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Breeding For Color And Markings

Every one who has a Boston terrier for sale knows that a handsome seal or
mahogany brindle with correct markings, with plenty of luster in the coat,
provided all other things are equal, sells more readily at a far higher
price than any other. When one considers the number of points given in the
standard for this particular feature, and the very important factor it
occupies in the sale of the dog, too much attention cannot be given by
breeders for the attainment of this desideratum. I am, of course,
thoroughly in sympathy with the absolute justice that should always
prevail in the show ring in the consideration of the place color and
markings occupy in scoring a candidate for awards. Twelve points are
allowed in the standard for these, and any dog, I care not whether it be
black, white, gray, or grizzled, that scored thirteen points over the
most perfectly marked dog, should be awarded the prize. But be it ever
remembered that the show ring and the selling of a dog are two separate
and distinct propositions. In the writer's opinion and experience a wide
gulf opens up between a perfect white or black dog comporting absolutely
to the standard, and one of desirable color and markings that is off a
number of points. I have always found a white, black, mouse, or liver
colored dog, I care not how good in every other respect, almost impossible
to get rid of at any decent price. People simply would not take them.
Perhaps my experience has run counter to others. I trust it may have done
so, but candor compels me to make this statement.

I find that this condition of things is somewhat misleading, especially to
beginners in the breed. They have seen the awards made in the shows (with
absolute justice, as already stated), and have naturally inferred that in
consequence of this, breeding for desirable colors was not of paramount
importance after all. Only a month or two ago an article appeared in a
charming little dog magazine, written evidently by an amateur, on this
question of color and markings. He had visited the Boston Terrier Club
show last November, and speaking of seal brindles, said: If this color is
so very desirable it seems strange that so few were seen, and that so many
of the leading terriers were black and white, and some white entirely,
then follows his deduction, viz., the tendency evidently is that color is
immaterial with the best judges, so that a breeder is foolish to waste his
time on side issues which are not material. I can only state in passing
that if he had a number of dogs on hand that were of the colors he
specifies, black and white, and some white entirely, it would doubtless
seem strange to him why they persisted in remaining on his hands as if
he had given each one an extra bath in Le Page's liquid glue. Pitfalls
beset the path of the beginner and this book is written largely to avoid
them. When one reads or hears the statement made that color and markings
are of secondary consideration or even less, take warning. The reader's
pardon will now have to be craved for the apparent egotism evidenced by
the writer in speaking of himself in a way that only indirectly concerns
canine matters, but which has a bearing on this very important question of
color, and partially, at least, explains why this particular feature of
the breeding of the Boston terrier has appealed to him so prominently. My
father was a wholesale merchant in straw goods, and had extensive dye
works and bleacheries where the straw, silk and cotton braids were
colored. As a youngster I used to take great delight in watching the dyers
and bleachers preparing their different colors and shades, etc., and was
anxious to see the results obtained by the different chemical
combinations. When a young man, while studying animal physiology under the
direction of the eminent scientist, Professor Huxley, whose diploma I
value most highly, I made a number of extended scientific experiments in
color breeding in poultry and rabbits, so that when I took up breeding
Boston terriers later in life this feature particularly attracted me. I
was predisposed, as a physician says of a case where the infection is
certain, hence I offer no apology whatever for the assertion that this
chapter is scientifically correct in the rules laid down for the breeding
to attain desirable shades and markings.

When we first commenced breeding Bostons in 1885, the prevailing shades
were a rather light golden brindle (often a yellow), and mahogany
brindles, and quite a considerable number had a great deal of white. Then
three shades were debarred, viz., black, mouse and liver, and although
years after the Boston Terrier Club removed this embargo, they still
remain very undesirable colors.

The rich mahogany brindle next became the fashionable color (and
personally I consider it the most beautiful shade), and Mr. A. Goode with
Champion Monte and Mr. Rawson with the beautiful pair, Druid Merke and
Vixen, set the pace and every one followed. A few years later Messrs.
Phelps and Davis (who, with the above mentioned gentlemen, were true
friends of the breed), sold a handsome pair of seal brindles, Chs.
Commissioner II. and Topsy, to Mr. Borden of New York, and confirmed,
if not established, the fashion for that color in that city. I think that
all people will agree, from all parts of the country, that New York sets
the style for practically everything, from my lady's headgear to the
pattern of her equipages, and the edict from that city has decreed that
the correct color in Boston terriers is a rich seal brindle, with white
markings, with plenty of luster to it, and all sections of the continent
promptly say amen!

I have taken the pains to look up a number of orders that we have recently
received, which include (not enumerating those received from the New
England States, or New York), three from Portland, Oregon, one from
California, one from St. Louis, one from Mexico, four from Canada, two
from Chicago, and one from Texas, and with the exception of two who wished
to replace dogs bought of us ten or twelve years previously, they
practically all wanted seal brindles.

These orders were nearly all from bankers and brokers, men who are
supposed to be en rapport with the dictates of fashion. It goes without
saying that what a public taste demands, every effort will be made to
attain the same, and breeders will strive their utmost to produce this
shade. Many who do not understand scientific matings to obtain these
desirable colors have fallen into a very natural mistake in so doing. In
regard to the mahogany brindles they say, why not breed continuously
together rich mahogany sires and dams, and then we shall always have the
brindles we desire. Like produces like is a truism often quoted, but
there are exceptions, and Boston terrier breeding furnishes an important
one. A very few years of breeding this way will give a brown, solid color,
without a particle of brindle, or even worse, a buckskin. If the
foundation stock is a lighter brindle to start, the result will be a mouse
color. The proper course to pursue is to take a golden brindle bitch that
comes from a family noted for that shade, and mate her with a dark
mahogany brindle dog that comes from an ancestry possessed of that color.
The bitch from this mating can be bred to dark mahogany brindles, and the
females from this last mating bred again to dark mahogany males, but now a
change is necessary. The maxim, twice in and once out, applies here. The
last bred bitches should be bred this time to a golden brindle dog, and
same process repeated, that is, the bitches from this last union and their
daughters can be bred to dark mahogany brindle dogs, when the golden
brindle sire comes in play again. This can be repeated indefinitely. A
rule in color breeding to be observed is this: that the male largely
influences the color of the pups. If darker colors are desired, use a
darker male than the female. If lighter shades are desired, use a lighter
colored male.

If a tiger brindle is wanted, take a gray brindle bitch and mate to a dark
mahogany dog. Steel and gray brindles are in so little demand and are so
easy to produce that we shall not notice them.

In regard to seal brindles. A great many breeders who do not understand
proper breeding to obtain them have fallen into the same pit as the
others. In their desire to obtain the dark seal brindles they have mated
very dark dogs to equally dark bitches, which has resulted in a few
generations in producing dogs absolutely black in color, with coats that
look as if they had been steeped in a pail of ink. A visit to any of the
leading shows of late will reveal the fact that quite a number of
candidates for bench honors are not real brindle, except possibly on the
under side of the body, or perchance a slight shading on the legs. A
considerable number are perfectly black, and are called by courtesy black
brindles. As well call the ace of spades by the same name. A serious
feature in connection with this is, that the longer this line of breeding
is persisted in, the harder will be the task to breed away. In fact, in my
estimation it will be as difficult as the elimination of white. One
important fact in connection here is that black color is more pronounced
from white stock than from brindle. I recently went into the kennels of a
man who has started a comparatively short time ago, and who has been most
energetic in his endeavors to produce a line of dark seal brindles, and
who is much perplexed because he has a lot of stock on hand, while first
rate in every other respect, are with coats as black as crows and not
worth ten dollars apiece. He seemed very much surprised when I told him
his mistake, but grateful to be shown a way out of his difficulty. A visit
to another kennel not far from the last revealed the fact that the owner
was advertising and sending largely to the West what he called black
brindles, but as devoid of brindle as a frog is of feathers. His case was
rather amusing, as he honestly believed that because the dog was a Boston
terrier its color of necessity must be a brindle. He reminded me a good
deal of a man who started a dog store in Boston a number of years ago who
advertised in his windows a Boston terrier for sale cheap. Upon stepping
in to see the dog all that presented itself to view was a dog, a cross
between a fox and bull terrier. When the man was told of this, he made
this amusing reply: The dog was born in Boston, and he is a terrier. Why
is he not a Boston terrier? Upon telling him that according to his
reasoning if the dog had been born in New York city he would be a New York
terrier he smiled. Fortunately I had Druid Pero with me and said: Here
is a dog bred in my kennels at Cliftondale, Mass., that was a first prize
winner at the last New York show, and yet he is a Boston terrier. After
looking Pero carefully over he exclaimed: Well, by gosh, they don't look
much like brothers, but I guess some greenhorn will come along who will
give me twenty-five dollars for him, and on inquiring a little later was
told the green gentleman had called and bought the dog.

How to breed the dogs so that the brindle will not become too dark, with
the bright reddish sheen that sparkles in the sun, is the important
question, and I am surprised at the ignorance displayed by kennel men that
one would naturally suppose would have made the necessary scientific
experiments to obtain this desirable shading. Only a short time ago a
doctor, a friend of mine, told me he had just started a kennel of Bostons,
buying several bitches at a bargain on account of their being black in
color, and that he proposed breeding them to a white dog to get puppies of
a desirable brindle. He seemed quite surprised when told the only shades
he could reasonably expect would be black, white and splashed, all equally

The system adopted in our kennels some years ago to obtain seal brindles
with correct markings and the desirable luster and reddish sheen to the
coat is as follows:

We take a rich red, or light mahogany bitch, with perfect markings, that
comes from a family noted for the brilliancy of their color, and without
white in the pedigrees for a number of generations, and mate her always to
a dark seal brindle dog with an ancestry back of him noted for the same
color. The pups from these matings will come practically seventy-five per
cent. medium seal brindles. We now take the females that approximate the
nearest in shade to their mother, and mate them to a dark seal brindle dog
always. The bitches that are the result of this union are always bred to a
dark seal brindle dog. The females that come from the last union are bred
to a medium seal brindle dog, but now comes the time to introduce a
mahogany brindle dog as a sire next time, for if these last bitches were
mated to a seal brindle dog a large per cent. of the pups would come too
dark or even black. This system is used indefinitely and desirable seal
brindles with white markings can thus be always obtained. To the best of
my recollection we have had but one black dog in twenty years. We have
demonstrated, we trust, so that all may understand how golden, mahogany,
and seal brindles are obtained, and how they may be bred for all time
without losing the brindle so essential, and we now pass on to the
consideration of a far harder problem, the obtaining of the rich seal
brindles from all undesirable colors, and we present to all interested in
this important, and practically unknown and misunderstood, problem the
result of a number of years extended and scientific experiments which, we
confess, were disheartening and unproductive for a long time, but which
ultimately resulted in success, the following rules to be observed, known
as The St. Botolph Color Chart.

In presenting this we are fully aware that as far as we know this is the
only scientific system evolved up to date, also that there are a number of
breeders of the American dog who maintain that this is an absolute
impossibility, that breeding for color is as absurd as it is impractical,
but we can assure these honest doubters that we have blazed a trail, and
all they now have to do is simply to follow instructions and success will
crown their efforts.

We will enumerate the following colors in the order of their resistance,
so to speak:

No. 1. White. This color, theoretically a combination of red, green and
violet will be found the hardest to eliminate, as the shade desired will
have to be worked in, so to speak, and it will take several generations
before a seal brindle with perfect markings that can be depended upon to
always reproduce itself can be obtained. Starting with a white bitch
(always remember that the shades desired must be possessed by the dog), we
breed her always to a golden brindle dog. The bitches (those most
resembling the sire in color being selected) from these two are mated to a
dark mahogany brindle dog, and the females from this last union are mated
to a dark seal brindle dog. It will readily be observed that we have bred
into the white color, golden, mahogany and seal brindle and this admixture
of color will give practically over ninety per cent. of desirable
brindles. Always see that the sires used are perfectly marked, from
ancestry possessing the same correct markings. This is absolutely
imperative, where the stock to be improved is worked upon is white.

No. 2. Black. This color is the opposite of white, inasmuch as there is an
excess of pigment, which in this case will have to be worked out. Breed
the black bitch to a red brindle dog (with the same conditions regarding
his ancestry). The females from these matings bred always to a dark
mahogany brindle dog. The females from the last matings breed to a medium
seal brindle dog with a very glossy coat, and the result of these last
matings will be good seal brindles. If any bitches should occasionally
come black, breed always to a golden brindle dog. No other shade will do
the trick.

No. 3. Gray brindle. This is practically a dead color, but easy to work
out. Breed first to a golden brindle dog. The females from this union
breed to a rich mahogany brindle, and the bitches from this last litter
breed to a seal brindle dog.

No. 4. Buckskin. Breed bitch to golden brindle dog; the females from this
union to a red brindle dog (if unobtainable, use mahogany brindle dog, but
this is not so effective), and the females from last union breed to a seal
brindle dog.

No. 5. Liver. This is a great deal like the last, but a little harder to
manipulate. Breed first to a golden brindle dog. The females from this
union breed to a seal brindle. The bitches from this union breed to
mahogany brindle dog with black bars running through the coat, and the
females from last mating breed to seal brindles.

No. 6. Mouse color. Use same process as for gray brindles.

No. 7. Yellow. A very undesirable shade, but easy to eliminate. Breed to
mahogany brindle dog as dark as can be obtained, and bitches from this
mating breed to a seal brindle dog.

No. 8. Steel and tiger brindles I class together, as the process is the
same and results are easy. Breed first to a red brindle dog; bitches from
this union to a dark mahogany brindle, and then use seal brindle dog on
bitch from last mating.

No. 9. Red brindle. No skill is required here. Breed first to mahogany
brindles, and bitches from this union to seal brindles.

We have now enumerated practically all the less desirable shades, but let
me observe in passing, in the process of color breeding that the law of
atavism, or throwing back, often asserts itself, and we shall see colors
belonging to a far-off ancestry occasionally presenting themselves in all
these matings. Once in a while a dog will be found that no matter what
color bitches he may be mated with, he will mark a certain number of the
litter with the peculiar color or markings of some remote ancestor. Just a
case apropos of this will suffice. We used in our kennels a dog of perfect
markings, coming from an immediate ancestry of perfectly marked dogs, and
mated him with quite a number of absolutely perfectly marked bitches that
we had bred for a great number of years that had before that had perfectly
marked pups, and every bitch, no matter how bred, had over fifty per cent.
of white headed pups. We saw the pups in other places sired by this dog,
no matter where bred, similarly marked. We found his grandmother was a
white headed dog, and this dog inherited this feature in his blood, and
passed it on to posterity. The minute a stud dog, perfect in himself, is
prepotent to impress upon his offspring a defect in his ancestry, discard
him at once. I have often been amused to see how frequently this law of
atavism is either misunderstood or ignored. Only recently I have seen a
number of letters in a leading dog magazine, in which several people who
apparently ought to know better, were accusing litters of bulldog pups as
being of impure blood because there were one or two black pups amongst
them. They must, of course, have been conversant with the fact that
bulldogs years ago frequently came of that color, and failed to reason
that in consequence of this, pups of that shade are liable once in a while
to occur. It is always a safe rule in color breeding to discard as a stud
a dog, no matter how brilliant his coat may be, who persistently sires
pups whose colors are indistinct and run together, as it were.

Remember, in closing this chapter, that as eternal vigilance is the price
of liberty, so the eternal admixtures of colors is the price of rich
brindles. If one has the time the works of an Austrian monk named Mendel
are of great interest as bearing somewhat on this subject, and the two
English naturalists, Messrs. Everett and J. G. Millais, whose writings
contain the result of extensive scientific experiments on dogs and game
birds, are of absorbing interest also.

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Previous: Breeding For A Vigorous Constitution

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