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History of the Boucle
Heather Baulk Smith Eygenraam
2/24/2007 12:00:00 AM

THE HISTORY OF THE BOUCLE

 

    In early 1993, a new breed of cavy captured the interest of cavy fanciers all over North America. This was the Texel, an amazing breed with a long coat like a Silkie but it had CURLS! Several Canadian breeders decided that we just had to have this breed in Canada. After much research and expense, Mary Lou Eisel, Bob Stilson and Gail King ordered and imported six Texels from overseas. These lovely animals were the foundation for curly coats in Ontario. Each breeder got a pair, but there was a bonus - a small golden agouti baby Texel boar born along the way. By accident and luck and Gails generosity, he was to become my first ever guinea pig. I was in love with those soft curls. His name was Cassidy. These breeders worked hard crossing these first Texels with Silkies hoping that in time more Texels would arrive from these few animals. Bob however took a slightly different route as he had a vision, a vision of a curly coated cavy with the coat pattern of a Peruvian. He called this breed the Boucle’.

    Early breeding with the Texels was quite frustrating. Some of the first boars were soon sterile, and one of the early sows died. The genetic base was small. The early Texels seemed to have fertility problems. Bob bred his Texel boar to quite a few good Peruvian sows and was able to produce several quite nice Peruvian sows carrying the curly coat gene. One of his Satin Peruvian boars, an excellent fellow by the name of Rainbow, was bred to his Texel sow. by the spring of 1994, it appeared that Bob’s Texel boar was sterile, so he asked several of us with Texel boars if he could send us some sows to be bred. Out of these matings came the first Boucles. The early Boucles had curls and the coat pattern of the Peruvian but often the shoulder coat and frontal were weak. Bob wanted perfection - only two rump rosettes and a very thick and curly mane. He kept persevering, sometimes borrowing good Peruvian sows or boars to introduce a thicker coat and better frontal. It was very frustrating. His enthusiasm for the breed’s potential was contagious though, and several others such as Sue Brown, Laurette Rockwitz and myself were working on this breed.

    Finally - Spring 1995 - Bob appeared with two magnificent Boucle boars! His hard work had paid off. Louie XIV, a gorgeous fellow with lovely thick cream curls and Rasputin - a magnificent black and white. Bob always felt that Rasputin was the better of the two but personally I liked Louie. Both were excellent examples of what we were working towards but Bob still was not happy. Still more work was needed on the frontals.  Breeding was often frustrating; breeding two Peruvian carriers gives only a one in four chance of a Boucle. Breeding Texel to Peruvian carrier gives you again a one in four chance of a Boucle. Coats often showed shoulder breakage. More boars than sows. Do you show or breed? The curly coats seemed to have reduced fertility and vitality compared to the regular long coat breeds. Maybe it was just poor luck but Murphys Law seemed to prevail more then statistical odds! Despite this, Sue Brown and Bob developed some very nice Boucles with good thick coats. By summer 1997, Bob felt that we were about ready to try for a presentation of the breed. Due to the short notice and few animals, some of the animals came out of breeding pens to the presentation, but the improvement in the breed was obvious, especially in the younger animals. Boucles passed into the class 1 rare varieties. Frontals were still not as strong as we wanted. Another challenge was writing the standard. Trying to convert Bobs vision of the perfect Boucle into words was not easy.

    Rainbows influence kept showing up here and there - as satin Boucles appeared, too. For awhile Bob and I kept trying for the Satins but their coats and vitality could not compare with the regular Boucles. I do have to thank Bob though - he kept a beautiful chocolate satin Boucle boar, and gave me his red and white brother who was only a satin carrier. This red/white boar was Fuzzy Wuzzy - who has sired many excellent curly coats including our Niblet who was Best Boucle and Best Rare Variety at five shows including OCC Convention.

    Boucles entered the show ring in 1999 as a regular breed. The genetic base has diversified and frontals, rosettes and coat had improved tremendously. The battle over the wording in the standard is mostly settled. There still are not very many of this beautiful breed to be found. The best should ideally have a sturdy body, dense curly coat and nice snubby head. Curls vary according to the age of the animal, loose curls as a junior, developing into ringlets as an intermediate. At intermediate age, Boucles usually have their best curl. At all ages, the curl is often most easily determined in the short hair on the animal’s underside. As the length of the coat increases, the ringlets become less kinky as the weight of the coat loosens the curl. This is especially true for the thick coated animals. The recent Reserve in Show win of my TSW Boucle, Nemesis, was a first for the breed, and particularly rewarding as this animal carries the bloodlines of Bob Stilson in his mother’s line and Sue Brown’s lines on his father’s side, as well as Cassidy’s genes. He is the result of cooperative breeding to try to produce the best Boucles we can. ‘Nemy’ has retired to the breeding pen and hopefully may help all of us get closer yet to the vision Bob started years ago.

 

Heather Baulk Smith Eygenraam

 

 

 

The Boucle

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