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Breeding For A Vigorous Constitution








I think there never was a time in the history of the breed when this
particular feature needed more thoughtful, systematic and scientific
attention devoted to it than now. For the past few years breeders have
been straining every nerve, and leaving no stone unturned, to produce
small stock, toys, in fact, and everyone realizes, who has given the
question thoughtful consideration, that this line of breeding has been at
the expense of the vigor, and indirectly largely of a beautiful
disposition, of the dog, to say nothing of the financial loss that must
inevitably ensue.

Said an old Boston terrier man (Mr. Barnard) at a recent show: Mr.
Axtell, if they keep on breeding at this rate, it won't be long before
they produce a race of black and tans.

In my estimation it will not be black and tan terriers, but nothing. It
will be productive of a line of bitches that are either barren, or so
small that they can not possibly whelp without the aid of a Vet. One
does not have to look very far to discover numbers of men who started in
the breeding of the American dog with high hopes and enthusiastic
endeavors to success, who have fallen by the wayside, owing largely to the
fact that proper attention was not paid to the selection of suitable
breeding stock, especially the matrons. Said a man to me last year: Much
as I love the dog, and crazy as I am to raise some good pups, I have given
up for all time trying to breed Boston terriers. I have lost eight bitches
in succession whelping. We have all of us been there and quite a number
of us many a time.

In order to obtain strong, vigorous puppies that will live and develop
into dogs that will be noted for vigorous constitutions, we shall simply,
and in language that can be readily understood by the novice as well as
the established breeder, lay down the rules that a quarter of a century
has demonstrated to be the correct ones for the attainment of the same as
used in our kennels. As all puppies that leave our place are sold with the
guarantee of reaching maturity (unless shown, when we take no risks
whatever in regard to distemper, mange, etc.), it will readily be seen
that they must have a first class start, and must of necessity be the
progeny of stock possessing first class vigor and the quality of being
able to transmit the same to their offspring. An ounce of experience is
worth many tons of theory, and it is, then, with pleasure we give the
system pursued by us, feeling certain that the same measure of success
will attend others that will take the necessary pains to attain the same,
and they will be spared the many pitfalls and mistakes that have
necessarily been ours before we acquired our present knowledge. It has
been for a number of years (starting as we did when the breed was in its
infancy, and only the intense love of the dog, coupled with an extensive
leisure, which enabled us to devote a great deal of attention to important
and scientific experiments, have enabled us to arrive where we are), an
uphill road, the breeding problems have had to be solved at the outlay of
brains, patience and considerable money. Unlike any established breed,
there was practically no data to fall back on, no books of instruction to
follow, but if the pioneer work has been arduous the results obtained have
far outbalanced it, and the dog today stands as a monument to all the
faithful, conscientious and determined body of men who would never
acknowledge defeat, but who, in spite of all discouragements from all
quarters, and from many where it should have been least expected, have
pressed forward until they find the object of their unfailing endeavors
the supreme favorite in dogdom the continent over.

In the first place, in the attainment of vigorous puppies, we state the
bitches selected are of primary importance, in our view, as already
stated, far more so than the sire. For best results we choose a bitch
weighing from fifteen to twenty-five pounds. If they happen to weigh over
this we do not consider it any detriment whatever, rather otherwise.
Always select said matrons from litters that have been large, bred from
strong, vigorous stock, thoroughly matured, and that have been bred by
reliable (we speak advisedly) men for several generations if possible. If
one can, obtain from kennels that while perfectly comfortable, have not
been supplied with artificial heat. There is more in this than appears on
the surface. Dogs that have been coddled and brought up around a stove
rarely have stamina and vitality enough to enable them to live the number
of years they are entitled to, and fall a ready victim to the first
serious trouble, whether distemper, or the many and one ills that beset
their path. Intelligent breeders of all kinds of stock today recognize the
value of fresh air and unlimited sunshine, and if best results are to be
obtained these two things are imperative.

I was very much interested in the prize herd of Hereford cattle owned by
Mr. Joseph Rowlands, near Worcester, England, and conceded by experts to
be the best in that country, and to learn that for a number of years the
herd (over one hundred in number) have been kept in the open, the cows
being placed in the barn for a few days at calving, and that the prize
winning bull that heads the herd, Tumbler, is sixteen years old, and
still used, and it is stated by Mr. Rowlands is producing as good stock
today as ever. The significant fact about this herd is, they are and have
been perfectly free from tuberculosis. Another herd of Jerseys (although
not prize winners) are kept near there, under precisely the same
conditions with similar results. A breeder of prize winning Belgian hares
has kept these for a number of years without artificial heat, with the
best of results with freedom from disease, and the attainment of strong,
robust constitutions. When puppies are four months old (in the winter
time) they should be placed in well built kennels, without artificial
heat. (Of course, this does not apply to a colder latitude than
Massachusetts.)

The reason for choosing bitches that come from dams noted for their large
litters is this: the chances are (if the dog bred to comes from a similar
litter) that they will inherit the propensity to give birth to large
litters themselves, and the pups will necessarily be smaller than when
only one or two pups are born. The bitch that has but that number runs an
awful risk, especially if she has been well fed. The pups will be large
and the dam has great difficulty in whelping.

If toy bitches are bred, look out for breakers ahead; only a very small
per cent. live to play with their little ones. A toy bitch, bred to a toy
dog, will frequently have but one pup, and that quite a large one in
proportion to the size of parents. When a toy bitch is bred, attend
carefully to these three things. See that the dog used is small in
himself, comes from small stock, and does not possess too large a head.
Secondly, be sure the bitch is kept in rather poor condition, in other
words, not too fat; and thirdly, and this is the most important of all,
see that she has all the natural exercise she can be induced to take.
These conditions strictly and faithfully adhered to may result in success.

In the next place, the consideration of the dog to be used is in order.
Whether he be a first prize winner or an equally good dog that has never
been shown (and the proportion of the best raised dogs that appear on the
bench is very small) insist on the following rules:

Be sure that the dog is typical with first class constitution, vigorous,
and possessing an ideal disposition, and what is of the utmost importance,
that he comes from a line of ancestry eminently noted for these
characteristics. Breed to no other, though he were a winner of a thousand
first prizes. I prefer a symmetrical dog weighing from sixteen to twenty
pounds, rather finer in his make-up than the bitch, and possessing the
indefinable quality of style, and evidences in his make-up courage and a
fine, open, generous temperament. Do not breed to a dog that is overworked
in the stud, kept on a board floor chained up in a kennel or barn, and
never given a chance to properly exercise. If you do the chances are that
one of three things will happen: the bitch will not be in whelp (the most
likely result) the pups, or some of them will be born dead, and one runs
an awful risk of the bitch dying, or, if alive at birth, a very small per
cent. only of the pups will live to reach maturity. I think Boston
terriers are particularly susceptible to worms or distemper, and it is
absolutely imperative that they should not be handicapped at the onset.

One other very important factor is natural exercise for the bitch. Unless
one is willing to take the necessary pains to give her this, give up all
expectation of ever succeeding in raising puppies.


Someone asked a noted critic whom he considered the best singer he had
ever heard, and he answered, Patti. In being asked who came next, he
replied, Patti; and on being questioned who was his third choice, gave
the same answer. Were I asked the three most important essentials for the
success of the brood bitch, I should say, Exercise, exercise, exercise.
By this I do not mean leading with a chain, running behind a horse or
team, but the natural exercise a bitch will take if left to her own
devices. Nature has provided an infallible monitor to direct the dog the
best amount to take, and when to take it. One of the best bitches I ever
possessed was one weighing fourteen pounds by the original Tony Boy (one
of the best little dogs that ever lived) out of a bitch by Torrey's Ned,
by A. Goode's Ned. Her name was Lottie, and she had thirteen litters and
raised over ninety per cent. Those who have read that interesting little
book on the Boston Terrier, by the late Dr. Mott, will readily recall
the genial Doctor speaking of the first Boston he ever owned, named Muggy
Dee, and how intelligent he was, and what a number of tricks the Doctor
taught him, will be interested to know that Lottie was his
great-grandmother, and she was equally intelligent. We had several bitches
by the celebrated Mr. Mullen's Boxer out of her, (this is going back to
ancient history), one of which, Brownie, was, to my fancy, the nicest
dog we ever had. She, with the rest of the litter, had the run of several
hundred acres, and many times I did not see them for days together. They
went in and out of the hayloft at pleasure, and spent the greater part of
their time hunting and digging out skunks and woodchucks which were quite
thick in the woods back of us at that time. I remember the first time
Brownie was bred to that king of sires, Buster, owned by Alex. Goode
(than whom a more loyal Boston terrier man never lived), and I was rather
anxious to see the litter when it arrived, as from the mating I expected
crackerjacks. I had not seen her or her mother for two or three days, but
the time for whelping having arrived, was keeping a close watch on the
stable. About dusk she came in with Lottie, and in a short time gave birth
to four of the most vigorous, perfectly formed little tots I had ever
seen. Each one proved to be good enough to show, although only one was
sold to an exhibitor, Mr. G. Rawson, the rest going into private hands.
Druid Pero was shown in New York in 1898, taking first prize and silver
cup for best in his class, but I think his brother, Caddie, beat him,
his owner, a Boston banker, being offered a number of times ten times the
sum he paid for him.


The day after Brownie whelped she and her mother went off for an hour or
so, and they finished digging out Mr. Skunk (which the attention to her
maternal duties necessitated a postponement of), the old dog dragging him
home in triumph. I attribute the success these dogs, in common with the
rest of the bitches in the kennels who had similar advantages, had in
whelping and the rearing of their young to the fact that they always had
unlimited natural exercise. I can enumerate scores of cases similar to
these attended with equally good results, if space permitted.


In regard to mating, one service, if properly performed, is usually
enough, if the bitch is ready to take the dog. If a bitch should fail to
be in whelp I should advise the next time she comes in season two or even
three visits to the dog, and where convenient I should suggest a different
dog this time. In case this time these services were unsuccessful, then I
should suggest the course that breeders of thoroughbred horses pursue,
viz., to let the female run with the male for three or four days together.
There are many things connected with breeding that we do not understand,
and frequently going back to nature, as in this case, is productive of
results when all else fails.

One very important factor in the production of strong, rugged pups that
live, is good feeding. Do not imagine that feeding dog biscuits to the
bitch in whelp will give good results, it will not; she needs meat and
vegetables once a day. Biscuits are all right as a supplementary food, but
that is all. Meat is the natural food for a dog, and it is a wise kennel
man that can improve on nature. Be sure the meat is free from taint,
especially at this time and when the bitch is nursing pups. The gastric
juice of a dog's stomach is a great germicide, but there is a limit.

Be certain the dogs have a plentiful supply of good, pure water. This is
of far more importance than many people imagine.

Do not administer drugs of any description to your dogs, except in the
case of a good vermifuge, if they are harboring worms, and a proper dose
of castor oil if constipated. If the dog at any time is sick, consult a
good veterinary accustomed to dogs, not one who has practiced entirely on
horses or cows. If a bitch, at the time of whelping, is much distressed
and can not proceed, get a veterinary and get him quick. When the pups
arrive, if all is well and they are able to nurse, let them severely
alone. If they are very weak they will have to be assisted to suckle--do
not delay attention in this case. Be sure the box the bitch whelped in is
large enough for her to turn around in, and do not use any material in the
nest that the pups can get entangled with. My advice to breeders is, if
the bitch is fully formed and grown to her full proportions, to breed the
first time she comes in season. She will have an easier time whelping than
when she is older. If delicate or immature, delay breeding till the next
time. Do not use a dog in the stud until he is a year and a half old for
best results; they will, of course, sire pups at a year or younger, but
better wait. To those people who live in the city, or where a kennel can
not be established for want of adequate room to give the dogs the
necessary exercise, an excellent plan to follow is one adopted by an
acquaintance of mine, and followed by him for a number of years with a
good measure of success. He owns one or two good stud dogs that he keeps
at his home, and he has put out on different farms, within a radius of ten
miles of Boston, one bitch at each place, and pays the farmer (who is only
too glad to have this source of income at the outlay of so little trouble
and expense) one hundred dollars for each litter of pups the bitch has,
the farmer to deliver the pups when required, usually when three months
old. The farmer brings in the bitch to be bred, and the owner has no
further trouble. The pups, when delivered, are usually in the pink of
condition and are, in a great measure, house broken, and their manners to
a certain extent cultivated. He has no trouble whatever with pups when
ordered, as he simply sends the address of customers and the farmer ships
them. This, to me, is a very uninteresting and somewhat mercenary way of
doing business, as one misses all the charm of breeding and the bringing
up of the little tots, to many of us the most delightful part of the
business. To those breeders who have newly started in, do not get
discouraged if success does not immediately crown your efforts; remember,
if Boston terriers could be raised as easily as other dogs, the prices
would immediately drop to the others' level.





Next: Breeding For Color And Markings

Previous: Breeding For Good Disposition



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