skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Waring   12 January [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan. 12th

My dear Sir

I thank you for your extremely kind letter.— One point, which you incidentally mention is very interesting & new to me, viz that when many puppies are born, a few are generally small & weakly.—2 As you kindly permit me to trouble you again, I shd. like to put the same case as before in a rather different way.— If a man kept a rather large lot of fairly good greyhounds, say 20 or 30, would not these increase at so quick a rate that he would be obliged to destroy some, & would it be sufficient to destroy merely any small & weakly puppies in the larger littlers? If so, would he destroy more male or female puppies; & this, I suppose would depend on whether males or females are the most valuable for coursing.—

Would it be possible for you (if not causing too much trouble) to ask some large breeder of greyhounds whether he rears all his puppies; & if does not rear all, whether he destroys more males or females?

I feel so much interest with respect to greyhounds, because a few years ago I had all the returns made for several years to the Field newspaper tabulated, & I know exactly the proportion of male to female births viz 110 males to 100 females.—3

I thank you cordially for your kindness & remain, my dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from William Waring, 9 January 1874.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier had sent CD statistics of greyhound births, most of which had been published in the Field (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, [before 18 April 1869]). CD used the data in Descent 1: 263–4, 304. See also Descent 2d ed., p. 258 n. 99.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.


CD requests WW to ask a large breeder of greyhounds whether the increase in litters requires that some puppies be destroyed. If so, is it sufficient to destroy merely the small and weak? Would this result in more males or females being destroyed?

CD once used the Field to tabulate ratios of female to male births in greyhounds (110: 100).

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Waring
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6 Down letterhead
Source of text
Kent History and Library Centre (CKS-U1906/Z/1)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9238,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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