Dogs Rough and Smooth: A Great Gift Book For Your Dog-Loving Friends

My own rough (Tucker) and smooth (Jasper) dogs pose with the new edition of Lucy Dawson's Dogs Rough and Smooth.

My own rough (Tucker) and smooth (Jasper) dogs pose with the new edition of Lucy Dawson’s Dogs Rough and Smooth.

When two things I love intersect, I am a happy woman.

So when the folks at Harper Design asked me if I’d like to review the book Dogs Rough and Smooth, I jumped on the opportunity faster than Jasper finding an empty spot on the couch. (And, no, I wasn’t paid for this review, just received a free copy of the book.)

Because art. And dogs. In a book. (That’s actually three.)

"Johnnie" (Keeshond) (c) Lucy Dawson from Dogs Rough and Smooth

This dog reminds me so much of my Pasha, a Keeshond mix, who used to point his ears just like that when he wanted something. We even made up a verb to describe it: “earsing.” “Johnnie” (Keeshond) ©Lucy Dawson from Dogs Rough and Smooth

What isn’t there to love about a book by Lucy Dawson, whose sketches of dogs, and the amusing stories behind them, were enormously popular in England and the U.S. in the 1930s? Back then it was fashionable for aristocrats to commission stuffy oil portraits of their pampered and prize-winning pure-breds. But Mac, as Lucy was known, poured the essence of dogness onto paper, using graphite and pastels to bring to life the adorable quirks that makes us love our furry family members so much.

Greta Garbo (c)Lucy Dawson from Dogs Rough and Smooth

Those paws! We call them “broccoli paws” when they’re all bunched together like that. Don’t you just want to sniff them? Greta Garbo ©Lucy Dawson

Back in the day, Dawson’s canine artwork was so popular that she published several collections, which are are long out of print; first editions can be found on eBay selling for more than $100. The British royal family even commissioned a painting of their Corgi “Dookie,” which was later featured on a Windsor family Christmas card.

I first fell in love with Dawson’s work when I attended The Dog Show: Art of our Canine Companions, an exhbitiion held at New Jersey’s Morris Museum featuring more than 100 works from American and British artists. I got a private tour of the show, and in my blog post I included a slide show of some of my favorite works, one of which was a pastel by Lucy Dawson, entitled Best Friends.

Blot and Bunch ©Lucy Dawson

Blot and Bunch ©Lucy Dawson

Last year Harper Design published Dawson’s Dogs As I See Them, adding Dogs Rough and Smooth this year for Dawson fans, with a new foreword by Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief. Orlean notes how the artist “was better than anyone at sketching the fold of a fox terrier’s ear, or the tender little sag of a spaniels’ upper lip, or the coursing energy of the muscles beneath a whippet’s skin.”

Hoppy (Welsh Corgi) ©Lucy Dawson

Hoppy (Welsh Corgi) ©Lucy Dawson

Dawson draws her subjects simply, capturing them just being dogs, relaxing on a sofa, or with paws bunched like broccoli, or even backs to the viewer, ears attuned to some unseen distraction.

Taffy  Wire haired terrier Lucy Dawson

You can feel the compressed energy coiled in this sketch, as Taffy sits still only for a chance at a “sweetie.” “Taffy” (Wire haired terrier) ©Lucy Dawson

What might not be obvious at first is that Dawson is as handy with words as she is with pastels and pencils, sketching endearing notes about her models that bring the dogs to life, as if they’re ready for a walk off the page, or wag a tail in greeting, like Peter the Schipperke, whose tail, she notes, “is too short to wag, and this rather saddens me, because it wants to wag all the day long.”

catsby Lucy Dawson from Dogs Rough and Smooth

There’s even a page of cats, though I believe they’re eating from the dogs’ bowl. Can’t imagine any cats who would do such a thing. Cats ©Lucy Dawson from Dogs Rough and Smooth

This book is one of those rarities that you’ll go back to time and again, to visit the terrier Mr. Sponge, or the regal Lady Olfina, or Snoodle, the wire-haired Dachshund.

Athena wishes she has thumbs so she can turn the pages to the one with the cats on it.

Athena wishes she has thumbs so she can turn the pages to the one with the cats on it.

Enter to Win a Set of Lucy Dawson Dog Books

Enter to Win Lucy Dawson Dog Books

Enter to Win Lucy Dawson Dog Books

Enter below for your chance to win a set of Lucy Dawson dog books; each set consists of a copy each of Dogs As I See Them and Dogs Rough and Smooth. I have two sets to give away.

Enter below for your chance to win a set. Read the complete rules. 

Congratulations to the winners!

  • Laura C., from Arizona
  • Paula C., from New Jersey

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  Which of your pets would make a great subject for a Lucy Dawson portrait?

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23 Comments on "Dogs Rough and Smooth: A Great Gift Book For Your Dog-Loving Friends"

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  1. Beth says:

    My mixed breed Sophie is unique looking, and Theo is just hilarious, so both of them would be great choices. These books are new to me, and they look wonderful!

  2. Linda Szymoniak says:

    I’d love to see a portrait done of my deaf hound girl, Ran, who I lost about a year and a half ago. She was so bonded to me and had the sweetest face. The other furbaby that I’d love to see is my 6-month-old kitten, Kotoha, who I found at just two weeks old and had to bottle feed at first. She’s now the sweetest, most loving and playful girl. She loves our other cats (including my older girl, Moko, who has hated every other cat she’s met – until she met Kotoha), our dogs (we have three rescued Treeing Walker Coonhounds), and of course, every person she’s met. She’s multi-tabby – has gray tabby, ginger tabby, and white (so a tabby calico?).

  3. Ruth Epstein says:

    Layla my HaShiPoo as I only have one 🙂

  4. Trish says:

    My Siberian Husky, Saria, would be an excellent candidate for a portrait. She has beautiful blue eyes and a mischievous personality that make for a pretty picture

  5. meowmeowmans says:

    Wow, what a wonderful book! Lucy Dawson is an amazing artist; there’s such movement and life in her drawings.

  6. Jill Hanson says:

    I have lots of pets with unique personalities, so it would be a hard choice, Ike a Pomeranian has lots of character and expression, so maybe him.

  7. Sandy Weinstein says:

    all of my 3 gals would be perfect subjects. however, i would love one of my oldest, Evie, who is dying of terminal cancer. she is not doing well. all of my 3 gals are miniature schnauzers.

  8. Cindy Peterson says:

    I only have one pet so the choice is easy; my Coton de Tulear. He has the cutest fur face ever.

  9. Tammy Horn says:

    Wonderful books. One of my blue merle aussies would make a great portrait. People are always wanting to paint him, with his unique markings he actually looks like he has been painted. He also loves to pose and would hold any position he’s asked to pose in. Plus, he’s just awesome, like all dogs are!

  10. I think she would have enjoyed drawing Joxter McTavish Monkey McBean Martin the 1st. He has a remarkably gentle nature, particularly for a schnauzer. He is master of the “stink eye” but also have very kind eyebrows. He sometimes channels Eeyore.

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