Turnspit Dog

























Canis familiaris

Egyptian Jackal

Long before electricity powered our appliances the work horse of the kitchen was the turnspit dog. Small dogs were forced to walk for hours in specifically designed wheels which powered a variety of kitchen appliances from fruit presses to butter churns. They received their name however because they turned meat upon a spit over an open fire. Mounted high off the floor the wheels were close sided to keep the dog from escaping. The dogs walked for hours at a time, like a gerbil in a wheel, turning to the meat to a golden brown for their masters. With the advent of electricity the dogs were no longer useful and the breed disappeared.

wolf eating

A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869, notice the wheel set high above the spit.

Golden JackalsAfrican Wolf

Turnspit dogs had long bodies and powerful short legs.


The first mention of a turnspit dog occurred in the 1576 issue of "Of Englishe Dogs," by John Caius.

The Engine Dogs


African Wolf

This dog is running a bellows for a nail maker.

 african wolf skull

A patient design for a sewing machine in 1874.

African Wolf Headengine dog








The dog on the left was used to run sewing machines.

Engine Dog

Pre-automobile, the Cynosphere was used for transportation.




Canis familiaris

Extinct canine

small and long bodied

powerful leg muscles

Made obsolete by the invention of electricity