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Is the proof of the pudding in the eating?

Or does line breeding really work?

by Jim Holmes
Sheffield, England

On gaining his title at the West England Ladies Kennel Society (W.E.L.K.S), Ch. Domino Flashy Lad became the latest in a continuous line of champion M-line dogs descending from Mr. Jack Altofts' famous Ch. Goldwyns Leading Lad. Listed below is a resume of that line starting with the founder of the M-Line Brindle Mick, from a critique written some 50 years ago Mick was described as:

"A dog of probably 40 pounds, in general build very like his son Ch. Gentlemand Jim who most people will have seen photographs of. He was powerful and masculine without being coarse, and his great spring of rib reminded one of his other leading son Brindle Bill, in fact combining the best points of Ch. Gentlemand Jim and Brindle Bill would give you an accurate picture of the great Mick."

Brindle Mick does not appear to have been largely used at stud, but in spite of this became the founder member of the largest and most successful line in the breed. In fact at the end of 1946 he had only 24 KC registered progeny to his credit. Presuming that half were bitches, it leaves only 12 or so registered sons out of which there were 5 successful ones, a very high success rate indeed. His most famous son being Ch. Gentlemand Jim whelped in 1937, but it is with another of his sons' Brindle Bill that we will concentrate. A critique of Brindle Bill, also written some 50 years ago describes him as;

"A smallish, thick set mahogany brindle, a massive dog with great rib, bone, feet and skull. His muzzle was shortish with a tendency towards being ‘dished’ a characteristic which he passed on to some of his progeny."

Brindle Bill also had a litter brother, Sunny Bill out of the bitch Sunny Lady. Jack Altoft mated his bitch Goldwyn to Brindle Bill and produced Wheatley Lad; being prevented from repeating this mating due to death of Brindle Bill, he used his litter brother Sunny Bill and produced Brindle Diana. He then mated Wheatley Lad to Brindle Diana, a half brother-half sister mating from two blood brothers and produced his famous dog Ch. Goldwyns Leading Lad.

As well as Wheatley Lad, Brindle Bills' progeny also included Clarkstead Pete (D), Scamper (D), and Lady Benita (B). (Scamper and Lady Benita being out of a bitch by Ch. Gentlemand Jim, Brindle Bill’s half brother). Now from the mating of Clarkstead Pete to Lady Benita (these both sharing Brindle Bill as their sire ) Wychbury Trouble (D) and Toody (B) were produced. Wychbury Trouble put to a daughter of Scamper (Brindle Bill being both a paternal and maternal grandsire) produced Brigands Bosuns Beau.

Meanwhile another of Brindle Mick's sons was stamping his mark on the breed, he was of course Ch. Gentlemand Jim, for our example we need only look at two of his progeny. Firstly Son O Jim who in turn produced Jolly Roger, who mated to Tooby (B) (a grandaughter both maternaly and paternaly of Brindle Bill) produced Pat The Boy (D) and secondly Jim's, daughter Ch. Eastbury Lass, who put to Pat The Boy produced Colleen of Killyglen. She in turn was mated to Brigands Bosuns Beau (Beau being a greatgrandson of Brindle Bill on both sides) and produced Ch. Linda of Killyglen, Linda mated to Ch. Goldwyns Leading Lad produced the great sire Eastaff Danom.

Arguably Danom's most famous son was Ch. Jolihem Dreadnought who when put to Hillstaffs Lucky Gem (a daughter of Dennybeck Hard Diamond who in turn was a greatgrandson of Danom) sired Ch. Jolihem Ringmastger. From a litter sired by Ch. Jolihem Ringmaster out of Brocliffe Bountifull (she being a grand-daughter of Dreadnought), Ch. Jockartan Royal Tan was produced; he in turn put to Pitmax Brazen Lady (who was a great-grand-daughter of Dennybeck Hard Diamond) sired Ch. Malaser Mauler. One of the litters sired by Mauler out of Jaunty Jane of Lancstaff (a daughter of Ch. Red Rum, who in turn was a grandson of Ringmaster) contained Ch. Lancstaff Sparbu Saga, who from a mating to Rogue Goddess (who is a great-grand-daughter of Ch. Red Rum) produced the next dog in the line, Ch. Rogue Saga. Ch. Rogue Saga mated to Panama Princess (who also goes back to Leading Lad) produced the dog that started all this Ch. Domino Flashy Lad, so from a Leading Lad to a Flashy Lad a continuous line of nine champion dogs covering forty four years; of course this is only one branch of a tree that has produced over the years countless dogs and bitches that have either won, whelped, or sired CC winners. One only has to look in the Stafford ring today to see that this bloodline is still an extremly potent force and will hopefully remain so, as it has produced some of our breed’s finest examples.

Getting back to the title of this article "Does line breeding really work," well in this and many other cases I could quote, the answer has to be a resounding yes. Though getting back to the pudding analogy, any cook will tell you that the quality of a pudding depends upon the quality of the ingredients, the skill of the cook and the recipe they use. The same applies to the management and breeding of dogs, we should all be using the same recipe, i.e., the Kennel Club Breed Standard. The method of choosing the best ingredients available, preparing them, then bringing them together to produce a Stafford that conforms as close to the Standard as possible and posseses the ability to pass on its qualities to future generations is down to the individual’s knowledge of the breed, both its form and function, their perseverence and a bit of that magical ingredient — good luck! If carried out with due care and attention, line breeding can be a powerful tool to use in a breeding programme and one that has been used by succesful breeders not only in Staffords but all breeds for many years.

Finally, though this was never meant to be the definitive article on line breeding, it has hopefully proved of interest to some people, and I am sure any replies to it will be gratefully received by the editor.