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Every serious dog owner is interested in canine heredity. His dog is the culmination of generations of breeding.
Every serious dog breeder is interested in breed improvement. Genetics is the study of inheritance. And that underlies the thesis of this book. However, this is a book about canine eugenics.
Do You Know What Eugenics Is?
If you believe it’s birth control, sterilization, free love, or population control research, I’ll tell you what it isn’t.
Eugenics is the study of all the socially controlled agencies that have the potential to enhance or harm future generations of man, either physically or intellectually.
By the same token, canine eugenics is the study of all the agents under human control that may improve or damage the inborn traits of future generations of dogs, both physically and intellectually.
What Is Dysgenic?
The word dysgenic is an adjective meaning the opposite of eugenic. Dysgenic features are those that are on the lower end of the spectrum.
By these definitions, we aim the searchlight of our study at any impact, whether it be human attitudes, kennel clubs, field-trial groups, city life, dog exhibitions, commercialism, or anything. And we’ll find out what effect each has on the | quality of our dogs.
In the case of mankind it is difficult to change many of the agencies under social control. It is simple to say what should be done, but attempt to execute it!
The idealist is usually confronted by some cult, “ism,” or long-cherished concept. Not so to any such degree in the case of dogs.
Here’s a case in point, thousands of people admired Chows, many for commercial reasons since the puppies were so irresistibly adorable and fluffy, but many others found them companionable and truly enjoyed the breed.
Then, at a renowned dog show, a magnificent specimen of the breed rushed at the judge and nearly tore her face off: Chows became uncommon in that area. Or take an imaginary case: A dozen of us have gone to far-off Ceylon.
While there, we notice an anomaly in dogs. It is used as a guard dog. Its tail is a natural uncut bob. It has kinky black hair. Its legs are twice as thick as those of normal breeds we know. It has big, erect ears. So we say, ” Let’s import some.”
We now have a wonderful tale thanks to the discovery that the dogs were favorites of an old Ceylonese monarch. We collect all tales regarding the breed, including how it sends signals.
We observe one pursuing a cow and another catching a fish in a paddy, so we kick off the breeding season with a bang.
After a few hundred breedings, the Ceylonese Messenger Dog is well-known throughout the country.
We created a club, and the American Kennel Club agreed to register the dog. Thousands of people acquire these pets because they have no idea what a good dog should be.
Soon America has a hundred thousand. Unfortunately, we had no idea they were serial sheep murderers, utterly untrustworthy with children, violent dog killers, and that they felt pain less keenly than other dogs.
Worse, when mixed with other breeds, the main traits reveal to be very dominating. Of course, they cross, and in a few years, we’ll witness hundreds of mongrels with heavy legs, black, kinky hair, and a lack of nerve sensibility, all willing to tear up other dogs, murder cattle, and bite children.
Of course, this is a hypothetical example, but it demonstrates how readily we may alter our pets’ hereditary qualities.
The Australian dogmen discovered that the Alsatian Wolf dog easily bred with the wild Dingo and produced such a problematic hybrid that the government rejected importation licenses to Alsatians.
During the Uncle Tom’s Cabin era, that novel alone created such a false picture of the actual nature of the Bloodhound that numerous states banned their entrance or usage.
Massachusetts was one, and as far as I can tell, the law is now referred to as a “blue law” and is mostly ignored because the Massachusetts State Police have their own kennel of Bloodhounds.
Yes indeed, we can control the inherited characteristics of our dogs. In this regard, I hope the reader does not receive the impression that this is a book on just the bad elements of dog eugenics.
No indeed. When I was in college, we had a tiny newspaper with the tagline “Every Knock a Boost; Every Blow Above the Belt.” This I hope is that kind of a book.
First and first, I want to state unequivocally that I am a dog fancier, and that because there is so much I adore about dogs, I want them to be the most lovely and noble animals possible.
They won’t develop their own plans; if we let them, our dogs would resemble the timber wolves from whom they originated.
We must utilize our brains to move dogs ahead by eliminating misfits and worthless specimens and by selecting for lofty values.
It can be done, you know. I hope you are going to help with all the intelligence you possess.
There are good things and bad things about every breed of dog. Some have a predominance of good, while others have a preponderance of evil; that is, some have a preponderance of eugenic qualities, while others have dysgenic characteristics.
Many people who own a dog of a poorly deteriorated breed may have such an outstanding animal that they cannot comprehend why the bulk of the breed members are not like this.
Another, owning a sour specimen of an excellent breed,will wonder that so many dogs which look like this are such satisfactory animals.
The good and the bad are not always hereditary. Training can have a very great influence.
A skilled handler can bring out the best in a dog, but an untrained dog handler may often educate a good dog to be subpar. Consider your next-door neighbor’s dog, who barks continuously.
To permit a dog to bark needlessly is surely the owner’s fault, not the dog’s! Watch her treatment of the dog. It barks, instead of training it all at once, she feeds it and the dog does not bark when eating, thus she has trained it to bark.
The other neighbours may say, “I wouldn’t have one of those dogs, all they do is bark.” There is a best breed for every purpose. Some are very close in their abilities.
It is in the best interests of anyone purchasing a dog to obtain the proper canine for the job.
Who Owns The Fine Specimens?
I’ll tell you something, the best dogs in America are owned by the most difficult man in the world to please with a dog. If he doesn’t mind the term, which I think is flattering, he’s an American backwoodsman. He’s the man who lives near creek forks, in the mountains, or on farmland.
His dogs adore him; he lives with and for them, his standard for canine greatness is so high that it takes a really exceptional animal to impress him.
He has high expectations for his dog, and the “non sense” that city dwellers exhibit makes him ill and disgusted.
The antique shotgun is right inside the kitchen door.
How many times have I heard one of my backcountry friends say, “He had a little mean streak in him so I laid him away,” or The sonofabitch which isn’t swearing when discussing a dog had such a graceful voice that I planted him, or “He couldn’t keep up with the pack, say nothing of lead in once in awhile; now he’s pushing’ up daisies.”
That’s how he communicates, that’s how he thinks, and that’s why he has such great dogs.
Who Else Owns The fine Dogs?
Another example is the shepherd, who may see few humans for months and relies on his dogs to aid him.
His dogs must be so attentive that they rapidly understand and respond to his orders. No monkey business!
He also has a pistol and knows where other shepherd dogs may be found, and he will not accept a dog with a poor intellect, regardless of his appearance.
Beauty is to him really what beauty does. And not least, another man who has fine dogs is the hunter. He might be from the city or the suburbs. He is a member of clubs. He competes in field trials with his dogs and keeps them around the house.
He knows the best canines for the job, buys or breeds them, and is merciless in his choices. He strives for excellence and has an eye for beauty in his dogss.
It makes one feel ashamed to think of what the men who created the various breeds would think of the sad things into which some of them have degraded over the years.
In reality, there are still persons alive who had a significant role in developing some breeds so good that they became famous.
I know a few, and I know how they feel about the repercussions of unbridled popularity and deterioration.
Have You Ever Thought About The Origins Of The Dog Breeds?
The majority of them are fairly recent, having been developed in the last seventy-five years, but the classic fundamental Western kinds were Greyhounds, Shepherds, Mastiffs, and what the Romans referred to as Segacies, or dogs who trailed with their noses, these were the four types. How do we know?
Breeds approximating those we have today existed over two thousand years ago.
Xenophon mentioned trailing dogs that bayed; Arian describes sight hounds that trailed silently and utilized their eyes for pursuit; and Cato describes security dogs and Shepherds.
The four types in all probability are descendants of the wolf. Several speculate that some breeds descended from the jackal, however paleontological data refutes this theory, all of the dog’s traits may be found in the wolf to some extent.
Wolves very certainly lived close to early man, feeding on the carcasses of animals he had slaughtered. It doesn’t take much imagination to see wolf babies becoming tamed, or even human children being adopted by wolves, aka Romulus and Remus.
Mutations happen all the time in all species, including our own, therefore they must have happened in the wolf. Some were beneficial on the evolutionary scale, while others were detrimental.
In nature, those changes which make the species better adapted to its environment are upward; the rest are downward.
Among the first tamed wolves, there were most likely numerous downhill; downward for natural conditions.
Among my own dogs, several hereditary mutations have occurred and bred true, a puppy came with legs less than half the normal length.
It bred true, a new breed might have easily resulted, but I believed they were too unattractive to survive.
A hound was born with a screw tail that would have made a Boston Terrier breeder envious; it was a horrific act against a hound.
Both of these were downward or dysgenic mutations, but suppose one of these oddities piqued the interest of a caveman or a kid, and the mutant bred true.
There may have been a few of such creatures in a few wolf generations of two or three years, forming the foundation of a breed.
Perhaps the mutation was just the loss of the wolves’ habit of yapping while on the hunt for prey.
This might have allowed the owner of this unique characteristic to sneak up on animals and catch them more readily.
It might have been a size shift from wolf to midget, in which case two such mutations would have been required for the owners to marry them and establish the characteristic.
Or it may have been a puppy with a huge patch of white that would have captured anyone’s attention and given it a particular worth.
Consider the tiny hamsters employed as pets and for study if you disbelieve such things happen. It was only about 1940 that they were introduced into America.
One mutation after the other has happened and been corrected, resulting in albinos, creams, piebalds, and black-eyed whites.
Soon, we may see as many types as there are colors among mice, and you’d be hesitant to believe how many there are unless you’re familiar with mouse genetics!
Are The Mutations That Have Been Fixed In Our Dog Breeds Ascending Or Descending?
Almost all are negative in the sense that they impair the animals’ capacity to live in the wild.
However, because they are valuable to us, we may summon them upward because we have altered their habitats, and the greatest examples for each of these numerous environments survive in greater numbers.
We see that, while the first selection away from the wolf may have been based on a color or size mutation, the true foundation for development was most likely the discovery of ways in which the animal may be beneficial to man.
As man advanced in civilization, he discovered new uses for his canines, nearly always including what the dog could do for him with its intellect and highly developed senses.
The creation of a breed usually came about in one of two principal ways:
(A) A locality somewhere was ideal for certain kinds of farming or sport.
If a farming community, for example, is a sheep region, the sheepmen breed dogs that are the greatest at herding and the variety of duties connected with sheep management.
After a few human generations, the canines in the region start to resemble one another.
So the breeders get together, create a physical standard, and call the breed.
In the case of the well-known Border Collies, the breed is determined by behavior and aptitude rather than physical appearance.
A certain degree of physical homogeneity has also emerged.
(B) In the case of sport, for example, badger hunting, the dogs engaged in this brutal hobby must have an incredible lack of self-preservation.
They must go inside a badger tunnel and battle to the death this ferocious rodent, they occasionally lose the tips of their noses, revealing just bone, but they are game and tough.
In the case of terriers, all breeds have similar mental equipment, however their physical appearance is determined by the whims of the group of sportsmen and the dogs with whom they began their selection.
In Germany the outcome was a very short-legged, short-coated dog now called the BadgerDog (Dachshund).
They developed numerous breeds in the United Kingdom, including the West Highland White, Dandie Dinmont, Sealyham, Scottish Terrier, and others.
Grit is a common property of the completed product, regardless of its appearance.
While the farm dog group is tiny, the sports dog groups account for the great majority of modern breeds. It’s worth thinking about them.
But don’t be deceived by any list of modern breeds recognized by a single registering association, because none of them registers all of the breeds.
And don’t judge the prevalence of breeds by those you see in your locality.
Poodles, Dachshunds, and Schnauzers can be seen on the streets of New York’s Park Avenue neighborhood nowadays.
When walking through less wealthy neighborhoods, one sees primarily mongrels, with a motley assortment in between.