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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   17 February 1874

Finchley | London | N

Feby 17/74

My dear Sir

I have delayed writing to answer your last until I could consult some of the best authorities on the subject.1

I have spoken to two of highest, namely the gentlemen who write under the signatures of “Stonehenge” and “Robin Hood”2 they have both been extensive breeders and have a great practical acquaintance with the subject   Their answers correspond

If first rate parents are bred from, foster mothers are procured and all the litter preserved

If any are destroyed it is those that are the least promising irrespective of sex.—

If the necessity arose for destroying some of the litter and all were equal in character then possibly or probably the females would be sacrificed males being less troublesome but as a rule it is the strongest and best that are kept irrespective of sex3   They both agree that it is impossible to answer your question more definitely and that your query as to the two females producing one 4 males & 2 females the other 2 males & 4 females does not admit of being replied to with any greater degree of exactness—

I hope you are well. I have been suffering for 3 months from my head, the result of anxiety and trouble—and have done little or no work, until last week when I tried to recommence. I send you an article which may interest you4

Believe me very truly yours | W B Tegetmeier

C Darwin Esq—

CD annotations

6.1 I hope … you 6.3] crossed red crayon
Top of letter: ‘Greyhounds | good’ blue crayon


See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 5 February 1874. CD was interested in the numbers of each sex born and preserved in litters of dogs and other animals (see also letters from George Cupples, 3 February 1874 and 7 February 1874).
John Henry Walsh, who wrote under the pen name Stonehenge, was editor of the Field. Robin Hood was the pen name of Charles Melville Browne (Lee 1894, pp. 136–7).
In Descent 2d ed., p. 258 n. 99, CD wrote that ‘from enquiries made from many breeders’, it seemed that females were in some respects more esteemed, though otherwise troublesome, and that it did not seem that the female puppies of the best bred dogs were systematically destroyed more than the males, though this did take place to some extent.
The article has not been found, but concerned a hairy Russian man with a hairy son (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 18 February 1874, and Descent 2d ed., p. 19 n. 41). It may have been the article from the Lancet, 25 October 1873, pp. 612–13.


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

Lee, Rawdon Briggs. 1894. A history and description of the modern dogs of Great Britain and Ireland. (The terriers.) London: Horace Cox.


Gives the answers of two of the best dog breeders to CD’s queries.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 90: 98–9
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9298,” accessed on 23 September 2020,

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