bu2000banner.gif (6323 bytes)


(Editor’s note: Pat and I are very grateful to Dr. Bruce Cattanach for giving us the opportunity to publish the account of his creation of the bob-tailed boxer, and to Elaine Whitehill, his co-worker, for the photo scans that accompany this article. Most of the following information about Dr. Cattanach’s bob-tails was taken from the August 28, 1998 British DOG WORLD.)


The Fantastic Account of
Dr Bruce Cattanach’s
Bobtail Boxers

by Virginia Zurflieh

You know the old saying - everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Earlier this year, there was a storm brewing in the boxer fancies of both Europe and America with the imminent prospect of a law against tail-docking in Germany and England and a vote to allow uncropped boxers in the showring without penalty in the U.S. (which some fanciers believed would lead to a ban here on both cropping and docking). Everybody in boxers was talking about the supposed esthetic and health benefits (or not) of cropped ears and docked tails, and how awful it would be if we had to look at long-tailed boxers in the ring, nevermind live with them. Several fanciers even said they'd switch to another breed before they'd try to get used to a boxer with a tail.

Then Dr. Bruce Cattanach did something about it: he reinvented the boxer...with a naturally docked tail! What’s more, the Kennel Club in England (equivalent to our AKC) has just accepted the fourth generation of Dr. Cattanach’s bob-tails for registration, AS PUREBRED BOXERS!!

The "Reinventor’s" Qualifications

Dr. Cattanach is uniquely qualified to carry out this experiment. He has been a noted breeder/exhibitor of boxers in England since 1949 under the Steynmere prefix, and is a geneticist by profession, with a specialty in the cause and analysis of genetic defects. Until his recent "semi-retirement," Dr. C. was Director of the Medical Research Council Mammalian Genetics Unit in the UK. He also worked in the USA in the 1960s, and in fact, took a Cherokee Oaks bitch back to the UK to found his current Steynmere breeding program when he returned to England in 1969. Dr. C. was instrumental in eradicating the crippling, hereditary, neurological disease, Progressive Axonopathy, from the British boxer in the 1980s, and is currently working to lessen the very widespread incidence of SAS in British bloodlines. Before embarking on the bob-tail experiment, Dr. Cattanach informed the (British) Kennel Club of his plans well in advance, kept detailed records, and backed up his research with DNA analysis of all the participants. Since the KC, like the AKC, is a very conservative organization, it was doubtless Dr. C.’s pre-planning, scientific methods, and detailed records that led to their acceptance of the fourth generation of his bob-tails for registration as purebred boxers.

The Reinvention Process

Below, in chronological order, is a photographic record of the ongoing results of the bob-tail experiment started by Dr. Cattanach in 1992 in anticipation of a docking ban in Britain, where ear-cropping has already been forbidden for many years. According to the summary at the top of page 4 in the August 28, 1998 Dog World, "A principal objective was to see if, through a series of backcrosses [to purebred boxers], the Corgi bob-tail gene could be transferred into the Boxer."

The experiment began with the crossing of one of Dr. Cattanach’s boxer bitches to a Pembroke Corgi with a dominently inherited bob-tail, Vaquera of Pemwell. Neither the boxer foundation bitch nor the corgi are pictured here.

btfigure1.jpg (13126 bytes)

Figure 1: one of two first generation bitches used for breeding, "Dolly," was the result of the original boxer/corgi cross. Dr. Cattanach noted that all the first generation pups were corgi-like in build.

btfigure2.jpg (14177 bytes)

Figure 2: the purebred boxer, Steynmere Foreign Service, that was mated to Dolly to produce...

bobtail.gif (9073 bytes)

Figure 3: the second generation crossbred, "Jane." Clearly, Jane, though white, looks like a boxer, with long legs, a short coat, and a natural bob-tail!
Figures 4a, 4b, & 4c: the third generation, at ten months. Since Jane was white and lacking in head, Dr. Cattanach bred her to a male that was very typey and completely plain, Boxella’s Chief at Zenmaxkay - of Dutch/German breeding - to produce...

bt4a.gif (24193 bytes)

Figure 4a: "Big brindle male, George, with excellent head and mouth, and precision front. A bob-tailed dog of show quality."

bt4f.jpg (17268 bytes)

Figure 4b: "Paddy," a "pretty good brindle bitch with a longer, blunt ended bob-tail with a single kink."

btfig4g.gif (14381 bytes)

Figure 4c: "Bobby," a fawn bitch with a typical bob-tail.
Figures 5a & 5b: the fourth generation, both by Santonoaks Red Hot Prospect for Mylicam, a purebred boxer, x the third generation bitch, Bobby.

btfig6b.gif (24011 bytes)

Figure 5a: plain fawn male - "over-typical"!

btfig6c.gif (27696 bytes)

Figure 5b: flashy fawn bitch, lacking in stop, but a better head than her dam, Bobby.
btfig5.gif (13372 bytes) Figure 6: another fourth generation fawn bitch by third generation,George, x purebred boxer, Steynmere Set the Fashion. Pictured at eight months. Unfortunately, not bob-tailed, but docked. After KC acceptance and registration, this puppy was exhibited at a Midland Boxer Club show, and although she didn’t place (there were 20+ 6-9 puppies in her class), "...no one noted anything atypical about her appearance or temperament. She performed in the ring without special attention other than from those in the know. It will be nice if the bob-tail puppies from the recent litters can finish up looking as good" according to Dr. Cattanach.

The Present

In Dr. Cattanach’s own words, "...Boxer type is now essentially established and so the final task will be to develop the show potential. I do not expect this to be any harder than with purebred Boxers. The unique Boxer head seems to be the major problem but then, in my experience, this is also the case within the breed."

"In conclusion, although these puppies may not fulfil everyone’s idea of show quality Boxers, I think it is fair to claim that the original primary objectives of the project have been achieved: a gene has been successfully transferred from one breed to another, and I have my bob-tail Boxers which do not need to be docked."

The Future

Again in Dr. Cattanach’s own words, "The final step takes us back to genetics. What will happen when bob-tails are intercrossed? As indicated above, I hope to conduct at least one such intercross, but in reality, the answer must come from the bob-tail Corgi or Vallhund breeds in which bob-tailed animals are regularly intercrossed."

Until I am certain that there are no ill effects associated with the bob-tail gene in double dose, I will keep control of all the registrations. For the present, every animal I have sold, bob-tailed or otherwise, has either remained registered in my name, or has had its KC registration endorsed ‘Progeny not eligible for registration.'"

"As to the other possibility of introducing the erect ear gene into the boxer from the Corgi as originally contemplated, I’m afraid this option is no longer available. I have attempted to mate the one bitch retained for the purpose on several occasions but she has always appeared past time when her owners have notified me. Only if the Boxer Breed Council were to be interested in developing erect-eared Boxers would I contemplate starting such a project again."


Bobtail Boxers - Part 1
Bear Speaks
Culture Clash
Boxer Bytes
Mary Jackson
Top 10 Reasons
Salgray Boxers
Move the ABC?
Sites of Interest

Editor: Virginia Zurflieh
Webmaster: Pat Mullen

Contact Virginia
coolstar.gif (3585 bytes)

Return to Index of Issues | Reader's Comments | Sites of Interest | Health Checked Boxers
Search the BU | Copyright | My Life With Boxers | COMMENTS

Last Revised: 04/22/00

Subscribe to boxerunderground
Powered by www.ONElist.com