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General Hints On Breeding

Having become possessed of suitable kennels to house his stock, the
breeder is confronted with the great question: How and where shall I
obtain my breeding stock? Much depends on a right start and the getting of
the proper kind of dogs for the foundation. Our celebrated Boston poet,
Oliver Wendell Holmes, when asked when a child's education should begin,
promptly replied, A hundred years before it was born. This contains an
inherent truth that all breeders of choice stock of whatever description
it may be, recognize. To be well born is half the battle, and I think this
applies with particular force to the Boston terrier, for without a good
ancestry of well bred dogs, possessing the best of dispositions,
constitutions and conformity to the standard, he is worse than useless.

Whether the start is made with one bitch or a dozen, I believe the best
plan to follow is to obtain of a reliable breeder, noted for the general
excellence of his dogs in all desirable characteristics, what he considers
the best stock obtainable for breeding purposes. This does not imply, of
course, that these bitches will be candidates for bench honors, but it
does mean that if mated with suitable sires the production of good,
all-round puppies with a reasonable amount of luck will be the result. It
would be useless to attempt to deal with the subject of breeding in more
than a few of its aspects, for after a period of twenty-five years of
expended and scientific experiments in the breeding exclusively of
Bostons, I shall have to confess that there are many problems still
unsolved. The rules and regulations that govern the production of many
other breeds of dogs seem impotent here, the assumption that like
produces like does not seem to hold good frequently in this breed, but
perhaps the elements of uncertainty give an unspeakable charm to the
efforts put forth for the production of the dogs which will be a credit to
the owner's kennel. The old adage that there is nothing duller than a
puzzle of which the answer is known, can readily be applied here. I
shall endeavor to confine my remarks to the laws observed and the lines
followed for the production of dogs in our kennels, especially in the
attainment of correct color and markings, vigorous constitutions and
desirable dispositions.

In speaking of the breeding stock I am aware that I am going contrary to
the opinion of many breeders when I state that I believe that the dam
should possess equal or more quality than the sire, that her influence and
characteristics are perpetuated in her posterity to a greater degree than
are those of the sire's, especially that feature of paramount importance,
a beautiful disposition, hence I speak of the maternal side of the house
first. There are two inexorable laws that confront the breeder at the
onset, more rigid than were those of the Medes and Persians, the
non-observance of which will inevitably lead to shipwreck. Better by far
turn one's energies in attempting to square the circle, or produce a
strain of frogs covered with feathers, than attempt to raise Boston
terriers without due attention being given to those physiological laws
which experience has proven correct. The first law is that Like produces
like, although, as previously stated in the case of this breed, more than
in any other known to the writer, many exceptions present themselves, even
when the utmost care has been exercised, still the maxim holds good in the
main. The second law is that of Heredity, too often paid inadequate
attention to, but which demands constant and unremitting apprehension, as
it modifies the first law in many ways. It may be briefly described as the
biological law by which the general characteristics of living creatures
are repeated in their descendants. Practically every one has noticed its
workings in the human family, how many children bear a stronger
resemblance to their grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc., than to their
parents, and in the lower order of animals, and it seems to me in the
Bostons especially, this tendency to atavism, or throwing back to some
ancestor, in many cases quite remote, is very pronounced, hence the
necessity of a good general knowledge of the pedigree and family history
of the dogs the breeder selects for his foundation stock. A kennel cannot
be built in a day; it takes time, money, perseverance, and a strict
attention to detail to insure success.

Breed to the best, is a golden rule, but this applies not only to the
animals themselves, but also in a far greater measure to the good general
qualities possessed by their ancestry. Far more pregnant with good results
would be the mating of two good all-round specimens, lacking to a
considerable extent show points, but the products of two families known
for their general excellence for several generations, than the offspring
would be of two noted prize winners of uncertain ancestry, neither of
which possessed the inherent quality of being able to reproduce
themselves. It will be noted that very few first prize winners had prize
winning sires and dams. The noted stud dogs of the past, Buster,
Sullivan's Punch, Cracksman, Hickey's Teddy IV. and many others were
not in themselves noted winners, and the same statement may be made of the
dams of many of the prize winning dogs, but they possessed in themselves
and their ancestry that hall mark of quality which appeared in a
pronounced form in their offspring. Experience has shown that first class
qualities must exist for several generations in order to render their
perpetuation highly probable. The converse of this is equally true, that
any bad qualities bred for the same length of time are quite as hard to
eliminate. If the dog or bitch possesses weak points, be sure to breed to
dogs coming from families that are noted for their corresponding strong
points. In this case the principle of give and take will be adopted. It
used to be the ambition of every breeder (or, at least, most of them), to
produce a winner, rather than the production of a line of dogs of good
uniform type, of good average salable quality, but most have lived long
enough to see that this has not paid as well in money or expected results
as where similar endeavors have been directed towards the production of
good all-round dogs, always striving to advance their dogs to a higher
grade of excellence. In this way in nearly every instance prize winning
dogs have been produced, and there is this peculiarity noticeable in this
breed, that any one, whether he be a breeder of the greatest number, or a
very poor man owning only one or two in his kitchen kennel, possesses an
equal chance of producing the winner of the blue. The breeder of today has
a far easier time than in the early days of the dog when type was not as
pronounced or fixed, and when considerable inbreeding of necessity had to
be resorted to. In almost all parts of the country stud dogs of first
class lineage are obtainable and the general public are educated
sufficiently to understand the good points of the dog. I think the
breeding of this dog appeals to a wider class of people than any other
breed, from the man of wealth who produces the puppies to be given away as
wedding presents or Christmas gifts, down to the lone widow, or the man
incapacitated for hard work, who must do something to keep the wolf from
the door, and who finds in the raising of these charming little pets a
certain source of income and a delightful occupation combined. I do not
think that any one may apprehend that the market will ever be overstocked,
for as the dog becomes known, the desire for possession among all classes
will be correspondingly increased, and as he is strictly an American
product, no importation from Europe can possibly supply winners, or
specially good dogs, as is the case with almost all other breeds. And the
fact is demonstrated that dogs of A 1 quality can be produced on American

There are two or three subjects that demand the most careful consideration
at the hands of the breeder, and to which I am afraid in many cases not
particular enough attention is given. I refer in the first place to the
question of inbreeding, an admitted necessity in the early history of the
dog, but in the writer's estimation very harmful and much to be
discouraged at the present time. I will yield to no man in the belief that
the fact is absolutely and scientifically true that close consanguineous
breeding is the most powerful means of determining character and
establishing type, in many instances justifiable as the only correct way
to fix desirable qualities, both physical and mental, but extreme care
must be exercised that both parties to the union must be of good quality
and not share the same defects, and where it is evident that the extra
good qualities on the one side more than outbalance the defects of the
other, and extreme precaution must always be paid to avoid carrying this
system too far.

In regard to intense inbreeding, as in the case of mating dogs from the
same sire and dam, or the bitch to her sire, or dam to son, I thing it is
highly objectionable and should never under any circumstances be resorted
to; failure will ensue. Far better to let the bitch go by unmated and lose
six months than mate her in this way because a suitable stud dog was not
at the time available. I believe that this inbreeding is productive of
excessive nervousness, weakness in physical form, the impairment of
breeding functions, and the predisposition to disease in its multiform

That eminent authority, Sir John Seabright, the originator of the early
race of bantams, known as the silver and gold spangled Seabrights, also
conducted an exhaustive series of experiments on the inbreeding of dogs
and demonstrated to an absolute certainty that the system was productive
of weakness, diminished growth, and general weediness. His experiments had
a world-wide reputation and the writer, when he first visited his large
estates near London, little dreamed that in after years he would
personally benefit by Sir John's work. I believe the prevailing ideas in
many quarters a number of years ago, as to the general stupidity of the
Boston terrier (and in some isolated cases I believed well founded), arose
from the fact that it was popularly believed he was too much inbred. I
will give just one case of inbreeding in our kennels, tried for
experiment's sake, as a warning. I took the most rugged bitch I possessed
and mated her to her sire, a dog of equal vigor. The result was six
puppies, strong, and as handsome as a picture. When two months old they
were sold to different parties on the Eastern seaboard, from Philadelphia
up to the Canadian line. This was before the West had caught on to the
breed. About two months later I had a letter from New York stating that
the pup was growing finely, but that he seemed to be hard of hearing. A
few days after this I received another epistle from Salem that the puppy I
had sent on was believed to be stone deaf. It would be superfluous to add
that the purchase money was returned, and the other four customers were
notified of the condition of the others. It may seem somewhat incredible,
but two out of the four stated that they believed the pups had defective
hearing, and declined to receive their money back, and the other two
stated that before my notification they had never observed that their dogs
were deaf. Here was a case of the entire litter being perfect practically
in every other respect, and yet every one stone deaf, and in my estimation
not worth a sou. As we have never had a case of deafness in our kennels
before or since, we attribute this solely to inbreeding.

Another important feature, little understood, and frequently much dreaded,
is that of Antecedent Impressions. When a bitch has been served by a dog
not of her own breed it has been proven in extremely rare cases that the
subsequent litters by dogs of her own kind, showed traces (or, at least,
one or more of the litter did) of the dog she was first lined by. The
theory by physiologists is that the life-giving germ, implanted by the
first dog, penetrates the serous coat of the ovary, burrows into its
parenchyma, and seeks out immature ova, not to be ripened and discharged
perhaps for years, and to produce the modifying influence described. Many
breeders are unwise enough to believe that a bitch the victim of
misalliance is practically ruined for breeding purposes and discard her.
While, of course, we believe in the fact of Antecedent Impressions, we
think they are as rare as the proverbial visit of angels. We have given
this subject serious attention and have tried numerous experiments, using
various dogs to ward our bitches, including a pug, spaniel, wire-haired
fox terrier, pointer, and perhaps one other, and we have never seen a
trace of these matings in subsequent litters. One case, for example: In
another part of this book we allude to a dog spoken of by Dr. Mott, in his
Treatise of the Boston Terrier, named Muggy Dee. The grandmother of
this charming little dog was bred in our kennels, by name, St. Botolph's
Bessie. We sold her to a Boston banker, and she matured into a beautiful
dog. Upon coming in season she was unfortunately warded by a spaniel on
the estate, which so disgusted her owner that he gave her to the coachman.
She proved a perfect gold mine to him, as she raised two litters of
elegant ideal Bostons every twelve months for a great number of years, and
never at any time showed any result of the misalliance.

On the subject of Mental Impressions we need say but little, as the
chances of it ever taking place are so small that we merely give it a
passing notice and say that in all our experience we have never been
troubled with a case. For the benefit of the uninitiated will briefly
state that this consists of the mental impression made on the mind of a
bitch by a dog with whom she has been denied sexual intercourse, affecting
the progeny resulting from the union of another dog with the bitch,
generally in regard to the color, and this strange phenomena, when it does
occur, is apt to mark usually one puppy of each litter.

A fact not generally known by breeders is that if a bitch is lined by a
second dog at any time during heat, the chances are that a second
conception may take place, resulting in two distinct sets of pups,
half-sister or brother to each other. This fact we have proven.

There is one other important feature which must be noticed before this
chapter is closed, and that is Predetermining the Sex. Most breeders, of
course, are anxious to have male pups predominate in a litter, and it is a
demonstrated fact that ordinary mating produces from four to ten per cent
more males than females. For a number of years I had always believed it
was impossible to breed so as to attain more than the excess of males
above noted, but several years ago I accepted an invitation from Mr.
Burnett, of Deerfoot Farm, of Southboro (the owner of Kate or Gyp, the
mother of the breed), to spend the day. He was, as will be recalled, one
of the earliest and most enthusiastic breeders of the Boston, and is now a
scientific breeder of choice dairy stock. We had been discussing a number
of problems in regard to raising stock, when he exclaimed: Mr. Axtell, I
believe I have discovered the problem of sex breeding. If I want heifer
calves, I breed the cow as soon as she comes in season. If a bull calf is
wanted, the cow is served just before going out of season. And said he,
In nineteen experiments I have only been unsuccessful once, and I think
you might try the same plan with your Bostons. I have since done so, and
although not nearly the same measure of success has attended my
experiments as his, yet by breeding bitches at the close of the heat
rather than at its commencement, the number of males in a litter has
materially increased. Again, I find if a young, vigorous dog is bred to a
similar bitch, females will predominate in the offspring, whereas, if the
same bitch is bred to a much older dog, an excess of males will generally
occur. Occasionally some dogs will be met with that no matter what mated
with, will produce largely males, and some the opposite of this will
nearly always produce females, and some bitches, no matter how bred, do
likewise, but these are exceptions, and not the rule. A kennel man need
never worry about sex, inasmuch as good dogs of either gender will always
be in demand.

The law of Selection must be carefully attended to to insure the best
results. Choose your best and most typical bitches for breeding,
especially those that approximate rather to the bull type and are rather
long in body and not too narrow in their hind quarters. I do not care if
the dam has a somewhat longer tail than the dog, my experience has been
that a bitch possessing a tight screw tail did not do quite as well in
whelping as one having one a little longer. Do not consider this as
suggesting that the tail is a matter of secondary importance, by no means,
it is of primal import, and too much attention can never be given to the
production of this distinguishing mark of the dog. A Boston without a good
tail is almost as worthless as a check without a signature.

Be sure at the time of breeding the bitch is free from worms. A great many
are troubled whose owners are totally ignorant of the fact, and this
frequently accounts for non-success. Always remember that worms thrive the
most when the alimentary canal is kept loaded with indigestible or
half-digested food, and that liquid foods are favorable to these pests,
while solids tend to expel them. Freshly powdered areca nut, in
teaspoonful doses, and the same quantity of a mixture of oil of male fern
and olive oil, three parts oil and one part male fern oil, I find are both
excellent vermifuges to give to matured dogs. Give a dose and two days
after repeat, and this, I think, will be found generally effectual.

Do not, on any account, allow the breeding stock to become too fat. Proper
feeding and exercise, of course, will prevent this. It will be found if
this is not attended to that the organs of generation have lost their
functional activity, and if pups are produced, are, as a rule, small and
lack vigor. My experience with Bostons is that it is very desirable to
breed them as often as they come in season; if allowed to go by it will be
found increasingly harder to get them in whelp. I think a stud dog, to
last for a reasonable number of years, should not be used more frequently
than once a week. I have found it pays best to give the bitch in whelp a
generous feed of raw meat daily. It often effectually prevents the
puppy-eating habit.

In closing these general hints on breeding, allow me to say there is no
reason whatever, if one has a genuine love for the dog and is thoroughly
in earnest in his attentions to it, why the breeding problem should
possess any great terrors for him. Perhaps, before closing this chapter,
it might be well to write on one or two matters, practically of no special
import, but which may at times be instructive and illuminate some few
incidents that may puzzle the beginner.

I allude first to that strange phenomena known as false heat, to which
Bostons, more than any other breed with which the writer is familiar, are
liable, and which consists of the bitch coming in season between the two
periods in the year when she legitimately should do so, and after being
warded by the dog, is, of course, not in whelp. The next is somewhat akin
to this, and consists of the fact that the bitch, after being properly
warded by a dog, notwithstanding all the external evidences of being in
whelp, even to the possession of milk in her breasts at the expiration of
the ninth week, is not so, neither has she been. If, in addition to the
above symptoms, and there has been unusual abdominal, uterine, and breast
enlargement, with a discharge of blood for several days and no pups are in
evidence, then in this case it may safely be concluded that the offspring
fell victims to the puppy-eating habit, in which case a close watch must
be kept on the bitch at the next time of whelping, as this is a curable
habit generally. I have had two cases to my knowledge, both of which were
cured I think, largely by giving these two bitches all the raw meat they
could possibly eat while in whelp. One other fact, related somewhat to the
last two, and one that the inexperienced breeder must give intelligent
heed to, is that some bitches go through the entire period of gestation
without presenting a single sign of pregnancy appreciable to the ordinary
observer. Of course, to a dog man the facts of the case would in all
probability be known, but I shall have to confess, after years of extended
experience I myself have been deceived two or three times. Never give up
hope until the last gun is fired.

I think it will generally be considered a good plan, if the bitch is
expected to whelp in the kennel she has been in the habit of occupying, to
thoroughly clean out and wash with boiling water the box or corner she
will use, to destroy all eggs and worms that may chance to be there. I
also deem it a good plan to rub gently into her coat and over her breasts
precipitated sulphur two or three days before the expected arrival. If the
bitch is suffering from a severe case of constipation at this time, a dose
of castor oil will be of service, otherwise, let her severely alone. A
bitch that is in good health, properly fed, that has free access to good
wholesome drinking water, can safely be left without a cathartic. Another
important fact to be observed in breeding Bostons, is the suitability of
certain stud dogs for particular bitches. It used to be my belief for a
number of years, and I suppose many dog men today entertain the same idea,
that a first class dog in every respect mated with a number of equally
well bred typical bitches would produce on an average a comparatively
uniform type of pups. Nothing could be further from actual results. The
same dog bred, say to four females practically alike in style, size,
conformation, color and markings, and from common ancestry, will give
perchance in one litter two or three crackerjacks, and the other three
will contain only medium pups. This same thing will occur every time the
dogs are bred. This is because the bitch with the choice pups and the dog
nick, a phrase signifying that some psychological union has taken place,
not understood by man, in which the best points of both dogs are
reproduced in their offspring. Whenever one finds a dog eminently suited
to his bitch, do not make a change, always breed to the same dog. I am
perfectly cognizant of the fact that a great temptation presents itself to
want to breed to a better dog, a noted prize winner probably, expecting,
of course, that inasmuch as the dam did so well with a somewhat inferior
dog, she must of necessity do correspondingly better with an A 1 dog. The
reasoning is perfectly correct, but the result does not correspond. Very
inferior pups to her previous litter by the inferior dog surprise and
disgust the owner. In our kennels we have had numerous examples of this.
One bitch especially, years ago, when bred to Buster, always gave first
class puppies of uniform type each litter, but the same bitch bred to some
noted prize winner always gave ordinary pups. Another bitch that at the
present time is practically retiring from the puppy raising business from
age, when bred to Hickey's Teddy IV., always had in her litter four
crackerjacks out of the seven or eight she always presented us with; when
bred to any other dog (and we have tried her with several), no matter how
good, never had a first class pup in the litter. Hence I repeat, if a dog
nicks with your bitch, resulting in good pups, do not on any account
ever change. Let the marriage last for life. Somewhat closely connected
with this last fact is another equally important, the fact of prepotency
in a stud dog, consisting of the capacity on the part of the dog to
transmit his share of characteristics to his offspring in a far larger
degree than is imparted by the average dog. Those who closely follow the
breed will discover how certain dogs do, and have done in the past, from
Barnard's Mike down to certain dogs of the present time, stamp the
hall-mark of excellence on all the pups they sire, in a greater or less
degree. Happy are those owners of dams who are aware of this important
fact and take pains to use in the stud dogs of this character. I have
sometimes wondered how much Barnard's Mike was worth to the breed. It will
be doubtless remembered by horsemen that the great trainer, Hiram
Woodruff, speaking of the importation of the thoroughbred, Messenger,
one of the founders of the American trotter, in 1788, said that when
Messenger charged down the gang-plank, in landing from the ship, the value
of not less than one hundred million dollars struck our soil. He would be
a very courageous man who would dare compute the worth of Mike or
Buster or Sullivan's Punch, when viewed from the same standpoint.

Next: Rearing Of Puppies

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