From my Dog World Blog on 27 May 2016

I love a good mystery. And the world of pedigree dogs certainly has several head scratching ones worthy of an investigation by Miss Marple! Most of them revolve around the dubious ‘heritage’ of certain key dogs usually at a particular breed’s inception.

Many of you will be aware, for example, of the controversy created by the Mastiff, ‘Ch Crown Prince.’ If we put aside the mystifying facts of how a dog with a Dudley mask, brown nose, light eyes and straight hindquarters actually went on to become a champion, there were also the many murmurings and questions over this dog’s parentage. The criticisms were obviously taken seriously enough by the Old English Mastiff Club to initiate an enquiry, which subsequently found nothing to prove that Crown Prince’s pedigree was incorrect.

Recently I was reading about some early Japanese Chins and this breed also has a rather baffling mystery from its early days in this country. It concerns the import, Toro of Hove.

Hutchinson’s Dog Encyclopaedia says;

Up until 1914, importations from Japan were fairly numerous, and a good many of the best dogs of today (1935) are descended from the wonderful specimens brought over by Mrs Gordon Gratrix. The breed owes her a debt of gratitude, for the best only were good enough for her, and she generously put her dogs at stud. The prefix ‘Anderson Manor’ figures in many pedigrees.

Of recent years Ch Toro of Hove, is the best known importation. He was for a time the property of Mrs Hudson, whose affix he bears. Mrs Hudson showed him and placed him at stud, nor was she induced to part with him till she was sure of a worthy son to carry on the new strain. Mrs Mosscockle then became Ch ‘Toro’s’ proud owner and he retired from public life.

Later on the piece returns to ‘Toro’ and says:

Through the years of financial depression she (Mrs Hudson) took the endless trouble in keeping the Japanese flag flying. She supported all the shows, and the quality of ‘The Hoves’ has many times been called second to none. Breeding was not started until after the war, and between its inception and 1934, nine champions came from this kennel and 25 certificates were won. In the early 1930s a really good Jap was imported into this country, and it was not long before he became the property of the ‘of Hove’ enthusiast. He lost no time in becoming Ch Toro of Hove, and the fresh blood proved most beneficial to the whole breed. He was at stud for an all too short period before Mrs Hudson parted with him to Mrs Mosscockle.

Ch Toro, however left in his place a very handsome son, Ch Toro’s Boy of Hove. This dog became the great sire of the 1934 period, and a great contributor towards keeping up the high standard of the breed.’

270516 Chin1

Intriguingly, the caption under Toro’s photograph reads;

‘And this is ‘Toro of Hove’ the imported sire of which nothing was known except that he was of long pure pedigree. Not even his age could be ascertained. The choice was justified by the results – the success of Toro’s son, and grandsons and granddaughters.’

Unlike many of the unregistered/non-pedigree individual dogs that have been used from time to time in the past to resuscitate and resurrect breeds, ‘Toro of Hove’ was a dog of immense quality (or appeared so in his photograph). But where did he come from? Was he an import from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’? I’ve researched his background on the various ‘pedigree databases’ and it is indeed true, there are no details given about this dog’s background… although the caption on his picture strangely claims that he was a dog of ‘long and pure pedigree’. Another oddity is some sources claim that ‘Toro’ was a champion while others imply that he remained uncrowned.

270516 Chin2

‘Ch Toro’s Boy of Hove. This great sire was bred in 1930 by Mrs Hudson, and in 1931 became a champion, winning six first prizes and three challenge certificates. Its father is Toro of Hove, an imported black-and-white dog.’


270516 Chin3

‘A Noted Dog – Yo Yo of Hove was bred by Mrs A E D’Antonio in June 1932, a son of Toro Boy of Hove. Exhibited by Mrs E P A Bartleet, it won a championship in 1933 at Metropolitan and Essex Canine Society Show at the Crystal Palace.’


270516 Chin4

‘Kusi of Hove, bred by Miss E Newland in 1932, by Ch Toro’s Boy of Hove, won five honours in 1933 when it was exhibited by Mrs J H Hudson. On the right is Little Tartar of St Omer, bred in 1931, a half brother to Kusi, which was bred and owned by Mrs A E D’Antonio, and won four honours in 1933. Both dogs are black-and-white.’


I’d be fascinated to learn anything about this dog so if any reader knows more about the origins of the mysterious ‘Toro of Hove’ do leave the information in the comments column below.


Also read more articles on Dog World