Braque du Bourbonnais

An outcross experiment in the 30's

Version Française

Extracted from Bulletin N11 of the CBB, dated March 1933

Here is the account of an outcross experiment by monsieur Dubut:

The purity of a breed is a really relative thing.

If before calling an animal pure breed it had to have no foreign blood in none of his ancestors, one can say that nowhere exists such a dog. In this case, there would be no pure subject, neither pure breed.
Especially, for our dog breeds, either English, either French, it is obvious that none was able to live, maintain itself, improve, without the addition of new blood, without an outcross.
This intransigence about the rigorously pure blood, is neither legitimate, neither wise, neither even honest, because some purists allowed themselves to use outcross in the shadow but never confessed it. This intransigence was then more verbal than real.
In my opinion, and from the judgment of some experts who know a little bit of animal science, the outcross is, in some case, not only advisable, but necessary.

On the principle of outcross, almost everybody agrees today. One realizes that, without it, all our domestic breeds would end up in too much and unwanted inbreeding.
The knowledgeable and honest breeders totally admit that an animal can and must be called pure breed when his pedigree has only a minor fraction of foreign blood, insufficient to change the breed type fixed by the standard.
So, to be more precise with numbers, one generally admits that an animal whose pedigree has only 1/8 foreign blood, can be considered pure breed.
There are even some which, despite 1/4 of foreign blood, don't show any trace of outcross.
Before quitting the general discussion, let's say that every outcross trial has two delicate steps:

The choice of the outcross sire, and the elimination of the out crossed products.

On those two points, if you allow me, I will explain with a personal case.
When I started breeding Bourbonnais, about thirty years ago, the absolute purity of the breed dogma was the official and intangible law of dog breeding; and the most fashionable was to marry together all the champions of the breed, or at least their offspring. The royal families, with all due respect, perpetuated themselves in the same way. This is perhaps not enough to generalize the method.

The well explored path are not always the best, but they are the easiest: I did like everybody.
First I gave my bitch Kate to Hercule du Bosc, grand son of the champion Mascotte. Then I gave her to the champion Roi d'Ys. I gave Douce, daughter of Kate, to Goliath. I found, at monsieur Godinot's, Guêpe, grand grand daughter of the champion Yan. I obtained from monsieur Canu, Gousse and Loustic from the champion Fanette. I was triumphing.
Imagine! In a few years, I had gathered in my kennel the blood of all the kings and queens of the breed!
What a good work I was going to do! What a success was going to reward my efforts!... Oh gullible and saint innocence of the man who has faith!
This method gave me a certain number of average dogs; not a crack, not one dog really good, neither physically, neither mentally. The more I concentrated my aristocratic melting, the more I could see some annoying deficiencies.

What to do?

When one breeds English pointers or setters - numerous breeds with some close breeds - one can, during quite a long time, find some livestock with different blood that one can marry without danger.
But if you breed Bourbonnais, then a not numerous breed, the difficulty is fast increasing and quickly becomes unbeatable. You have only a very small number of genitors and you will for sure end up with an excessive inbreeding.
And what makes such an inbreeding soon dangerous, is that among those famous subjects of the breed, some of them, despite being champions, have some physical or mental defaults which make them dangerous for any inbreed reproduction.
And those defaults, often you don't know them.

This was the situation of my kennel in 1908.

It appeared to me as an evidence, that only an outcross could revitalize my braque du Bourbonnais.
What are the conditions that a judicious and efficient outcross must meet?...
Where to go for this outcross?
Those are the two questions that I had to answer. Here is how. To try a serious and rational outcross, whose traces, but not benefits, would disappear quickly, it appeared to me that a few precautions were needed.
And first, what are the essential characteristics of the breed to outcross, the braque du Bourbonnais.
Physically, strongly built dog, more squat than elegant, of medium proportions, pear shape head, big, white coat ticked, short tail.
Mentally, a gifted fog, balanced, good temper, easy going, quest and stop in a practical hunting style, but nevertheless sportive.
The problem then is to find a genitor who can have at the same time the special capacities of his breed, the family characteristics which make it close to the Bourbonnais.
From the coat and type point of view, I could have taken a braque, either French or German. At this time the braque français almost didn't exist, and the German braque was very rare in France.
I wrote off the braque d'Auvergne, because, if it is pure breed, his head is too different from the Bourbonnais one; if it has been crossed with English pointer, which id the most common case, then it's better to go directly to the English pointer.
I did it with enthusiasm because I though it was possible, searching a little bit, to find small pointers, dogs as close as possible to the Bourbonnais, either physically, either mentally.
No need to say that I didn't think to choose a scent hound, even with short hair, and that it never crossed my mind to take a long hair breed: spaniel, setter or other.
To be really sure not to introduce in my Bourbonnais a bad element, I made my outcross sire with dogs of my choice.
I bough a bitch in a quality pointer kennel. This bitch was sweet and as good temper as one can be, and otherwise very gifted.
There was at one of my friend's, coming from another kennel a pointer whose origin was the most fashionable, perfect sire: big bones, muscles, class and temper, and a passionate hunter.

I gave him my pointer bitch.

I had several products, among them a sire that I judged particularly interesting for his size and his coat. I raised him. I made a wonderful dog out of him: he had, to a high degree, the physical and mental qualities which make a very good dog.
Will you allow me to give you an evidence?

One day, I was going to hunt, I already had my gun on my shoulder, and my dog was there, ready to go, happy. I realize that I forgot something at home. I let my dog in the court closed by a fence, and I go inside. When I went out a few minutes after, what do I see?... My dog had tried to join me by passing through the fence. He had succeeded in passing his head, then a shoulder. Impossible to pass a second shoulder, impossible to go back. To free him, I had to break the fence.
Such was the hunting passion of this dog.
Do you know how one hunts hares, in my country, at the end of the hunting season? With a dry and cold weather, the hares live in the ploughings. When they have been found one or two times, they become extremely cautious. As soon as a hunter and his dog appear at the limit of the field, the hares leave their home. One can have a chance to shot them at a good distance only in the first hours of the morning and on the condition to advance slowly, without a sound, without useless gesture, the nose in the wind and your dog behind your feet.
For those cases, I ordered to my doe: back! And my dog was staying rigorously behind me, without ever letting his head going past my bulge. I could have searched 20 acres of ploughings, without needing to reiterate my order.
When we had finished exploring the ploughings, I said to him: Go! And immediately he was running again, taking some long distance points.
I became convinced latter by a long experience, that this good dog enabled me to maintain and increase the qualities of my Bourbonnais, temper and nose.

If I was not too much boring, let have a look at the outcross from a different angle.
If you realize what I had to sacrify (in other words: give) all my half blood dogs and a few three quarters dogs, that, for the outcross, as for the return to the primitive type, I had to breed and maintain during several years a great number of not sellable dogs, you will realize how much efforts and money such an operation requires.
Like many passions, the dog passion is sometimes a little bit expensive. If at least it could always bring you the wanted result, the success!...

In 1920, facing a livestock devastated by the war, pushed to too much inbreeding, I tried a new outcross. I found, at a friend's, a dog that I knew well and which was giving me the same guarantees than the English pointer I made before the war, when using selection.
The products of this second outcross, Cob de la Bresle, Cube, Elga, Fan, Fane, de la Bresle are typical Bourbonnais, vigorous, handy, and very gifted.
After what I told you about inbreeding, perhaps do you think: "This is not very clever. With a little bit of intuition and a few precautions, every body can do the same."

Don't believe this, and don't rush.

If you are a beginner, without a great experience, be happy to breed with pure breed stock.
Let the outcross and the inbreeding to breeders who have knowledge and a long experience.
Those kind of things, be sure of that, imply many difficulties, risks, failures, a lot of time and of money.
Do you know who is the dog enthusiast who has some satisfaction and even a little bit of profit?... It is the one who has in his kennel a good bitch, producing some good and nice puppies, having a litter every year, or even every two years. This one can hope to sell a few puppies and to cover his breeding and even hunting expenses.
But if you have a lot of dogs, be careful! Take care of the disease! Take care of the problems of any sorts!
You can trust an old Bourbonnais enthusiast.

E. Dubut, de la Bresle kennel.