Joseph Gott was born in Yorkshire in 1786, trained in London under John Flaxman between 1798 and 1802 and from 1805 at the Royal Academy. In 1822, sponsored by his patron, the President of the Royal Academy Sir Thomas Lawrence, he travelled to Rome and settled there for the rest of his life. Rather than the austere neo-classicism of many of his contemporaries, he adopted a more romantic style. Although he did execute sculpture on a monumental scale, his most effective work was in small-scale terracotta and marble groups. His close observation of animal behaviour and anatomy was transferred into the sculptures with great sensitivity and realism.
In 1823-4 the Duke of Devonshire commissioned Gott to make a group of A Greyhound with her two Puppies suckling (Chatsworth House, see Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Joseph Gott, 1786-1860, Sculptor, T. Friedman and T. Stevens eds., 1972, plate 54) finished in 1825. The Duke later described Gott as 'the Landseer of marble' and this commission caught the imagination of his patrons, and was probably the catalyst for the creation of the present terracotta group. In this group Gott made slight but significant differences from his Chatsworth marble; the greyhounds are lying on a naturalistic grassy mound rather than a cloth, one of the puppies is climbing up the body of her mother, who is looking down towards her offspring, unlike in the Chatsworth group, which makes the present work more intimate and playful.