This section is from the book "British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition", by Hugh Dalziel. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs.
The immense rise in market value of dogs of all breeds during the last twenty years, as a consequence of the competition promoted and en-couraged by exhibitions and of the constant free and full discussion carried on in the press respecting the points of value of the several varieties, together with the general increase of wealth and wider interest taken in the sports in which dogs are useful and participate, has led num. bers of persons to take up dog breeding, partly as a hobby, and partly with a view to the profits it is supposed and hoped may be made thereby.
When people read about puppies being sold for £10, £15, and £20 each, which in their youth it would have been difficult to find homes for at one-tenth the money, the conclusion is so temptingly in accord with the desire that it is too often accepted without sufficient examination, and as often leads to disappointment and loss.
In this, as in so many other ways of life, I believe we have two very distinct classes, each in their way successful; but the two classes I refer to hold ideas of success as wide asunder as the poles.
The one I call the genuine breeder: the man who takes hold of a variety and says, this dog would be improved for purposes of utility and beauty, by the breeding out or modifying certain points he exhibits strongly, and the development of others of which he is deficient; and who with this as his primary object sets about the work on certain intelligible and accepted lines, which, however, does not necessarily preclude experiment which reason, stimulated by observation, may suggest and approve.
Sooner or later, in defiance of ill-luck, accidents, and all adverse circumstances, that man will make a name for himself as a breeder, for he will have attained an object in itself worthy, and which, by its inherent excellence, compels recognition and praise. Such a breeder was the late Mr, Laverack, and, following a similar course with like success, I point with equal force to Mr. R. LI. Purcell Llewellyn, whose kennel of setters is among the largest and is the highest and most equal in quality I have seen.
Men who are guided by these high and worthy motives are not so few as many suppose, for they are often the least heard of, as they value much more highly the improvement of their kennels than the taking of prizes. Dogs these breeders must, as a matter of course, have to dispose of; but they do not breed to sell; that is rather an accident of their pursuit.
I have not a word to say against breeding for sale; it is a perfectly legitimate business and an interesting pursuit, and intelligently followed may be made profitable; but to improve the various breeds of dogs and still make things pay is by no means easy, because such breeders have to compete with another and altogether less worthy, and sometimes even unscrupulous, class.
Profits on the sale of goods of almost every kind depend very much on the publicity the goods and their owners receive. Most of us have to trust to our tailor for the quality of cloth he supplies us with; and in dogs there is not one buyer in a hundred capable of making a selection for himself farther than pleasing his own fancy.
Taking advantage of this, there are a very large number of breeders who, possessed of prize dogs, breed them with no reference to their fitness to mate, and with no other object than to sell their produce at the highest possible price. To select the good and put down the useless is never dreamt of. The weedy and the ricketty, if they can boast of prize winning relatives, will bring so many pounds from some foolish person or another, and so the dealing breeder does his best to degenerate whatever breed he takes in hand.
It is hopeless to reform these mercenaries; but as I wish this book to be really serviceable, I warn the tyro, and all who desire to possess good dogs, to beware of a class that is so widespread.