LOST BREED – SUSUKI (AUSTRALIA)


By Sarah Hartwell

The Susuki was a short-lived breed created in Australia in 1957 and developed for about a decade as an “experimental breed”. At that time, the genetics of blue eyes was not properly understood. This article appeared in “The Age,” Monday March 13, 1961 (a newspaper from Melbourne, Australia):

“Mr Douglas Greening, of Box Hill North, has been devoting a great deal of time to the Susukis for three years and the latest news is that, under the description “experimental breed” they wall be exhibited for the first time at the Croydon [Australia] agricultural show on March 25. The Susukis are the fruits (through three generations) of the marriage of Pluto of Arden, a seal point Siamese, and a white domestic alley cat, who had a touch of Persian in her ancestry. The fruits have taken two forms – both will look, in shape, like Siamese and have Siamese blue eyes, but one will be black all over and the other grey all over. They don’t look quite like that yet; they may be described as being half-way there, and Mr Greening thinks that another three generations may bring success.”

Susuki from Our Cats Dec 1965
Susuki from Our Cats Dec 1965
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At a guess, the white foundation female was blue-eyed, hence the breeder’s hopes of creating a blue-eyed non-pointed, non-white breed. However, Siamese blue eyes and white-fur blue eyes are different genes and are inextricably linked to the coat colour. The foundation sire, Pluto of Arden (a Seal-Point Siamese), was better known to judges for his poor temperament. The founding mother also carried the recessive long-hair gene. Some Susukis, owned by Mrs van den Arden (a cat breed judge) were exhibited in Tasmania in the mid 1960s.

According to Mrs Davies’ report in Our Cats, January 1965:

“In Victoria there is a completely new type of black shorthair cat with hazel eyes called Susukis. These I found to be a mixture of Siamese and black domestic. We in New Zealand have seen the progeny of mismatings between Siamese and the ordinary British Shorthair cat. But we had not thought of them as a new breed. In Victoria, Mr and Mrs Chandler, Mrs Moloney, Mrs Matheson and Mr Scott were all keen on producing Susukis, but with hazel eyes instead of blue.”

This report provoked the following response in the May 1965 issue of Our Cats: “Eight years of careful, planned and selective breeding was undertaken to produce them. Mrs Davies says they are not unattractive. They are indeed attractive with their almost fluid sleekness and grace. She also got the Susuki breeders wrong – they should be Hiljoy Cattery (Mrs Van der Spek and Miss Holding), Suzeraine Cattery (Mrs Carmichael, Miss Thomas, Mrs Buck, myself and Mr Hartnell) and Rothesay Cattery (Mrs Matheson). Mr greening, who bred the original stock, has retired. They are shown as experimental and the judge is advised as to the breed being bred for and the number of generations towards that (of the exhibit). … Beryl Chandler (Mrs), Camberwell, Victoria, Australia.”

Mrs Chandler’s provided a photo for the December issue and, in monochrome, the cats resemble Havana Browns. Had they continued development, the hazel-eyed Susukis would have been similar to the Black and Blue Oriental Shorthairs, though probably less extreme in conformation compared to modern Oriental Shorthairs.

The Susuki breed progressed through at least 8 years of selective breeding, but it would prove impossible to create a blue-eyed black or grey shorthair. That would not happen until the Ojos Azules many years later; the Ojos Azules has all but died out due to lethal deformities linked to the blue-eyed mutation.

Sarah


9 thoughts on “LOST BREED – SUSUKI (AUSTRALIA)”

  1. Wow,that’s cool! I’ve never heard of such breed.And it all happened in Melbourne. Sarah, I was looking for a breed to feature in the Ozzi Cat magazine’s issue#9 that is out in September. May I use your text from this post and publish in that issue? (With that issue we will celebrate 2 years of Ozzi Cat and helping cats! 🙂 ) I will mention you as the author and the Michael’s web site (or just let me know how you would like to be mentioned).

    Would it be ok with you? Thank you in advance! xox

    Reply
    • Lesley Morgan has done more research and has some updates and corrections:

      Despite the claim in “The Age” (a mainstream newspaper, not a specialist cat publication), there is no evidence supporting Mr Greening’s aim to produce blue eyes. Beryl Chandler, a more trustworthy source, always wrote of hazel eyes.

      In 1964, Beryl Chandler reported “Black F.S.H. (now called black Oriental) were shown in considerable numbers.” In 1965 she stated “they are now called Susukis.”

      Some Susukis, owned by Mrs Van der Spek (a cat breeder and show judge) were exhibited in Tasmania in the mid 1960s.

      Reply

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