and is, altogether, a remarkable case of this kind.
Another report about the 1880 birth near Troy appears on page 3 (column 4) of the May 22, 1880 issue of the The Opelousas Courier, a newspaper published in Opelousas, Louisiana (Access Source):
A correspondent of the Cincinnati Enquirer, writing from Troy, Ohio, says: Your correspondent had exhibited to him this morning a monstrosity the most wonderful. It is a child (born dead, of course) with a dog’s head. It was of about seven months gestation, and is in all respects except the head a perfectly formed boy weighing two and a half pounds. The parents are plain country folks, living about eight miles from this place, both husband and wife young, the husband about twenty-four years of age and the wife at the time of the marriage, one year ago, only fifteen years of age. The wife is a large, well-developed woman, young as she is. At the two months’ gestation of the mother, last November, the father had a young bull-pup, which from some cause had become cross and ugly and the husband had often threatened to kill him, until finally one day the father took down his gun, and against the protest of his wife, who was present, shot the dog in the back of the head, just where the head joins on to the neck. The blood spurted from the neck and the wife fainted. The monster is in charge of Dr. Lenour [sic, the correct name is Senour], who attended the lady during her labor, and has been viewed by many persons. It will be a great curiosity in the medical fraternity.
The following two-sentence report, which refers to an event that allegedly occurred in the town of Morgan, Vermont is from page 3, column 2, of the June 29, 1869 issue of the Orleans Independent Standard, a newspaper published in Irasburgh, Orleans County, Vermont (Access Source): "A lady in this town recently gave birth to a child with a dog’s head. It was permitted to die." Morgan is a town in the eastern part of Orleans County, which is itself in northeastern Vermont.
Various older (pre-1800) accounts of dog-primate hybrids exist, involving either humans or non-human primates. For the sake of completeness I here include all reports that I have found. I cannot say whether such a cross might in fact be possible (my subjective estimate of the probability of this type of hybrid ever having been produced is indicated by the Reality Thermometer at right). Obviously, though, there are quite a few reports claiming that it does sometimes happen. But even someone who is absolutely certain that a dog cannot cross with a primate will be able to learn from the information offered on this page that there have been many who thought they could.
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach|
In his De generis humani varietate nativa (Blumenbach 1776, p. 11. Vol. 2, Tiguri, apud Orell, Gessner, Fuessli, et Socc., p. 707), Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), the German physician, naturalist and physiologist, mentions two instances of a dog mating with a primate, and he claims that progeny resulted. In the first of these cases, he does not specifically identify the primate involved, but his brief description of the alleged hybrid suggests a Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia). The animal in the second case, however, was a Diana monkey (Simia diana, the name used by Blumenbach, is a synonym of Cercopithecus diana). (Note that these next cases, involving monkeys, differ from those quoted elsewhere on this page, involving humans, in that the primate parents alleged are both males.) The passage in question reads as follows: “Regarding the question of monkeys and dogs mating and producing hybrid offspring, I hesitate. These animals do seem extremely different. However, two examples
have come to my attention where dogs were impregnated by monkeys, cases which no one believes, and that I myself consider a violation of the natural order. The first occurred in Schwarzburg [a municipality in Thuringia]. His Excellency [Christoph Gottlieb] Büttner [(1708-1776), one of Blumenbach’s professors at Göttingen] was kind enough to send me a carefully drawn depiction of this hybrid. It was like a small domestic dog of a golden-yellow color, but in its eyes, ears, and shaggy mane, it differed from ordinary dogs and indeed in these respects resembled the father.
The second, reported by an eyewitness of the highest reliability, happened about ten years ago in Frankfurt: A dog, after mating with a Diana monkey, gave birth to a puppy that in its ferocity, its disposition, its humped back and long tail, was exactly like its father.
But I leave these issues to be investigated by those who, perhaps, may have a better opportunity of making accurate observations, for the difficulties are well known that occur in experiments of this sort. It is very hard to isolate from other animals the individuals upon whom the experiment is to be performed, and at the same time not to interfere with their desire to mate. And there is always the tendency, whenever abnormal offspring are produced, at once to attribute the peculiarity to hybridization. And, especially, what makes me suspicious about this matter is that I have seen many monkeys of both sexes and various species constantly living for many years with dogs, also of both sexes, and yet I have never seen anything of the sort myself. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original Latin.]
The Swiss anatomist Albrecht von Haller (1777, p. 707), too, speaks of a “definitely credible specimen” (“certe probabile exemplum”) of a hybrid between a dog and a monkey (von Haller, Bibliotheca anatomica. Vol. 2, Tiguri, apud Orell, Gessner, Fuessli, et Socc., p. 707).
Also, in his Journey through Wales (12th century, Bk. II, Ch. 11) Gerald of Wales (c. 1146 – c. 1223) relates that in Chester, England, “during our time, a dog was impregnated by a monkey, and eventually produced
Before the Victorian Era, when sexual prudishness became widespread and such topics taboo, many people professed to believe in human-animal hybrids, and among these, in human-dog hybrids. Thus, the French surgeon and anatomist Ambroise Paré (c. 1510 – 1590) says the following (1982, p. 67): “In the year 1493 a child [was born] having, from the navel up,
An alleged dog-human hybrid (Liceti 1634, p. 185)|
|The 1493 event is also mentioned by Bartholini (Historia anatomicarum rariorum, Hafniae, 1657) who states that “At Rome under the pontificate of Alexander [Cesare Borgia], a woman bore a half-dog … according to the writing of Jo. Langium I. 2. Epist. Med. 9" (translated in Zirkle 1935: 56), and by Simeone Maiolo (Dies caniculares, vol. I, 42). Johannes Lange, the author cited by Bartholini, himself cites Volaterranus (Lange 1605, p. 377).|
Galileo’s friend, the Italian scientist Fortunio Liceti (1577-1657) also mentions this event (Liceti 1634, pp. 184-185), and two others as well:
At Rome, an unmarried girl gave birth to a son who was half dog, which was human from the navel up, but from there down, like a dog. This unnatural event is recorded by Volaterranus, Cardan, Paré and several others.
Volaterranus writes (Commentariorum urbanorum [1530, XXXII, p. 374]) that under the reign of Pope Pius III [whose pontificate followed immediately upon that of Alexander VI and lasted only 26 days (22 Sept. - 18 Oct. 1503)] in Tuscany a certain girl, because she had been accustomed to lie with a dog, became pregnant and gave birth to a child who was half dog, that is, it had the fore- and hind-paws of a dog, as well as the ears, but was otherwise like a human; the issue of how the girl should atone for this sin was referred to the pope. [This last paragraph closely follows Volaterranus]
In his Miscellanies [the Italian scholar Hieronymus] Magius [c. 1523-1572] relates that at Avignon [France], in 1543, from a connection of like nature, a monster was produced, having indeed the head of a human being, but the ears, neck, forelimbs, paws, sexual organs, and other parts of a dog. The woman actually admitted her pregnancy to have been initiated by the dog. And so, in atonement for her sins, by order of Francis, King of the French [i.e., Francis I (reigned 1515-1547)], she was soon thereafter (July 31) consigned to the flames, along with her dog lover. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original Latin.]
Wikipedia says Volaterranus’s Commentariorum urbanorum, where the first two of the last three cases were described, is “an encyclopedia of all subjects known at that time, prepared with great care.” Volaterranus himself might have actually seen the product of the 1503 birth since he was then living in Tuscany at Volterra, the town for which he is named.
Magius’s original account of the French birth reads as follows (see Magii 1564, p. 61):
The Italian historian Benedetto Varchi (c. 1503-1565), who also described this hybrid, claimed (see Varchi 1834, p. 152) that much of its body was “covered in long black hair like that of the dog that the mother had confessed to be the father” (“coperte di pelo lungo e nero come era il cane, col quale confessò poi essersi giacciuta quella tal donna che l'aveva partorito”) and that “it lived so long that it was taken from Avignon to His Most Christian Majesty, King Francis, in Marseille” (“Visse tanto, che fu portato da Avignone a Marsiglia al cristianissimo Re Francesco”).
Given travel times of the day and the fact that Marseille is about 100 kilometers from Avignon, this last statement would suggest this creature was sufficiently viable to live for at least a few days.
Other accounts of this sort exist. A German chronicle (quoted in Schurig, 1732, p. 61) states that in the city of Leitmaritz in 1615:
This creature, then, would have been similar to the one described by Liceti and others above, supposedly born at Rome in 1493.
In a letter appearing in an appendix of Paul Zacchias’s Quaestiones medico-legales, the Italian physician and botanist Pietro Castelli gives the following account of an ostensible human-dog hybrid born to a woman in the city of Messina on December 26, 1635 (translated in de Ceglia 2014):
Castelli commented that
At least one fact of interest emerges from a survey of such reports. All of the various hybrids of this type, if indeed they are hybrids, were supposedly birthed by females (that is, no dog mothers seem to have been reported). So this cross, if it actually occurs, seems to be non-reversible. The only exceptions to this rule thus far encountered seem to be (1) the cases described by Blumenbach above, and (2) the supposedly human-like offspring of a dog, whelped in Umbaúba, Brazil, which was widely, but very vaguely reported on the internet in 2011.
|Stalpart vander Weil’s picture of a hairless puppy supposedly birthed by a woman. (access original)|
In his Observations, a compilation of rare medical cases, Dutch physician Stalpart vander Weil says that in 1677 a woman, Elisabetha Tomboy, gave birth to a living dog (Observation LXXII), a female, and includes a picture (shown at right). As in Castelli’s case quoted above, vander Weil says the weird offspring was hairless (“pilis carentem”). He goes on to report that the woman’s pregnancy continued, and that she gave birth 14 weeks later to a well-formed but stillborn son. This allegation of one type of animal (a human being) giving birth to another type of animal (a dog) is reminiscent of another report from the same time period quoted elsewhere on this site, in which a cat supposedly gave birth to a squirrel.
In the medical periodical Miscellanea curiosa, Ulhelricus (1686) reported a shepardess in Viesebeck, Germany, “quae rem habuit cum molosso,” from whom he says he delivered not one, but two puppies (molosso is a Latin word for hunting hound).
And finally, two old cases similar to the nineteenth century American cases quoted at the top of this page (i.e., alleged births having a human body and dog-like head):
The German physician Christian Francis Paullini (1688, p. 49) describes a case of a Bavarian woman who, in the year of 1635, gave birth to a stillborn “child,” supposedly having
Another, very brief account of a canid-human hybrid is given by the eighteenth-century French physician Jean-Ferapie Dufieu. While listing the various odd cases he had encountered during the course of his work, he mentions the following (Dufieu 1763, p. 229):
Additional supposed human-dog hybrids are pictured at the bottom of this page.
|Romulus and Remus|
In connection with this subject, the various stories dating from ancient times to recent, of human beings being raised by dogs and wolves are not without interest. The story of Romulus and Remus is, of course, famous. And in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon notes that the Turks, too, claimed “that their founder, like Romulus, was suckled by a she-wolf.” Similarly, the Roman historian Justinus claimed that Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, was raised by a dog.
The notion of feral children being raised, or even conceived, by wolves is an ancient tradition in India that continues to have wide currency even today (for more information on this topic, see Wikipedia’s article on Amala and Kamala, two Indian girls supposedly raised by wolves).
Moreover, in certain cultures human beings occasionally marry dogs, for example, the case shown in the video below, in which the parents of a Hindu girl arranged for her to marry a stray dog.
|Video: Hindu girl marries dog|
Are such hybrids possible?
There are, of course, many who believe that such births as those listed above cannot be hybrids between a human and an animal. People who take this stance argue these are wholly human infants that are merely described as half-dog because they have certain dog-like characteristics. In other words, there is an assumption that traits falling within the normal range of human variation are being falsely attributed to canine parentage. This sort of argument dates back to Aristotle, who wrote that in such cases,
But one wonders what Aristotle would have said if confronted with a birth such as the one Magius and Varchi claim occurred in Avignon in 1543 — an infant with a human face, but otherwise mostly dog-like, though born of a woman. Would it be reasonable for him to propose that such things fall within the normal range of what we would call human variation?
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).
(The extract above was taken from the Journal of American Folklore)
Above: Supposed human-dog hybrid conjoined twins (pictured in Liceti 1665, p. 182). Liceti states that the creature on the left was born to a woman in Albania, and that on the right was supposedly birthed toward the end of the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Lothar I (d. 855 CE). Liceti based the right-hand figure on Lycosthenes (below).|
Above: The conjoined twins described by Conrad Lycosthenes. The text in the figure may be translated as follows: “Towards the end of the reign of [Holy Roman] Emperor Lothar, the commander of the Saxons, a certain woman produced a monstrous birth, that is, a kind of man and dog connected in a single body, joined at the back with the spines solidly merged. The emperor died soon thereafter.” Lycosthenes served as a professor at the University of Basel from 1545 until his premature death at the age of 43.
Above: Supposed human-dog hybrid conjoined twins. Pictured in Opera nel a quale vie molti Mostri de tute le parti del mondo antichi et modern (Monsters from all parts of the ancient and modern world), Giovanni Battista de’Cavalieri, 1585. In the caption de’Cavalieri states that these twins lived in "the northern part of Ethiopia." (Enlarge)|
Ctesias of Cnidus
An account of a race of cynocephali living in India, given by the Greek physician and historian Ctesias of Cnidus (5th cent. BCE):
“On these mountains there live men with the head of a dog, whose clothing is the skin of wild beasts. They speak no language, but bark like dogs, and in this manner make themselves understood by each other. Their teeth are larger than those of dogs, their nails like those of these animals, but longer and rounder. They inhabit the mountains as far as the river Indus. Their complexion is swarthy. They are extremely just, like the rest of the Indians with whom they associate. They understand the Indian language but are unable to converse, only barking or making signs with their hands and fingers by way of reply... They live on raw meat. They number about 120,000.
“The Cynocephali living on the mountains do not practice any trade but live by hunting. When they have killed an animal they roast it in the sun. They also rear numbers of sheep, goats, and asses, drinking the milk of the sheep and whey made from it. They eat the fruit of the Siptakhora, whence amber is procured, since it is sweet. They also dry it and keep it in baskets, as the Greeks keep their dried grapes. They make rafts which they load with this fruit together with well-cleaned purple flowers and 260 talents of amber, with the same quantity of the purple dye, and thousand additional talents of amber, which they send annually to the king of India. "They exchange the rest for bread, flour, and cotton stuffs with the Indians, from whom they also buy swords for hunting wild beasts, bows, and arrows, being very skillful in drawing the bow and hurling the spear. They cannot be defeated in war, since they inhabit lofty and inaccessible mountains. Every five years the king sends them a present of 300,000 bows, as many spears, 120,000 shields, and 50,000 swords.
“They do not live in houses, but in caves. They set out for the chase with bows and spears, and as they are very swift of foot, they pursue and soon overtake their quarry. The women have a bath once a month, the men do not have a bath at all, but only wash their hands. They anoint themselves three times a month with oil made from milk and wipe themselves with skins. The clothes of men and women alike are not skins with the hair on, but skins tanned and very fine. The richest wear linen clothes, but they are few in number. They have no beds, but sleep on leaves or grass. He who possesses the greatest number of sheep is considered the richest, and so in regard to their other possessions. All, both men and women, have tails above their hips, like dogs, but longer and more hairy. They are just, and live longer than any other men, 170, sometimes 200 years.”
Note: Ctesias never traveled to India and seems to have based his description of that country solely on Persian accounts.
An account of a race of cynocephali given by Marco Polo:
“Angamanain is a very large island. The people are without a king and are idolaters, and no better than wild beasts. And I assure you all the men of this island of Angamanain have heads like dogs, and teeth and eyes likewise; in fact, in the face they are all just like big mastiff dogs! They have a quantity of spices; but they are a most cruel generation, and eat everybody that they can catch, if not of their own race.”
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On the Origins of New Forms of Life
Cat-rabbit Hybrids: Fact or fiction?
Georges Cuvier: A Biography
Prothero: A Rebuttal
Branches of Biology