Category Archives: Dog Updates

Mochras Basset Fauve de Bretagne and Irish Wolfhounds, our dog news updates as they come up.

The Itchy Hound – and some new information about ears

I’ve been breeding for some time now and its only recently we have thought seriously about chronic, painful itching. Dogs who find self inflicted raw bloody patches less of a problem than the initial itch.  In the old days you were told not to bed dogs on hay and only use straw as it was less likely to harbour mites. In 1973 we brought mange home, presumably from a dog show, and I have vivid memories of bathing three wolfhounds week after week while also feeding them large orange pills from the vet until they were free of it.

Nowadays hounds live in the house, their bedding is washed on high heat and regularly in a 10 kilo drum washing machine, our house rugs are regularly changed and steam cleaned weekly. We use Stronghold on the hounds to keep fleas, mites and worms at bay. Yet my last Irish wolfhound was an itchy dog who chewed his paws and had sore ears – he did best on a bespoke diet.  I now know I have bred and sold two basset fauve de bretagne youngsters who are chronically itchy. I suppose two unrelated hounds from seventeen litters over the last thirteen years is not anything to beat myself up about, but it would be much better were there none.

A lady owner in a BFDB Facebook group shared the treatment her hound was on ( which is working, hurray) and several people responded with their own hound stories of intractable itch. I have a Facebook group of my own for “my” owners, many of whom have other dogs. I asked them about itchy hounds plus e mailed the few owners not in the group to ask if anyone had any concerns of their own. Two reported back with problems. They both suspect grass allergies but aren’t sure.

Statistically, skin problems and gastric problems are the top two reasons a dog will be taken to a surgery, so fauves will not be immune to this trend.

My own vet has an interest in skin problems and has provided her input ( thank you, Emma). Lots of owners of dogs past and present have provided information. I will attempt to consolidate this here in case its any use to anyone as a resource.


These mites are increasingly common and can just about be seen with the naked eye. They lurk in the bottom of sacks of dog food where its dusty.

Its good practice ( and I am about to take this up!) to take the food out of the sack leaving behind the dusty bit in the bottom and to move it to a clean and dry container which you then freeze for 24 hours to kill any mites.


  1. Your vet will rule out parasites to begin with. Is your hound on a good flea and mite product,  applied at correct intervals?
  2. Do a diet trial for at least six weeks. Owners also recommend this. Either use home cooked food generally avoiding chicken and rice and concentrating on fish based and unusual meat proteins ( things the dog hasn’t tried before therefore might not be allergic to). Lamb, venison, sweet potato, potato are mentioned, or try a hydrologised canine prescription diet from your vet.
  3. If no improvements to using both steps above – you probably have atopic dermatitis. Hope that it is this and not malassesia ( see separate short note at the end about this condition).


So, your companion has been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis. Now what? this is the list from owners whose individual ideas have worked for their hounds:

  • 3/4 teaspoonful of coconut oil added to diet daily ( this also helps the digestion I hear)
  • keeping ears checked and cleaned using ear cleaners recommended by your vet.
  • hypoallergenic foods, or feeding a raw diet such as Nature’s Diet or Natural Instinct ( its true that owners who feed raw have dogs with stunningly glossy coats).
  • One Piriton allergy tablet given am and one pm together with a steroid spray from vet.
  • Yumega Omega 3 oil daily given with food, dose as instructed.
  • Regular baths in oatmeal ( soothing) or hibiscrub ( again, from your vet).
  • Wipes, to face and body of hound on returning from walks, to remove any grass pollen spores.
  • Try boosting the immune system. One contact used Elagen, from a small firm in Wales called Eladon, and swears by this product.
  • Three owners, having spent up to £1,000 at vets and otherwise despairing of their dogs ever being free from the itches, used a particular homeopathic practitioner and now recommend her to everyone. ( Labrador and two Irish wolfhounds).

Your vet will have some treatments in their armoury. Most of us know about Apoquel, which does have a dramatic effect on some itchy dogs. Yet this has side effects and its not something to give open ended.

Your vet can do a blood test and you might pay for desensitising injections. I hear that when these work they work wonderfully well. A blood sample is sent to Artuvetin, Holland, who make up a specific vaccine based on the allergies they discover. At the moment the price is around £130 for 1-4 types of allergy ( and there are an awful lot of different types of grasses and tree pollens to test for) and c.£180 for 5-8 types of allergy. This is the information on costs from one practice only, ask at your own as all will vary.  Your vet will charge for the initial “loading” which is followed by monthly injections. Each vial can last 12 months, so it will be cost effective. I know a wolfhound who maintained a healthy skin on this regime until he died aged over ten. He had also been moved onto a natural “BARF” diet.

Your vet might move to a new treatment (in the UK), although available in the USA for longer. Cytopoint is what worked for the lady I mentioned earlier with a very itchy fauve. I am told vets are using it where nothing else has helped Atopic Dermatitis.

A final word about Cytopoint from Emma O’Connor, MRCVS” Cytopoint launched to specialist dermatologists this summer and has now been made available to everyone. Have our first case at work already and seems to be working great. I went to one of the launch meetings last month and it certainly looks like a promising new way of managing the itch. It doesn’t cure the allergy, just blocks a chemical that induces the itchy feeling”.


This came from a Rhodesian Ridgeback owner, whose rescued hound suffers from this and has to go to bed in a Buster collar to stop her scratching and biting overnight. Its an immune system deficiency, where natural yeast is not kept in check causing excruciating infections to the feet and ears. It tends not to manifest itself until the dog is two years or older. Its inheritable, so dogs with this condition should not be bred from. If it is known to exist in a breed, would be owners should ask about grandparents as well as parents skin condition before purchasing.


First and last word on the subject – keep looking in there, and keep them clean. If your dog is in and out of water a lot or has hairy ear canals , this is particularly important. Use cotton wool to protect swimming hounds from getting too much water down there. Basset breeds seem prone to “yeasty” ears in some cases. I’ve had recommendations from different breeders and owners, all of whom have their own tried and tested products. I have used Cleanaural, Thornit ( both powders) over the years and am presently using Stinky Stuff’s Non Stinky Stuff – it smells pleasantly of sage and seems to be a good cleanser used once or twice per week when you need it.

If your vet gives you a course of ear drops bear in mind it can take six weeks or so to really get to the infection, so ensure you talk about this and have a long enough course to see you through or it may well recur.

Co-incidentally a wolfhound friend posted this week about a treatment which worked where everything else had failed. Apparently its not available in the UK so far, but if you live anywhere else ask your vet about “Oridermyl” otherwise Vetoquinol. This gave relief to an elderly hound whose owner was thinking the last help she could give her was to put her down and out of this suffering. It worked perfectly. An Australian vet nurse goes straight out for Canesten ( vaginal) cream, don’t say its for a dog of course, the generic name for it is clotrimazole.


I’ve learned a lot about skin problems by asking around – and I hope you find this useful. Happy to add your own ideas to the list of ” what worked for you” if you would like to contact me.

Liz Thornton




Are you ready for a puppy?



I’ve started to use  a “puppy checklist” with those nice people who are contacting me because they are starting to look for their first family Fauve. The first step is seeing just how deterred they are when they learn about the scent hound attitude to recall – as many never bother to reply to my first e mail asking if they know their hound will need a definite training commitment and an owner who needn’t expect to see one of this breed turn on a farthing and dash back to their side as a well trained gun dog would. There are some lovely obedient fauves out in the world , whose owners usually include the phrases ” he is incredibly greedy, even for a Basset Fauve” and ” Tesco cocktail sausages, cheese or chicken bits go out for walks with us”. Yet if your walk takes you past a freshly dug rabbit warren…. expect transgressions, as fresh rabbit is clearly a very strong racial memory for this breed.I have a dog who can easily spend two hours looking at a mouse hole waiting for its occupant to come out . If you happen to have a business meeting sooner than your hound is ready to give up its station deep in the brambles, this could turn into a problem…….

I hope the questions make sense.

1    Where is the puppy going to live ? Which rooms can he or she access, and what will be out of bounds indoors?
2   Your garden. What type of fencing do you have, would you consider your garden safely fenced? Where will you be taking the puppy to go to the toilet – perhaps in the middle of the night?
  1. Your front door. Do you have a front door opening onto the street, or a fenced front garden with a gate that closes before you get to the road? Can you, for instance, insert a child or dog safety gate across the door of the  room which the puppy will be using to ensure he or she will be safely contained? This will be especially important if children are around, or adults who don’t understand your puppy will have no road sense if he or she gets out of the house alone.
  1. Safety. Do you have any areas where you have used cocoa mulch or any  plants ( laburnums, poinsettias) which are poisonous to dogs? How can you make these areas inaccessible?  Do you have steep/rocky areas inside the garden , or a deep pond  or swimming pool – and can the puppy be kept away from potential dangers?
  1. Livestock. Do you keep chickens, rabbits or have any small pets, are these safely contained ? Does your neighbour have anything next door which would tempt your fauve to dig to get to it?
  1. If you have cats and a cat flap – does this let into a safely fenced garden ( as the puppy will be able to use an unlocked flap from an early age)
  1. What other arrangements will you  make for his or her care while you are away from home ? ( For holidays or emergencies I will look after a fauve bred here, if you are close enough).
  1. Planning for the future. Who will be responsible for your pet if anything should happen so you cannot keep him or her ? Do they know my contact details,  as if no one in the immediate family can provide care your Basset Fauve should not be passed on, resold or sent to a rescue centre – as they might not know enough about the breed to be the right home.( We will sign a contract together in which you agree to only bring him or her back to me for re homing, at whatever age).
  1. How much time can you give to the exercise of your adult fauve every day  – and do you have any canine playmates lined up for him, if an only dog?
  1. Your vet. Have you details of their emergency service, should you need them out of hours ? Will you be insuring your dog?


Most would be owners are sensible – yet I have been surprised over the years. I’ve been told that a puppy would be perfectly OK in a third floor flat ” overlooking Battersea Park” with two working owners who planned to leave the puppy with the nanny and two under fives for 10 hours a day. I wasn’t at all sure the nanny had been informed of this additional duty. I’ve had a splendid couple decide they really couldn’t do sufficient fencing to keep their hound safely within their bounds – their gun dogs had always stopped at the dry ditch, but I could see one of the basset breed treating the ditch as a very fine place to hunt from. One fauve has escaped from her garden, she went under the garden shed and discovered it wasn’t fenced behind there,had gone into the village and been hit by a speeding car. She was fortunate not to be killed and its the reason you suggest insurance – the main cause of death for this breed is road traffic accidents. I’ve been visited by a lovely lady who was too disabled to walk a dog and thought a garden the size of a concreted postage stamp would suffice for his needs. Rothko went to a home with cats, and was diving through the cat flap with gusto – fortunately into their safe garden. Missy skipped out of the house, and was found at the local pub scrounging crisps when partying visitors left too many doors open in a row. Dylan has had to be fished out of the swimming pool….. and so it goes on. If someone hasn’t owned a fast moving puppy before – if there is any trouble they can get into, then they will!

I was once part of a chain of Fauve breeders returning a puppy from the South coast to a Northern breeder in stages – as the new elderly owner wasn’t able to manage the puppy, yet her family didn’t want to confess this to the breeder and make the long trip to return the pup. This youngster was put up for sale within the week on a Free Ads site. Could I avert this situation arising, had I been this breeder? I don’t know, as people do lie to obtain their dream. Years ago I sold a Wolfhound to a lovely couple who seemed the perfect home – except the wife had a terminal cancer diagnosis and the husband was fulfilling her wishes by obtaining a puppy of the breed she always wanted. Nine months later this beautiful hound was bereaved and looking for a new home. Perhaps had I asked more about exercising the adult hound something more might have come out.

My instructions are re written regularly, incorporating so much previous owners have told me – possibly too much, as it means the new owners look in their “bible” and don’t necessarily feel the need to give me a call. Yet we keep in touch, and as the Fauve family spreads outwards, so the enquiries come back in again. ” I met one of your owners in xyz place/ my friend has one of your fauves/ i saw your website and wondered if…..” and off we go again. Its a rare litter of fauves when one is not going to a previous owner of the breed.


I W Diary 1974-76


Amazing how much I thought I knew, considering my first litter had only arrived in 1973 and i had only owned the breed since 1970. Despite this, I would stand by my honestly held opinions from my early twenties.

I would hardly call a day marking catalogues marvellous nowadays !

As my early obsession was breeding a dog good enough to get past the ones owned by those great breeders at Sanctuary, Sulhamstead and Eaglescrag – with Brabyns, Royden and others not far behind – I was extremely focussed on breeding to the best dogs and learning about their pedigrees and what they and other dogs produced. My first litter had been completely healthy and had grown up with no problems – except that two of the puppies had entropion, Bronica’s followed a bout of “ blue eye”, a not uncommon reaction to the distemper vaccination of the era. As time went on I learned that this wasn’t too much of a problem in the breed, but of course our own Bronica was never bred from because of this. Her unaffected sister and descendants never produced entropion. In those days you did not have to report problems needing an operation to the Kennel Club, or if it was it was so little known that nobody ever did.

Interesting to see how often we went back to a local person’s house for tea after a dog show, or stayed with someone, and always to talk dogs. I was just as amused to see that, failing this option, exhibitors would go to the bar and carry on talking. Nowadays most leap into their car and are away long before the group is judged.

( parenthesis) where it was a contemporary comment, or to insert a full name or kennel name

<  insert > where I have made a comment based on later knowledge or to expand on something said earlier.

April 1974 , Club show, Stoneleigh 

Arrived early and a marvellous day started early, in the car park. Chatted to Mrs Nelson (Gledstone) and was roped in to mark catalogues. The show was slow to start with many people arriving late. Mary ( McBryde, Marumac) was one of them. She had a disappointing day, for she had entered Meda ( M. Andromeda) in puppy dog which made her ineligible for her other classes. Sandy < M. Alexander, litter brother, both by Sulhamstead Woodside Finn’s  first Marumac litter > is at a raw stage but does not seem to have maintained his puppy promise. Rather coarse head, good bite, light eyes. Long straight back, front and stifles not good, high loopy tail. Movement poor, needs reach and drive. Meda is very similar but is slightly better built throughout with slightly better movement and dark eyes. At the moment neither look as good as Annagh ( Sanctuary Monagh of Marumac). A third puppy, Mrs Theobald’s, looked very tall and elegant and possibly too finished for her age. < Marumac Atalanta of Haeramai, later consistent winner including res CC >

There was a beautiful dog pup (Sulhamstead) Master brought out by Mrs Nagle, very promising. Many of the young dogs were pets, including one horror with the waviest topline i have ever seen, and lots of poor movement. Caio’s ( Ch Caio of Eaglescrag) progeny were generally nice. Lots of new bitches entered but few shown. A sister of Tessa’s ( Buckhurst Theresa, our own first wolfhound)  from an earlier litter was shown, Mrs Smith’s Rosalind, quite like her but resembling her dam more. We saw Brand ( Mochras Brand, from our first litter by Ch Caio) very like Tessa but darker eyes. Much the same habits, we were told, nocturnal howling and picky over food.

The AGM at the end was a waste of time, most people left at the end of the judging. We stayed on to keep Mary company, her parents were away buying something. Took the puppies for a walk and Mr Crane ( Gordon Crane, Seplecur) told us Maggie ( Rathmolyon Maggie McClusky) had a litter of fourteen, not all lived.

Phone call from Mary at the weekend. Annagh in season 2 1/2 months early, she wanted to know if Caio was a reliable stud as Annagh had been difficult last time with Woodside Finn. Heard all about the WELKs show. < and you didn’t write it down?  >

May, Bath Ch. show. 

Arrived at 12.45, late start to the judging. Mary had brought Meda and Annagh was left in the car. The first class ( enormous, so much so that it was split into two halves) was disappointing. Shocking movement,  quality lacking in most. Young Toby ( later Ch Toby of Eaglescrag) was an exception, very like his sire. Royden Topaze ( later Ch) moved beautifully but lacked head type and substance. There were several from the puppy farmers. Mrs Jenkins had a super day, dog cc, res cc, bitch cc and two firsts with Tansy. We looked at the teeth of the younger dogs. Toby perfect, Kelt ( later Ch ) slightly over, Tansy just meeting. They are all very lovely. Freezing cold day, ended sadly for Mary as Caio too tired to mate her bitch and then they missed the ferry home ( The McBrydes lived on the Isle of Wight at the time).

Went over to Mrs Jenkins to let her see Rosie and Bron ( later Ch Mochras Banrion, and M. Bronica) Arrived at 4pm and took the puppies down to the dog fields to gallop. Within a few moments Mrs Jenkins said she would pick Rosie if she was chosing. She then went over them carefully and said they both had good fronts and both needed more development behind, Bron particularly. She thought they were both tall for their age and admired their tails. Said the curly high set tails inherited from the USA imports were getting too widespread. Mrs Nagle had found them on practically all the hounds when she judged in the US recently.

We then went over to see the hounds, which were looking fit and happy. Wully ( Ch Red Wully of E) is house dog since the death of his mother. He is a really lovely hound, super temperament. We had tea outside, talking about genetics, pedigrees etc. We then took the pups for a walk with Wully, down to the stream and back. The Jenkins were amazed how biddable they were, and i felt proud of all my hard work!

29th June 1974 Patrick took Bronica to the vets, she has a smelly anal gland with an abscess which might need an operation to clear it.

 17th July. Rang a Mrs Schoop regarding wolfhound ad in our local paper. Apparently the hound ( K. Kelly to Buckhurst Vanda) has been allowed to roam and chase sheep. They have decided to give him a second chance, and promised to ring if they wished to part with him in future. This was the family who had phoned when we were hoping for a litter by Red Wully < Buckhurst Theresa’s first mate, she missed> we didn’t think then they were a good hound home.

20th July Kath ( Mitchell, Kavanagh Rock ) phoned. They have had some small local sucess with Vally and Shamrock and are hoping to mate Marilyn to Woodside Finn if Mrs Nagle allows, which I doubt, and hope to get good hindquarters. < Tony and Kath Mitchell were such good people. They bred a litter from a bitch acquired on condition they returned two or three puppies to her previous owner, and when Lu Lam Fada of Brabyns had nine or so they kept the rest of the litter, selling none. Marilyn was featured in a book on the breed by Catherine Sutton and won a CC > Kath had news of lots of litters due to be born. Mrs Taylor has bought two pups from Ireland < this would be the Taylors who owned Kilcullen Druid >

Hound Association ( July). Mary had written to say she couldn’t go, so we appropriated her benches and found John and Marion Kite next door. They have a hugely hairy wolfhound ( a woolly). Very cold morning, judging was delayed until a volunteer steward turned up. Mr Hyett ( Buckhurst) took ages over judging. I’m glad for the spectators sake that the entry wasn’t bigger. Lots of absentees, much of the movement was terrible. Toby and Tansie looked super, I wasn’t so impressed by Kelt < later Ch Kelt and a much admired top winner, what did i know ! > . Caio’s children made a good showing. Chatted with Mrs Shaw ( Frankie, Franshaw) who seems to be acquiring a lot of hounds and breeding from all of them.

Took the puppies over to see Frank Edge where they were gone over and moved around. It was nice to get an opinion on them. Frank thinks Rosie should do well for us. Chatted about shoulders and front movement, which helped me very much. < Frank Edge was a lovely guy, owned the Patakay affix, had bred and exhibited Boxers from the mid 50s and had some of the earlier American Cockers being shown, using Yvonne Knapper’s initial imports. I learned much from him, not least the name of the Crufts BIS winner weeks before the event on two separate occasions).

29th August 1974 Limerick. Arrived late, the show packed and ground totally waterlogged, we left as quickly as possible. The judging was over, no hounds worth seeing. Met Miss Belle Walton Tolkavalley) on the car park. Hard to get a word in edgeways and learned nothing of interest.

31st August. Tralee. Lovely day and super show, so small and very friendly. Jayne Wilson Stringer of the plastic hip was judging, many of the Irish handlers didn’t know what to do with their dogs in the ring. The hounds i saw were absolutely shocking, to list their faults would be to fill a book. To be fair the main Irish kennels were not represented. Mrs Taylor from Durham won BOB with an Irish bred hound, Carrokeel Finn Weaver Point. I was surprised at Miss Walton, who at Limerick had extolled the movement of her bitch “ Bri”. It was very poor, shallow brisket leading to wide front and uncontrolled action.

1st September Carrokeel and the highlight of our Irish holiday. Miss Murphy is the nicest of persons, her hounds surpassed everything we had seen at Tralee. Two youngsters were wary at first ( Ballykelly Mariagh and an 8 month puppy Justice x Cara). Justice ( Ch Boroughbury Justice) was aloof, both he and his sister ( Ch Jolly) have curled tails and Jolly has a level bite. They and Grainne are the shapeliest, Maeve and ( Ch) Cara have lost their figures following litters, Mariagh stands too high behind. The puppy was very small considering her parentage ( Ch Cara a particularly tall bitch) but Betty sent her to a friend while she was recovering from her father’s death, so perhaps something wrong in her rearing? Hercules ( Justice x Cailin Bawn) huge, poor movement but not a bad shape. We saw the month old puppies from Justice to Maeve, our first Glen of Imaal terrier, and a whole room of Wolfhound records and pictures. Our conversation ranged from “blue” ( dilute) puppies to the books Betty is compiling, dogs and people. The Sulhamstead Mole scandal – all fascinating. We had tea with Betty and her brother’s family and left for the city laden with information and items about hounds – a super afternoon.

< If I had had any sense I would have bought from this litter, Justice a superb sire. The “Mole “ scandal : Mrs Nagle had sent the dog to Ireland, and Betty’s father rejected it practically on arrival because of various faults with the hound. I seem to remember this included an undershot bite and an over wide front. He was a stock man and clearly didn’t want his daughter to be wasting her money. Mrs Nagle and her friends were so outraged at this rejection that they never forgave – and indeed, some of the connections put it around that anything Irish bred  of red brindle colour and good construction was sired by Mole illicitly during his few days prior to his return, something which could not and did not happen. This hound was exported to Germany thereafter. >

Darlington show 9th September 1974 

Freezing cold, we eventually reached the ring in the afternoon. Motto ( later Ch, Sulhamstead) was not as impressive as i had expected but he is massive for a youngster, rather like Major < I adored Major >. Mogul ( later Ch Ederyn Mogul) is lighter built, superb forehand, needs better brisket and quarters and is rather throaty. Hamish ( later Ch, Outhwaite) and Toby looked super.

Miss Hudson ( Brabyns) judged extremely well. I was thrilled to win a third with Rosie in junior and some nice comments from others. I suddenly realised how light she was, hope she gains some substance with age. Bron was out with the rubbish as her movement is so poor. Kath ( Mitchell) was on crutches so we helped her with Shamrock and Valley, later adjourning to the Evans residence for tea and a post mortem. Much amusement at the Hollis’ antics.

< Royden – what had they been doing?  I suspect it was Mrs Hollis walking around while her husband was in the ring with Topaze, wafting a large container covered in foil and trying to get their exhibit’s attention. Ringside attraction is banned, but they were from GSDs after all ,where it was rife. Wolfhound people were not used to being mowed down by a determined lady darting around,  waving a cooking pot while trying to stay in the sight line of a hound in the ring >.

LKA November. Went dogless, both young hounds in season. Very big entry, as usual at the London shows < this would have been in its Olympia or Earls Court days >. Very impressed by Miss Thomas’ bitch by Caio, very big and with substance, carried tail high tho. < Steph Herbert-Thomas had bred two lovely big bitches in Augusta and her sister Atlanta >

Mary had brought both Annagh and Meda, but Meda is still nothing like mature – Mary wants a litter from her next year, it might help her shape. Upright shoulders, stifles not curved enough, high set tail. she moves nicely now, better than the majority in fact. Mary and I swopped material, she has a file on all the best hounds complete with show critiques, pictures and pedigrees, its very good.

< we were both building up information on pedigrees and the background of hounds we had not seen, and sharing our findings >.

Talked to Mr Hyett <Buckhurst> and John Briggs, then went to ringside. Lots to think about, movement wasn’t too good, Motto about the best in the lower classes. In later classes Fintan ( Ch, Eaglescrag) looked very well and moved better than any dog there but was put to the end of the line. Firenza ( Baldeagle) won CC and BOB – he was moving very wide behind. I suppose after all the close moving ones the judge felt impelled to go for the opposite. She was terribly slow.

The bitch classes were much stronger, but by this time I was weary of watching. We bought some old wolfhound postcards and a lovely print by Wardle. We were forced to leave at the beginning of open bitch as we were due in Reigate.

Among interesting topics discussed – Hilary Jupp has had a whole litter ( Sulhamstead Branwen Myles to ( Oakenshield A) Glaia which cannot manufacture antibodies to infections. The IW Mag has arrived. Mrs Pringle wants a copy of a picture of Fantasia, which I cannot find. Mary is asking for a pick of litter bitch from Miss Hudson. Open bitch line up looked very good, I was impressed by ( Royden) Topaze’s dam, she is better than her daughter and i think deserved to win the open class.

Mary rang a few days later. She is going down to see Miss Hudsons litters and has full details of all the cup and cc winners. Next day i sent her a packet of pictures and pedigrees. Later, letter from Mary. She has bought a daughter of Ch Petasmeade Chieftain of Brabyns. < I still have this letter. Mary had choice of around 36  puppies from five litters ranging in age from two weeks to five months >.

Richmond, with Rosie. Mary had bred Annagh the day before, to Caio. Mrs Jenkins has kept four puppies from the Rossan and Clodagh litters ( Thornwick R. of Eaglescrag and Ch Clodagh of E). Mary liked Kestrel, thought he would be better than Toby. My interest in an Eaglescrag bitch of my own hardened into determination. Had a brief word with Mrs Jenkins, she is repeating the mating which produced Toby and Tansy. Told her I would ring later.

The judging was rather erratic. Mrs de Casembroot put up all the strongest, heaviest dog and “ weedies” were left out, notably Mogul who deserved better, I thought. In bitches, the head of the lines seemed to be the finest built, taking “ a doggy dog and a bitchy bitch” to extremes. Rosie was thrown out, the class was won by a Chieftain daughter out of Tessa’s sister. Seemed nicely conformed but so small and fine in head. Mr Hyett’s ( Buckhurst) Electra won novice, later Clodagh ( Ch, Eaglescrag) came out to win limit and CC. A litter has made all the necessary improvements, notably to spring of rib which she lacked before.

Mr Hyett agreed to look over Rosie, he thought she was a nice bitch. Was very truthful about her faults but thought most would be overcome with age. Even, perhaps, her close hind action. His Ch Fintan x Ch Ophelia litter has four undershot puppies, very disappointing, he cant think where it came from, none of the immediate pedigree have this fault. He also has a nice litter from Bran ( of Blakesley of Buckhurst) out of O’Malley.

1975, January. Mary thinks Annagh is having a phantom, has had a discharge but is still showing pregnancy signs. Coleraine ( Brabyns) is fulfilling all of Mary’s hopes but Meda has yet to come into season. Talked for ages about coat colour, Sulhamstead infertility etc.

25th January Went to the AHT show at Stafford to watch and met Mrs Humphreys, who owns Eaglescrag Fernie ( Ystwyth). I had been looking forward to seeing this bitch. Same colour, head type and general “look” of Rosie, Fernie has better bone, substance, yet Rosie moves better in front ( F. knuckles over) and has the better tailset and hindquarters. Both a little throaty and also large ears. Her owner was telling me that she has a dog puppy ( Fintan to a Rannochlea  Ch Caio daughter) and was given Penclaire Nuala by Mrs John who has given up wolfhounds. Mrs Shaw owns another from the same source ( Kate) who has had a litter, 3 wheatens retained, by ( Franshaw) Brannigan. Allegro has missed to Toby. Cadenza ( Dalham’s Marcus – Asoka Banshee) may go to Hamish.

Cadged a lift to Crufts with Mrs Shaw, very kind of her. She knows lots of things about ignorance and double dealing. Told me of a woman who had been sold a puppy from Ireland for £40 “ because you might not rear it” which died at eight months. Re Mrs Pyke ( Elpyk), who does not believe in exercising her hounds ( says Frankie, might the fact she keeps them in her back garden have something to do with it?). ( Baldeagle) Firenza – Mrs Dunlop ( Delorne) took a bitch to him and was rather shocked as he was terribly nervous ( luckily her bitch missed). Franshaw Allegro’s sister had a litter to him, the bitch retained was house reared and had a steady sort of mother but at nine months this puppy was petrified with fright meeting people. This sort of blind panic is dangerous, especially if Firenza is passing the trait on. Mrs Blackmore ( Melanter) has bought a bitch puppy from Sanctuary for £150, unfortunately it broke a shoulder at five months. She saw Sir Harry < a gorgeous Sanctuary dog puppy whose photograph had appeared in the Xmas annuals, Mary and I were looking forward to seeing how he grew up >  and he isn’t being shown because of an accident to his hindquarters.

Finally, Kilcullen Druid has killed some of his owners Dachshunds and has taken to lunging out at other people and dogs. If this is a sample of Frankie’s gossip roll on the next show season – wonder how much is exaggerated, it certainly loses nothing in the telling.

Crufts was fabulous. Frankie’s opinion of Susan Hudson is the same as mine, she also thinks that the Brabyns hounds have been shown with skin complaints – remembers seeing ( Brabyns) Tullamore with a red raw tummy. Another hound from the Connal x Culleen litter nervous ( Tipperary, Miss Nichols < Bradfield affix>).

Bought Cathy Sutton’s book, went to an old book stall and perused expensive old encyclopaedias ( one had a black and tan pictured, another had the original of our Wardle print). Saw John Briggs, Tony ( Mitchell) and Carrokeel Lucan’s owner, discussed mange. Translated for a French couple – later directed them to Mrs Jenkins, who was the most likely person to have big, grey puppies ( Caio mated to Rossan the previous week). From Mrs Nelson, ( Gledstone) Galaxy mated to Mogul. Radaire sold as a pet. Saw Mrs McBryde, Annagh had seven puppies ( was eight but the runt died). Letter later from Mary giving full details and pictures of Coleraine.

Had a ringside seat for once, nothing much to complain about from the judging with the glaring exception of ( Kilcullen ) Druid winning limit. Aelius Elfreda was BOB, bitch CC over Clodagh ( Eaglescrag) did not seem fair. Made full notes in my catalogue.

On the way back Mrs Shaw let me into a disturbing secret. Her ( Franshaw) Brannigan has osteochondritis dissecans and has to be operated on. < His sire> Caio also has this and his daughter from Helen Baird’s Eiley ( Ch Uladh) developed it too. May be hereditary, at least some of the biggest hounds seem to have succumbed which might be to do with rapid growth weakening the bone structure. Wish I knew for sure, Frankie desperately worried as she wants to continue breeding from and showing Brannigan. HIs operation is at Liverpool university. Arrived home at midnight absolutely exhausted. Crufts feet, head and voice, never again ( until next year).

<I had a trouble free litter of six tall puppies by Ch Caio of Eaglescrag and only came across O.C.D later on…… Ruth Jenkins at this time was open about lameness in her big hounds when they were growing up, describing it as akin to growing pains. Later as more and more cases were attributed to her family line she would not talk about it. >

Manchester show with my father. Watched the earliest dog classes, there were some shockers. Mogul looking well. In open dog I mistook Toby for Caio, they are so similar now, however Caio has the better hindquarters. Oberon ( later Ch Petasmeade Oberon) won the CC – I was amazed. He was coatless and was still roaching his topline. The Innis’ Irish bred bitch won yearling – roach topline again, nice head and bone. Mr Hyett told me he was judging Leeds and hoped Rosie would be there. Shamus ( Buckhurst Young) has had a mating which he hopes will prove him, Errant has failed in front and will be sold. There is a dog in the latest Ophelia litter which will be run on.

There were two teensy bitches by ( Sulhamstead Branwen) Myles, both a little apprehensive and with those Sulhamstead heads. Reasonable shapes, not much quality. Arched necks and dark eyes, yet no scope in movement. Mrs Innes ( Petasmeade) had a field day, everyone else congratulated her and she was interviewed on TV.

Puppies seem to be selling slowly in the North. June Moody still has two bitches aged 8 months for sale and now has 12 hounds. Frankie has some, Mrs Pringle has repeated the Firenza/ Fantasia mating. A yearling bitch from this combination was shown.  Fiana’s (Ch Baldeagle Fiana of Eaglescrag) shape, Firenza’s head and Fantasia’s size, its horrible! Went to the bar with a group and heard about Mr Taylor’s rescued Irish bitch, which  is really rather nice < Ann of Ballytobin, how lucky was that? Stunning type and quality>, and her 2 lb puppy by Druidh. Wonder how many of these youngsters will reach the ring?

John Briggs told me the truth about the Dublin show, where it was ( Petasmeade ) Celt who had the dachshund and really did savage it. < In the UK we had all heard that it was Ch Petasmeade Chieftain of Brabyns which had picked up a daxie in a firm attempt to kill it , to this day I don’t know which of the brothers did the deed, but there were strong attempts to hush it up for the sake of the breed’s reputation>.

Easter on the Isle of Wight. The Brabyns bitch at 6 months was hard to assess. Lovely bone, shoulders, neck and brisket, head may end up too fine it is so beautiful now. She was tending to roach, hindquarters weaker than that lovely forehand, although unfair to criticise her after her ops and accident. < she had a problem with an enlarged salivary gland,  which was removed, but there was worse to come> Lovely litter of Annagh infants, especially Atalandi, such good bone ! I cant begin to visualise how they might end up. Mostly “Sanctuary” heads, perhaps some straight stifles, cobby even looking litter excepting little Aldera.

Heard all about Meda’s mating to ( Sanctuary) Revog, what a bungle. Can just imagine Miss Harrison fussing and flapping. Interesting conversations about blacks, saw pictures of some hitherto unknown quantities, such as Dingle and Knight of Kerry. Sir Harry’s accident – he was badly bitten on the leg, but he will be used at stud.

Home again and it seemed strange at first to own such tall skinnies after the Marumac family. Soon re- adjusted. Rang Ruth to arrange to see the litter from Fintan mated to Rossan ( not properly in season when first going to be mated to Caio).Hope she has lots of bitch puppies.

Frankie with news of some funny dealings up North. Mrs Bennett ( Lindfreys) sold a puppy for £150 plus two puppies back later, retaining her pedigree until the deal complete. Mrs Jenkins is asking £100 for a puppy with no conditions.< even then, the best breeders of quality both cheaper and more straighforward than the “ others ”> Mrs Bennet was also trying to get a Franshaw dog in other hands to mate a bitch of hers. Frankie angry as the dog is only a pet. She is thrilled about Brannigan’s first puppies. A dealer had told her he could get any number of pups across a range of breeds for £30 each. How disgusting.

Over to Eaglescrag, pouring with rain and we didnt see much of the hounds because of this. Met Lucie the wire daxie, handed over the good photographs of Tansie, and much chatting ensued. Kilpadriac ( Ballykelly, Boroughbury) was black with a high set curly tail. Once again struck by Ruth’s extreme tactfulness, which managed to speak volumes. Discussed possibilities, I would not want a Caio descendant and would like to have good bone and hindquarters. Dorcas ( Camlet ) might be a possibility, or Shona <pedigree name not remembered> An interesting point is that Fintan invariably passes his good temperament on to his children.

Saw the young Eaglescrags, was struck by Maeve ( Morvagh). Kestrel hyper angulated, plain head and throaty. Goldie is going to New Zealand, Nimrod hard to fault seriously but seems to be going through a bad patch.

Was told an interesting theory about Tansie’s fear of strangers. She suddenly became this way after meeting a man who worked in a slaughterhouse – Ruth thought her “ limited intellect” wasn’t able to handle it. Poor Tansy, she is so outstanding otherwise. < she won two ccs despite backing away from most men judges and sinking to the floor on occasion. Not the last Eaglescrag to do this, unfortunately. Prior to Tansy and the subsequent generation the kennel had really strong characters who showed themselves well >

Heard about the time Eaglescrag Song refused to have anything to do with the Sulhamstead studs and came home to be mated to a maiden dog at home, producing 13. Alice (Nendrum) had a curly tail. Ch Corrie “ fine” as was Ch Carol < I remember this as meaning finely built > . Ch Clindhu 47 lbs weight at 12 weeks of age. Kelt and Kyle, 12 oz at birth < these were both gigantic, tall hounds when full grown, and puppies were more usually over 1 -1/2 lbs at birth >.

Club show 19th April 1975. Had my first look at Hamish ( Ch, Outhwaite) children and am determined to take Rosie to him. Both have their sire’s head, substance and bone, the bitch is better at the moment. < I suspect these might have been from his Delkerry litter, Blizzard, later Ch, was exceptional > Mr Taylor had two Druidh puppies out of Ann, not too impressive. Also in the puppy classes were five from Edeyrn. The nicest was small and short coupled however had that “ every piece fits” look. Frankie had her Brannigan pair on show, the dog is promising. Lovely bone, brisket and well shaped quarters for such a youngster. His sister is similar, both are an improvement on their parents. Small to my eyes but nicely made. <  this must have been Nord. Ch Doulagh and Dinagh as babies >

Susan Hudson’s Ch Fintan pup missed his class, rich red brindle, he has everything going for him. Has his mother’s head unfortunately but his sire’s temperament should more than make up for this <later USA Ch Brabyns Gog Ma Gog, wish i had used him >. Sanctuary showing two hairy faced puppies, twins, lacking substance and moving beautifully. Nicest puppy yet from John Briggs < I think this bitch grew up to be a CC winner, the Sanctuary pair probably Margaret Maud and her brother Mighty Monarch >.

Thinking over the sires of stock in the rings i am begining to reach some conclusions. Ch Sanctuary Revog, considering the opportunities he has had, has produced very little to commend him. Many of the bitches bred to him have never been shown which may account for this. Fintan seems to have passed on temperament but never his own head type < he had a lovely head >. Ch Chieftain puppies have a great number of roach toplined ones amongst them. These can settle with age, its a bit early to reach conclusions. Donaghadee ( Later Ch, Brabyns) I think is better than his sire was as a youngster. Chieftain did improve over time, have to hope his son does not go off. Strong good headed youngster, roaching. Also heard that beautiful Tullamore had 10 puppies to Hamish, including two blacks. Most faded.

In the judging Miss Ellis <Mary Jane Ellis, later to be Mrs Nagle’s partner in the Sulhamstead affix> does not like the tall skinnes at all. Mr Crane ( Seplecur) had his best day yet, carrying all before him. He has some typy bitches, lacking in substance perhaps, unfaultable outlines and free moving.

The most distressing factor of the day was the behaviour of Mary’s < Brabyns> Coleraine. She was very possessive and protective against other dogs at seven months. She must be going through a temperamental “growing” stage. Also attracting many unfavourable comments. She was also very lame and roaching her topline most of the time.

Frankie rang with news of Birmingham show. Only two turned up in open dog. Erindale Avenger won over Sulhamstead Motto ! Hamish only took a third in limit. No Brabyns or Eaglescrags present. Fredina now a champion I see ( Sulhamstead).

Ulf Rosfjord’s sister has been staying with Frankie recently. She has bought several hounds on her brothers behalf. 10 month old Brannigan x Kate Annacarty youngster, two bitch puppies by Brannigan from someone in Preston, and a dog from Mrs Cresswell’s Workman/ Gaiety litter. ( Cilwych). Frankie has been boarding the latter until they depart for Norway and is concerned about it. Still has hind dewclaws and moves as if it is crippled behind. Rosford has also bought Ch Mulligan from Mr Jones for what was then a record price for the breed. The dog died two months later of torsion and was not shown or bred from in Norway. Pictures of Av Krooden Holly and Int Ch Sanctuary Boroughbury Bawnshee seen, the latter was thought to be a super bitch.

Mary phoned. Coleraine has been X rayed and there is something wrong with her stifle. She is still lame. It is a worry and very upsetting. Meda has produced one small bitch puppy. This is already booked to go to the States. Only one Annagh puppy left, this puppy will go to a new owner who has Buckhurst Gandalf ( Fintan x Ophelia). < this sounds very like John and Shirley Sharpe, of Telgar >

Delkerry Black Blizzard has a black brother at home – Mary is keeping her eye on him for the future. Sally ( Atalandi) weighed 50 lbs at 12 weeks, may have Eaglescrag throatiness and big ears.

Leeds. Frankie returned my Year book. Brannigan has had his OCD op and is recovering well. Mrs Innes ( Petasmeade) told me all about her Chieftain x Belle litter, most are to be exported. They may retain “ Minnie Mouse”, a puppy who has not grown since she was 6 weeks old. Apparently a tummy bug set her back < Nowadays you would be thinking PSS/ Liver Shunt > . Watched Donaghadee break his lead in the car park and dash away, ran Susan a merry dance before he could be caught. His actions during the day could only be described as panicky. He is the third one i know of from Rosleen to have a less than settled disposition, the other two being Erin and Fionn Mc Connal. Pity, as they are such beautiful types. Gog- Ma- Gog, on the other hand, was a lovely lad , full of himself, superb movement, bit down on the pasterns. Bone might not finish too well but I hope all this promise is fulfilled. Frankie’s dog pup still looking well, isn’t usual to see a male looking better than his sister, Dinagh has hackney front action and isn’t yet steady in temperament. Several bitches were nervous, including a beauty owned by June Moody. Frankie has mated Brodie to Dalhams Marcus.

Miranda ( Brace)  told me that Mary has a puppy with distemper and hadn’t got the details but did we know more? We didn’t.

Saw Black Blizzard again, looking a little longer in back but still a beauty. Rosie was in the next class, I wasn’t surprised to win as she seemed to be going very well and Mr Hyett decidedly pleased with her. Very pleased to win my first championship show red card. Met Mrs Jenkins ringside. Poor Tansy, so unhappy. Ruth could not get over Rosie’s improvement from show to show, needless to say I can’t see it ! Kath ( Mitchell) won post grad, limit with Shamrock, well deserved. Tansie outmoved ( Ch Royden) Topaze to win open. I then took Rosie into the challenge, standing in a corner well away from Tansie and Topaze who were CC and reserve in my eyes. I was asked to bring her into the line and move her again, by this time I was hoping for the res CC. Imagine how I felt when Mr Hyett handed the CC to me, i nearly fainted. I muddled through the challenge, which Hamish ( now Ch) just had to win. Out to a big celebration from my friends, and it seemed the wolfhound world flocked to Rosie’s bench.

Mr Hyett told me he thought Rosie was lovely, as Caio’s height quality and presence with Tessa’s substance, I don’t know where he saw that but all very flattering. On cloud nine. Went to stay overnight with the Mitchells who told me Mr Hollis had been furious and had been stomping up and down the benches saying it was a fix and he would see I never won another. Rather failed if the attempt was to put me off, Rosie will now be entered for every show this summer. < Roy Hollis was like that when beaten. Considering I would have been 20 at the time, how unsporting. Rosie did make up, a champion from a first litter in those days was rather unusual >.

Sent a packet of pedigrees off to Betty ( Murphy). Patrick rang Mary to find out about this distemper. It was Abyla and he is dead now. This was so tragic. Felt loathsome relating previous days results which naturally she asked for. Hope young Sally will be good enough to make up for all these disappointments.

Next weekend York open show, took the caravan and stayed over with John Briggs. Stayed up to 2 am learning previously unsuspected facts about poor Ballykelly and Brabyns temperaments. John had enjoyed his judging stint at Buckingham canine the day before, his Outhwaite best puppy was BPIS. Asked John if Coleraine’s lameness had improved. He said it hadn’t, thought she was a daughter of Slainte not his niece. Ballykelly sharpness coming through again, he thought.

York show a nice one, lovely setting on the racecourse. Joined in the wolfhound party besides the railings. Kath had three, Mrs Rushton 3, Mrs Bennet 3, Mr Taylor could not show Druidh, who had slipped a disc. His son Sheamus not too good – plain in head, on the small side and not too good in stifles. His sister is much better, a little nervous. Mrs Rushton’s Ballad extremely small. Met Mrs Mason, who has a pup with a blue eye, another older pet by Chieftain, amd a rescue bred on a Welsh puppy farm. < Jenny Mason, a lovely woman who took out the “ Eriskroy” affix > Heard that ( Sulhamstead) Woodside Finn had sired puppies with OCD and exactly how “ Florrie” had acquired ( Ch Eaglescrag) Morna. < From memory, Mrs Nagle swooped down from her Daimler and took this gorgeous bitch as a stud fee puppy, perfectly ok, but in future breeders laughed about hiding their best puppy if Mrs Nagle decided to visit as she would always spot the best one >.

Judging – Kath’s Shamrock was BOB, John’s junior bitch Matihu won her class. Rosie fourth out of five in post grad. Learned the expression “ face man” about the judge. If he knew the face, you got a place! Took Rosie into maiden variety class, with many wolfhounds,  and beat 20 dogs to win it. I felt a lot better after that.

Frankie rang with Malvern news. Sanctuary sired stock won well, Motto won his third CC. Her Allegra is in whelp to Ch Toby, Brodie missed to Marcus. Mrs Humphreys bitch had 10 to Toby, she said all but four had died.

July 1975, Windsor show. Big entry for Mrs Jenkins. John Briggs had been over to the IOW to see Mary’s litter, very impressed with the puppies. His Delilah < a Thornwick, sister of Rossan > is to be bred to Caio. Rathdaws Matihu was best puppy at the Dublin show, she is a lovely pup and deserved it. John said that Ballykelly Cronan ( of Brabyns)  was destroyed aged five as even Susan ( Hudson) couldn’t trust him enough to go into his kennel.

Peta Innes was showing people a cutting from a daily paper – Susan shot at a plane which was scaring her hounds and forced it to land ! < wow, nowadays she’d be locked up for ten years for that >

Junior dog, many appalling movers, tail set and carriage all over the place. Two otherwise nice Fintan pups spoiled by this. In the young hounds I was most impressed by Camlet Falstaff and Sulhamstead Monarch. ( Sanctuary) Mighty Monarch is just like his dam, too finely built.

I realised from the start that Mrs Jenkins was going for the best shoulder placement and best tail sets. Motto was moving surprisingly badly. Nice young hound over from Ireland ( Cu Ulaidh Uladh, later Ch). Erindale Avenger’s head came as an unpleasant surprise. Good mover. Minstrel CC, Hamish reserve.

Some really nice young bitches in junior, won by Seplecur Meghan ( later ch) from Black Blizzard ( later ch) and Matihu. Rosie took an instant dislike to someone at ringside, have never seen her behave like that before < and she never did again>. I was very pleased to be pulled out. Wondered about Meghan, she has such beautiful conformation but is small, fine boned and needs substance. One who tries hard to put her head to the ground when moving. ( Marumac) Atalanta ( of Haeremai)  looked extremely well. Erindale Bernice won the CC over Nina ( Ch Buckhurst Winifred) who was missing Anne’s expert presentation and handling. Tullamore ( Brabyns) second in limit still saggy following her last litter and shown in full season, still apprehensive. Fredina ( later Ch, Sulhamstead) didn’t attract me, short on the leg and rather heavy set. Donaghadee won the junior cup, Hamish the typical head cup.

Later in the afternoon we met two Norwegian ladies who were looking for a dog puppy. They were impressed by Rosie so I told them about Mary’s dog pup by Caio. They had already visited the Royden kennel to see the Chieftain x Topaze bitch puppy they had for sale. Apparently the hounds cowered back into their kennel when the owner came into sight. I am not surprised. The Norwegian ladies found it better to buy a puppy in GB for £100 as Ulf Rosfjord was charging £300. They told me he has his dogs stuffed and sent to museums when they died and is not liked as he thinks his dogs are all wonderful and everyone else has rubbish. Will sell off his dogs at any age if they don’t do enough for him. There is a Brabyns hound in Norway which put them off going to see Miss Hudson, a coarse headed no quality one. Wenche owns just three wolfhounds, all international champions. Judging by the photographs they are very lovely but rather finely built.

Rang Mary to see if the dog was still available, and suitable for export. He sounds nice and should do ok. Sally progressing well but Mary thinks she may have a ring tail. With Caio as sire, not surprising ! < this dog became Mary’s first champion over in Norway and a son and daughter were re- imported by her a few years later >.

Coleraine’s lameness turns out to be Hip Dysplasia and she will be put to sleep soon. Very sad end to all her troubles. Being wise after the event, this was something to suspect when we first saw her. John Briggs has convinced Mary that Coleraine’s temperament problem was at least partly inherited.

Mary rang, pup is going to Norway if photos are approved. One of the other puppies has gone undershot. Heard about her parents trip to the USA, Mary has both the De Quoy books, autographed, and is joining the IWCA. She hopes to go there next year and to stay with the General to visit some east coast shows. I am very glad for her, and more than a little envious.

Hound Show 1975. Very hot day. Rosie and Bron were not satisfied with their benches, too small! The judging I just couldn’t follow at all. In junior dog was the most superb youngster I have ever seen, he really has everything. Sadly he was also extremely nervous < this was Ch Erindale Triston. Interesting I didn’t mention the woolly coat, clearly not as important to me as the head, bone, body, construction, shape, soundness…. he was a good dog >. Donaghadee was thrown out with the rubbish, also Seplecur Hennessey and curly tailed Buckhurst Gandalf was second to ( Franshaw) Doulagh with Tristam third.

Quality up to open was then very low, Toby came in to win his third CC over Hamish.For once Toby was really trying and he looked very well.

Junior B, small class. I liked Mrs Baird’s Athene very much she has lovely quality < Later top winner Ch Outhwaite Athene >. Dinagh won second despite me handling her until Frankie got back. Patrick then took Bron in to novice and won a third ! Lord only knows what the judge was looking for. Over to the big ring where the girls and I won AV Brace and £10. I think the judge there was so bored by the dozens of daxies he went for a complete change. Rushed back to put Rosie into Mid Limit, by then were were both very hot and tired. There were only three new hounds to be judged but Miss Hartley <very famous for her Deerhounds > spent ages looking at them. Poor Rosie was quite wilted, however we won in the end. Finally open B, again the long stare technique, Rosie was finding her second wind and we came second to Kelt, who was looking better than I had ever seen her. Won res CC finally, the dear lady saying the only thing she didn’t like about Rosie was her ring tail. Frankly I was more impressed by winning a reserve in novice under Ruth.

According to Frankie Mrs Humphreys sold one of her pups for £100, it was found to have a malformed hip within 24 hours of purchase. It took the buyer much time and trouble to obtain a refund even though the puppy was put down ( in parenthesis “ in fact was HD”). Frankie found a dog in boarding kennels where someone had “forgotten” to collect her. By Caio ex Dorcas ( Camlet D. of Eaglescrag) nice head with dark eyes but very tall, thin and Deerhoundy, she hopes to obtain papers and to keep her.

Went to the bar with Sue Jenkins, who had been winning again with her pack < Sue had Ibizan hounds including the gorgeous Ivicen Cleopatra, a top winner in the days before CCs >. Mrs Hollis was stomping about in outrage that Topaze hadn’t been placed. Another long face was that of Mrs Saunders, who was hoping for Bernice,s third CC.

August. Visited Frankie to see her puppies: Toby x Allegro, Brannigan x Kate Annacarty. The second litter are too young to judge seriously. The Toby litter wasn’t of such high quality as i had hoped, many carried their tails very high. I rather fancied one cream brindle, which Frankie is keeping. We saw all the adults, Brannigan is about the nicest, many bitches just ordinary but they seem to be producing good stock. Talked well into the night about all things houndy.

Welsh KC. Missed seeing most of the classes through sitting with the hounds < back then a benched show meant just that and sitting out with your hounds around you ringside not as common as now>. Talked to Ruth about her dogs, she is having problems with gangly Kestrel who seemed rather on edge. Saw Coleraine’s litter brother, a very Chieftain- esque looking pup. The judging was hopeless – Mrs Nagle or Ruth went up regardless, until open bitch where Topaze won the class and CC. The ringsiders thought it was fixed. Rosie struggled into fourth in limit but Bron was third in open, which shows how much the chap really knows. The Bairds and Mr Mc Coy ( Cu Ulaidh) arrived too late to be judged. Had an interesting conversation with Mr Baird about Hamish, crooked or incapable allrounders, the Appleton/ Richmond affair and the old boys judging roundabout. Quite an eye-opening session.

Back to the benches, where we met a nice American couple, chatted to Kyle’s owner < Eaglescrag Kyle was owned by Jean Taylor, Tanat >.He weighs 195 lbs, 10 lbs heavier than Caio. Pocketed my scruples and talked to Mrs Saunders ( Erindale) who talked much scandal. She said virus rhinitis had happened at Seplecur, Revog overworked at stud – 6 bitches in 9 days, for example ! Jason ( of Sunningdale) had “only” sired 200 puppies, he is now 5 1/2. Had refused £8,000 for Tristam < he must have earned her double that in stud fees alone>. Blames his nervousness on Mary’s Coleraine leaping out at him at High Wickham. Thinks Ruth “ straightens” the curly tails on her hounds. Seems very friendly with a number of judges. Thinks Jason ( of Sunningdale) would have been a champion had he kept his tail. Most of her puppies now go to the continent. She told me puppy prices – Buckhurst £170. Sanctuary £150, Clanoc £175, Brabyns £200 and up. Wow ! Invited the Americans to the caravan for a coffee. All the Brabyns hounds which they saw in the States were nervous. Most stock on the west coast X rayed for HD, some breeders cull their litters down to 3 or 4. Puppy prices range up to $600. Ballykelly has a reputation for selling whole litters to dealers. Promised to meet again at the Edinborough show, when they will have visited Sulhamstead. Was told that Monarch is a monorchid – yet another by ( S. Woodside) Finn.

Off to Scotland with caravan and hounds. Small entry, soon decided that ( Joe) Braddon is yet another to join the blacklist – so uncouth. Very low quality in general. Saw Black Rod for the first time, big boned lout, uncontrolled and weak behind. Another nasty shock was a Sanctuary youngster from the Finn x Maud litter. Cost £150 and just a poor pet. Got to know Jenny Mason much better ( Eriskroy). Decided to take advantage of her kind offer and to stop off at their new home on our return.

Our usual houndy time with the Masons, enjoyed every minute. Jenny is making the usual mistake of cluttering herself up with second raters, and then doesn’t have the time to do justice to the good pup. Managed to suggest Brannigan instead of ( Brabyns) Cumall again, should work out OK. Bronnie spent her time pondering how to get into the highland cattle or the ducks, luckily not succeeding.

On to Leicester show, a scorching day. Poor Rosie hated the whole thing, we managed to sneak her out early to the caravan. Elsie James ( Boroughbury) drew a fantastic entry considering the few classes. Donaghadee extremely nervous. Didnt really think ( Sanctuary) Mona won the cc on merit, her front  was unsound.She was much more animated than the others though. Spent most of the day talking to Ruth and John. Hazel Gibson brought the black male ( Delkerry Black Buzzard), he caused much interest and is very promising.

Birmingham show – what a fiasco ! No one had heard of Collins but had travelled hopefully just in case. Kath and Tony ( Mitchell) there for the first show in ages, also Frankie. Judging was very odd. Asked the judge politely what he thought about Rosie, he said he would never place a dog with a ring tail. 3 other CC and res CC winners were out for this very reason. Bronnie had a second, undeservedly. Another for my blacklist, at this rate I wont be doing any showing next year.

Darlington show, stayed with the Briggs. Discussed the shocking Birmingham critique. Concensus was the old fool was trying to make an impression and failed utterly. Heard so much I cant attempt to write it all down < damnation!! >.  Saw films of puppies, wondered how many Delilah would have, talked far into the night.

Told Ruth I wanted to mate Rosie and what did she think. We ran through most of the dogs in the Uk coming up with Hamish or Minstrel – Hamish it will be. Both Morvagh and her brother in the states have OCD.

Mrs Nagle actually condescended to talk to us – amazing ! Ruth has only just heard about Coleraine ( not from us). Was surprised Mary hadn’t told her. Heard several more unsavoury stories about Susan Hudson during the last few weeks. Not so long ago she was selling blues fully registered – one ended up on a puppy farm.

Went to Fennagh’s home for tea with dozens of other people. Swopped info with Jenny ( Mason). Followed John and the Bairds back to York, where I had opportunity to examine Hamish from every angle. Don’t think Am-Cu is a patch on him. Athene a superb young bitch. The Hollis’ had tried to get onto the club judging list and both failed. Late night again going through our LKA and Crufts 72- 73 photographs.

LKA, Club show so early this year. All the familiar faces. Nice to see Mary again, long awaited photos of Sally. Not as good as the glowing descriptions of her ( Sandy, Meda and Coleraine were all potential champions when Mary was describing them). Hope to see her when adult, she does look the best pup in the litter, liked Amos too.

Saw Ann Blake for the first time in ages. She is working for Don Weiden,( Sedeki) who is “ a sweetie” genuinely interested in the breed. Talked to Mrs Hyett, who is scandalised about Coleraine < Susan Hudson had charged a high price for this puppy and was denying all responsibility for its inherited H.D. I didnt know at the time of the diary, but did later, that there were other HDs by this dog >. She told me that many Sulhamsteads have ( or had) entropion and Mrs Nagle does not consider it to be a fault. Patrick naughtily asked Susan if he could use Gog Ma Gog on Bronica < remember we had made no secret she had entropion> and the answer was yes – of course !

Richmond, just Bronnie entered because of the “ judge boycott” * In the event Appleton made a good job of the judging. Very struck by Wellandscroft Dapple, who has matured so well and is so sound. Horrid shock – the Dunn’s puppies by Hamish ( Panoramania)  have horrid curly tails. Saw Mary and her mother, she has bought a copy of the Phyllis Gardiner book from Mr Hubbard. Arranged with Helen Baird to use Hamish, fee £50 and the lad is choosy about his bitches. Weighing the pros and cons I don’t think there is much alternative but to go to him. Must see how Am Cu shapes up.

< * Exhibitors were asked to boycott Richmond as Mr Appleton had recently been the subject of an expose about breeding and selling Beagles to vivisection whilst keeping the best to show. How at the time I reckoned entering one very tall underangulated hound equated to a boycott I cannot now imagine. Typically, most exhibitors showed as they all felt the entry might be reduced and they might have a better chance. >

Rang Ruth Jenkins to tell her about Richmond, found out that Clodagh has been mated to Kestrel. Arranged to book one if good enough litter.

Jan 21st, pups born, 4 bitches! Chap from Norway will be looking at them the weekend before Crufts, arranged to go down about then to see.

Stafford Open show, mrs Taylor had entered Kyle and told me all about last Crufts, when she turned down many foreign offers for him also studs from such dubious kennels as the Colleys and Bennets. Apparently Mrs Saunders wanted to use him on Ch Bernice but used Avenger instead. What a let down.

Went to Eaglescrag, booked a puppy. Lovely litter, bitches 16 – 16 1/2 lbs at just under six weeks. Males very impressive too. Eventually picked one of the darker brindles, huge bone, shows signs of developing good brisket and shoulders. I made my mind up when something caught her eye and she trotted across the run, she moved so well I decided to pick her. Ruth also thought that “ Lark” would be the one she would keep if she hadn’t wanted a dog from this litter < in the event she kept the better puppy Linnet, also Liam , and Lysander, later Ch, went to be a foundation sire at Solstrand. I only wanted to own bitches until around 1978, when my first male moved in >.

With the exception of Morvagh, Clodagh’s previous litter to Chieftain disappointing. Ruth attributes this to the poor hounds behind the sire. Paddy Boy ( Boroughbury PB of Ballykelly) nervous, Ballykelly Patsy Fagin too long and low with tail set on end of back. Chant and Brenda taller but similar. Also all the short coupled dogs in the Brave Knight to Corrie litter had the “ Kerry flick”

< racking my brains now to try to remember if this was one leg going off to the side too wide when moving, i seem to remember it was  >

Was shown “ Tempest” and given the opportunity to buy her which for various reasons we could not. < just as well, I later spoke to the lady who bought her, she developed OCD> Saw Bisto and Derry, lovely pups. All the adults are well. Kes ( trel) moves fantastically well left to his own devices but is so clumsy. Ruth wondered if she has confused him by swopping sides during his lead training.

Crufts with Rosie and Bron for the first time. Betty was over with Jolly, mated to a Chieftain x Colleen son recently, and piles of her new book, one of which is mine. Number nine, autographed and with an acknowledgement, so kind.

Kath very sad. Chip ( of Kavanagh Rock) and Marilyn died of heart attacks on the same day. Malade spayed following pyometra, Honey a heart attack but is still with them. Valentino disgraced himself and will not be shown again – he lunges at other wolfhound males unfortunately.

Mary there with her new fiance, Sally apparently 34 1/2 at shoulder at 12 months. Frankie has two litters, puppies also at Solstrand. Jenny’s bitch missed to Brannigan but they will go back. Litters all over the place otherwise. Absent, the Holiis, the Hyetts and Sanctuary.

Shock to see Am Cu win CC over Mogul, with a handsome Toby 1st and Hamish 2nd in open dog. Kestrel was unsettled, showed his lovely front but appeared to be single tracking behind. Tristam nice, Brannigan won post grad. Athene outstandingly good but  Matihu won over her. ( Sulhamstead) Monitor looking more together, still rolling across the back tho. Master has had 1/2 tail amputated and his stifles are shocking. Mrs Jupp has mated one of her tiny brindles to half brother Mono , heaven knows what she will get.

20/ 3/ 76 Eaglescrag again to collect Lark. Such a skinny, long puppy compared to the massive and broad males, but all quality and no nerves. Learned that Carna of Nendrum had a very ugly, big eared, light eyed, head. Also suspicion that Kingsholme Sunshine was undershot. Looked at photos for the year book, four Eaglescrag champions no less, and was given one of Clodagh. Going home the puppy behaved like a seasoned traveller.

Manchester, and what a poor turn out. The only CC winners present were Kyle and Fennagh and both won seconds. I was sorry not to have been showing Rosie. Fantasy ( Baldeagle) has put some coat on but no body. Firenza fat, Triston ( Erindale) has bursar on elbow and just looked commonplace. Zena Andrews ( Drakesleat) showing two puppies with very wonky pasterns. John Briggs told me this was a hereditary condition to do with the growth of the long bones of the forelegs ( failure in calcium deposits). He also thought she had only won with them because she stewards for the judge. < whatever had poor Zena, a young woman at the time, done to offend John – he’s being rather critical here and I cannot make any vetinerary sense ouf of what he was saying about pasterns > Neither Matihu ( looking small and sad) or Nola ( looking sad) won anything for him. Kath ( Mitchell) still having dog troubles. Malade has had her tail amputated completely. Shamrocks tail tip a mess, Valentino retired due to unreliable temperament.

Susan Hudson has repeated the mating which produced Coleraine, which is intolerable. Lindfreys asking £250 for a puppy telling prospective buyers that 14 week old puppies are in fact ten weeks old so they think they are getting bigger puppies. 16 puppies in ( Petasmeade) Oberon’s litter to Cushla. Pedigree consultation with Miss Thomas, who doesn’t know who to take where. Drove back with Kyle’s owner, who is very nice. Incidentally Brannigan is suffering from a thyroid deficiency. Frankie also told me that a pet litter by Toby has priced puppies at  £140 < I had recently paid one of the top two kennels in the UK £120 for a three month old bitch puppy >

Club Open show. Weather was just perfect for an outdoor event, if anything too hot. Mary and Noel had brought Annagh and Sally, who is much as I had surmised. Beautiful head, strong bone, lovely temperament. Reminded me of Camlet Falstoff in colour but didn’t tell Mary this in case she doesn’t like the dog. Worried me that Mary could not tell that Sally is straightish in shoulder and her stifle lacks length and angulation. Substance turns out to be fat, which spoils her body lines. Thinned down and coated up i am sure she will do a lot of winning.

Jenny Mason brought “ Custard” who has much improved from puppyhood. Kath seemed happier. Frankie has sold Doulagh to a new owner in Sweden who specifically wanted a dog to use on light boned light eyed straigh stifled Brabyns stock which is prevalent over there. Floragh ( later Ch) is very like Dinagh in every way but more substantial for age. New Brabyns pup Patricks Day is lovely behind the head. Am Cu, Monitor and Buzzard have all improved since Crufts. Am Cu has sired litters to Tighe ( Outhwaite) and Calavera Allesandria, virus rhinitis accounting for some of later batch.

Lots of new hounds out, mostly grots. Judging, couldn’t always see what the judge was looking for. Tessa staggeringly second in mid limit behind Annagh, Rosie second in both limit and open to (Ch) Blizzard and ( Ch) Kelt. Won brace and my first club cup.

Birmingham, spectating. Spent some time with the Sharpes, who told me that Kestrel has been put down. I was stunned. Appparently he was found to have a brain tumour when his actions became uncontrolled. I feel that his loss will prove to be a loss to the breed, his quality, houndiness size and angulations don’t come together too often. At home relaxing Kes was superb. I believe four hounds from his only litter will be shown. Dagmar Kenis has Lysander, who is a quality curvy lad with lots of promise.

The new Camlet youngster is also superb, look forward to seeing him as an adult. Their dam died after caesarian, the third pup died from bone cancer at 6 months. < the Camlet “ E” litter. Sadly the beautiful male Esquire did not grow on but remained a wonderful moving curvy hound when mature >

Mrs Nagle confirmed she expects to be off to the States in November. Twenty of her hounds are there already. Frantic breeding plans to fit in a Sulhamstead stud are going ahead at a number of kennels. Elsewhere, Kelt has been mated to Am- Cu, Atalanta ( Marumac) is to go to Toby, one of Miss Thomas’ bitches to Hamish.

Show- wise the National did not give us many exciting new prospects. Royden Eamonn is a bigger, creamier Topaze. Mighty Monarch ( Sanctuary) has come on well, Triston bored, Falstaff on top form ( res CC). Motto moving and showing with presence for a change. Bitches, no Ch’s entered, very weak at the top. Cleveragh Peg was a surprise CC, although there were no really deserving competitors – staggered to see that she went on to BIS. She is a very ordinary bitch, can think of many to surpass her. Our breed male BIS winners all had star quality. < trying to think how many new exhibitors with a young bitch winning its first CC might hope to go on to an all breed championship BIS nowadays, plus what depth of quality must we have had in Wolfhounds in this era to beat such a huge entry of all breeds  >

Leeds, and what a wet, muddy day. Shared bench side anorak with Anne Blake, who has been commissioned to find a stud for Ch (Buckhurst) Winifred. Eventually decided upon Falstaff. Yet again Ruth and Mrs Nagle not entered. No one but Sanctuary had more than two hounds entered. Tristram won an easy CC, temperament retiring and not trying. Not much to catch the eye in dogs. Bitches better, especially the young ones. After a tussle with Massets Morag Rosie won limit CC and BOB. Ringside opinion was that she was looking very nice – Leeds is my lucky show !

Mrs Innes ( Petasmeade) told me about her Oberon to Cushla and Dochar litters. Revog infertility scandalising from a knife – sharpening Mrs Saunders ( Jason’s stud fee £100 !). Sue Jenkins thrilled for us, her Nila BOB too < Ibizan hounds>. Everyone left at 1pm, Jenny and Anne stayed to watch Rosie in the group where she was in the last few. Compliment from Don Weiden about her movement. Went back for a meal with Tony and Kath. They are still having problems with Val, who has now savaged his aunt Ginnie and will be given one last chance before being put down. Doubt if Shamrock will ever have a litter, her seasons are non existent.

York open, Rosie in season so Bron travelled alone. Betty ( Murphy)  judged very sensibly. Lots of absentees though. Blizzard a well deserved BOB, Patricks Day showing signs of nerves. Such a common head, it really is ugly. Spent the day talking to Betty and Susan Hudson. Betty’s Navan ( pet name, Carrokeel) has died of a heart condition aged 15 months. He was a grandson of ( Ballykelly) Reamonn, heart trouble from him too. Lleigus has broken his shoulder. Black puppy in litter in Ireland < the colour still uncommon enough to make news!>. Chieftain x Cailte puppy sent to the Finneys ( Gulliagh), Cailte tragically died whelping, two puppies survived her. This puppy a replacement for a Red Rory x Melina son who had a heart attack while still a puppy. Odd goings on at Ballykelly – apparently Miss Seale has kept a splash marked bitch. Ch Molly Mulligan had entropion. Kilpadriac was a non stop barker and had a light eyed coarse head. Sidhe has puppies to Gog Ma Gog and there are also two Donaghadee litters.

Lurid story about Sanctuary. According to Miss Hudson every bedroom has toydogs in small boxes with fleas leaping in the kitchen. Heard Colin of Nendrum was a poor stud. Justice wont touch a bitch if the owners are looking. Miss Hudson said about Mary – thinks she is a “ know it all” and says she “ ruined” Coleraine. No mention of the H.D. of course.

Phone call from Frankie, results of Three Counties plus news of a Hamish litter of eleven. Good! Miss Hudson has had Red Rory put down, uncontrollable mange. Also sold an 8 month puppy saying it was 4 months. Mangy, lice and fleas were thrown in. When the new owner found out and complained they were told they could take her back if they liked, otherwise nothing doing.

24/6/76 Rosie mated to Hamish. A very hot day for us all,both the dogs ended up on the ground, still tied. Hamish has sired a number of puppies with OCD. More shocks – one of the Feccna x Ch Uladh litter was put down as a puppy, HD. Am Cu and Athene’s littermate. Virus rhinitis reported to be widespread. < I must have been a real optimist in those days to go ahead with this mating, however I had no cases of OCD in the G litter which resulted, and a lovely daughter in Gaeltara >

Frankie rang, she has had a visit from the Van Griekens, Holland. Floragh won a second CC at Darlington under appalling conditions, also Am Cu BOB as I was told he would be at Manchester! Very few hounds turned up, no champions, nothing in open bitch. Mary rang to say Annagh had missed to Buzzard and there are doubts about his fertility. Very sad if he is sterile as he is a very nice dog.  <  he never did sire any puppies > .

The next set of diary entries are already on the Blog Pages.

Fawn – or sable? Red – or grizzle?

Some personal thoughts about coat colour in the Basset Fauve de Bretagne.

Roughly translated as ” Fawn Brittany Basset”, the UK Breed Standard gives a range of colours to define this; ” fawn, gold wheaten or red wheaten”. The UK standard allows a small amount of white on the chest. The Standard of the country of origin ( F.C.I.) says a white star on the chest may exist, but should not be sought after. There is a slightly wider colour range for  fawn,  from gold wheaten to red brick. A few black hairs dispersed on the back and tail  are tolerated.

red wheaten - or gold wheaten?
red wheaten – or gold wheaten?

All very easy – until you breed a litter, that is. My second litter was from a lovely red champion dog to a red wheaten bitch from red wheaten parents. Four of the six puppies were almost black at birth, with comical “panda” masks and a very small amount of red visible in the undercoat on the heads and legs. I was on to the stud dog owner straight away, as my previous litter from this bitch had resulted in  six puppies of the dam’s  red wheaten colour. Nothing to worry about, I was told. The sire had been just the same, and the puppies should lighten in colour as time went by. A photograph of the father of the litter aged eight weeks of age came with the reply, and there he was with dark hairs overlaying a completely red body. I kept a dog puppy and watched the dark hairs recede steadily,  as predicted, until the final black hairs on his tail vanished by around six months of age. All of the puppies ended as reds with no black hairs on adulthood, and with the added benefit of jet black pigmentation to nose, eye rims and nails, and very dark eyes.

Bred to another champion dog, a red bitch from red parents produced the puppy pictured below. Photograph aged eight weeks:

a " sable" puppy
a ” sable” puppy

Colour upon maturity –  with no black hairs :

a red fawn adult who was " born black"
a red fawn adult who was ” born black”

The dog from my second litter was bred to a ( red from birth) distant relation and we discovered that the dark colour came through – with variations ! The three photos below follow the progress of the darkest puppy Treacle, who gained her name because of her colour.

" Treacle" at a week of age.
” Treacle” at a week of age.
Treacle aged 8 weeks
Treacle aged 8 weeks
Red as an adult
Red as an adult

By this point I was beginning to develop a theory. I suspected these darker born puppies which “fade ” to red have a sable gene affected by colour paling, as when you have a very close look at the adult coat there is a scattering of white hairs throughout , in greater numbers where the black lasted for longest. Once you strip the puppy coat out when its ready to moult, the dark has gone forever. Some white hairs seem to replace them, and these are so outnumbered by the red wheaten hairs you don’t notice them. I have also noticed that the  puppies which are going to ” go red” have an entirely red head by eight weeks of age. this ‘ red tide” slowly continues down the body of the puppy until he is red all over. And always possesses fabulous pigmentation.

I then got to know a pair of puppies from a mother who had been ” born black” and who had ended a clear wheaten colour. I anticipated the coats would clear, in the same way as the ones I was used to, and as their mother had. Their father was a red wheaten.

Dog puppy 3 months
Dog puppy 3 months
bitch puppy 8 months
bitch puppy 8 months

We did not see what we thought we would when these puppies grew up ! The dog cleared to red fawn, with a few dark hairs in his tail. The bitch had a red head, legs and chest but a grizzled ” saddle” extending to her darker tail. The underside of her tail is a darker red than her body hair.

I was aware that a ” grizzle” colour pattern exists in the breed and it must be a recessive gene. This “saddle marked” coat pattern was an interesting one, as to my eye both puppies were as dark as each other, and the individual hairs appeared the same within the undercoat when you riffled the coat backwards for close examination.

In the same litter as Treacle was ” Honey” who, if you refer back to the baby puppy photograph above, was born a red colour – but with black eye “patches”, like a little pirate. Honey grew up to be mainly wheaten in colour – but with a darker head and tail. So perhaps she had some inhibition of the colour paling gene of her sire?

Honey, aged two
Honey, aged two

Now lets add another colour variation into the equation. I imported two hounds from a French pack, and wasn’t too concerned about how dark they were as puppies. They had great conformation and type and size and were just what I was looking for at the time. Both lightened up to red as they reached maturity , but both retained very dark red ears and dark hairs in the tail. Both of their parents were “red at birth”, the sire red and the dam fawn wheaten.

The imports as adults
The imports as adults

When both these hounds were outcrossed to bitches which were ” born red” they produced a more ” diluted” colour than themselves. Dark red puppies from birth but not the dark hairs on back and tail to the same extent  – occasionally a ” smudge” on the head, but otherwise red throughout the coats. In the photograph below, the bitch to the left has retained a darker ” widows peak” colouration on her head.

Puppies from the imported bitch
Puppies from the imported bitch

I suspect there may be a ” liver” pigmentation rather than black underlying the mask on these imports, as if you look closely at the face of the parent on the photograph above with that of   the puppy on the left on the photograph above, you see a different shade of red around the muzzle and eyes to the rest of the body coat. They can sometimes have ” two tone noses” in both liver and black !

Last year, the dog I mentioned in the first paragraph was bred to a distantly related  red wheaten of red wheaten and wheaten parentage. The only bitch in the litter he sired was dark from birth – but we’d had that before, and the coats had always paled to red. Therefore there was every chance this puppy would do the same (?).

Clover as a puppy
Clover as a puppy

Not necessarily ! Clover is the darkest puppy we have known so far – this is her coat colour aged 11 months ( below). She has red on her chest, muzzle and legs but remains black and grizzled through her body coat.

Clover is on the left
Clover is on the left

Older breeders have told me that the test for whether a coat will end up the right colour is to look closely at the body hairs, and any which have black to their skins will stay black. I think these ” grizzled” variants add another level of difficulty to this, as they also change colour but presumably carry the ” agouti” gene rather than what I am guessing is a ” sable with colour paling” gene.

If anyone with a better grip on colour genetics would like to correspond on the subject, that would be great. The basic books on genetics say two reds bred together which are homozygous for red will produce red, yet clearly there is more going on in these Fawn Brittany Bassets than meets the eye.

There’s also the question of breed type. Young Clover has become more and more like her larger relative, the Griffon Nivernois, especially in head. She’s also longer legged and a little taller and leaner than most of her relatives.  I also look at the smooth coated immensely pliable ears and ” deer red” on some puppies stemming from lines bred in Brittany ( not only my own imports)  and wonder about the Bavarian Mountain Hound colour and ear texture. I ponder upon the grizzles, and think about the Dachshund cross which was admitted to by the French – plus  whatever else might have been mixed in by keen hunters to improve the abilities of the breed. How difficult it must be breeding red to red over generations, where pigmentation will be liver more often than black, and where dark is desired more than light in the hunting and the conformation standards relating to eye colour and pigment.

I’m sure there will be more to learn about colour in this breed – I have yet to breed a black and tan, for instance, but have seen a photograph of one. Its not something I am afraid of, because of the advantages of good pigmentation on the hounds which pale to red. Ironically the more unusual coloured fauves – and all of them by this particular  stud dog , or bred by me,  are pictured above, I wouldn’t like the casual reader to think the other 95 % of the hounds bred here aren’t ” standard coloured” – attract very positive comments from people who meet them, and in some cases enquire how to obtain one in this colour. No, we aren’t going to  breed ” rare black fauves” ( what a tautology,  for heavens sake!)  but we will be prepared for what might appear naturally.




Canine Disease Genetics – Professor Hannes Lohi lecture

Attended the April 14 lecture organised by “Crusaders4Spinone” . Billed as a lecture on epilepsy, it covered much more. I had been keen to listen to this speaker, Professor Hannes Lohi, PhD, of the molecular genetics department Helsinki. This expert has been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to exploit the rapidly moving world of canine genetics. At the end of the day i suspect the audience felt they had been given a view of the near future and what it could hold for dog breeders.

It quickly became clear that not only is his department stunningly well funded ( 20 highly qualified staff in his area alone) but also the research once completed has quickly been turned into DNA tests and other information for sale to breeders via his company Genoscopes Labs Ltd, trading under the name  ” MyDogDNA”.

<This first draft might not be as well organised as it could be from my notes,  as listening to a quietly spoken Finn in a room full of eager breeders and owners wasnt always too easy. Transcribing the notes I made begins here:>

The University stores 60,000 samples from 300 breeds, to put this into context our Animal Health Trust has around 20,000 and the big USA “competitor” has more. It quickly became clear that the various researchers are as much in a race against each other as they are in a race to bring us solutions, sharing and co operating isn’t as common as many might wish for. There are only 5 or 6 major laboratories researching dog DNA world wide.

The Finns prefer to use blood samples, but advances in saliva swab analysis means they can now do more with these than they once could. Helpful to hear, as our UK Ministry refuses to allow blood exports from canids unless the blood was drawn for another process ( classic example in wolfhounds would be taking a little extra blood at the time of the PSS puppy shunt test).

I don’t think I had realised before this that dogs share 95% of their DNA with humans – this means that the extensive database  and clinician knowledge the Finns share with their medical colleagues can be raided to benefit either “race”. In humans, this can mean researchers can start to work on therapies to improve the lot of sufferers with a range of conditions, once a gene loci is discovered in a dog breed which maps across to people. Another example given of the benefits of DNA research was from cattle, where a 6 year breed programme can now be reduced to one before, for instance, milk yield is improved.

Epi genetics is an increasingly important area. Away from the lecture, a friend described this in a way to remember –  a redhead would be badly affected by sunburn, so would know to keep out of the sun. In all other circumstances their skin works exactly the same as a darker skinned person – it needs an environmental effect to be expressed as a problem for the individual. HD is a condition in dogs where rearing and exercise can affect the X ray score. In other words, often its not as easy as ” finding the gene”.

Most readers will know about SNP chips, a major tool for the researchers, vastly reduced in price from not too many years ago. The team has access to around 172,000 different markers as the dog genome project has already mapped the entirety of dog DNA.More conditions, including behavioural, are being identified as being linked to particular gene loci all the time.

Professor Hannes was careful to say that nothing in genetics is completely black and white. They have discovered that size, as one instance, is affected by at least 650 genes in humans.So far they can explain around half the eventual body size, as long as they are looking across a large population. Some of these genes for greater size are linked to those for predisposition to cancer ( that sounds like wolfhounds again!).

The Victorians created the idea of “closed breed registries”                    ( pedigree dogs) and there can often be 3 or 4 times more difference between the DNA of different breeds than there is across the whole human race. Geneticists like looking at inbred populations when they dig into specific genes, as it makes the locations easier to find. One success cited was the discovery of the gene location for PRA in the Vallhund. It took the researchers just one week – as it was a recessive gene within an inbred population where they had a good idea already where to start. They can find a recessive gene from just ten samples. Conditions which are multifactorial take hundreds of samples from individual dogs.

Professor Hannes said there are almost too many ideas to work on, as information comes forward from a variety of sources. His team are beginning work on developmental defects in newborn puppies. In Finland breeders have around 10,000 litters per year and its common for breeders to report 1-2 early deaths per litter. The lab is currently looking into this, seeking protein coding deficiencies, as this it is hoped will also help with research into stillbirths in humans.

Their success with the Lagotto breed was accompanied by video of affected puppies of this breed. It resembles a human childhood epilepsy, so they are currently working with this discovered DNA in mice to progress their research. Puppies could present with symptoms aged 1 month – 3 months, and although the disease seemed to go away in terms of no further fits , owners reported changed behaviour in this group as they matured ( less concentration, a sort of attention deficit problem). The question would be was this the result of genetic action, or as a result of brain damage from the fits? They plan a follow up study. In the meantime breeders of Lagottos have a DNA test so they can avoid mating carriers together. The chairman of the Swiss club reported that breeders had no new cases for three years as a result of using this.

Epilepsy is common in dogs. It is complex, might be the action of a multiplicity of genes working together. Epilepsy is difficult to recognise. Seizures can be small, as little as a tic or a vagueness for a brief time.  They can come and go. Some resemble ” childhood epilepsy” in children as it will disappear on adulthood. There followed an interesting digression when a member of the audience asked how sure the researchers could be that any sample they obtained of an ” epileptic dog” was as a result of a ” genetically based” condition – as unless the vet has checked first whether the dog had a thyroid problem the latter condition could be the cause. This was where the notes in the form of a full case history from the examining vetineray surgeon needed to accompany the sample going to the researchers in every instance. I’ve discovered recently that thyroid deficiencies can turn up in aged basset fauve de bretagne, so any ” fitting” would need to be checked out in case there was a simple solution.

One of Helsinki University’s recent research projects is around anxiety conditions. The first step is a questionnaire, identifying the anxiety type ( noise, separation anxiety, both, others) which will be followed up by behavioural tests for a group they select to work on, then clinical tests. They already know there is ” high comorbidity” in that fearful dogs studied who are also noise sensitive are a higher percentage when compared to noise anxious non fearful dogs ( a high 78.8%). They are looking into tail chasing  bull terriers. When an EEG is done there is no sign of abnormality, but is the behaviour caused by a compulsion or a focal seizure? They are looking for a candidate gene. In Great Danes they have already identified the locus for social phobia which is sometimes seen in that breed.

The afternoon session then centred on the “private work”, the DNA profiling which the company “MyDogsDNA” is offering world wide. I’d urge you to look at the website for a better idea of the service provided, its very clear and in English. Of course, as they receive more “customers” so the base will increase and the amount of information expand.

This then is the glimpse into the future. Maybe within five more years, maybe ten,  labs will know exactly where to find each of, say, 34 inherited conditions for a particular breed ( using this figure plucked out of the air for convenience). Simplistic example:  breeder obtains the DNA profile of their stud dog and can see that the male carries some diseases or conditions, is clear of others, might be affected for others. ( as a recent study has shown that all humans carry at least two recessives for bad stuff, this shouldn’t surprise us).

The need for testing animals to look for conditions such as PRA or CEA will be removed – you know the dog’s condition on your report. What then? I would suggest you will be sharing the males DNA report with anyone wanting to use him at stud. Its going to be up to the bitch owner to check that the female is neither a carrier nor affected for any defects within the breed held in common between the projected parents. And once these tests are widely available the clued up puppy buyers will start to demand them before purchasing a puppy.

Two fortunate people then won DNA profiles of their own dogs in the raffle. I think the cost is around £130 per dog.

The future is coming and its closer than we think….. advice on best outcrosses using statistics on associated breeds. Information on diseases within any population, and not just diseases but behavioural traits. I’ve only lightly grazed the top of the iceberg, with gratitude to the speaker and the group within Spinones for setting this session up.




Irish Wolfhound diary 1977

I would have been aged 23 or so when I penned this diary originally. Here it is, now typed out and given some sort of punctuation. It was my very much younger self. Where I have had second thoughts or needed to add context the parenthesis are marked < as this>. 

 Update dated  2015.

I generally used pet names for the hounds and have inserted their full names and that of their owners where I remember these. Mary McBryde ( Marumac) and I had started our interest in Irish Wolfhounds at around the same time in 1970, we corresponded for a while and shared what we discovered about the breed. By 1977 Mary had become a student at Oxford and was soon to become Mrs Noel Poolman, she wrote a thesis on colour inheritance in the Irish Wolfhound. I lived with my parents in the Midlands and  helped by looking after some of the early Marumac hounds when Mary went further North to breed her foundation bitch to a black dog. Mary was very interested in the colour, which was extremely uncommon at that time. Sally ( Marumac Atalandi) was later to become well known as the dam of the top winner Ch Marumac Bahbarella, the bitch which put her kennel firmly on the map. 

Kennels were much larger in those days, many having upwards of 12 hounds in residence, the largest had teams of stud dogs. Many kennels retained two bitches from their litters, one to show and the other to have more litters at home. Shown bitches often had “only” three or four litters, their sisters being much more ” productive”. Brabyns, Erindale and Pendomer had no other sources of income than puppy sales and studs in this era and regularly bred two litters per annum from their bitches and from six to nine litters from each bitch. Some started to have litters aged 13 months. A Brabyns bitch from Ballykelly had nine registered litters, 56 puppies, with Miss Hudson. When Mary Mcbride visited there in 1972 or 73 she was offered puppies from five litters available at the one time, aged 5 months down to two weeks of age.

We had no idea that virus rhinitis was inherited, at this time it was a puzzle and breeders were afraid that it might be transmitted at the time of a mating, or caught like a virus. I think its more likely that this condition was inheritable, is currently called PCD ( primary ciliary diskonesia) and is now uncommon in the breed. >

16th January 77

Mary McBryde over, taking Sanctuary Monagh of Marumac to Delkerry Black Buzzard again to try for two or more matings in limited time to try to get a “take”. Unlikely I feel as Annagh is getting older and doesn’t look in top condition. Her daughter by Ch Caio of Eaglescrag Sally ( Marumac Atalandi) and Aniera ( Jason of Sunningdale ex Royden Colleen) are staying here for the weekend. Sally having lost her coat looks less attractive than she did at LKA, very long straight stifle although the hock is low set. Tail has a very pronounced curl. Aniera was a present from Dagmar ( Kenis Pordham) I would class her as a pet at this age – such straight shoulders affecting her front movement badly, she’s very restricted. Straightish stifle which might improve with age, top line and croup could have more shape to them, tail short and carried scimitar fashion. The head type is strong on this bitch line, all the same “ long triangle” without much stop, from Edgecroft Sheelagh onwards.

Mary rather liked Launa and Tara ( Mochras Gaelauna and Gaeltara, my two keepers from Ch Outhwaite Hamish x Ch Mochras Banrion) and thought Eaglescrag Larkspur of Mochras was much improved, she looked terrible when she last saw her in the Summer. Saw lots of photographs. Many old Sulhamsteads, also puppies belonging to Dagmar. The Shalfleet one looks horrible. Samson ( later to be Ch Eaglescrag Lysander) has a bad cut on his paw. Heard a treatment for bald tails is rubbing in vitamin E. Mrs Gibson ( Delkerry) has four puppies by Ch Eaglescrag Toby. Hope to hear more about them when Mary returns. The puppies are apparently good ones. Ch Hamish has a predisposition < did I mean to say ” appears prepotent for”> for substance and these are his first grandchildren. Dam ( Brianna) has a longish, “humpy” top line but is otherwise a good one. Ch Delkerry Black Blizzard will probably be mated to Eaglescrag Liam.

January 1977

Phone call from Dagmar, who will be taking Shauna ( Royden Colleen) to Ch Hamish shortly. Helen ( Baird) worried her by saying Hamish is a reluctant stud. Problems at Solstrand, including Lysander, who has removed stitches from his foot and left such a mess it cant be stitched up again. He is going cow hocked through inactivity and standing on hard surfaces. Moya ( Shalfleet Elaine) has developed a curly tail and bursars. Another hound has been returned from the Shauna x Jason of Sunningdale litter, a tall dog with a faulty mouth.

Phone call from Frankie ( Shaw, Franshaw). Franshaw Allegro had eleven to Hamish, two black. Poor Leggy had inertia and needed a caesarian, she is feeding them all happily but two are snuffling and bringing milk through their noses. Could be something wrong with their digestive tracts? Frankie fears virus rhinitis. She also has a flea epidemic on her hands.

February 1977.

Crufts. As usual too much to write down. Main news is that 5 of Frankie’s Hamish litter had virus rhinitis and have been put down, including a black bitch. Mrs Gibson is selling all of her wolfhounds for personal reasons. Everyone upset for her. Lots of litters on the way.

Judging was erratic. I fell for ( Mrs Titheridges Camlet) Glendower all over again. Oh for more masculinity in head and more size. New Petasmeade ( Ross) very Chieftain – esque in body, appalling head tho and a ring tail like P. Fernie. Glad I’m not alone! < my Ch Banrion and her daughter Gaeltara both had ring tails, common at the time and a preoccupation of mine, clearly>. The Erindales out in force, all looking and moving rather well. Some youngsters over from Ireland, I liked ( Rathbone Scotts) Tullygirvan Fingal best, small but quality except in head. In open Ch Outhwaite Hamish and Ch O. Am Cu looked surprisingly common and neither reached out in movement. Ch Eaglescrag Toby in top form, moved better than the rest. Ch Erindale Tristam sluggish. ( McCoy’s) Cu Uladh Uladh ( later Ch) in coat at last, moved well but ugly head.

In bitches Brabyns did very well, Bleisce ( later Ch) and Tara both much beyond this kennels usual for temperament and quality.< many of their females were shy in this era>. Didnt see much beyond yearling bitch but did notice Charlotte of Bokra’s small size and dippy top line, Sally close behind and raw outline. Open – Ch Clodagh of Eaglescrag looked lovely, also Ch Kyritz Zephyr of Camlet belying her age as usual. Ch Sanctuary Mona on top form and worthy BOB.

Also heard on the day – Clodagh < Ch, of Eaglescrag, dam of Lysander, Linnet, Larkspur, Liam etc> has missed to Ch Eaglescrag Toby,  Eaglescrag Morvagh has been mated to him instead. Punch <pet name for an Eaglescrag young male> gorgeous but undershot. John ( Briggs) has mated Nuala to Toby. Jenny Mason ( Eriskroy) has kept both the Franshaw Brannigan youngsters, her Tralee a well deserved second in post graduate despite drooling as usual. Alan Hyatt ( Buckhurst) is keeping a dog from Young x Dana, also a bitch from Ch Hamish x Fianna.

Talked to a lady at ringside who had bought Tempest from the Ch Fintan of Eaglescrag x Thornwick Rossan of Eaglescrag litter, she needed an osteochondritis operation ( both forelegs) aged 14 months. £90 !  Ruth ( Jenkins) gave her a replacement puppy Ch Fintan x Tansie, which has again needed an operation for OCD. This lady doesn’t know what to do about breeding wolfhounds, having now two hounds as companions she doesn’t want to start all over again.< I have a feeling I was offered Tempest, or one from that litter, but took Larkspur from the Kestrel – Ch Clodagh breeding>.

Letter from Ruud Van Grieken ( Holland) detailing his experiences looking for stock in the UK . Puppies ate the letter, so information as follows:

  1. Petasmeade litter, best unsold monorchid.
  2. Petasmeade litter, offered pick of litter which came down to another monorchid or a bitchy dog.
  3. Special trip to see a 9 month Edeyrn bitch, described as being of no quality.
  4. His Brabyns Tostal described as being too short backed now
  5. Buckhurst bitch purchased.
  6. Delkerry, 3 males two monorchid and one lame. Bought the best, although monorchid, also the dam Brianna.

He wants me to keep him informed of litters and to if possible inspect interesting litters for him. Complement that I was the only person truthful about my own litter. Like the thought of seeing puppies. <Von Mirable Spectatu affix, hugely successful with Ch Petasmeade Clontarf and not as fortunate in his attempted purchases in this period>

Frankie ( Shaw, Franshaw) rang. She has discovered all five of her Franshaw Fagin x Dinah puppies suffer from the wobblers disease, two have been put down, the rest are being run on for observation. This could mean the end of her current breeding plans, wobblers is thought to be hereditary. The Liverpool University specialist has operated on 9 IWs for this. Funny I have never heard of anything from breeders. Hogan from the Franshaw Doulagh x Allegro litter has been put down, diabetes.

March 1977

Mary rang, Annagh has missed. She went through all the motions of whelping on Saturday but no puppies. This could be a blessing, with exams and another term coming up puppies could have been too much. Sally is now to be mated at her next season, she came in late and its now 8 1/2 months since her last season, a yearly cycle is feared or at the very best 9 months. Mary is thinking about ( Camlet) Esquire, Ch Fintan and Liam ( Eaglescrag) and trying to evade curly tails. On the other hand she is thinking about Panormania Samson for Aniara first litter. I wonder why she is refusing to consider Hamish while using his sons? < this, obvious now, was because they were both black and therefore more likely to sire the colour or carry it> Certainly now virus rhinitis has come from Hamish not a good idea, but this wasn’t the case earlier in the year. Samson having a sperm test just in case.

Message from Dagmar, she has first refusal on Black Buzzard when Mrs Gibson decides to sell. She hopes to show all her hounds at the Club show, doesn’t think Shauna is in whelp to Hamish but doesn’t particularly mind. The young hounds will be campaigned this year. My opinion sought on the next batch of judges, but I don’t know how they will respond so wasn’t much help. As usual with Dagmar chatted for around an hour.

18th March, visit to Franshaw.

Frankie’s nine week Hamish/ Allegro puppies are very poor indeed. For bone and substance the worst I have yet seen, also every one has a Dane- shaped head and the promise of light eyes. Light brindle coloured pups, the black male was horrible in front, long in back and light eyed and sold before we arrived. These pups look as if they will be small when adult. Movement all over the place, weak pasterns, flat feet, high hocks – most upsetting to see. The smallest bitch is down with rhinitis and in pain from a stifle injury, will probably be destroyed. The three remaining Fagan x Dinah pups are pathetic to watch, trembling constantly.

Thought the adults were rather fat to my eye, especially the young bitches. Extra weight suits the Eaglescrag bitch, Brodie also looking well. Gina has her sire’s thyroid deficiency. Hannah and Lenagh typey, especially the first, tall too. Noticed tails. lots of high carriage and curls but not in the ring, luckily. Floragh’s is nice < later the very beautiful Ch Franshaw Floragh>.

Frankie has heard that Mrs Pyke ( Elpyk) has sold a puppy to Danny La Rue. Susan Hudson has had virus rhinitis. (Ch) Ballykelly Reamonn only fetched about £100 when sold to Norway. Franshaw Doulagh has won his first certificate in Sweden and was placed in the Group.

21.3.77. Dagmar again. Cynthia Madigan ( Boissevain, Branwen) is bringing an Int Champion with her when she comes to England – hurray, hope he is a good one. Roy Hollis ( Royden) has a litter from R. Eamonn x (Ch) R. Topaze. The mind boggles.< both these hounds were extremely angulated, in Eamonn’s case to the point of weakness, and he had light lemon coloured eyes> Dagmar has bought Black Buzzard and intends to have a damn good try at solving his sterility. Heard the Manchester results, judging described as pretty awful in bitches, not too bad in dogs. Discussed virus rhinitis and wobblers. Arranged to stay over the Southern Counties show, added bonus of being able to meet R.M. James.

Frankie also called with the Manchester results. She has heard a horrific report of virus rhinitis at Erindale, said to have lost 100 puppies since the first cases in Erindale Loreen’s litter.

16.04.77 Club show

Took Rosie ( Ch Banrion) Bron ( her sister) and Tessa ( Buckhurst Theresa, their dam). Talked to John and Marion Kite, who had Lara and Brabyns Ailm there. They want to mate Lara this year to an Eaglescrag male, inwardly horrified at this as we all think Lara has HD. Jenny ( Mason) has had Rhubarb ( bred by John Briggs) put down. She had only 5 % vision by this stage and was unhappy. < you would have to wonder nowadays if this puppy had PRA – no relationship on pedigree to any of the cases in the 1990s>. John ( Briggs) Nuala has had nine puppies to Toby but squashed all but two dog puppies. Ch Cleveragh Peg has died. She contracted enteritis when mated to Ch Sulhamstead Motto and its thought this triggered off stomach cancer. Frankie told me this. For herself, the Fagan x Dinah puppies havent got “wobblers” after all but what it was affecting them the post mortem did not reveal. Floragh has removed half of Hannah’s ear in a fight. Dagmar had most of her hounds there. The Shalfleet puppy Moya is much nicer than I had thought, lovely quality and flowing movement. Stifles aren’t broad but are well curved.

The show itself was fun. All the young dogs looked like pets, no hope for the future there. It was the long awaited debut of Eaglescrag Liam and as usual the arrival was anticlimactic. He is very tall, none too broad, bone not as heavy as the Eaglescrag usual. Very shapely standing, completely straight in shoulder, which is a disappointment. HIs movement is nearly as erratic as ( his sire) Kestrel’s, but in his case caused by his front, he has too much rear angulation and over- runs. All very sloppy and juvenile, another year will help a lot, but not those shoulders. Lysander ( litter brother) although smaller is the better hound at the moment. I didnt think much of the judging, best dog was an ordinary junior < I must look this up this hound in the yearbooks!>

Things improved in puppy bitch. As usual, when I have something nice to bring out so has everyone else. The niece of the Sanctuary ladies has a smasher from Erindale < this must have been Ch Erindale Lady Sasha, with Sarah Baker> , as has Mrs Nelson ( Gledstone). At the end of the classes I noticed that the Brabyns type ones had failed to place, particularly the reds. Hard to understand, that. Ch Outhwaite Athene won a well deserved BOB. I didnt do anything much but Tessa managed a reserve in veteran and Rosie and Bron saved the day with a win in brace. I ended up with a tankard, two bottles of whisky and £1.

Took lots of photos. Mary and Noel were there, Mary like me looking at prospective IW husbands. he has decided upon Panoromania Sampson for Aniara, Lysander for Sally and Buzzard for whichever girl was free at the time. I think Mary has given up on tails ! Looking at Aniara I am not surprised Dagmar gave her away. She has no quality, and that is something Dagmar has an eye for, I begin to see. Can but hope Aniara doesnt contribute many genes to her future puppies. I was a little puzzled to see that Mary doesn’t realise Aniara is straight behind. In retrospect none of hers have particularly good stifles, so perhaps it doesn’t strike her as much as it does me.

April 77. Dagmar, her breeding plans are growing apace and include Shauna to Lysander, Cass to Buzzard ( just to try) and a bitch to Tristran. I cant see Ruth ( Jenkins) approving of an Erindale bitch mating to Lysander, tho. Details from the AGM, I hear the Hollis’ ( Royden) have 60 names to form a new club. Dagmar’s idea of importing an American dog still being thought through, she will know for sure after the trip she makes in the Summer.

Birmingham, dogs judged on the caravan park. Stanley Dangerfield not worth showing under. Rosie off colour, not a good day. Sally mated to Lysander, due July. Long talk to Mrs Saunders ( Erindale) she has two new youngsters in the pipeline from Ireland. Ch Princess is dead. Caught up with Frankie after the show. She tells me Tristan and Jason’s stud fees are £150 ! < must have been above the norm for that time>.

July 77.

Neglected this for some time, been so busy. Tara made a great debut at Leeds, Rosie was sluggish. Everyone loved little Tara. ( Seplecur) Hennessy sold, Ch Seplecur Meaghan to be mated to Ch Motto. Went back to John ( Briggs) for tea and a match, Rosie runner up. Rosie won res CC at 3 Counties. Liam is moving better and looking more together. Linnet ( sister) was shown for the first time and is a beauty. Morvagh is to be sold to Germany, Ruth thinks she has an “ Alsatian” temperament which she doesnt want to perpetuate. Punch has been sold to a pet home. Frankie has had another sadness with the Hamish litter, bitch has OCD and sold to a pet home. Gina has been given away. She has bought in a bitch by Brannigan and has hopes of her. Doulagh is now a champion in Sweden. She is wondering whether to take Floragh back to her grandsire Angus of Arraghglen, who has just sired 11 puppies for mrs Leith ( Arraghglen).

Ireland ( IWCI Club show, judged by Helen ” Outhwaite” Baird). The show was fun, very friendly. Met Susan Hudson ( Brabyns) on the boat and she offered me a lift to the showground. I dislike her more than before. She has a new puppy, by Ch Petasmeade Chieftain of Brabyns ex Cora. Donaghadee ( later ch) was a bundle of nerves and was drugged on the trip to keep him quiet. Tullamore  is due to whelp to Ch Outhwaite Am Cu on the day of Paignton – Susan will leave her with the judge’s kennel maid and go off to the show with Donaghadee. She will get him made up by hook or by crook. < my later notes show that Tullamore died whelping this litter, her fifth, in her owners absence>.

Talked to everybody, met miss Twyman ( Nendrum) for the first time. Went back after the show with Betty Murphy ( Carrokeel) and we discussed much scandalous gossip < why didnt I record it?!>. Next day met a group of people from Finland and Joseph Shoemaker. Rounded off the stay by meeting Mr and Mrs Kelly and their lovely hounds < Nutstown, I remember being very impressed by their foundation bitches, from Dr May >.

Blackpool, a nice show and Ch Eaglescrag Toby went on to win the group, he really is a super hound. Ch Clodagh is due to whelp, small litter hoped for.

August 77

Brabyns Tullamore died trying to whelp the Sholto litter ( Ch Am Cu). Betty Murphy ( Carrokeel) over visiting, unfortunately wasn’t able to get her to Eaglescrag due to Clodagh’s whelping difficulties. Zena Thorn Andrews judged very well, as usual nothing much in the lower classes but i was unexpectedly impressed by Royden Finnegan ( later Ch). I hear his dam is a shocker ( must be to produce Royden Bernadette) which puts him out of consideration for me < I had firm view at that time about never using the son of a poor mother>. Brabyns Gog Ma Gog much improved but crabbing, Ch Sulhamstead Motto looked lovely, Ch Erindale Tristan unexpectedly weak in quarters. Heard he mated a bitch the day before, which could account for it. irish Ch Aoife of Moll Machie just had 13 puppies to him, and the Irish bred ( Nutstown) dog puppy ex the lovely Ch Nutstown Queen rhapsodised over by Mrs Saunders. Mrs Thorn Andrews cross at me for not having Tara there, I didnt know she really liked her.

Scottish Kennel Club show, a wet drizzly damp morning, just the sort of day Rosie shows best on and guess what a CC. Very grateful to Mr Glover ( Harry Glover, allrounder). I hoped she had a chance but couldn’t be sure, in the end her size and accurate movement did the trick as most of the other title- hunters were lacking in both. Thanked the Lord that ( Erindale, later Ch) Grand Dutchesss was in season, didn’t mind losing to Ch Tristan for BOB. He’s top winning hound this year.

Miss Thomas ( Stephanie Herbert – Thomas) was there with Emma looking very fit and youthful, her two Caio daughters looking thin and dispirited. She also has a ( Ch Sulhamstead) Minstrel son who is monorchid and none too big. Hopes to find him a good home. A brother, Sentinel, was there, never trained to trot, curly tail, too much roach over the loin, very tall and substantial however with a good head. Solomon ( the monorchid) has a high curly tail, straight shoulders and close hind action, curvy body lines, nice head. < the dam Augusta a daughter of Ch Caio of Eaglescrag, I would have been thinking about Ch Minstrel for my own Caio daughter, hence this interest in the offspring>.

Jenny Mason there with three youngsters, including her ( Franshaw) Brannigan offspring Glendora and Gulliver. Gulliver is very promising, Cora less so, not so good in head, stifle and top line as her brother. Both have good tails. Several unknown-to-me males shown, none any good, also a poor- looking Ch Toby x Ch Kelt daughter with little bone or stifles to grow into, also a curly tail. The Charltons have a good looking litter by Ch Toby ex Eaglescrag Fennagh < this was a half brother, half sister mating onto Ch Caio of Eaglescrag who had OCD, no surprise many of this litter were affected with this condition per my later diaries >. Don Weiden ( Sedeki) is in the States now. Ann ( Blake) is coping with (Brabyns) Gog- Ma- Gog, he is a nit- wit. He’s due to be mated to Ch Buckhurst Winifred and Erindale Mollie plus others before he is exported.

Visit to Mary to see the litter. 6 weeks old, signs of straight top lines and high tails there. Universally heavy bone and tight feet, didn’t recognise the head type, all less fuzzy faced than my little bear cubs. Considering both parents ( Lysander x Atalanti) have long straight backs curly tails and close hind action I wonder what they will be like? < thats how much I knew.The best, Ch Bahbarella, ended her life as the bitch CC record holder and had parallel hind action and a good tail!>. One dog and one bitch more attractive than the others, i suspect the bitch might be a less massive version of her mother, the dog very nice indeed just hope his tail doesn’t spoil it later. The dog pup Dagmar is taking is a chunky lad but fear for his head and top line. Sally much improved in shape after her litter, its matured her, expect her to be winning well shortly. Aniara still no better, not worth showing. With all these faults I wouldn’t risk breeding from her, no doubt Mary will produce lovely progeny to confound my theory but I would still wonder about future generations, all these defects to keep on being careful about not doubling up on. Hard enough with just a smattering of faults on each side. < Aniara left no progeny>.

Dagmar had brought along heaps of Californian wolfhound pictures, struck by the very different head type, deep stops and straight appearance in stifles. Didnt think much of the puppy she has bought but did like his father and grandfather, both well known champions. The dam is rather nice too, smallish but nice. Apparently they are under 33” and no tail curls at all. < Dagmar’s acquisition of the brood bitch Am Ch Gerdins Kerry of Heart G in 78 proved to be a very significant one. She was visiting the “ Keystone” kennels of Donna Elzer’s, Ch. Ko – Op was one of the nice dogs there at the time >.

Leicester show, the classes were amazingly well filled at the top although weak until post grad. Could not follow Jean Lanning’s judging, all shapes and sizes went up. Ch Motto has a distinctly flat top line nowadays I realise. Saw Oakenshield Cadmus for the first time, a very shapely male with lots of substance but none too big and a ring tail. Hilary Jupp has mated one of her Sulhamstead Franco daughters to (Camlet) Glendower, who is similar to Cadmus in looks. Ch Am Cu was out for the first time in ages, not enough angulations for me and moving better behind than in front. Everybody was coming over to say hello, even the southern faction who normally don’t “ see” me. It can only be on account of the show I am due to judge soon at Tunbridge Wells.

Birmingham show, one beginning to look much like another, also the hounds! Decided afresh that Joe Braddon an ignorant old tyrant. Not unknowledgeable about dogs, quite the reverse, but he seems to do odd things for the pleasure of the upset. Res CC Witchesbroom Wizard was just not sound, or handled to advantage to hide this. The smallish curvy males were thrown out. Ch Sanctuary Mona shown for the first time in ages, still has her old quality but was too fat and her movement suffers. < I had a good litter by Ch Witchesbroom Wizard a few years later, as did many others – he must have been very young here and needed time for his action to settle. Superb fronted male, broad chested with lots of hind angulation and substance on maturity. Joe Braddon did have an eye for quality in a wild young dog, who certainly had a massive length of stride>.

LKA, Ron Baird ( Outhwaite) had a harrowing day because of the huge entry. As usual I flitted around ringside chatting to all who came my way ( to be continued, end of 1977 diary entries).

A table I created at the time showing stud dogs available to me in the leading kennels : 

Sulhamstead – Woodside Finn, Branwen Miles, Major* ( these three struck out)  Mentor, Motley, Mono* Ch Minstrel, Master, Ch Motto.

( presumably the asterisk marked the monorchids, I know Major was).

Eaglescrag – Ch Caio ( struck out) Ch Fintan, Ch Toby, Kestrel ( struck out, he had one litter and died young)

Sanctuary – Ch Revog, Dylon ( struck out) Mighty Monarch – i seem to remember Dylon was sterile.

Brabyns – Connal, Feccna ( struck out) Ch Chieftain, Slainte, Fionn Mac Connal, Red Rory ( struck out)


Young, Bran of Blakesley ( struck out) Errant

1970 – 1973 registrations – this would have been extracted from the IWC Yearbook covering this period, in the days before computers…. no idea why listed in this order at the time. 

kennel name number of litters number of pups registered number of export pedigrees issued

































Of interest, the low litter sizes at Sulhamstead and that both this kennel and Eaglescrag exported half of the puppies they registered. These were the foundation stock of many of the kennels in Northern America and across Europe in their day.

The Karlton Index


“ Every dog to enjoy a healthy, well adjusted, long happy life”.

The first thing to be said is that its a pity I feel the need to do an introduction to something which has been running for so many years now. It has the approval of the Kennel Club and respected bodies who seek improvement in the health of pedigree dogs. Its simple, well led and not profit motivated. However, I mention the Karlton Index in the Basset Fauve de Bretagne “ world” and  am meet by a puzzled stare, followed by in other cases a look of disdain or complete lack of interest. What is this Index, and why should we (at least) know about it?

Phillipa Robinson is a member of the CIPD and holds a Masters degree in Human Resources management, where she has done award winning work as a consultant.This was my field ( strategic HR, Business Partnering) before I retired, and probably why what she says rings with such resonance for me.

Business management, and in particular business improvement, is no mystery. It can be used  to transform more than just profitability, staff retention, any of the other things which matter in organisations. In Phillipa’s case the poor health of her own companion dogs ( genetic disorders) and the ignorance of breeders and breed committees about health issues led her to transfer her skills set to the world of pedigree dogs. Coming close on the heels of the “ Pedigree Dogs Exposed” TV programme, it has rightly been seized on by the more pro active breed councils and committees and KC “ management” as one of the tools to help us out of the worst dangers of “closed registry” ( pedigree) dog breeding. Some breeds are in a worse state than others and the BfdB in a far better place than most – but thats no reason for complacency.

You will need to Google the Karlton Index to obtain the detail, the website is an excellent place for a visit with easy- to – follow slide shows and other content to help you move on once you understand the concept. First grasp the idea  “ Measuring progress in dog health”. Its an easy framework for a breed to get to grips with. Break it down into stages, and its simplicity itself.

  1. measure progress
  2. look around -what breeds are doing the most to ensure the future of their breeds?
  3. which breeds are making meaningful improvements in health issues?
  4. which breeds are avoiding serious health issues ?

A breed does this through a four point plan across the following themes:

  1. Leadership and strategy
  2. Communicate and engage ( with owners and breeders within the BfdB community)
  3. Participation ( of owners, breeders and other interested bodies)
  4. Evaluate impact.( through surveys, or through asking those who have the information).

These cycles can be gone through over and over again, and measured each time. Did I mention the cycle of continuous improvement? In most workplaces there will be something like this.

There’s a sixty point scoring system which Phillipa ( presumably, with help!) completes bi- annually based on information from every breed listed by the Kennel Club. The BfdB breed scored nothing out of 60 the first time the K.I. measured it in 2011. It scored 6 points out of 60 in 2013. We scored nil points for leadership on both occasions. Leadership in this context means the breed club as a body.

2015 is upon us and all breed clubs have been sent the first part of the process for the next measurement, a questionnaire. The next full scoring will be in Summer 2015. If we are to show an interest in the breed’s healthiness and progress towards ever more “fit for purpose” hounds we need a strategy, as the BfdB Club doesnt have one. Its enthusiastic breed health co ordinator Steve Cole has run a questionnaire about breed health, which scored us a number of our 6 from 60 points in 2013. Its main theme was the lifespan of our hounds and common problems. Very positively the results showed that the breed lives on average for longer than had previously been thought. Following on from  the questionnaire there was communication ( by Steve in a talk at the last AGM, and articles in the “ Fauve News” breed members magazine ) .Owners raised skin problems as an issue, and an article about general coat care was issued.

There is a perception that we have healthy happy little hounds and nothing much to worry about, and this is true. However…….. I have bred 53 puppies in the last ten years and although this is the statistical norm for me too, there are “ outliers” who have developed problems. In my early days I reared a litter for another breeder which contained three puppies, two monorchids and an overshot. The two dog puppies grew up to have skin allergies. This was an inbred litter – half brother to half sister- were their problems a co incidence? One puppy I have bred has developed meningitis, and her specialist said “ he was hearing of more of this in basset fauves”. I have heard of none other than my own bred hound, so reported this to the breed’s health officer, who has had no reports of cases either. She might be a one off, or might be an example of what different breeders could be having reported back to them – but if every breeder only has one,  and doesnt talk about it, they wont think there is a problem. Hence the importance of communication, so the breed’s “centre” discovers what is happening across all its breeders and owners. When it knows ( and measures) different health related problems it will be in a far better place to advise its community, and can be pro active in speaking to those experts who might be able to research and help.

A quick digression into another breed, which I know well. There was a single stud dog who was an acknowledged carrier of PRA in the UK back in the 1990s, and that line was treated exactly as the geneticists recommended at that pre- DNA testing time. As a result, PRA did not gain a hold, there hasn’t been a blind hound bred for many years. Communication, participation, keep under review. Remember the themes of the Karlton Index? It works.

At every committee meeting Steve gives a health report, which includes the numbers of conditions reported to him that quarter. He’s only reporting on me, as either every breeder has 100% healthy fauves with happy owners, or people aren’t wanting to share, since no one tells him anything !. As another initiative ( mine again) has now turned up 7 fauves affected by epilepsy in the UK I rather doubt its the former. I’ve yet to breed one with this condition but the more I learn about it the more I feel luck has been on my side, so far.

Tragically most of the people who contact me about different health issues because of this blog say “ my breeder didnt want to know”. The least our pet owners need to know is who to contact, and that person is the Breed’s Health co ordinator Steve Cole ( see BfdB website for his contact details). He wont be interested in the pedigrees or names of breeders, as there is nil fault in any breeder producing any condition if they were unaware it existed. What he will be interested in, on the breeds behalf, is patterns and trends – especially emerging ones. He may well still be reporting on tiny handfuls of problems, and thats great, but they should not be ignored as each individual report could add up to an issue we need to think about.

The lay person can go into meltdown when they see the word “ strategy”. Can sound a bit complicated. Below is the strategy of the K.I’s  award winners for “ most improved” in 2013, the Bloodhound. The excellent David Gore and his committee have gone into some detail, they have a breed with lots of problems to address, but it boils down to the following:


It is the aim of the Association of Bloodhound Breeders to encourage breeders to improve breed health with the following goals, whilst fully considering all aspects of the Kennel Club Breed Standard and the working functionality of the breed:

ï To maintain genetic variation by increasing the number of sires and dams used

ï To continue to make use of imported bloodlines, ensuring best use is made of imported hounds providing they meet all other requirements

ï To increase the level of hip scoring from 4% of the population to 15% of the population in the next 5 years

ï To continue to reduce the average hip score for the breed over the next 5 years by not breeding from high scoring hounds

ï To increase the level of elbow scoring from an estimated 12% of the population of UK based Bloodhounds to 20% of the population in the next 5 years

ï To reduce the average elbow score over the next 5 years by not breeding from high scoring hounds

ï To reduce incidences of skin disorders by not breeding from any hound receiving treatment for any chronic skin disease

ï To reduce the incidence of eye disorders by continuing to encourage breeders to screen for serious eye defects and by not breeding from affected   hounds

•To reduce nervousness and aggression in the breed by not breeding from nervous or aggressive parents”

The Bloodhound Club’s strategy is a good one as its clear, time related, measurable and communicated to its participant breeders. Any BfdB strategy could well be a very short one as we have so little to worry about – no fears about aggressiveness, hip or elbow problems, for sure. However, perhaps the strategy could include asking breeders to think about the Co Efficient of Inbreeding before they mate their hounds “ the old fashioned way” to purely breed for good looks or winners. The Kennel Club has made this easy for us ( see “ Mate Select”) and because many breeders have imported fresh bloodlines in the last five years or so, it should be easy to find less related hounds to breed together.

We know the BfdB breed is long lived. Our hounds regularly live to over twelve and we can prove it. The vast majority are generally incredibly fit and healthy.Fauve mothers whelp easily without inertia.  Veterans stay fit and healthy into advanced old age. Perhaps all we need to do is measure and celebrate this better – and share what we do with those people who can help us maintain this happy situation.

Our Kennel Club organised a huge on line health survey last year, so large I understand the results aren’t due to be disseminated until 2016. The breed’s health officer will at last receive information statistically which will show where owners think we stand, not just the breeders, although breeders participated too. This should be a good place to begin our own breed cycle of improvement.

Maybe in future another aim of the Karlton Index “ shared learning and improvement” will mean much more health information on the Club’s website. It would be the right place for BfdB owners to look for information – rather than a blog from an individual…..

Basset Fauve de Bretagne POAG research

Update : earlier in the year, I rustled up a number of individual owners of BfdB aged over eight – and with no eye problems – to provide DNA and to go to the Animal Health Trust to have an examination. The AHT also went into the ” bank” of saliva samples provided by BfdB for other reasons.

James Oliver was able to tell me when I was there with my ” over eights” that they did not show the mutation for POAG, as expected as their eyes were clear too. His paper has now been written, the ( USA) mutation has been identified, and should any BfdB develop this eye disease in future the AHT can advise further. RESULT !


POAG is the acronym for ” Primary Open Angle Glaucoma”, which like epilepsy ( q.v) is much more common in the PBGV breed than our Basset Fauve de Bretagne. However, in 2014 POAG was diagnosed in two fauves, littermates, bred in the USA from parents who were imported from French and German kennels.

If you google any of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Clubs you will soon discover that, after twenty years of trying, they have a new DNA test for this condition. Via The Animal Health Trust, and using the good offices of Dr Peter Bedford and keen breeders and owners, the breed can go beyond testing hounds to see if they have developed the condition, which was all they could do until now. Hordes of breeders and owners have attended annual  specialist eye testing, and removed affecteds and potentially their parents from breeding as these are identified. They can now spend a paltry £48 on a hound with no symptoms of this disease at an early stage and discover before breeding whether it will become affected later in life or is a carrier for the condition. This is a huge step forward for the Petit breed, as once carriers are identified – so they can never be bred to another carrier or affected -no more cases of POAG will be produced.

So, what is POAG? Its a rather nasty glaucoma, as affected dogs can go blind if their owner is not completely on the ball, measuring eye pressures at regular intervals, often needing to deliver eyedrops on a daily basis if there is a concern. The worst case scenario is that the affected hound will lose one or both eyes. For breeders, it is a ” late onset” condition, meaning a Petit will have often reached the end of its breeding life before succumbing to glaucoma aged six to nine. If you think about it, this makes it a disease which has been almost impossible to remove from the gene pool as many healthy- appearing animals will have been  bred from long before symptoms arise. We are told that other countries say it is impossible to find a UK bred Petit without risk lines in its pedigree – whether this is true or not, it shows how difficult the condition was to work around before the DNA test.

The USA Fauve Club was pro active in doing something about these first cases, which presented themselves at age six in the two affected littermates.  First it was correctly diagnosed, then DNA samples were taken and posted to the Animal Health Trust here in the UK, where they were very interested to receive it. Within weeks their researchers had made a good start on identifying where in the canine genome the gene for any POAG in  the BfdB might be found.

The President of the USA BfdB Club approached me and asked if I would present the following letter from the AHT’s Dr Mellersh and ask if the Committee would assist with their research, which as a committee member I did on 8th February. You will need to ask the Secretary what the outcome of the vote was. As with any committee decision I cannot discuss decisions out of meeting and must also comply with a committee undertaking not to contact Dr Mellersh or the AHT myself. The Committee is aware that I will talk about this condition on my own private website, hence this blog.I do understand that it would be completely unreasonable to “scare” owners, particularly pet owners, into thinking their hound might suddenly go blind, as this could not be the case. However, appealing to our intelligent community to help colleagues in another country where they do have the condition is what the AHT is doing – NOT saying we have a problem in the UK with our own breed.

The text of Dr Mellersh’s letter,  prefixed by a statement from the USA Club president and which is addressed to all BfdB groups and Clubs cascaded via the USA BfdB Club, is as follows:

LATEST Findings on POAG Research – Requesting DNA Samples

I have received an update from Dr. Cathryn Mellersh of the AHT on the glaucoma disease process (POAG) recently found in the Basset Fauve de Bretagne here in the USA. I have pasted below her update, and the latest findings, with a request for worldwide help in this research by submission of DNA samples. Ideally the the DNA should come from as wide a range of dogs as possible… so, for example, dogs from the same litter are not as useful to them as dogs with different parents. If you have a Fauve, aged 8 yrs or older, who is NOT affected with POAG, please consider submitting a DNA sample to the Animal Health Trust for the continuation of research.
In addition of course, any Fauve, of any age, who IS affected by POAG would have DNA that is helpful to their research.

The Basset Fauve de Bretagne Club of America has pledged to do all we can to help and support this cause, and it is our hope that other international clubs/communities will join us in this effort.  
Thank you, Carolyn DeFiore, President, BFdBCA

From Dr. Cathryn Mellersh, Animal Health Trust:

Geneticists at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) have found a mutation in the DNA of Basset Fauve de Bretagnes affected with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) that might be the cause of POAG in the breed. It must be stressed at this stage that this result is unconfirmed and requires further validation.

To be able to confirm this finding we need to screen the DNA of additional Basset Fauve de Bretagnes that are unaffected by POAG, to confirm that none of these dogs carry two copies of the mutation. DNA from additional affected dogs would also be extremely useful but obviously harder to provide.

We need DNA from dogs over the age of 8 years that have not developed POAG.

As a way of thanking owners who help us follow up our findings we will provide a DNA test certificate, free of charge, for up to 100 dogs that contribute to this stage of the research. The certificates will be provided once the mutation has been confirmed to be the cause of POAG in this breed and a DNA test has been launched. Dogs that are able to contribute to our research must be:

· 8 years old or over
· Free from any signs of POAG.

If this mutation proves not to be the cause of POAG the AHT will retain the DNA samples and use them to validate additional mutations we find, with the offer of a free DNA testing certificate remaining valid until we manage to identify the true causal mutation and develop a DNA test.

The work is being carried out by James Oliver, who is a veterinary ophthalmologist and undertaking a PhD investigating the genetics of glaucoma in dogs.

To request a free DNA collection kit please email Bryan McLaughlin ( Bryan will send kits to the first 100 owners to contact him. Please only request up to 3 kits per person.

Many thanks for your help with this important research.

Cathryn Mellersh
Head of Canine Genetics
Animal Health Trust

Its really unusual to be in a situation as a breed where we have no known cases in GB, but can volunteer to help with research which potentially could give us a DNA test should we ever need it – but much rather this fortunate position than the alternative, as I am sure Petit owners would attest.

The Basset Fauve and epilepsy research – UK

Over time I have heard rumours of epileptic basset fauve de bretagne hounds, and when the opportunity came up to attend a lecture on the condition a couple of years ago of course I attended. Dr C. Mellersh is a leading geneticist at the Animal Health Trust and was speaking to an audience of Griffon Vendeen breeders, as epilepsy is becoming a problem in that breed. If you think about your French geography you will realise the two departments where our related breeds originated are very close to each other, and its certain that French hunters will have used ancestors of both breeds in the past. Could epilepsy have a common starting point, in Petits as well as Basset Fauves?

Dr Mellersh explained that the AHT collects saliva samples using a kit. The owner swabs the inside of the cheeks of each candidate hound with brushes they provide, which are then saved into sterile tubes.  They needed at least 12 samples from Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen to start research into finding which genes might be the source of the problem, and they had received enough to start their work. Additionally they needed a number of samples from elderly Petits who had never had a fit and could be considered clear of epilepsy, as their “control” group.

A couple of years passed, and this Winter  I decided to take up the genetic research angle with Brian, the research assistant  at the AHT. I wrote to him and asked if the AHT would be interested in any samples from BfdB, and if so which sorts of hounds. He asked for swabs from any hounds I could discover which had suffered from epilepsy, plus samples from hounds over the age of twelve who had never shown signs of the disease. He sent me a number of kit sets to issue to interested people.

After a calling notice on the Facebook page of the BfdB I received four requests for kits from owners of affected hounds, and a number of additional requests from owners of the suitably aged  ( 12 + and unaffected ) veterans. The AHT has asked for a full vetinerary report ( case history) on each affected hound, as epilepsy can be “idiopathic” ( no cause understood), and they will need as much information as possible before beginning their analysis in order to remove dogs with no genetic reason for epilepsy from their research group.

I’d like to stress that I have no interest in what is sent to the Animal Health Trust, and because owners and breeders are often afraid of the “stigma” of producing any dog suffering from an inherited disease this is as it should be. All I will do is issue the kits to anyone who asks for one. An addressed envelope to the AHT is inside the kit.

Brian has told me that if they have sufficient samples they will check the BfdB results against the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen results when they are sure they have found the gene markers for the PBGVs. If we are fortunate it will indeed be the same mutation and our breed can benefit from research already done for the other breed. If it is a different mutation then it will be a much slower task to find the right genes in our breed, as we don’t really have enough samples here for the AHT to work on – they have other breeds in a much worse state and will concentrate on looking for their DNA markers.

The aim with any inherited problem is to discover a gene marker, and thereafter a DNA test to identify carriers and affected hounds across a range of specific diseases. With a DNA test carriers can either be removed from breeding, as a carrier will be unaffected, or perhaps the best specimens can be used – but only with tested clear mates, so there is no chance of producing affected progeny. From the tested offspring the best unaffected hounds who don’t carry this genetic problem could be selected to go into the next generation of breeding stock. Affected hounds can be identified before they are bred from and removed from the breeding population. Its a superb way of removing risk from any canine population. At the moment we could unwittingly breed “healthy” carriers together and produce affected progeny.

I should stress that the risk of epilepsy in the BfdB is very low indeed – to have only found four affected hounds in a population which grows, in the UK, by around 100 registrations per year and has individuals which can be expected to live for upwards of thirteen years is a very small problem, but breeders need to do all they can to keep it this way or remove it completely.

While writing about the AHT I was contacted by Anu Ahlroos – Lehmus, who works with the department at Helsinki University in Finland which identified a DNA test for epilepsy in the Lagotto Romagnola breed. They too would be interested in saliva samples from hounds affected with epilepsy as they are researching the basset breeds and have thousands of samples on file already. If anyone needs her details please let me know.

If breeders are concerned about the risk of producing epilepsy in this breed there is something which can be done right now. The Dutch club did its own research into pedigrees in the late 90s. I have had translations done from the Dutch of the original research papers, let me know if you would like a copy.  There is also a lady within the Dutch club who maintains a database showing which lines might be unsuitable to breed together as there are carriers or affected hounds in the background. As with my own experiences with PRA in another breed in the early 90s, in the days before DNA tests, the only way to keep clear of an inheritable disease would be to reduce the risk of accidentally breeding carriers together – so it would be worth an e mail to our Dutch colleagues to ensure you are not accidentally breeding in a manner which might produce affected basset fauves. You will find them very helpful.

Finally, a word about procedure. No blaming, and no whispering about show ring rivals !  This attitude is both old fashioned and counter productive. If any breed has problems then these are the responsibility of us all.  If you do  lack understanding about basic genetic principles – get to some of the excellent lectures run by the KC or the AHT and start to learn. No one ever sets out to breed a dog with a problem – its how we deal with it thereafter, with compassion and helpfulness, which brings a breed back to rights quickly. As I already know – as the group I worked with managed to eradicate a problem in another breed by working together and being open and careful with carrier lines. We trusted each other and got results. Its the only way…….


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.