site logo

Breeding For A Vigorous Constitution

I think there never was a time in the history of the breed when this

particular feature needed more thoughtful, systematic and scientific

attention devoted to it than now. For the past few years breeders have

been straining every nerve, and leaving no stone unturned, to produce

small stock, toys, in fact, and everyone realizes, who has given the

question thoughtful consideration, that this line of breeding has been at

he expense of the vigor, and indirectly largely of a beautiful

disposition, of the dog, to say nothing of the financial loss that must

inevitably ensue.

Said an old Boston terrier man (Mr. Barnard) at a recent show: Mr.

Axtell, if they keep on breeding at this rate, it won't be long before

they produce a race of black and tans.

In my estimation it will not be black and tan terriers, but nothing. It

will be productive of a line of bitches that are either barren, or so

small that they can not possibly whelp without the aid of a Vet. One

does not have to look very far to discover numbers of men who started in

the breeding of the American dog with high hopes and enthusiastic

endeavors to success, who have fallen by the wayside, owing largely to the

fact that proper attention was not paid to the selection of suitable

breeding stock, especially the matrons. Said a man to me last year: Much

as I love the dog, and crazy as I am to raise some good pups, I have given

up for all time trying to breed Boston terriers. I have lost eight bitches

in succession whelping. We have all of us been there and quite a number

of us many a time.

In order to obtain strong, vigorous puppies that will live and develop

into dogs that will be noted for vigorous constitutions, we shall simply,

and in language that can be readily understood by the novice as well as

the established breeder, lay down the rules that a quarter of a century

has demonstrated to be the correct ones for the attainment of the same as

used in our kennels. As all puppies that leave our place are sold with the

guarantee of reaching maturity (unless shown, when we take no risks

whatever in regard to distemper, mange, etc.), it will readily be seen

that they must have a first class start, and must of necessity be the

progeny of stock possessing first class vigor and the quality of being

able to transmit the same to their offspring. An ounce of experience is

worth many tons of theory, and it is, then, with pleasure we give the

system pursued by us, feeling certain that the same measure of success

will attend others that will take the necessary pains to attain the same,

and they will be spared the many pitfalls and mistakes that have

necessarily been ours before we acquired our present knowledge. It has

been for a number of years (starting as we did when the breed was in its

infancy, and only the intense love of the dog, coupled with an extensive

leisure, which enabled us to devote a great deal of attention to important

and scientific experiments, have enabled us to arrive where we are), an

uphill road, the breeding problems have had to be solved at the outlay of

brains, patience and considerable money. Unlike any established breed,

there was practically no data to fall back on, no books of instruction to

follow, but if the pioneer work has been arduous the results obtained have

far outbalanced it, and the dog today stands as a monument to all the

faithful, conscientious and determined body of men who would never

acknowledge defeat, but who, in spite of all discouragements from all

quarters, and from many where it should have been least expected, have

pressed forward until they find the object of their unfailing endeavors

the supreme favorite in dogdom the continent over.

In the first place, in the attainment of vigorous puppies, we state the

bitches selected are of primary importance, in our view, as already

stated, far more so than the sire. For best results we choose a bitch

weighing from fifteen to twenty-five pounds. If they happen to weigh over

this we do not consider it any detriment whatever, rather otherwise.

Always select said matrons from litters that have been large, bred from

strong, vigorous stock, thoroughly matured, and that have been bred by

reliable (we speak advisedly) men for several generations if possible. If

one can, obtain from kennels that while perfectly comfortable, have not

been supplied with artificial heat. There is more in this than appears on

the surface. Dogs that have been coddled and brought up around a stove

rarely have stamina and vitality enough to enable them to live the number

of years they are entitled to, and fall a ready victim to the first

serious trouble, whether distemper, or the many and one ills that beset

their path. Intelligent breeders of all kinds of stock today recognize the

value of fresh air and unlimited sunshine, and if best results are to be

obtained these two things are imperative.

I was very much interested in the prize herd of Hereford cattle owned by

Mr. Joseph Rowlands, near Worcester, England, and conceded by experts to

be the best in that country, and to learn that for a number of years the

herd (over one hundred in number) have been kept in the open, the cows

being placed in the barn for a few days at calving, and that the prize

winning bull that heads the herd, Tumbler, is sixteen years old, and

still used, and it is stated by Mr. Rowlands is producing as good stock

today as ever. The significant fact about this herd is, they are and have

been perfectly free from tuberculosis. Another herd of Jerseys (although

not prize winners) are kept near there, under precisely the same

conditions with similar results. A breeder of prize winning Belgian hares

has kept these for a number of years without artificial heat, with the

best of results with freedom from disease, and the attainment of strong,

robust constitutions. When puppies are four months old (in the winter

time) they should be placed in well built kennels, without artificial

heat. (Of course, this does not apply to a colder latitude than


The reason for choosing bitches that come from dams noted for their large

litters is this: the chances are (if the dog bred to comes from a similar

litter) that they will inherit the propensity to give birth to large

litters themselves, and the pups will necessarily be smaller than when

only one or two pups are born. The bitch that has but that number runs an

awful risk, especially if she has been well fed. The pups will be large

and the dam has great difficulty in whelping.

If toy bitches are bred, look out for breakers ahead; only a very small

per cent. live to play with their little ones. A toy bitch, bred to a toy

dog, will frequently have but one pup, and that quite a large one in

proportion to the size of parents. When a toy bitch is bred, attend

carefully to these three things. See that the dog used is small in

himself, comes from small stock, and does not possess too large a head.

Secondly, be sure the bitch is kept in rather poor condition, in other

words, not too fat; and thirdly, and this is the most important of all,

see that she has all the natural exercise she can be induced to take.

These conditions strictly and faithfully adhered to may result in success.

In the next place, the consideration of the dog to be used is in order.

Whether he be a first prize winner or an equally good dog that has never

been shown (and the proportion of the best raised dogs that appear on the

bench is very small) insist on the following rules:

Be sure that the dog is typical with first class constitution, vigorous,

and possessing an ideal disposition, and what is of the utmost importance,

that he comes from a line of ancestry eminently noted for these

characteristics. Breed to no other, though he were a winner of a thousand

first prizes. I prefer a symmetrical dog weighing from sixteen to twenty

pounds, rather finer in his make-up than the bitch, and possessing the

indefinable quality of style, and evidences in his make-up courage and a

fine, open, generous temperament. Do not breed to a dog that is overworked

in the stud, kept on a board floor chained up in a kennel or barn, and

never given a chance to properly exercise. If you do the chances are that

one of three things will happen: the bitch will not be in whelp (the most

likely result) the pups, or some of them will be born dead, and one runs

an awful risk of the bitch dying, or, if alive at birth, a very small per

cent. only of the pups will live to reach maturity. I think Boston

terriers are particularly susceptible to worms or distemper, and it is

absolutely imperative that they should not be handicapped at the onset.

One other very important factor is natural exercise for the bitch. Unless

one is willing to take the necessary pains to give her this, give up all

expectation of ever succeeding in raising puppies.

Someone asked a noted critic whom he considered the best singer he had

ever heard, and he answered, Patti. In being asked who came next, he

replied, Patti; and on being questioned who was his third choice, gave

the same answer. Were I asked the three most important essentials for the

success of the brood bitch, I should say, Exercise, exercise, exercise.

By this I do not mean leading with a chain, running behind a horse or

team, but the natural exercise a bitch will take if left to her own

devices. Nature has provided an infallible monitor to direct the dog the

best amount to take, and when to take it. One of the best bitches I ever

possessed was one weighing fourteen pounds by the original Tony Boy (one

of the best little dogs that ever lived) out of a bitch by Torrey's Ned,

by A. Goode's Ned. Her name was Lottie, and she had thirteen litters and

raised over ninety per cent. Those who have read that interesting little

book on the Boston Terrier, by the late Dr. Mott, will readily recall

the genial Doctor speaking of the first Boston he ever owned, named Muggy

Dee, and how intelligent he was, and what a number of tricks the Doctor

taught him, will be interested to know that Lottie was his

great-grandmother, and she was equally intelligent. We had several bitches

by the celebrated Mr. Mullen's Boxer out of her, (this is going back to

ancient history), one of which, Brownie, was, to my fancy, the nicest

dog we ever had. She, with the rest of the litter, had the run of several

hundred acres, and many times I did not see them for days together. They

went in and out of the hayloft at pleasure, and spent the greater part of

their time hunting and digging out skunks and woodchucks which were quite

thick in the woods back of us at that time. I remember the first time

Brownie was bred to that king of sires, Buster, owned by Alex. Goode

(than whom a more loyal Boston terrier man never lived), and I was rather

anxious to see the litter when it arrived, as from the mating I expected

crackerjacks. I had not seen her or her mother for two or three days, but

the time for whelping having arrived, was keeping a close watch on the

stable. About dusk she came in with Lottie, and in a short time gave birth

to four of the most vigorous, perfectly formed little tots I had ever

seen. Each one proved to be good enough to show, although only one was

sold to an exhibitor, Mr. G. Rawson, the rest going into private hands.

Druid Pero was shown in New York in 1898, taking first prize and silver

cup for best in his class, but I think his brother, Caddie, beat him,

his owner, a Boston banker, being offered a number of times ten times the

sum he paid for him.

The day after Brownie whelped she and her mother went off for an hour or

so, and they finished digging out Mr. Skunk (which the attention to her

maternal duties necessitated a postponement of), the old dog dragging him

home in triumph. I attribute the success these dogs, in common with the

rest of the bitches in the kennels who had similar advantages, had in

whelping and the rearing of their young to the fact that they always had

unlimited natural exercise. I can enumerate scores of cases similar to

these attended with equally good results, if space permitted.

In regard to mating, one service, if properly performed, is usually

enough, if the bitch is ready to take the dog. If a bitch should fail to

be in whelp I should advise the next time she comes in season two or even

three visits to the dog, and where convenient I should suggest a different

dog this time. In case this time these services were unsuccessful, then I

should suggest the course that breeders of thoroughbred horses pursue,

viz., to let the female run with the male for three or four days together.

There are many things connected with breeding that we do not understand,

and frequently going back to nature, as in this case, is productive of

results when all else fails.

One very important factor in the production of strong, rugged pups that

live, is good feeding. Do not imagine that feeding dog biscuits to the

bitch in whelp will give good results, it will not; she needs meat and

vegetables once a day. Biscuits are all right as a supplementary food, but

that is all. Meat is the natural food for a dog, and it is a wise kennel

man that can improve on nature. Be sure the meat is free from taint,

especially at this time and when the bitch is nursing pups. The gastric

juice of a dog's stomach is a great germicide, but there is a limit.

Be certain the dogs have a plentiful supply of good, pure water. This is

of far more importance than many people imagine.

Do not administer drugs of any description to your dogs, except in the

case of a good vermifuge, if they are harboring worms, and a proper dose

of castor oil if constipated. If the dog at any time is sick, consult a

good veterinary accustomed to dogs, not one who has practiced entirely on

horses or cows. If a bitch, at the time of whelping, is much distressed

and can not proceed, get a veterinary and get him quick. When the pups

arrive, if all is well and they are able to nurse, let them severely

alone. If they are very weak they will have to be assisted to suckle--do

not delay attention in this case. Be sure the box the bitch whelped in is

large enough for her to turn around in, and do not use any material in the

nest that the pups can get entangled with. My advice to breeders is, if

the bitch is fully formed and grown to her full proportions, to breed the

first time she comes in season. She will have an easier time whelping than

when she is older. If delicate or immature, delay breeding till the next

time. Do not use a dog in the stud until he is a year and a half old for

best results; they will, of course, sire pups at a year or younger, but

better wait. To those people who live in the city, or where a kennel can

not be established for want of adequate room to give the dogs the

necessary exercise, an excellent plan to follow is one adopted by an

acquaintance of mine, and followed by him for a number of years with a

good measure of success. He owns one or two good stud dogs that he keeps

at his home, and he has put out on different farms, within a radius of ten

miles of Boston, one bitch at each place, and pays the farmer (who is only

too glad to have this source of income at the outlay of so little trouble

and expense) one hundred dollars for each litter of pups the bitch has,

the farmer to deliver the pups when required, usually when three months

old. The farmer brings in the bitch to be bred, and the owner has no

further trouble. The pups, when delivered, are usually in the pink of

condition and are, in a great measure, house broken, and their manners to

a certain extent cultivated. He has no trouble whatever with pups when

ordered, as he simply sends the address of customers and the farmer ships

them. This, to me, is a very uninteresting and somewhat mercenary way of

doing business, as one misses all the charm of breeding and the bringing

up of the little tots, to many of us the most delightful part of the

business. To those breeders who have newly started in, do not get

discouraged if success does not immediately crown your efforts; remember,

if Boston terriers could be raised as easily as other dogs, the prices

would immediately drop to the others' level.