The Story Behind the Dog Whistles

Whistles have been since early humans first carved out a bone or wood and found they could make sound with it. InΒ ancient Egypt, small shells were used as whistles. Many modern wind instruments are inspired of these early whistles.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, other forms of whistles have been developed. During the Industrial Revolution, one of the major manufacturers in Britain was James Dixon & Sons.Β  Founded 1806 in Sheffield, the company made hundreds of items for kitchen, sporting trophies, shooting accessories, and powder flasks. They also made whistles.

While Dixon & Sons were known for their whistles, all of their products were of outstanding quality.

The whistles first appeared in Dixon’s catalogue in 1883, though some also appeared in sporting goods catalogs that sold guns and rifles, and those were typically dog whistles.

Antique Ivory Dog Whistle

The whistles were often made of Sterling Silver, gun metal, ivory, or horn, the whistles were used for recall and in training a dog. Not to be mistaken for a Galton’s whistle (also known as a silent whistle), Dixon’s whistles were intended to be loud to get a dog’s attention. Dixon started making animal head whistles around 1850, and by 1883 there were at least six dog head models and fiveΒ Boar’s headΒ whistles that all appeared in catalogues as β€œDog Calls.”

Dog whistles were also made by other companies, likeΒ  W. Dowler & Sons, J Stevens & Son, and Thomas Yates.

Antique Silver Dog Whistle

Victorian era silver dog whistle found at the Antique Jewelry Company

Dog whistles are highly collectable, and you can still find some valuable pieces at antique dealers.

Above examples provoked me to make this collection. I thought that Victorian era silver dog whistles are very unique and artistic also a great accessory for both men and women. I also love the idea of functioning jewelry.

Even these beautiful whistles are considered as work of art today, they were not designed as accessories. Though women of that era found a way to make this functioning tool a great accessory. They attached them to their chatelaines (a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains bearing hooks on which to hang small articles such as watches, keys, seals, whistles, thimbles, scissors, and purses.)


Chatelaine, 1863 – 1885, probably England. Museum no. M.32:1 to 13-1969. Β© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I believed that Victorian era silver dog whistles need a modern touch and could be designed in more ergonomic and fashionable way.Β  So, I studied the technical side of the whistle for a while. After a couple of malfunctioning prototypes, I have managed to produce a perfectly functioning and loud whistle. Then the artistic design process started. I have chosen 8 animals as a start. Cat, lion, bulldog, raven, deer, ram, horse and owl. All these animal figures have different stories which you can discover at their product descriptions.


The hardest and most time-consuming part was to produce these small animal sculptures. Whole collection took nearly 6-7 months to produce.

I will be adding more animals to our whistle collection. There will be a chimpanzee, a hare, a pig and a giraffe. Hope you enjoy the collection. Please don’t forget to check my whole collection at here.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like

View all
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post