Basset Fauve de Bretagne ” proportions”

Getting to grips with length to height ratios in this scent hound…. under ” General Appearance” the three key statements are as follows –
short legged
rough coated
moderate length

Its a basset breed, therefore by definition will be short legged.In my other reading about the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, supported by Club seminar handouts,one finds that the breed is the shortest in length of the french basset breeds. Once upon a time once aficionados attempted to set up a ration of length to height to aid breeders, exhibitors and judges, I wasnt around at the time and it doesn’t appear in current literature. I regularly speak to judges who complain about how varied the breed is, no two the same in any class, that sort of thing. As a breeder you can think you have bred a gorgeous litter – and aged six months, the proportions, height and other things might be completely different than you thought they would be. These little hounds might grow too tall, stay too small,you name it.

I’ve done the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen judging seminar and was really interested to learn about type and proportions in this associated breed. After all, they come from the neighbouring ” county” to Brittany, the Vendee. This club does have a measurement of length in their standard, its experts wanting PBGV to fit within a certain compass after describing the breed as ” short legged” and “compact”.The best proportions for excellence are, they think, ” length of body from point of shoulder to point of buttock exceeds height at withers at a ratio of approximately 7 :5″.

So – labouring the point – if BfdB are regularly described as the shortest backed of the basset breeds they should appear to be not so long as the PBGV, shorter than their ratio of 7:5. However if any dog is too short it wont be able to move efficiently. It will crab, sidewind, not be able to keep its four legs in rhythm as it moves, and presumably not be as efficient in the field. I’ve seen the shortest examples of the breed unable to move in a straight line.Reading into the detail of the standard  you find a request for length, as well as width and depth,of chest. The ribs should be carried well back and the loin is described as strong.Would a BfdB which was proportionately as long as it was high ( measured from shoulder to buttock in the same way as the PBGV) be too short backed to be typical at 5:5? Might it still be a bit too short at 6:5 ?

Applying your ruler to photographs, you probably wouldn’t want your mythical ideal Fauve to have the same length/ height ratio as a Basset Hound, that is for sure – or to be as compact as the Beagle. Whatever else is going on a Fauve should never be able to be mistaken for a Dachshund from the distance !

The recommended height is given within the breed standard – 32 to 38 cm. The breed standard of the country of origin allows tolerance should the exhibit be an exceptionally good one.Yet this appears to be the only parameter, and how can one judge in three dimensions when only given one measurement? Older hands than I speak of many changes over time to the appearance of the breed in the UK. One friend could have taken up the breed many years ago but thought they looked like rather poor Dachshunds, so in her eyes at that time they were too long and low. Another friend has been involved in showing this breed for long enough to have seen “group think” changes over dog- generations: within five years going from lower and longer ( ” think Basset Hound”) to appearing compact and more square ( ” think Beagle”).

There has to be a key decider here, and that for me is ” what is going on in the breed’s country of origin?”. So, to the biggest show of the year in France, the National Elevage. Here are some photographs and comments from me about some of the winners from Cerilly 2014. I can’t get into the mind of the judges but we can look at their selections from huge classes. These experts had hundreds of the breed to overview, and no single judge decided on the outcome, they split the classes between a panel of four. After looking at and grading a class the judge would call at least one colleague into the ring to jointly decide upon the outcome – top four winners from their group of excellents. It was fascinating.These judges all have a main primary interest and purpose in obtaining the right sort of BfdB to hunt with.We can safely assume that their idea of proportions has been honed in the field,i.e. from watching what works.These winners will be fit for purpose.

Below – two of the ” Rallye de Ramondens” dog champions, Dali winning the class over Dino, both by Brick.

below: the junior dogs class, final selection with the class winner to the left ( Huno du Cirque des Falaises).

The best in show winner was Galaxie du Vallon de la Peupliere, a three year old, handler wearing a black shirt in this photograph ( number 329). Her breadth of chest and general rib development is noticeable.

In essence, these are chunky broad little hounds with lots of breadth of chest and sturdy short legs. They have much the same proportions regardless of height at shoulder. They look well ribbed back, short and strong in loin – yet they don’t strike me as being too short, and all moved straight and true. Of course, there were other shapes and sizes at the show, but with the numbers involved the judges could sift these out and home in on their winners.

I havent gone as far as getting out my ruler, I don’t think these photographs are good enough as I was darting around ringside and they aren’t straight on to the lens. It might be an interesting exercise, one day.

Redemption – his history ( 4 june 05 – 5 december 14 )

American champion Carrickaneena Slieve Gullion 

Redemption Sweepstakes oppositepictured as a puppy winning a sweepstakes ( Connie Smalley, IWADV) 1.  12-18 month dogs – Carrickaneena Slieve Gullion. “It is the movement. The reach and drive, the strength in the loin, the length of leg. What a stallion-like hound. This is one to keep an eye on for the future. “


We had to make the hard decision on Friday. Redemption’s rear end was no longer functioning. We had watched his hindquarters becoming weaker over the last few months. When you know a dog , you know when he is puzzled, and getting more tired, finding life a struggle. On the last night he could no longer rise. Asking the vet to come to the house that last time is something we can do for our canine friends. He leaves a vast gap in our lives.

To honour his memory, the history …. which started in the early 1990s when Eileen Flanagan contacted me to ask for semen from Ch Mochras Ipse Facto. Over the years I asked her how things were going. The bitch the A.I. was intended for failed to conceive. I must admit I rather forgot about “Maxim in the freezer” and some years went by……

On one of my trips to look at hounds in the USA I attended the IWAGs initial show, the one held in conjunction with the Somerset Hills dog show, judged by Dagmar Kenis Pordham. I visited                     ” Carrickaneena” for the first time and spent  time with their hounds, marvelling at Logan who was then over eleven. I don’t think I had ever seen such a huge and big boned elderly wolfhound, and he was one of a great many veterans in this kennel. The bitch I liked best was  his daughter  ” Tootsie”, so named as she had a white foot. Ch Carrickaneena Treisce had lots of bone and was very shapely, there was some talk of ” bringing Maxim out of the freezer” but I can’t pretend I held out much hope for puppies. Tootsie had lots of relations living to great ages, many of them shown at this the first veterans speciality, which became a feature of the Garden State show.

I learned that Tootsie had been insemenated and was in whelp. Then – on my birthday – a rare call from the USA. An exhausted yet triumphant Eileen was calling to say that she had ten puppies – which then became eleven  puppies ! Redemption was the last born, he was seemingly dead on arrival, brought back to life by his breeder. This name stuck. I asked if there might be a puppy in this litter for me, and was told yes….

as a baby - first pose

E mails started to come in regularly. I have kept the one which told me every dog puppy was entire aged 5 1/2 weeks. The Government had colluded with us by changing the importation rules, allowing dogs to arrive direct from the USA providing they were over eight months of age and had a rabies injection. I arranged to visit in February 06 to see Redemption aged eight months, rather a formality as I was looking forward to having him, but its hard to take a dog ” sight unseen”. Eileen had also kept a son and a daughter for herself and seemed rather quiet while she showed me the youngsters and we agreed that Redemption should join me. I then asked where Eileen’s own dog puppy from the litter was, and learned that he had died the week before due to the most tragic of accidents. It was typical that Eileen tried to stay quiet, and was preparing to send me the remaining dog – but of course this couldn’t be allowed to happen. We agreed that Redemption would stay in the States to be shown, stored for A.I. and mate his first bitch, at which point I would hope to bring him to the U.K.

Time passed, and Eileen’s daughter Eileen Jnr began to send over a series of fantastic e mails giving the news of Redemption’s many wins over the summer. He made his title in double quick time, with some glittering prizes along the way. By the autumn he had mated his first bitch with all the proficiency his sire had shown some fifteen years earlier. He had an easy flight to Gatwick, and young Eileen arrived  in time to show him at Crufts – he was just within age for the special junior class, which he won.

Settled in at home, I showed Redemption a little, but never really did so to his advantage, although he gained his stud book number and was liked by breed specialists who remembered the sort of dog he resembled from the past. He absolutely hated having his ears stripped, would do anything to get out of this, yet would stand for hours to have the rest of his body groomed.

He had three litters in the UK and one in Germany. His first son Solstrand Arthur Ardfuail quickly established himself as an outstanding sire in his own right, but followed his father in being rather lazy in the ring! For Brachan, the outstanding dog in their litter went to Germany and became a champion for Dagmar Deirich. For Rainster, their first champion Ch Rory, top winning IW in his year. In Germany Helga Muller produced Ch Temhair Germany. In America – I have lost count. His breeder repeated the mating with the last straw of semen from Maxim, and fortunately produced another champion of her own ” Jack” who has also proved to be a great sire.


Below -Ch  Brachan Glen Finochty, Solstrand Arthur Ardfuail, Ch Rainster Rory with Eileen Flanagan, visiting Rainster the year Rory took Best in Show at the IWC club show.




Ch Rory


Redemption was I think a “prepotent” sire, as even today you can see red brindle heavy boned big hounds with his size and substance coming through from Arthur and Rory. Three generations of champions now, the collected Cousinage jokingly called ” the Redemptionistas” . In many a show entry the winners have Redemption lurking – I think Bev Poole has the youngest of them ( via Ch Gambling Man, Ch Another Stripe, Arthur – great grandchildren).

Redemption’s heart tested normal at all his regular checks through to the end. At home, a very easy going greedy hound who never tested your strength by pulling or other bad behaviour, unless there was a bitch in season around!  He loved his food and especially his mints, a favourite variety of which his breeder carried with him whenever she visited the UK. I was so pleased she could see him for a last time this Summer, just after his ninth birthday. Throughout his life Demi would go over to the basset fauves and ask them to wash his nose and ears, and at the end of his life had a special friendship with young Marc, who is lost without him.

As are we all.