The modern practice of dog-breeding in Great Britain has reached a condition which may be esteemed as an art. At no other time, and in no other country, have the various canine types been kept more rigidly distinct or brought to a higher level of perfection. Formerly dog-owners—apart from the keepers of packs of hounds—paid scant attention to the differentiation of breeds and the conservation of type, and they considered it no serious breach of duty to ignore the principles of scientific selection, and thus contribute to the multiplication of mongrels. Discriminate breeding was rare, and if a Bulldog should mate himself with a Greyhound, or a Spaniel with a Terrier, the alliance was regarded merely as an inconvenience. So careless were owners in preventing the promiscuous mingling of alien breeds that it is little short of surprising so many of our canine types have been preserved in their integrity.

The elimination of the nondescript cur is no doubt largely due to the work of the homes for lost dogs that are instituted in most of our great towns. Every year some 26,000 homeless and ownerless canines are picked up by the police in the streets of London, and during the forty-seven years which have elapsed since the Dogs' Home at Battersea was established, upwards of 800,000 dogs have passed through the books, a few to be reclaimed or bought, the great majority to be put to death. A very large proportion of these have been veritable mongrels, not worth the value of their licences—diseased and maimed curs, or bitches in whelp, turned ruthlessly adrift to be consigned to the oblivion of the lethal chamber, where the thoroughbred seldom finds its way. And if as many as 500 undesirables are destroyed every week at one such institution, 'tis clear that the ill-bred mongrel must soon altogether disappear. But the chief factor in the general improvement of our canine population is due to the steadily growing care and pride which are bestowed upon the dog, and to the scientific skill with which he is being bred.

Admitting that the dogs seen at our best contemporary shows are superlative examples of scientific selection, one has yet to acknowledge that the process of breeding for show points has its disadvantages, and that, in the sporting and pastoral varieties more especially, utility is apt to be sacrificed to ornament and type, and stamina to fancy qualities not always relative to the animal's capacities as a worker. The standards of perfection and scales of points laid down by the specialist clubs are usually admirable guides to the uninitiated, but they are often unreasonably arbitrary in their insistence upon certain details of form—generally in the neighbourhood of the head—while they leave the qualities of type and character to look after themselves or to be totally ignored.

It is necessary to assure the beginner in breeding that points are essentially of far less moment than type and a good constitution. The one thing necessary in the cultivation of the dog is to bear in mind the purpose for which he is supposed to be employed, and to aim at adapting or conserving his physique to the best fulfilment of that purpose, remembering that the Greyhound has tucked-up loins to give elasticity and bend to the body in running, that a Terrier is kept small to enable him the better to enter an earth, that a Bulldog is massive and undershot for encounters in the bullring, that the Collie's ears are erected to assist him in hearing sounds from afar, as those of the Bloodhound are pendant, the more readily to detect sounds coming to him along the ground while his head is bent to the trail. Nature has been discriminate in her adaptations of animal forms; and the most perfect dog yet bred is the one which approaches nearest to Nature's wise intention.

The foregoing chapters have given abundant examples of how the various breeds of the dog have been acquired, manufactured, improved, resuscitated, and retained. Broadly speaking, two methods have been adopted: The method of introducing an outcross to impart new blood, new strength, new character; and the method of inbreeding to retain an approved type. An outcross is introduced when the breed operated upon is declining in stamina or is in danger of extinction, or when some new physical or mental quality is desired. New types and eccentricities are hardly wanted, however, and the extreme requirements of an outcross may nowadays be achieved by the simple process of selecting individuals from differing strains of the same breed, mating a bitch which lacks the required points with a dog in whose family they are prominently and consistently present.

Inbreeding is the reverse of outcrossing. It is the practice of mating animals closely related to each other, and it is, within limits, an entirely justifiable means of preserving and intensifying family characteristics. It is a law in zoology that an animal cannot transmit a quality which it does not itself innately possess, or which none of its progenitors has ever possessed. By mating a dog and a bitch of the same family, therefore, you concentrate and enhance the uniform inheritable qualities into one line instead of two, and you reduce the number of possibly heterogeneous ancestors by exactly a half right back to the very beginning. There is no surer way of maintaining uniformity of type, and an examination of the extended pedigree of almost any famous dog will show how commonly inbreeding is practised. Inbreeding is certainly advantageous when managed with judgment and discreet selection, but it has its disadvantages also, for it is to be remembered that faults and blemishes are inherited as well as merits, and that the faults have a way of asserting themselves with annoying persistency. Furthermore, breeding between animals closely allied in parentage is prone to lead to degeneracy, physical weakness, and mental stupidity, while impotence and sterility are frequent concomitants, and none but experienced breeders should attempt so hazardous an experiment. Observation has proved that the union of father with daughter and mother with son is preferable to an alliance between brother and sister. Perhaps the best union is that between cousins. For the preservation of general type, however, it ought to be sufficient to keep to one strain and to select from that strain members who, while exhibiting similar characteristics, are not actually too closely allied in consanguinity. To move perpetually from one strain to another is only to court an undesirable confusion of type.

In founding a kennel it is advisable to begin with the possession of a bitch. As a companion the female is to be preferred to the male; she is not less affectionate and faithful, and she is usually much cleaner in her habits in the house. If it is intended to breed by her, she should be very carefully chosen and proved to be free from any serious fault or predisposition to disease. Not only should her written pedigree be scrupulously scrutinised, but her own constitution and that of her parents on both sides should be minutely inquired into.

A bitch comes into season for breeding twice in a year; the first time when she is reaching maturity, usually at the age of from seven to ten months. Her condition will readily be discerned by the fact of an increased attentiveness of the opposite sex and the appearance of a mucous discharge from the vagina. She should then be carefully protected from the gallantry of suitors. Dogs kept in the near neighbourhood of a bitch on heat, who is not accessible to them, go off their feed and suffer in condition. With most breeds it is unwise to put a bitch to stud before she is eighteen months old, but Mr. Stubbs recommends that a Bull bitch should be allowed to breed at her first heat, while her body retains the flexibility of youth; and there is no doubt that with regard to the Bulldog great mortality occurs in attempting to breed from maiden bitches exceeding three years old. In almost all breeds it is the case that the first three litters are the best. It is accordingly important that a proper mating should be considered at the outset, and a prospective sire selected either through the medium of stud advertisements or by private arrangement with the owner of the desired dog. For the payment of the requisite stud fee, varying from a guinea to ten or fifteen pounds, the services of the best dogs of the particular breed can usually be secured. It is customary for the bitch to be the visitor, and it is well that her visit should extend to two or three days at the least. When possible a responsible person should accompany her.

If the stud dog is a frequenter of shows he can usually be depended upon to be in sound physical condition. No dog who is not so can be expected to win prizes. But it ought to be ascertained before hand that he is what is known as a good stock-getter. The fee is for his services, not for the result of them. Some owners of stud dogs will grant two services, and this is often desirable, especially in the case of a maiden bitch or of a stud dog that is over-wrought, as so many are. It is most important that both the mated animals should be free from worms and skin disorders. Fifty per cent. of the casualties among young puppies are due to one or other of the parents having been in an unhealthy condition when mated. A winter whelping is not advisable. It is best for puppies to be born in the spring or early summer, thus escaping the rigours of inclement weather.

During the period of gestation the breeding bitch should have ample but not violent exercise, with varied and wholesome food, including some preparation of bone meal; and at about the third week, whether she seems to require it or not, she should be treated for worms. At about the sixtieth day she will begin to be uneasy and restless. A mild purgative should be given; usually salad oil is enough, but if constipation is apparent castor oil may be necessary. On the sixty-second day the whelps may be expected, and everything ought to be in readiness for the event.

A coarsely constituted bitch may be trusted to look after herself on these occasions; no help is necessary, and one may come down in the morning to find her with her litter comfortably nestling at her side. But with the Toy breeds, and the breeds that have been reared in artificial conditions, difficult or protracted parturition is frequent, and human assistance ought to be at hand in case of need. The owner of a valuable Bull bitch, for example, would never think of leaving her to her own unaided devices. All undue interference, however, should be avoided, and it is absolutely necessary that the person attending her should be one with whom she is fondly familiar.

In anticipation of a possibly numerous litter, a foster-mother should be arranged for beforehand. Comfortable quarters should be prepared in a quiet part of the house or kennels, warm, and free from draughts. Clean bedding of wheaten straw should be provided, but the bitch should be allowed to make her nest in her own instinctive fashion. Let her have easy access to drinking water. She will probable refuse food for a few hours before her time, but a little concentrated nourishment, such as Brand's Essence or a drink of warm milk, should be offered to her. In further preparation for the confinement a basin of water containing antiseptic for washing in, towels, warm milk, a flask of brandy, a bottle of ergotine, and a pair of scissors are commodities which may all be required in emergency. The ergot, which must be used with extreme caution and only when the labour pains have commenced, is invaluable when parturition is protracted, and there is difficult straining without result. Its effect is to contract the womb and expel the contents. But when the puppies are expelled with ease it is superfluous. For a bitch of 10 lb. in weight ten drops of the extract of ergot in a teaspoonful of water should be ample, given by the mouth. The scissors are for severing the umbilical cord if the mother should fail to do it in her own natural way. Sometimes a puppy may be enclosed within a membrane which the dam cannot readily open with tongue and teeth. If help is necessary it should be given tenderly and with clean fingers. Occasionally a puppy may seem to be inert and lifeless, and after repeatedly licking it the bitch may relinquish all effort at restoration and turn her attention to another that is being born. In such a circumstance the rejected little one may be discreetly removed, and a drop of brandy on the point of the finger smeared upon its tongue may revive animation, or it may be plunged up to the neck in warm water. The object should be to keep it warm and to make it breathe. When the puppies are all born, their dam may be given a drink of warm milk and then left alone to their toilet and to suckle them. If any should be dead, these ought to be disposed of. Curiosity in regard to the others should be temporarily repressed, and inspection of them delayed until a more fitting opportunity. If any are then seen to be malformed or to have cleft palates, these had better be removed and mercifully destroyed.

It is the experience of many observers that the first whelps born in a litter are the strongest, largest, and healthiest. If the litter is a large one, the last born may be noticeably puny, and this disparity in size may continue to maturity. The wise breeder will decide for himself how many whelps should be left to the care of their dam. The number should be relative to her health and constitution, and in any case it is well not to give her so many that they will be a drain upon her. Those breeds of dogs that have been most highly developed by man and that appear to have the greatest amount of brain and intelligence are generally the most prolific as to the number of puppies they produce. St. Bernards, Pointers, Setters are notable for the usual strength of their families. St. Bernards have been known to produce as many as eighteen whelps at a birth, and it is no uncommon thing for them to produce from nine to twelve. A Pointer of Mr. Barclay Field's produced fifteen, and it is well known that Mr. Statter's Setter Phoebe produced twenty-one at a birth. Phoebe reared ten of these herself, and almost every one of the family became celebrated. It would be straining the natural possibilities of any bitch to expect her to bring up eighteen puppies healthily. Half that number would tax her natural resources to the extreme. But Nature is extraordinarily adaptive in tempering the wind to the shorn lamb, and a dam who gives birth to a numerous litter ought not to have her family unduly reduced. It was good policy to allow Phoebe to have the rearing of as many as ten out of her twenty-one. A bitch having twelve will bring up nine very well, one having nine will rear seven without help, and a bitch having seven will bring up five better than four.

Breeders of Toy-dogs often rear the overplus offspring by hand, with the help of a Maw and Thompson feeding-bottle, peptonised milk, and one or more of the various advertised infants' foods or orphan puppy foods. Others prefer to engage or prepare in advance a foster-mother. The foster-mother need not be of the same breed, but she should be approximately of similar size, and her own family ought to be of the same age as the one of which she is to take additional charge. One can usually be secured through advertisement in the canine press. Some owners do not object to taking one from a dogs' home, which is an easy method, in consideration of the circumstance that by far the larger number of “lost” dogs are bitches sent adrift because they are in whelp. The chief risk in this course is that the unknown foster-mother may be diseased or verminous or have contracted the seeds of distemper, or her milk may be populated with embryo worms. These are dangers to guard against. A cat makes an excellent foster-mother for Toy-dog puppies.

Worms ought not to be a necessary accompaniment of puppyhood, and if the sire and dam are properly attended to in advance they need not be. The writer has attended at the birth of puppies, not one of whom has shown the remotest sign of having a worm, and the puppies have almost galloped into healthy, happy maturity, protected from all the usual canine ailments by constitutions impervious to disease. He has seen others almost eaten away by worms. Great writhing knots of them have been ejected; they have been vomited; they have wriggled out of the nostrils; they have perforated the stomach and wrought such damage that most of the puppies succumbed, and those that survived were permanently deficient in stamina and liable to go wrong on the least provocating. The puppy that is free from worms starts life with a great advantage.