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.

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