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The Toy Bulldog pure and simple is a British Bulldog in miniature, obtained sometimes by a freak of nature and sometimes by long and persistent breeding, though at present the Fancy is comparatively too young for the effects of systematic breeding to be yet visible. The process of dwarfing anything, whether it be animal or plant, is bound to be a lengthy one—that is to say, to produce uniform results—for the writer has already admitted that nature will occasionally produce a Toy Bulldog of its own accord and without apparent rhyme or reason.
In a Toy Bulldog should be found all those qualities most valued in the larger dog—expression, the rose ears, the wide under jaw, with its upward sweep protruding considerably beyond the upper jaw, lay-back, a big black nose and well defined stop, depth of brisket, a good set-on of shoulder, strength of bone, the roach back and a small tail, straight screw or crank set on low. To obtain these qualities with diminutive size should be the aim of every breeder, but the introduction of the French blood will make his task harder, if not actually impossible.
To attempt at once to breed Toys from one mating of small specimens of the British Bulldog would be futile and would probably be followed by disastrous results; and this brings the writer to a point which he would urge the breeder to constantly keep in mind, the natural inclination of all creatures to "throw back."
By "throwing back " is meant the reproduction of young bearing strong resemblance to some ancestor. In human beings this resemblance is sometimes mental and sometimes physical. With dogs the mental characteristics need here scarcely be taken into account, but the physical are worthy of all attention.
The tyro, in mating a very small English Bulldog with a very small bitch of the same breed, would probably expect to produce small puppies. It is true that his expectations might be realised, but it is equally true and far more likely that they may not. What then would be the result? The small dog and bitch coming from large stock would in all probability throw back, and big or at any rate medium-sized puppies would result, with infinite danger to the mother, who would in all probability succumb to the exertion of bringing them into the world.
The course, then, to be advised as a first step is the mating of the very smallest specimen of the true English Bulldog it is possible to secure with an English Bull bitch of medium size. Mrs. Carlo F. C. Clarke, in her recent work on Toy Bulldogs, states: "I believe there is just as much likelihood of getting a Toy puppy from an English-bred bitch weighing 351b. as from one weighing say 281b., and infinitely less risk of losing the mother."
The principle to be observed, then, is to look to the sire for diminution in size. More probably than not, he will throw back to a previous generation, and beget puppies that will make bigger dogs than himself; but among the litter there may be at least one or two sufficiently small to warrant the continuance of the experiment. The dogs from this litter might be mated with bitches of, say, 281b. weight, and a slightly further reduction in the size of the puppies might be confidently looked for.
To attempt to build up a strain of Toys is practically an impossibility when the breeder is possessed of only one hitch. The equipment of the would-be Toy Bulldog breeder should be, say, three—more, if possible—bitches weighing from 281b. to 351b., and bred from a stock which has always inclined to smallness. The three or more bitches might be mated to different stud dogs of English parentage and of the very lightest weight procurable. Then from subsequent litters the smallest of the dogs should be mated with the medium-weight bitches of the other litters, while the excessively small bitches should on no account be bred from at all.
In the same work referred to Mrs. Clarke recommends the mating of the smallest English-bred bitches with French dogs, the idea she has in view being to guard against the probability of the sire throwing back; but it must also be borne in mind that the dam is as likely to throw back as the sire, and the danger to the bitch is almost as great as if the small English-bred dog was used. Besides, as has been before stated, the introduction of the French blood cannot tend to the improvement of the breed, and the two breeds should be kept entirely apart, or incalculable harm to the English Toy Bulldog will result.
The Toy Bulldog Club, of which the Hon. Mrs. Bailie, of Dochfour, is the Honorary Secretary, has adopted the standard of points as set forth by the Bulldog Club Incorporated, the sole difference being in the weight: 2o1b. is considered by the Toy Bulldog Club to be the utmost that a Toy Bulldog should weigh. There will be, of course, many dogs bred that scale a few pounds or even ounces over this weight; and while they are practically useless from a show point of view—except when, as is rarely the case, classes for the "outcasts," as they are sometimes called, are provided by show committees, for dogs weighing between 2o1b. and 251b.—they can, of course, be utilised with advantage to continue the breeding operations, while as companions and house pets they will generally find purchasers quickly enough.
To select a puppy from the nest is always a difficult task for the novice, and even for the fancier of experience, and the selection is rendered even more difficult when the dogs are of any Toy breed. Small size will be one of the first points the purchaser will look for, but he must not confound smallness with weediness! A weedy puppy is poor in bone, feeble in its actions, and lacking stamina generally. Such a puppy is not likely to do well—in fact, his early death is almost a certainty ; but should he survive, he is likely to be only a source of constant trouble, expense, and disappointment.
The first point the novice must look for is, therefore, health. A puppy may be small, but may yet have plenty of bone in proportion to its size; moreover, its bones should be well covered. The puppy that displays a healthy appetite for its food, and is ever ready at meal-time to take his share in all that is going, is the one to choose. In kennelmen's parlance, he is a "good doer." He will probably look and be larger than the weed, but his extra weight is the weight that health gives him, and health before all must be the amateur's first consideration. Choose, therefore, the healthiest rather than the very smallest puppy in the litter, though sometimes the smallest may be as healthy as his brothers and sisters, and in such a case he naturally is the one to pick.
The other points to be looked for have already been dealt with. See that the puppy is well supplied with bone, that his limbs are strong and sturdy, without a suspicion of rickets, and that his skull is large. In very young puppies the correctly carried rose ear is seldom or never seen. All puppies' ears are inclined to button—that is to say, to double and hang forward; the correctly carried rose ear is acquired a little later in the puppy's life, and its acquisition may be considerably helped by a little judicious moulding, the fingers and thumb being only used, without the assistance of so-called "ear appliances" or adhesive matter. A small, fine ear should be looked for in the young puppy, the finer and smaller the better; but shape and carriage cannot be expected at so early an age.
The prominence of the under jaw in young puppies is seldom noticeable; it will be enough to lift the lips, and when the jaw is closed to ascertain that the under jaw does protrude more or less. If the jaws are level, or there is an inclination to be overshot, the puppy should be discarded, though the slightest inclination to be undershot may generally be taken as an indication that a good under jaw will develop later on.
With regard to the tail, the smaller the better. It may be screwed, cranked, or straight, and should be set on as low as possible. A long-tailed Bulldog is an eye-sore, whether he be of full size or a Toy, and oftentimes a long tail detracts from the appearance and value of an otherwise good specimen.
Generally, the puppy should be thick set, with strongly boned limbs and big skull, small ears, short tail, very active and playful, and ready for his food at almost any hour of the day.
The smallest puppy in the litter that comes nearest to answering to this description is the one to choose, in preference to one that may perhaps be smaller but which is lacking in that strength and stamina which is so necessary to help him through all the ills that will beset him during the months of his puppyhood.
Toy dogs of any breed are, naturally enough, usually treated as house pets and companions, but the man who takes up the breeding of Toy dogs as a serious occupation will find that he will do better if he accustoms his dogs to an out-door life. Dogs that are allowed the run of the house, and that are more or less pampered, irregularly fed, and coddled, are not the likely ones to breed from. Fresh air and exercise are as beneficial to Toys as to the large breeds ; but at the same time protection from the most rigorous weather and biting winds should be provided. A large and airy barn or stable would be an ideal place in which to place the kennels, at any rate
during the winter months, and in the large sheltered space there would be ample opportunity for the puppies to exercise themselves with play, even though easterly winds would be blowing or snow falling outside.
During the warm summer months the kennels would be well placed out of doors, faced to the south, and backed, if possible, by a wall to shield them from northerly and easterly gales. As to kennel itself, the writer some time ago designed a kennel for Toy dogs that has been well received, and which he can confidently recommend for the purpose.
The kennel referred to is of the "lean-to" type, the roof being of wood covered with tarred felt. The floor is of wood, and is designed to draw out much in the same manner as do the floors provided to bird cages. There is also a shutter hinged to the upper part of the kennel, which when let down covers in the barred or open run, and protects it during bad weather from wind or driving rain, though a large glass window should be placed in the shutter. This kennel, which measures 7ft. in length by 2ft. 6in. in width, will pass easily through almost any doorway, and may during the winter be even placed in the dwelling-house if no suitable out-building is attainable. It is manufactured by Mr. Calway, of Severn Works, Sharpness, who has placed it on the market at a moderate price.
The feeding of Toy Bulldogs need not materially differ from the diet suggested for the larger Bulldogs; less quantity is naturally required, but on no account should puppies be under fed or dosed with gin, as some disreputable breeders do in their ignorant cruelty. Diminution in size can only be attained by systematic and intelligent breeding, and ample time must be allowed for the operation if uniformity of result is to be attained. The man of impatient temperament is not the man to breed Toy Bulldogs, unless it be possible for him to begin where some one else has left off.
Finally, the writer would urge upon the intending breeder the claims of the miniature British Bulldog, the only true Toy Bulldog, in preference to the so-called French Bulldog. Sometimes one hears "the two types" of Toy Bulldogs spoken of; there are no two types, but one only, and that is the miniature British Bulldog, of which there are too few specimens at present in existence, the most perfect in the opinion of the writer being Mrs. Schlafermann's Little Knot (Fig. 130) and Mr. Jones's Highgate Dot, though unfortunately both these dogs are a pound or so above the maximum limit weight of the Toy Bulldog Club.