|The publication on the net of Part 4 of the British Dog World series
on the bob-tailed Boxers, without the detailed background on the earlier work on Dr.
Cattanachs experiment contained in Parts 1- 3 of the Dog World story, clearly
shocked many people used to the association of pedigree with purebred. For
this reason I have collected here in BU Bruce Cattanachs subsequent posts to
the Showboxer-L (an e-mail list for serious boxer breeders/exhibitors), which show
the whole picture more clearly. If you havent read the beginning of the story in the
October BU, you might want to start reading there first. Dr. Cattanach has granted
BU permission to reproduce the following posts from the Showboxer-L. Virginia
THE BOBTAIL STORY, Part II:
Post Publication Notes on Bob-tail Boxers
by Dr. Bruce M. Cattanach
Harwell, Didcot, Oxon OX11 0RD, UK
folks! I have been looking in on your thoughts upon my article. There seems to have been a
lot of knee jerk reactions but then I suppose this surprise reproduction of only Part 4 of
the series on bobtails must have been a bit of a shock. Most of your questions and
criticisms would have been answered if you had had access to the earlier more detailed
parts of the story, or if you knew of me.
Henning Lund and others have said some complimentary things about me and my Boxers but let
me add a little background. Following the famous C.C. Little, I am a mouse geneticist. My
specialty has been the causation and analysis of genetic defects. I started in an
Edinburgh lab (1959), which provided the first evidence that chemicals could cause such
effects in fruit flies. I got the evidence in the mouse, took this to Oak Ridge Tenn.
(1962-64) where equivalent work with radiation was in progress. Later was invited to a
post in California to continue (1966-69), but then returned to work in Oak Ridge's sister
lab in the UK at Harwell, where I ultimately finished up as Director of the Medical
Research Council Mammalian Genetics Unit. I "retired" a few days ago, although I
leaving California where I had attended a number of shows, I visited Cherokee Oaks Boxers
and brought a bitch back to the UK where she was to found the present generation of
Steynmeres. The beginning of Steymere started back in 1945 when my parents bought a bitch
for breeding and showing. I took over in 1949 until I left home for University and working
in the States. In the recent generation I have made up 9 champions and had several other
CC winners. Throughout, I have intermixed American, British and Continental lines.
rather gave way to dog defect genetics starting with Boxer PA in 1982, and I have since
been involved with problems in other breeds. Showing has become increasingly half hearted
in recent years, although I have been trying, unsuccessfully I'm afraid, to breed my own
idea of a stunning Boxer, rather than someone else's.
much for my CV. Now to bobtails and the first few answers. I recognize that cross
breeding is an anathema to many present day dog breeders but I have always envied the
pioneer dog breeders who created all our different breeds - usually by cross breeding!
Many, many forms of livestock were created in this way, the narrowing down by selection,
inbreeding just adding the refinements and reducing the variability. So when I saw the
writing on the wall concerning docking some 10 years ago I thought the time was ripe to
reintroduce some creative breeding. I had always hated docking anyway and had actually
tried many years earlier to breed on from screwtail dogs that occurred within the breed.
Bred together these only produced normal tail pups - as typically happens in mice too.
There was no viable option there.
Corgis? The reason was that I knew something about the genetics of this tail type
already having been asked by enthusiasts within the breed to ascertain this for them. The
Corgi bobtail was clearly inherited as a single dominant gene. Therefore I knew that it
would be possible to transfer it into the Boxer. But I also knew that I would have a hard
time convincing the modern day purist dog breeder who has forgotten his routes that this
would be acceptable.
about enough for the moment but let me leave you with something of the current problem in
this part of the world. Docking is almost the least of the worries. There is a European
Convention on Pet Animals which appears to be being followed to the letter in some
European countries. This not only vetoes docking, but it also attacks the Boxer/Bulldog
undershot jaw, the Dachshund long back, the absence of coat of the Mexican hairless, etc,
etc as abnormalities that should all be banned. The Bulldog is banned in its entirety, as
is even the Merle gene that gives the gray colour in Collies, and the Harlequin coat of
Danes. Even inbreeding in all forms will be banned if the proponents of the Convention
have their way. Basically it seems that the aim is a Eurodog without breed
characteristics, just basic dog. Slot my bobtails into this scenario and I think you will
agree that they are very small fry in terms of the battles that lie ahead.
following the example of restriction of smoking in public places that you already have,
you can be sure that all this will be coming your way. Be sure that this is a no-win
situation; all one can try to do is minimize the damage. Have I at least got your
Why not Bostons or some other similar breed? Answer: I knew nothing of the inheritance
of the screw tails and all the old literature is pretty thin. Moreover from my early days
in Boxers in the '40s and '50s, screw tails commonly occurred, possibly from the Bulldog
ancestry. (Editors note: We had a screw tailed pup in our second litter, back in the
70s.) Altogether a messy inheritance was likely. I preferred to try something I knew about
in the Corgis where the gene was segregating, normal and bob, and able to show the
the light of the results which suggest few major genes differentiate the Corgi and Boxer
(they are both dogs, after all), it has not mattered that I used the very different Corgi.
From 16 pups bred in the second generation, first backcross, I got my white Jane. She
looked like a Boxer and bred like one, although getting the head right is clearly the
hardest part - always is, even within the breed, in my experience. The big asset was that
virtually all the features that I did not want were effectively dominant. Therefore once
lost, they are gone forever. There will be no short legs, for example, turning up in later
generations, even with inbreeding. (Just like breeding together two reds which have
brindle parents; no brindle pups can be produced.
"Bruce Cattanach with the selected second generation
crossbred, Jane, showing bob-tail, Boxer construction and coat, and Boxer white
Why start with a white? Simply economy - for what was only an experiment. Why use
a valuable show bitch? The white bitch was still a Boxer and, without starting a whole
parallel debate on the inheritance of whites, this one gene was insignificant. I can
choose to lose it or keep it AS CAN ANYBODY IN BOXERS - just lose the flashy animals which
produce them. The only real worry for me with the whites was that my choice animals for
tails might be white, and deaf. The white second generation bitch shown in the photograph
was indeed white, unfortunately, but at least she was not deaf. Mated to a solid dog, all
her pups were flashy, as shown; and in the current generation I have kept solids, so
whites will no longer be an issue.
of the show quality of the dogs in the photographs! Well, this is a bit rough. Two
points to think about. First, you see the whole litter, warts and all. There is is no
validity in comparing them with your selected show stock. But some were of reasonable show
standard - pretty good for part Corgi!!! Second, why assume that the faults you see derive
from the Corgi (longish backs)? Actually I obtained dogs of similar makeup with almost the
same but pure Boxer breeding.
Sorry but I much prefer the ears up (cropped). I suggest that the head is designed for
erect ears to give that elevation and enhance that desired rise of skull. Flop ears need a
finer skull to look right but this surmise is based on the effects seen with the big bitch
Continental breeding with ears dropped. So, I would love to get naturally erect ears. The
Corgi offered the opportunity as the stiff ear is clearly dominant and one of the first
generation actually had erect ears. But they were bat ears - all the wrong size and
carriage. To get erect ears, which are normal to all animals after all, looks to be very
easy but getting the fit right will be harder. Many years ago I applied to the KC,
together with a famous Bull Terrier person, Raymond Oppenheimer, to do this cross and
introduce erect ears into the Boxer by backcrossing, etc, etc. (Whoever bred the flop ears
into Boxers when they wanted them up even from the start? A bit careless!) The KC turned
the idea down at that stage, suggesting that we first do it and then reapply. We did not
bother I should add here that the famous German breed expert, Otto Donner, told me last
year that in Germany they tried to introduce erect ears into Boxers some time back. They
also tried a cross - with a Spitz breed of some sort. But they intercrossed and everything
got mixed up. Nevertheless, they had the right idea and were not averse to crossing to
attain what they wanted.
yes, back to other effects of the cross. It has in fact been rather sad to see the
beneficial effects of the cross disappear with the repeated backcrossing to Boxers.
Beneficial effects? The first cross were delightful dogs, at least the bitches I dealt
with were. Friendly, happy, stable, tough. They had Boxer eyes and temperaments (by the
way I am very careful on temperaments in my Boxers) but the rest was near Corgi (Beagle
type for sure). But at whelping, 7 and 9 pups from the two bitches and all appeared with
scarcely a sign within about 2 hours. Pups reared as fat slugs with no help and late
weaning, and never a mess to be seen. One bitch had her litter in the main room of her
house (she did not stay with me), at Christmas time with kids' parties all around. No
problems. Jump out to see visitors and then back to the pups with a wag of the tail. In
subsequent generations everything has slipped back to Boxer standard - OK but slow. The
one thing I have been lucky enough to keep, but this may only be due to the Continental
breeding, has been large teeth. I have in this generation, across the board, the best
Boxer mouths that I have ever had, and with evident repandous chins (the hardest
combination to get).
for just now? I'll come back in a couple of days with a number of added bonuses in
problems which no one has yet brought up, but will have to be resolved.
"Plain fawn male and flashy fawn bitch - fourth generation bob-tails
at 9 - 12 weeks of age. The plain fawn male will be shown soon."
Bobtail Series will continue with Part III in the February/March BU. In the
meantime, here s the latest from Bruce and the bobtails in the showring!
A Small Bobtail Brag
"Fourth generation eight-month-old bitch that made
the cut! By third generation "George" ex purebred boxer, Steynmere Set the
At the huge Midland Counties General championship show yesterday the oldest of
the pups of fourth generation breeding was pulled out in the last 8 of the Working Group
Puppy Bitch Sweepstakes class under Britain's most qualified all-round judge, Terry Thorn.
When I confessed to him afterwards, there was a moment's pause, and then he smiled broadly
and animatedly shook my hand saying, Well done.
nothing else I think this confirms my statements about the appearance of these dogs. She
not only looks like a Boxer but has some star appeal. Untrained other than to sit, reared
as a pet, needing her nails clipped and whiskers trimmed before going into the class, she
had to be free shown - but it worked. After some 8 years of effort and a lot of hassle
this was a moment to savor...and to celebrate. And I did.