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Editor’s note: Prior to April 19, 1994, when a new ABC Constitution/By-Laws/Code of Ethics was approved, boxer breeders who wanted to join the ABC or their local boxer specialty club had to promise that they wouldn’t breed, register, sell, or place their white puppies, which often comprised as much as 50% of their litters. The prohibition against placing, or giving away, white puppies presented a real ethical dilemma for some good and honorable breeders, who had a lot to offer to our parent club, and wouldn’t have dreamed of breeding, registering, or even selling whites and checks, but who found it morally unacceptable to kill healthy puppies of any color. Some of those breeders, in obeying what they felt was a higher moral imperative than the ABC’s, surreptitiously placed their white puppies in good homes and swore the new owners to secrecy.

Today, with the change in the ABC By-Laws that tacitly allows us to place white puppies, or more accurately, doesn’t expressly forbid placement, some newcomers to the breed are having a hard time accepting what many of us old-timers viewed as the only solution to the routine appearance of unwanted white puppies that we couldn’t even "legally" give away - culling our litters. Such is the viewpoint of the author of the following article. I have offered another viewpoint in the BU Editorial. What is your viewpoint? We’ll be happy to consider it for publication in a future issue. Just contact us by e-mail at the address below.


Here It Is in Black and White...

By Katherine Nevius
Minstrel Boxers, Vienna, VA

Recently, there was another heated exchange of posts on the Boxer Mailing List on the ever-controversial subject of white boxers. As a result of my stance on the issue of culling white boxer puppies, I was charged by an experienced breeder and member of the BML of having an agenda, as though that were some sort of crime. Well, the experienced breeder was right - I certainly do have an agenda, and I'm pleased to admit that I do. It’s simple: I'd like it to be possible for all breeders, new ones, especially, to avoid what I believe is the unnecessary ritual killing of over twenty percent of all boxer pups born. I think I made my reasons clear by way of a tale I told to my electronic neighbors on the BML. I'd like to share it with you here.

My recent sojourn on the Florida Circuit took me to the home of a Boxer Mailing List member who lives there with a deaf white cousin of my puppy, Rose. It brought to mind, once again, the controversies white boxers inspire, and the close-to-certainty that, when she's bred again in March, my foundation bitch, Hedy, will incubate some percentage of white or check puppies among her litter. Last time, two of five were white with brindle eye and ear patches. Forty percent -- well above the widely touted average. It wouldn't surprise me if even higher numbers routinely make themselves known in the whelping boxes of breeders across the country. That's a lot of puppies. It's a lot of living creatures who present an ethical dilemma, both for those who don't want to dispose of them, and for those who do. It's that latter category that I'd like to address.

Two stories recently caught my ear. Both involve "old time" breeders whose view of whites doesn't match my own. I don't believe I'd put down a white puppy except under the most extraordinary of circumstances -- but those would be circumstances in which I'd also put down a colored one. As my vet, who's got twenty-five years' experience with boxers, has told me in no uncertain terms, there's not a single difference between 'em where health issues are concerned. Except, of course, for the deafness issue -- the one shared by a number of white breeds of dog. If the Dalmatian people can persevere in the face of it, I think we should be able to.

But I digress.

White Boxer Pups

The two stories follow. They're short, one mercifully so. That one will probably hurt many of you who read it, as it did me, but I think it's important that it be shared. The second may place some slight salve on the wound.

The unfortunate one is this: A VERY old time breeder of boxers, I was told, has a disposal method she thinks is humane. Some of us will disagree, but each will acknowledge its efficacy. When white pups are born into her litters, she carries them away from their mother and puts them in the freezer. No question about the outcome. Very efficient.

The happier tale is of an equally old time gal who's spent her breeding career extolling the virtues, the downright necessity, of culling whites from every litter, of sending them to their reward as soon as they're born. This, it appears, she's done in public, while, in private, she's carefully and tenderly wrapped them, and transported them to her vet, who finds surrogate puppy raisers for each, and places them, when they're old and strong enough to live a thoroughly boxerish life, with a family who'll love them.

As much as I loathed hearing the first story, I was heartened by the second. Perhaps the fact of it is this: The American Boxer Club used to insist upon a member's either raising a white him-or- herself, or killing it. Even though that position has been amended slightly, the concept now seems to have taken on a life of its own. And those who lived under the earlier ABC mandates may have had difficulty doing so. They may have been inclined to say one thing, and do another. If so, the thought occurs, perhaps there are far fewer folks out there actually putting their white pups to death than SAY they're doing it.

At any rate, I'm going to content myself in thinking so.

Let me explain why I told the Boxer Mailing List about the unhappy scenario above. It's simple.  It's that if I have to know such an awful truth, I don't want to bear it alone. And I want the fact of it to make a difference in some people's thinking.

7 weeks old

I fear that the culture that embraces the culling of perfectly sound boxer babies is one that encourages the behavior mentioned in my first story. And from my point of view, such behavior is more than questionable. Just as I'd register shock if someone set fire to them, or threw them off three story buildings, the icy death I described chills me to my own bones. The practice deserves to be brought into the open.

But let me be clear about something: I understand that many who currently euthanize a certain percentage of their litters do so in more humane ways, at least to their way of thinking. And my agenda does not include forcing those who cull to stop doing so. What I do mean to do is to attempt to influence new breeders to shun the practice. I do that because I believe the practice is unnecessary. That's my strong opinion, and I feel I have a duty to share it. So I do. And I have no intention of ever letting it drop. That that fact rankles a certain number of folk is a regret of mine. But a greater regret is that old time breeders continue to encourage new ones to follow practices against which the rational tide is moving. Change is in the air. My hope is to ride that current to what I pray will be its ultimate, intelligent conclusion.

One last point. If my views disturb you, then understand that yours probably disturb me. As I said, some breeders who cull felt targeted in this BML exchange, and one complained to me that my behavior was insensitive. I'd like to suggest that they look at the issue from my side for a minute. Hearing of the old timer's disposal method was a searing experience. It hurt. Understanding that people of whom I'm fond believe that upwards of twenty percent of all Boxers born have no value hurts too.

The saying goes that "there's got to be a better way." I'm sure there is.


Genetic Health
Bobtail Boxers - 3
Delta Pet
Jerry & Bear
My Life With Boxers
In Black & White
Move ABC

Editor: Virginia Zurflieh
Webmaster: Pat Mullen

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