Rational Breeding

The Theory and Practice of Rational Breeding

This book, by John Everett Millais, the leading breeder of Bassets at the time tries to explain, through mathematics, how to rationally breed the Basset Hound.  The book was meant for other contemporary breeders of Basset Hounds, and the 100+ pages are therefore heavy to digest.

William Drury, in his book British Dogs, Their Points, Selection and Show Preparation (1903) writes:

I have already referred to Mr. Everett Millais' essay on "Bassets: their Use and Breeding", which he subsequently followed up with "Rational Breeding". Mr. Millais has collected a mass of facts, and has so marshalled them as to show, almost to a demonstration, the results certain to follow the mating of Bassets, in certain proportions of blood, of the strains of these hounds then possessed in England.

Millais gets his inspiration from Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859), and writes:

To many the name of Darwin conjures up vision of human monkeys, men with tails, to others the destruction of Faith and the disbelief in a Deity.  To this I will refer, but at the same time I must confess I fail to appreciate any vision of this kind.  To me, Darwin's theory is the stupendous work of a stupendous mind, and, in making use of it as the base of this book, the reader will agree with me that it is the only theory put before the world that will satisfactorily account for the multiplicity of life-forms at present extant, and the variation which is constantly going on in nature, whether the reader be a student of nature or not.

Millais defines a mathematical formula by which one can measure whether the Basset Hound in question is a true Basset Hound or not.  The table below is for Fino V, and shows that this particular Hound is not a true Basset Hound, as if it was, it would score 2/2 under "Individual".    


Species 32
Variety 16
Basset Hound
Strain 8
Le Couteulx
Family 3
Fino de Paris (¼ Termino)
Individual 1
Fino de Paris (½ Guinevere)

We will not delve into this book further, but the bloodlines of the various Basset (Hounds) mentioned in the book has been used in the section "Bloodlines of the Basset Hound", soon to be published on this site.


The Theory and Practice of Rational Breeding

Everett Millais

Between 1887-1890 - exact year unknown, The Fanzers Gazette, London

Read online:

Off-topic links

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.  Read online at archive.org