This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
But it may be asked, - What then are the principles upon which breeding is to be conducted? To this, in many of the details, no answer can be given which can be relied on with certainty. Nevertheless, there are certain broad landmarks established which afford some assistance, and these shall be given, taking care to avoid all rules which are not clearly established by general consent.
1. The male and female each furnish their quota towards the original germ of the offspring; but the female, over and above this, nourishes it until it is born, and consequently may be supposed to have more influence upon its formation than the male.
2. Natural conformation is transmitted by both parents as a general law, and likewise any acquired or accidental variation-It may therefore be said that, on both sides, "like produces like."
3. In proportion to the purity of the breed, will it be transmitted unchanged to the offspring. Thus a greyhound bitch of pure blood put to a mongrel, will produce puppies more nearly resembling her shape than that of the father.
4. Breeding in-and-in is not injurious to the dog, as may be proved both from theory and practice. Indeed it appears, on the contrary, to be very advantageous in many well-marked instances of the greyhound, which have of late years appeared in public.
5. As every dog is a compound animal, made up of a sire and dam, and also their sires and dams, etc.; so, unless there is much breeding in and-in, it may be said that it is impossible to foretell with absolute certainty what particular result will be elicited.
6. The first impregnation appears to produce some effect upon the next and subsequent ones. It is therefore necessary to take care that the effect of the cross in question is not neutralized by a prior and bad impregnation. This fact has been so fully established by Sir John Sebright and others, that it is needless to go into its proofs.
By these general laws on the subject of breeding, we must be guided in the selection of the dog and bitch from which a litter is to be obtained, always taking care that both are as far as possible remarkable, not only for the bodily shape, but for the qualities of the brain and nervous system, which are desired. Thus, in breeding the pointer, select a good-looking sire and dam by all means, but also ascertain that they were good in the field; that is, that they possessed good noses, worked well, were stout, and if they were also perfectly broken, so much the better. So, again, in breeding hounds, care must be taken that the animals chosen are shaped as a hound should be; but they should also have as many of the good hunting qualities, and as few of the vices of that kind of dog; and if these points are not attended to, the result is not often good.
To secure these several results, the pedigrees of the dog and bitch are carefully scanned by those who are particular in these matters, because then assurance is given that the ancestors, as far as they can be traced, possessed all those qualifications, without which their owners would not in all human probability retain them. Hence a pointer, if proved to be descended from a dog and bitch belonging to Lord Softon, Lord Lichfield, or any well-known breeder of this dog in the present day, or from Sir H. Goodrich, Mr. Moore or Mr. Edge, so celebrated for their breeds some years ago, would be valued more highly than another without any pedigree at all, though the latter might be superior in shape, and might perform equally well in the field. The importance of pedigree is becoming more fully recognized every year, and experienced breeders generally refuse to have anything to do with cither dog or bitch for this particular purpose, unless they can trace the pedigree to ancestors belonging to parties who were known to be themselves careful in their selections.
In most cases, this is all that is attempted, especially in pointers, setters, spaniels, etc., but in greyhounds and foxhounds of first-class blood, the genealogy may generally be traced through half a dozen kennels of known and established reputation; and this same attention to breed ought to prevail in all the varieties of the dog whose performances are of importance, and indeed without it the reproduction of a particular shape and make cannot with anything like certainty be depended on. Hence the breeders of the valuable toy dogs, such as King Charles spaniels, Itah n greyhounds, etc., are as careful as they need be, having found out by experience that without this attention they are constantly disappointed.
Health in both parents should be especially insisted upon, and in the bitch in particular there should be a sufficiently strong constitution, to enable her to sustain the growth of her puppies before birth, and to produce milk enough for them afterwards, though in this last particular she may of course be assisted by a foster-nurse.
The best age to breed from, in almost all breeds, is soon after the sire and dam have reached maturity. When, however, the produce is desired to be very small, the older both animals are, the more likely this result is, excepting in the last litter which the bitch has, for this being composed of only one or two puppies, they are not smaller than the average, and are sometimes even larger. All bitches should be allowed to reach full maturity before they are permitted to breed, and this period varies according to size, small dogs being adult at one year, whereas large ones are still in their puppyhood at that time, and take fully twice as long to develop their proportions. The mastiff is barely full grown at two years, large hounds at a year and a half, greyhounds at the same time, pointers and setters from a year and a quarter to a year and a half, while terriers and small toy dogs reach maturity at a year old, or even earlier.