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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Waring   6 January 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 6 1874

My dear Sir

You will perhaps remember having formerly given me valuable information on the colours of greyhounds.1 I now want to beg, if you will kindly oblige me, an answer on a simple point, about which I am particularly anxious to obtain trustworthy information. If you do not yourself know, perhaps you could find out without great trouble— It is merely whether in studs of first rate greyhounds (I would except any bitch of quite pre-eminent merit) are all the puppies reared; & if not so, are more males or females reared? I shall perhaps make my question clearer by putting an extreme, but not impossible case. If one bitch produced 8 puppies, 6 being males & 2 females; & another bitch likewise produced 8 puppies, these being 6 females & 2 males, how many, as an ordinary rule, of the male & female puppies in each litter, would be reared?2

I hope that you will forgive me for troubling you, & aid me, if in your power by an answer—

Pray believe me | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


In Variation 1: 42, CD referred to data collected by Waring on colour in greyhounds. No earlier correspondence with Waring has been found.
CD had recently begun working on the second edition of Descent (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). In Descent 1: 304, CD had discussed the proportion of sexes in the births of greyhounds. In ibid., pp. 315–18, he speculated whether the ratio of sexes could be equalised through natural selection. In Descent 2d ed., p. 258 and n. 99, CD discussed infanticide as a means of altering the proportion of sexes in humans, and mentioned his investigations on greyhounds.


Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD has previously received information on colours of greyhounds. Now asks whether breeders rear all puppies, and, if not, do they selectively rear more males or females?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Waring
Sent from
Source of text
Kent History and Library Centre (CKS-U1906/Z/1)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9228,” accessed on 4 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22