Hello, I'm Caroline Clemmons. Recently, my eldest daughter, Stephanie, and I were discussing errors in historical novels. She had helped a friend determine the dog breed appropriate for our friend's 18th-century-set romance novel. Dogs led to horses, and the mistakes people make. I cajoled my daughter into writing this blog on using appropriate breeds of animals even when writing fiction. Here is Stephanie's post:
This incident reminded me of the books that have the macho hero riding a stallion only he can ride. No one else can touch the horse, but he rides quietly among a group of other horses, including mares. I have news for you. No one who knows anything about horses would ride a stallion near another group of horses. Stallions are dangerous and unpredictable and will mount a mare in season regardless of who is on the mare’s back or riding the stallion. They will fight with and even kill other males.
In the same vein, you should make sure that a dog or cat is of the correct breed for the time and place you are writing about. A Scottish Highlander during the 1600s would not have a Labrador retriever. The breed did not yet exist. The Highlander would probably have a Scottish Elkhound instead, or something similar.
I am not a cat person so I cannot give you cat examples. However, the Cat Fanciers Association or The International Cat Association will answer questions about what breed would be in what place when. The American Kennel Club will answer such questions for dogs. For horses, you will have to query the individual breed registries to find out when the breed came into existence and whether it would be in the time and place you are writing about.
Bio: Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. is a dog person, has had horses, and does not own cats. She is also a nonfiction writer, photographer, master gardener, and, on occasion, the research department for her