Influencing factors in dog breeding

The comparative influences of heredity and environment and their respective importance to the organism is a question that has been debated time out of mind. It is, however, a question unworthy of debate. No living organism is without heredity, else it would not be a living organism. It is never without environment at least partly conducive to its survival, else it would die. However well or ill a dog is to be reared and cared for, a prerequisite is that he must be bred and born. So bred and born, he has a heredity. This heredity is but the configuration of the genes that form the zygote. That heredity, expressing itself in a favorable environment, determines what the organism will become.

If the complex of genes is the pattern for a Chihuahua, no possible environment can turn it into a Great Dane; if the genes are those of a Greyhound, no food, grooming, or exercise, care or medication, can cause them to produce a Bulldog.

If a dog be genetically patterned for mediocrity or less, no environment can make him excellent. The converse, however, is not true. A dog may have an excellent heredity and be bred and born to be a great dog, only to have his excellence fail of its fruition through neglect, incorrect food, disease, or some other environmental factor.

He may be starved or stunted or made rachitic or crippled, deformed or even killed. There is no denying the effect environment may have upon the dog. This is no effort to belittle its influence. The care that is given him, the food he eats, the security of his housing, the very kindness or disdain with which he is treated may make him or mar him, assuming that the potentiality for excellence is in his germ plasma .

But no power on earth can make him better than his genes determine that he shall be. He must be well born before he can be well reared. The breeding comes first. The Dalmatian does not change his spots, nor the Mexican Hairless his hide.

Heredity is in the long run but the genetic environment of the variety. Only as certain genes existed in the ancestors and were transmitted through them to the organism is heredity possible; and the pre-natal environment of the fetus in the dam’s uterus is quite as determining of the dog’s fate as any similar period of his post-natal life.

He may be starved or injured or killed before he is born. Whatever may happen to him after the gametes fuse to form the zygote is chargeable to his environment. The heredity is in the two haploid sets of chromosomes, with their attendant genes, that unite to form the zygote.

It is a waste of time and effort to rear and care for dogs so ill bred that even with an optimum environment they have no possibility of development into representative specimens of their variety. It is equally a waste of time and effort to breed fine animals only to have them ruined in the rearing.

The work of producing a fine dog is only half done when the right parents are bred together to produce him. The other half is in the rearing and development of what has been well bred. If the breeding has been injudicious, the good care is futile.

The correct rearing of a dog involves very largely the exercise of that rare quality known as common sense. Only ordinary intelligence is required. Well nigh anybody should be able to rear a dog if only he does not neglect or postpone the things which are all but self-evidently needful to be done.

The rearing and care of a dog involves primarily an adequate ration of food suitable to a carnivore and a supply of fresh water. It includes fit shelter and quarters. It involves the freeing of the animal from internal and external parasites, cleaning, grooming, exercise, training, and companionship; all of which are parts of the dog’s environment. When this has been carried out, the fine animal can reveal himself.