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.
I shall not attempt to deal with the subject of breeding in all its aspects. There are many questions connected with it still unsettled, and, however interesting the discussion of these, this is not the place for it, even were the writer capable of doing it justice.
I shall endeavour to confine myself to, and make as clear and explicit as possible, laws to be observed and lines to be followed by all who would breed dogs successfully. That there are such laws enunciated by physiologists and proved correct by experience no one can doubt, and the want of attention to them is a fruitful source of disappointment.
One of the very commonest errors of the inexperienced is to expect that the union of two good-looking dogs must of necessity produce handsome pups; another common and still more fatal mistake is to accept prize winnings, however great, as sufficient credentials of a good sire; and a third mistake is to look for good pups from a worthless ill-bred bitch, however good the dog she has been bred to.
That like produces like is a good maxim for breeders to remember if it be correctly valued, which it can be only when taken in conjunction with other weighty considerations.
The laws of heredity play an important part, and cannot be left out of the account. But with dog breeders, as a rule, too little attention has been paid to it.
Everybody who observes at all knows how common it is to see a child who bears a much stronger resemblance to an uncle, aunt, cousin, or other collateral than to the parents, or in direct line the child may inherit the features or peculiarities of one of the grandfathers or grandmothers. And so it is in the lower animals; and this tendency to throw back is seen to go still farther in some instances of crossing when the artificial distinctions produced by domestication and selection in breeding are thrown down, and an effort is made by nature to reproduce an animal in, if not its original, at least in a long past, form. This, in the dog, is shown in the gaunt form seen in many mongrels, and in its-most pronounced form often assumes that of his congener - the wolf. I do not say that the crossing of any two varieties of our domestic dog will produce one or more pups with a wolfish semblance, but that, if allowed to breed promiscuously, unmistakable traits of the wild dog will be developed.
We have here, then, two rules to be observed in breeding, which, at first sight, appear to be antagonistic, but are really not so. Like breeds like, but as each sire and dam have also had a sire and dam that may have possessed very distinctive characteristics, the proneness to throw back is merely a proof and confirmation that like does produce its like, although a generation may have been skipped in the development of a special feature or set of features.
This must be made after consideration of the various phases of the subject of breeding and the several influences at work affecting the character of the future progeny.
In the present day the rage with inexperienced breeders is for dogs that have taken prizes. Except for the purpose of giving a fictitious value to the puppies, prize winnings have no value in a stud dog. On the contrary, a dog that has been much shown, and, in consequence, constantly undergoing preparations, being, as it were, wound up to the highest tension his system will bear, is not so likely to get good stock as another equally good dog of the same strain that has been allowed to live more naturally. Just so in breeding greyhounds. I would rather breed from an own brother than from a great winner who had to stand numerous trainings, if the brother was a fair dog, and had not been hard run or often severely trained, than I would from the winner himself.