Sunday, 13 March 2011

Basset hounds... an eye on the future

It was interesting to hear Jessica Holm on the Crufts TV coverage maintain that the ears on a Basset and Bloodhound are so long in order to channel scent into their nose.  This is, I believe, a breed myth that would not stand up to scrutiny. I have spoken to scent experts who say it makes no sense and, of course, there are a great many excellent scent-hound breeds that do not have them.  Certainly Bassets do not need ear leathers so long that they trip on them (as I have seen in the show-ring).

So what of the Bassets at this year's Crufts? The picture above - of a dog that won his class at Crufts on Friday - shows that there is a lot of improvement still needed in terms of eye anatomy (and the same goes for the Bloodhounds' eyes (every Bloodhound I saw had red haws showing).  But overall, I believe the Bassets are beginning to ease away from the excesses we documented in Pedigree Dogs Exposed.


I was particularly pleased to see this 22 month old Basset bitch (above). She had such good eyes that I stopped to talk to her owner who told me that she had been bred specifically to meet the new breed standard (which discourages excess). Good news.

There is, however, a way to go yet. Here's the dog that won Best of Breed:

CH RIBBLERIVER SHOW ME OFF AT SEDONIA © The Kennel Club
He looks fit and in glossy good-health but he is much lower-slung than Basssets that actually do the job for which they were bred, and there really is no benefit to the dog to have this wrinkling/excess flesh on their legs.  Here, by the way, are two top showdogs considered to epitomise good breed type in 1964 - before the modern show-ring moulded them into something chunkier and wrinklier.

Picture: Mary Evans Picture Library/Thomas Fall
From The Basset Hound, by E. Fitch Daglish, a Foyles handbook, first published in 1964

And, of course, you can still see dogs like them  - just not in the show-ring. Here are the wonderful Albany Bassets - sadly considered mongrels by most show-breeders (who talk darkly of a cross to  harrier...)


Edited 15/3/11 to replace the picture of the 1960s-vintage Basset. The pic I first used (now below) was not a Basset - but a Basset Artesien-Norman - in fact a dog behind many of today's Bassets, brought in post-war to increase the Basset gene pool.

Picture: Mary Evans Picture Library/Thomas Fall
From The Basset Hound, by E. Fitch Daglish, a Foyles handbook, first published in 1964
Interesting to note, btw, from a Google image search, how very little this breed has changed over the years in comparison to the Basset.

64 comments:

  1. Hi Jemina!
    I visited Crufts yesterday, and this is a picture I took of a bloodhound.
    Look at those eyes!
    http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll186/MrsMurtagh/P1010914x.jpg

    And I can't help but wonder if these dogs can see much with all that loose skin.
    http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll186/MrsMurtagh/P1010897x.jpg

    And last: A interesting cross between a pug and a beagle. A wish the pug would look more like this. It actually has a nose!
    http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll186/MrsMurtagh/P1020030x.jpg

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  2. Well the 1964 dog may be less wrinkly but that back length would give me cause for concern and also no doubt trouble the vet commenting on More4 Crufts tonight.

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  3. That poor guy looks completely deformed! :-( I find it horrifying where we're taking things.

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  4. louise.......that bloodhound you have photographed won the championship working trials last week......its called being " for for function" and they most certainly are just that.......fit hunting hounds. There is a reason for wrinkle and maybe sine research rather than ignorant comments would be more productive.

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  5. That 22 month-old and the Albany Bassets look so much better in my opinion. I can't see how wrinkled skin helps channel scent at all.
    I would love to see some scientific, peer-evaluated research done into it as well, which is what I assume 'bloodhound' meant.

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  6. It might help give a true picture of the Basset Hound if you MADE SURE OF YOUR FACTS BEFORE GOING INTO PRINT! The picture you have from Foyles book The Basset Hound is NOT a Basset Hound! It is a pure bred BASSET ARTESIAN-NORMAN - imported from France after the war by Peggy Keevil to increase the Basset Hound gene pool which had been decimated in the war years. The full information will be found on page 70 of the book - if you are interested in publishing facts that are correct!

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    1. What ever it is its cruel to over breed these horrific features into dogs.You are not dog lovers its all to do with fame showing off and money.

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  7. Thank you for the correction, Anon - have now changed the pix for two dogs that are definitely Bassets. They are clearly more substantial, but still very much lighter than the current show dog.

    For those interested, here's what the Basset book says of the lighter, leaner Artesian-Norman dog I pictured in error: "Grims Ulema de Barly. This hound was bred in France by Mon M Mallart and imported by Miss M Keevil. He was born on the second of June 1946, of pure Artesian blood, and was undoubtedly the most potent influence for good introduced into the breed in England during the post war years. His name will be found in the pedigree of practically every hound that has achieved fame in this country of recent years, with the exception, of course, of the few individuals that have been imported. He did much to improve feet, fronts, top lines and general soundness throughout the breed, and played a very important part in the building of the typical, balanced hounds which grace our show rings and our homes today."

    Clearly, an outcross was of great benefit to the breed - which makes the whinging today from some show breeders about the supposed mongrel-status of the Albany Bassets rather ironic.

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  8. Is the second of the Basset pictures you used Fredwell Varon Vandal by any chance?

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  9. Completely random but just a comparison. You may have heard of the £1 million dog. I hope we don't see the popular sire effect with him. He is a very handsome dog with a gorgeous colour but check out his eyes, there is an awful lot of discharge.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367247/Red-Tibetan-Mastiff-million-pound-dog-handed-new-owner.html

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  10. Jemima why do you go for sensationalism instead of fact? In comparison to many breeds the basset is an extremely healthy dog with little in the way of hereditary problems, it is a dog fit for purpose and the biggest majority can still do their jobs if required. Instead of setting up the responsible breeders of this and the other breeds for derision and scorn why not go undercover in the puppy farms. You will find breeders of all breeds VERY willing to help you eradicate these places. GIVE BREEDERS CREDIT FOR THE ADVANCEMENTS THEY HAVE MADE - many of today's testing and breeding techniques have come about because of care the breeders take and also their natural curiosity. Health seminars on whatever subject are very well attended by breeders who are ALWAYS willing to make sure they are looking after their dogs to the highest standard. Speak to a puppy farmer and you will get a different view.
    By the way the 22 month old basset was actually bred by a breeder of more than thirty years experience and simply to the breed standard as she has always done. It was not bred specifically to the 'new' standard. The standard was simply clarified but little was changed. If you knew why each breed had breed points - e.g. haw in a basset eyes , wrinkle , or a specific type of movement etc in other breeds it might gain you friends.
    I realise that inaccuracies and sensationalism sell papers etc but please remember there is such a thing as integrity. Responsible breeders have this, you should strive for this as well and become known for the truth and not for using breeders to heighten your own profile.
    Get them onside Jemima and you could become a major journalist in this field ans someone who the breeders will work with. This would advance your career and do some real work in the canine world. I am sad for you because I think there is an honest person in there somewhere. I hope to hear good things from you soon. Btw the first female I owned in my own breed was called Jemima which is a favourite name of mine and she was a beautiful specimen who started me on a lifetime love affair with my breed. I look forward to your comments.

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  11. anon 14.31
    you said..."If you knew why each breed had breed points - e.g. haw in a basset eyes , wrinkle , or a specific type of movement etc in other breeds it might gain you friends."

    The new breed standards for bassets doesn't mention haws being seen, or am I wrong? Can you tell me the point of the breed point "haw in bassets eyes"?

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  12. I am wondering what Jemima has said on this blog that has not been honest? I can't think of one thing.

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  13. To my mind, much adverse comment has focussed on the Basset Hound unfairly, because of its (to a layman!) unusual structure and looks. However, bassetism is a natural mutation affecting many other short-legged breeds, such as the Dachshund, and the Corgi, for example... Strangely enough, nobody has said anything about these breeds being too close to ground to perform their function properly...
    Instead, critics of the Basset Hound have focussed on the presence of loose skin, and of haw, as well as length of leathers, an excess of which may well be undesirable, but which is at least not life-threatening ! The presence of haw in this breed, as well as in the Bloodhound, is not actually unhealthy "per se", provided that the eyelids are not so loose as to impair the vision, catch on things, or cause conditions known as entropion or ectropion. I note that the revised Basset Hound standard still requires a lozenge-shaped eye: this feature cannot be achieved without some loose skin, or indeed, without some haw showing!
    Funnily enough, nobody involved in the current debate about pedigree dogs seems to grant much importance to longevity, which should surely be a good indicator of a breed's average state of health. If health considerations are indeed the principal motivation behing the ongoing crusade against pedigree dogs, why on earth do we hear nothing about the breeds with abnormally short life-expectancies? Is size, for instance, not an exageration, when the average longevity of a Great Dane is only about 8.4 years according to Michell's 1999 statistics? For those interested finding out more about longevity, see under http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging_in_dogs#Sorted_by_breed.
    How about Bernese Mountain Dogs (7 years), Bullmastiffs (8.6 years), and Bulldogs (6.7 years)? Let us return to my favourite breed: despite being a large, heavy dog on short legs, the Basset Hound is a rustic breed, with an average life expectancy of about 12.8 years, according to the same statistics. This value is in fact better than the life expectancy of many popular breeds such as Labrador Retrievers (12.6 years), and Cocker Spaniels (12.5 years), for instance.
    The silence surrounding this important issue is simply deafening! Could this merely be a case of the anti-pedigree dog lobby applying double standards? If so, as the saying goes, we should be told!

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  14. Jackie Bears and Anonymous are spot on with their points. I applaud their efforts in support of our breed.

    The title of this piece stating that there are inherited disorders and conformation issues in purebred dogs is pure rubbish. Rather than attacking our breed I'd suggest you venture out of your journalistic palace and see basset hounds of today perform in the field. I have witnessed dogs that look much like the Best of Breed at Crufts perform in the field and confidently say that he, if trained properly, would do also do well in the field. The wrinkly skin is an important protection to the front end of a basset as it pushes through the bush in pursuit of the game. Loose skin prevents the skin from being punctured by the bushes. The comment about the basset "He is a very handsome dog with a gorgeous colour but check out his eyes, there is an awful lot of discharge." is totally off the mark. Where we get into eye problems is dogs that have no discharge. This condition is commonly called "dry eye" and is treated by administering artificial tear drops on a regular basis to keep the eyes healthy.

    Basset hound breeders are a very friendly lot. Perhaps, rather than attacking us doing what Anonymous suggested would be far mere productive. As pointed out by Jackie, we have managed to breed a lather large breed with substantial longevity when it's compared to other breeds. We are very proud of the fact that our dogs, when compared to those that are not "well bred" live longer healthy lives. We have to breed healthier dogs or we would be deep in debt from medical bills.

    I respectfully suggest, due to the abundance of mistakes in such a short selection of rhetoric as this, that you need to do more research on the subject of breeding basset hounds before you continue on with your analysis of our breed.

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  15. Obviously Jemina want´s everything to look as it did in the 40´es apart from the fact that she uses modern medias to disturb honest breeders in their task.
    We have been breeding and working bassets for allmost 40 years and they are still "fit for their purpose. It takes er certain amount of loose skin the hunt in brambles etc. and you simply can´t (or´won´t) understand the facts of our wonderfull breed.
    Something tells me that you must have a dull life, as your only purpose to me seems to haress other people. As a previos contribution says: Look at the life-time of a basset - compared to some of the breeds you are or have been involved with
    Per C. Knudsen - Denmark

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  16. How on earth does loose skin protect a dog pushing through the brush??? Loose skin is still skin, still able to be cut and scratched, and loose skin is more likely to be causght on something.

    And why does the shape of the eye need to be "lozenge" shaped...so long as the dog can see, what does it matter? Wouldn't a better fitting eyelid (whose function is to protect the eye from debris and damage) be more important than teh actual shape of the eye?

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  17. I'll ask again;
    what purpose does an exposed haw play?
    How does loose skin protect the dog?

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  18. Oh so now you are an expert on Bassets as well ?

    You are incredible Jemima Harrison, a real know it all , so you are a breed expert on Neapolitan Mastiffs one week and Bassets the nest.

    Can you tell me how many Bassets and Neapolitans have you owned? where does you so called expertise come from.

    We are getting the ball rolling on a documentary called "Jemima Harrison Exposed" it will focus on your unproven slander and rubbish and "media hype" on peoples pets.

    Be warned !

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  19. Are you an idiot Kate Price? are you for real asking questions like "How does loose skin protect a dog"? please do not comment on things if YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
    Loose skin has several purposes, one is to protect a dog from things grass seeds etc which can be fatal the other reason was to protect vital organs from attack for other animals.

    My pet hate is people commenting on things they know nothing about, educate your self Kate Price !!!!

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  20. OK, let's all keep cool: surely we can discuss matters scientifically, without letting our emotions run the show!
    As a functional hunting dog, the Basset Hound should have elastic, supple, and slightly loose skin, because it is in fact more difficult to pierce, and less likely to tear, when moving through the (thorny) undergrowth, than a taughly stretched skin! For all those doubting Thomases amongst you, you can test this quite simply on yourselves with a round-ended darning needle... The 64 dollar question is in fact: how much skin is too much skin? I personally believe that the answer can be found in the dog's original purpose, i.e. hunting with endurance through sometimes difficult terrain. If a hound has too much loose skin, this will result in him wearing a "skirt" or frill of loose skin on his undercarriage, which one often sees in modern hounds. The admissible quantity of skin should therefore be determined according to the hound's clearance from the ground, i.e. his length of leg. In this context, although the UK standard doesn't quantify matters, it is generally accepted in basset litterature that the distance betwen the lowest point of the hound's ribcage and the ground should be about one-third of its overall hight measured at the withers, which allows for a moderate skirt to be present. If you look at old pictures of the breed, you will note that the old-fashioned hounds seem a lot "leggier" than today because of both these factors: less skirt and more ground clearance! Using common sense, one should therefore try to balance matters between the two so that the hound remains functional!
    Let's now examine the shape of the basset's eye, which according to the breed's standard , should be lozenge-shaped. This, again, is directly related to the quantity of loose skin: the more the hound has, and the looser it is on his head, the more open the eye will be, and the more haw will be shown! So, if we accept that the hound has to have a moderate quantity of loose skin in order to fulfill his original hunting purpose properly, we must also accept that his eyelids will not adhere as tightly to the eyeball as in a tighter-skinned breed with oval, or round eyes. As mentioned before, it is all a question of degree: a slightly loose eyelid showing a little haw, is not unhealthy in itself, unless it is so loose as to cause problems! The basset's typical eyeshape also happens to give him his beautiful sad and serious expression, which has made the breed so popular!
    This being said, all dog breeds evolve over time to some degree, and it doesn't all get worse, either! One of things that strikes me for instance is that the modern basset hounds often have much better rear angulation that in the olden days; knuckling over, a very bad fault, is also rarely seen today. On the other hand, I feel that weigh has become an issue to examine more closely: in the seventies, the average weight of a champion male basset was around 25 to 26 kgs! Today, much like humans, their weight has crept up, and it is not infrequent to encounter dogs weighing more than 40kgs. This , in my opinion, is something which is not conducive to them fulfilling their original purpose, yet which has not been mentioned much!

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  21. "Loose skin has several purposes, one is to protect a dog from things grass seeds etc which can be fatal the other reason was to protect vital organs from attack for other animals."

    LOL. Sorry but that is utter rubbish.
    Grass seeds mainly cause problems in dogs feet ad have no preference to the type of foot.
    Loose skin would be an advantage to a predator as it gives more skin to grab.

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  22. Lauren Armstrong31 March 2011 12:28

    What medical Knowledge is Jemima Harrison speaking with, does she know for a fact that the Basset Hounds from 30 years ago were healthier than the Bassets of today??? does she have access to their veterinary records? She also mentions the Albany pack again has she read their medical history or is she just assuming they are healthier specimens!
    Veterinary medicine has improved greatly over the years and the truth is we have no idea how healthy dogs of 20-30 years ago were because the technology and knowledge was just not available. So for Jemima to claim this is the type of Basset, Breeders should be striving to achieve is based on what facts exactly? We simply know alot more medically today and i wish that Jemima would stick to facts and not her opinion which is based on what?? Is she a Vet? has she spent years breeding and living with healthy long living Basset Hounds? I work in the Veterinary profession and i have seen many a cross breed with health issues Jemima claims are only Basset Problems.

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  23. Well said, Lauren! The time has definitely come to confirm the validity of certain sweeping statements about alleged health problems with some hard scientific facts and figures. By the way, have you (or anybody else on this blog, for that matter) encountered any properly documented cases of injuries arising from a basset walking on its own ears??? If so, I'd be absolutely fascinated to learn more about that! As a vet, maybe you could also confirm to me that, although breeds with drop-ears are on average a little more susceptible to develop ear problems than prick-eared dogs, it is because the ear canal is covered up by the ear flap rather than because of the actual length of the ear? Many thanks for setting the record straight!

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  24. Basset hounds are prone to ear problems because their heavy ear leathers prevent good air circulation. They're not alone in this - other breeds suffer too and ear infections are common enough in dogs, anyway. But if the ears were less heavy/long it would allow for a little more air circulation, helping to prevent infections.

    Jemima

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  25. Hi Jemima, We have talked at length on this subject and it was very clear to me last year that you had the Basset Artesien Normand in your minds eye as the perfect Basset Hound and you mistaking a picture has proved it. I love the Artesien, but they are not Basset Hounds! And neither are your beloved Albany. There are some good looking dogs in the Albany Pack, but they are not Bassets. We dont "talk darkly" about their cross to Harrier, they are simply a cross breed and should be called "Barrier" or "Harriets". The Harrier itself is also a cross breed and has no KC Breed Standard unlike the Fox Hound that the Harrier is a cross breed of. So the Albany "Bassets" are a crossbreed of a crossbreed. How many more breeds would you like us to introduce into our breed but yet still let us call them Pedigree?? At least the Huntsmen who created the Harrier had the decency of changing its name.
    Going back to the Artesien. Unfortunately they don't exsist in the UK at present. I wish they did, people would then be able to differentiate between the two breeds. They are a wonderful breed and make wonderful pets. People like yourself would then be able to choose whether they wanted the "Short Legged, Hound of considerable substance" as the Basset Hound KC Breed Standard requires, or the lighter boned Artesien Basset who's FCI Breed Standard can be found here: http://www.fci.be/nomenclature.aspx, choose Group 6 and its about half way down the page!
    As I said to you last year, I had a lot of respect for you challenging breeds that had real health issues. Cavaliers with brains to big for their skulls, boxers with epilepsy. We have very few health problems in our breed and we are addressing all of them and always have. You seem to want our breed to conform to your personal tastes. I find Dandie Dinmont a very strange breed to look at, but I wouldnt expect the breeders to alter their apperance to suit me. Neither would I expect you to cross your own Flat Coat with a close relative such as a Golden Retriever just because "I" didnt like some of the points of your dog.
    Keep your focus on fighting breeds with REAL health issues!! Fight Puppy Farming and indiscriminate breeding of dogs for money!! Ask yourself how many times Joe Bloggs and Mary Smith who lives in the next street, get together to breed litters of puppies because they happen to have KC registered varieties of the same breed! When asked the reply I get is "10 puppies at 500 quid each, easy"!! Fight these things and you would get the utmost respect from dog people and public alike.
    On your ear comment I copy and paste the KC Breed Standard:
    Set on low, just below line of eye. Long; reaching only slightly beyond end of muzzle of correct length, but not excessively so. Narrow throughout their length and curling well inwards; very supple, fine and velvety in texture.
    If the ear conforms to this then the it should not be heavy! Bassets are not the only Drop Eared breed and they are ALL prone to a lack of air circulation. Cleaning ears is just simple and good husbandry, much the same as keeping teeth clean.

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  26. Good to hear from you, Dave and thank you for contributing to the debate.

    All I have ever asked for this breed is that care is taken to guard against exaggerations. Being chondroplastic (a dwarf) is quite tough on any species and issues relating to this conformation (back and joint problems, skin issues from the folds etc) are well documented.

    There are, of course, other hunting bassets besides the Albany pack and they are also leaner and taller, have tighter eyes and have less loose skin than the show dogs - as, really, one would expect, as it is much more functional.

    Although I remain perplexed as to how the show people can maintain that their type is the true type fit for hunting, I respect the right of people to breed to their particlar aesthetic - just not if it begins to unnecessarily compromise welfare. We filmed some very overdone winning dogs, as you will remember,and I do believe that in highlighting this that there are more moderate dogs taking the top prizes today. Although this might just be wishful thinking on my part!

    Now, seeing you live so close to me, didn't I offer you a dog-walk on Salisbury Plain with your lot and my assorted bunch of mutts? :-)

    Jemima

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  27. Jackie Beare1 April 2011 14:01

    Chondrodistrophy is a congenital form of dwarfism in which the disturbed development of the cartilage of the long bones arrests the growth of long bones, resulting in shortened extremities. The rest of the dog remains similar to what you find in the longer-limbed breeds! In my opinion, this condition and having skin issues from folds are therefore completely unrelated : take a look at Dachshunds, Corgis, and PBGVs for instance! Also, do all chondrodistrophic breeds have back and joint problems, or is this also restricted to one or two of these breeds or to certain lines within a breed ? A number of allegations have been made about basset hounds, and their supposed health problems, because of their unusual shape and structure: a little more research and fact-finding reveals that most of these accusations are actually partly or completely unfounded!

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  28. Yes, didn't word that very well - the skin folds are not linked to the chondroplasia.

    Re conformation problems in the breed, please see:

    Inherited defects in pedigree dogs. Part 1: Disorders related to breed standards

    http://tiny.cc/dfhje

    The Basset Hound was found to be the breed with the 4th highest number of conformation-related disorders and only one breed - the boxer - scored worse on the researchers' severity-index scoring.

    The researchers are the first to admit that more data is needed to be definitive - they've only had published data to go on and there's a great need for more - but the breed as a whole clearly does suffer to a greater or less extent purely as a result of its conformation.

    Jemima

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  29. Hi Jemima, thanks for taking your time to reply. Being chondroplastic indeed is a dwarf. Not sure whether you have read Marianne Nixon's book The Basset Hound. On Page 6 you will see a diagram by Leon Verrier from 1939 that shows the Dwarfing of the Granchien that our breed was decended from. It was Dwarfed to fulfill a purpose. A Basset Hunt is done on foot and the short legs are designed to allow the huntsman to keep up! Unlike a Fox Hound which is designed to hunt up hill and down dale, over immence distance and followed on horse back. A Hare hunt, which is what these dogs were designed for, is carried out over a much shorter distance. In some cases in a single field, as the Hare is very territorial.
    Like human dwarfism, being chondroplastic can cause bone disorders. It does, however have no effect on the condition of the skin! We have worked very hard in the breed to breed out bone deformation. You only have to look at the old Hush Puppy advert to see how deformed frontal construction has been corrected in the recent past. In the same book referenced above, take a look at page 13 and a picture from 1926. You dont have to be a breed expert to see the deformation in the front legs. Unfortunately that brings me back to the Artesien Normand. I absolutely love the breed and you would think that the lighter bone density would equal less bone deformity. Alas this is not the case. Ulema de Barly was a particularly nice one and so too Fin Ch Billhill Elan of Marita Massingberd (same book pg 7). I would love to take you to the continent to introduce you to the breed. 70 or 80% of them still exhibit frontal bone deformity and so too the Basset Bleu de Gascogne another finer boned variant of the Basset. I judged in Scandinavia last year with a very experienced Basset Hound breeder from the UK. Of an entry of 20 odd Artesien only 4 were not frontally deformed. That said, Best of Breed was a young bitch from Sweden and she was out of this world!
    Basset Hounds today that have been bred by knowledgable people have thick, strong bones with minimal deformation. Height from the ground in no way hampers the freedom of movement IF the construction of the bones are correct, balanced and sound! If you look at the Leon Verrier diagram you will see that we are a full size dog on short legs. We need good thick, strong bones to support this weight soundly.
    I think I'm right in saying too that the Albany used to pride itself in the fact that it was the ONLY remaining pure bred Basset pack prior to out crossing to Harrier. There are other packs and I'm pretty sure I'm right in saying NONE are now Purebred. Please correct me here if you have a Purebred pack I dont know about?? I have no problems with the Albany's, they have adjusted there dogs to suit themselves. If it works for them then I'm pleased for them. I do however PERSONALLY object to them calling themselves Albany BASSETS, A Basset Hound they are no longer.
    Just Read Jackie's input prior to hitting send! I completely agree with her. We are not the only Dwarf breed and Skin condition has nothing to do with Dwarfism!!! Back problems are seldom heard in our breed these days. I hear of a lot more in Daschunds.
    Jemima, what are our specific health problems in your eyes?? Problems that you only find in our breed?? What do you want us to work on?? No TYPE answers, just actual health disorders?? I will promise you that if you come up with something that we are not already working on, I will personally take it to the committee of the Basset Hound Club! Can I say fairer than that?? Also by telling us here, you have the ears of Lauren Armstrong who is the Basset Breed Health co ordinator to the Kennel Club. If we are not already tackling a particular Health issue, we will highlight it for you!!?? BUT!!! dont come back to us with things YOU dont like aesthetically about our breed, just Bonefide HEALTH issues.

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  30. Hi Jemima,
    A whole further post of mine has gone adrift!! Basically it says, yes we are a dwarf breed but we have worked hard to breed out the bone deformity, especially in the front construction. I mentioned the old Hush Puppy advert that showed a Basset with particularly deformed front legs. This was down to chondroplasia. This is almost a thing of the past now. I referred you to a book by Marianne Nixon, The Basset Hound. Page 6 shows a Diagram by Leon Verrier in 1939. It shows the how the Grandchien (the dog we are decended from) was dwarfed to create the Basset hound. It demonstrates that we are a full size dog on shortened legs. The breed was designed that way specifically to hunt hare! The reason is that a Hare Hunt is done on foot not horseback and is carried out in a relatively small area. Hare are very territorial and do not run for miles like a fox. The short legs were so the huntsman could keep up with the pack! Because we are a full size dog on short legs, we need large, strong and sound bone to carry the weight. This is what the breed has achieved and we are still perfecting. Going back to the Artesien Normand. You would think that lighter bone would mean less deformity!!?? Actually the complete opposite is true. I will take you to the hound show of France where you will see that 70 to 80% of the Artesien breed have deformed front legs. We are much much sounder as a breed these days. Ulema de Barly was a particularly good example and there are some very good examples today. Join my campaign to bring Artesien to the UK??
    On your comment about other Basset packs. I believe that the Albany used to pride itself on being the only remaining pure bred Basset pack prior to its out cross to Harrier. There are other packs but I believe they are all cross bred now. If you have a Pure Bred Basset pack, please correct me here! I have no problems with the Albany creating dogs that they feel fulfill their requirement. I am very pleased for them. I do however PERSONALLY object to them calling themselves the Albany BASSETS. Bassets they no longer are!!
    Jemima, tell us here what health problems you think we have?? Not Type related issues, actual documented health issues. I make you a promise. If you come up with anything that we are not already looking into as a breed, I will personally deliver your findings to the Basset Hound Club committee. You have a post from Lauren here too. Lauren is the Basset Hound Breed Health Representative to the Kennel Club. I'm sure she would be more than happy to help me take any health issues you have forward. But I do have a caveat!! I will not promulgate anything that is TYPE related. I will not put forward anything just because you dont like it aesthetically. Is that fair??
    On your last paragraph. This breed does not suffer as a result of its conformation. We now have a powerful, strong and well developed breed. You must remember that this is supposed to be a Full Size dog on short legs. Its conception was not to be a shrunken dog where everything is miniturised proportionally. Everything other than the leg length should be the same size as a large breed. This is not the case for the Artesien, we must not confuse the two breeds!

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  31. Lauren Armstrong1 April 2011 19:56

    Hi Jemima
    Again i will stick to the facts, many breeds without skin folds suffer from skin conditions such as Bull Terriers, Std poodles, and West Highland Whites to name just a few. Dont be under the illusion that Basset Hounds that do suffer from Malassezia is related to the skin folds, please explain to me how the Westie with no excess skin can suffer with the same condition if, as you believe skin folds are the root of the problem.
    I not, or ever will be an advocate of over exageration in the breed but i feel in this case you are misguided to think loose skin is the cause of skin problems.

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  32. Thank you for contributing, Lauren.

    The veterinary literature contains many references to skin folds being a contributory factor to yeast and bacterial infections in dogs, with Basset hounds often mentioned specifically. In fact, the bacterial form is also known as skin-fold dermatitis.

    I believe Westie itch is atopic dermatitis, while is is allergic dermatitis in Bullies and sebacious adenitis in poodles. Similar, but not the same.

    Jemima

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  33. Quick clarification: Westies do suffer from malassezia, but generally as a secondary infection to the atopy. Yeasts are more likely where skin is damaged/moist.

    Jemima

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  34. Jemima, we are very lucky as a breed to have Lauren and she is very well informed. Your second statement above is more correct than your first!
    I wish you would spend some time with our breed and some of the people in it. There are some very informed people who have some very interesting imformation for you.

    A lot like the Westie, our breed does suffer from skin issues from time to time. What you have completely misunderstood is that you, like a lot of vets, have taken one look at our "Degree of Loose skin" and called it the CAUSE. As in the Westie, if an aflicted Basset has more loose skin it can exasperate the problem! But the problem is not CAUSED by the Loose Skin its self. I've offered to introduce you around the breed. I can show you a whole breeding kennel, with a good number of dogs, all with a MODERATE amount of loose skin. Every single animal and puppy out of this kennel has perfect skin. That kennel simply does not carry that rougue gene. Yet I can also introduce you to plainer animals that are afflicted.
    We have worked hard on this problem as a breed in the UK. Again I could introduce you to some of our breeders that have worked with Dr Ross Bond on this very subject alone for well over 20 years!!! The problem is now a minority and we are still working to erradicate it completely.
    Dont keep jumping to conclusions, please spend some time with us and get to know our breed before condemning it in its present form. We actually work very hard in the UK to perfect this breed. We actually have very few health issues in comparison to a lot of breeds and we are working and always have worked on these issues. Remember this is a living animal and Rome was not built in a day!

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  35. Jackie Beare3 April 2011 15:39

    Re: skin problems, there was an excellent article on this very subject in a recent edition of Dog World (Feb. 11, 2011 - page 50). The author, Steve Dean, points out in his column "A vet's view" that it is not the wrinkles in themselves that cause problems, but the the depth of the skin folds, which probably trap moisture & deny free access of air to the skin. In my opinion, skin folds should only be penalised in the show ring, and or bred out of a particular line of dogs, if they are exagerated enough to prevent the hound from fulfilling his purpose in the field (see my previous comment about skin "skirts" and ground clearance) and are associated with skin problems.

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  36. Hi Jackie, glad you mentioned the Steve Dean article. I think its fair to say I pretty much agree with your comments on "Skirts" although I personally hate the word being used. It implies we, as a breed are trying to specifically breed for it and that simply is not true. I copy and paste the Breed Standards only mention of skin here:

    Skin is supple and elastic without any exaggeration.

    This really is the only guidance to go by officially at present. You are completely right about the idea behind the loose skin in the breeds conseption, its designed to prevent thorns and undergrowth incapacitating the dog on the hunt. I've read some of the flippant comments, but essentially nobody is saying that it will stop the dog getting damaged. Callously, (if you call hunting with dogs at all uncallous) the huntsmen are more interested in the hound finishing its task. You only have to come to the vets with me for annual vaccine to see that a Basset Hound doesnt even know the needle has gone in!! Same too with the much larger Micro Chip needle.
    The word skirting crops up quite regularly. But it really is just a descriptive word. For instance, I'm lucky enough to own a super little bitch. She's done pretty well in the ring. Unfortunatley she suffers desperately from false pregnancy (common in ALL canine forms, including wild canine) Some 3 weeks afer her twice yearly season, her mammary line will drop and it takes me a good six weeks to get back up completely. I do all I can to rectify it but she occasionally gets shown with the appearance of a slight "skirt". She not alone in the bitch side of the breed, it cant be helped. Some will penalize her for it, but it never effects her performance and Hey! thats Dog Showing!!
    I wish people would look under the skin and try and look at the construction of a particular specimen of the breed, be that male or female. As you say Jackie, only consider the skin if its bad (clinically) or causes restriction in the dogs movement.

    P.S I did get your friend request on Facebook unfortunately my profession now prevents me from even signing on!!

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  37. Hi Jackie, I'm glad you mentioned the Steve Dene Article. I think its fair to say I pretty much agree with your comments on "Skirts" although I personally hate the word being used. It implies that we, as a breed, are trying to specifically breed for it. This is simply not true! I copy and paste the Breed Standards only mention of skin here:

    Skin is supple and elastic without any exaggeration.

    This is the only guidance to go by officially at present. You are completely right about the idea behind the loose skin in the breeds conception, its designed to prevent thorns and undergrowth incapacitating the dog on the hunt. I have read some of the flippant comments but essentially nobody is saying that it will stop the dog from getting damaged. Callously (if you can call hunting with dogs at all uncallous) the huntsmen are more interested in the dog finishing off its task. You only have to come to the vets with me for annual vaccine to see that a Basset Hound does not even know the needle has gone in!! Same too the much bigger micro chip needle.
    The word skirting crops up quite regularly. But its really just a descriptive word. For instance,I'm lucky enough to own a super little bitch. She's done pretty well in the ring. Unfortunately she suffers desperately from false pregnancy (common in ALL canine forms, including wild canine). Some three weeks after her twice yearly season her mammary line will drop and it takes me a good six weeks to get it back up completely. I do all I can to rectify it but she occasionally gets shown with the appearance of a slight "skirt". She's not alone in the bitch side of the breed, it can't be helped. Some will penalize her for it, but it never affects her performance nor hampers her in any way. But Hey!! Thats Dog Showing!!!
    I wish people would look under the skin and try and look at the construction of a particular specimen of the breed, be it male or female. As you say Jackie only consider skin if its bad (clinically) or causes restriction in the dogs movement!!

    P.S I did recieve you Friend request for Face Book. Unfortunately my profession now prevents me from even signing on! Sorry.

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  38. Lauren Armstrong3 April 2011 20:23

    During the last 20 years, the yeast Malassezia pachydermatis has been acknowledged as a relatively common cause of dermatitis in dogs. The organism occurs naturally on the skin, mucosal surfaces and in the ear canals in dogs, but it can proliferate in response to abnormalities, for example, associated with allergic diseases, keratinisation defects and hormone disturbances.

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  39. Lauren, if you're simply going to cut and paste from vet websites, it would be helpful if you could include all the relevant information (the pertinent bits you left out marked in caps below).

    http://vetgrad.com/show10MinuteTopUp.php?type=&Entity=10MinuteTopUps&Entity=10MinuteTopUps&ID=32

    "During the last 20 years, the yeast Malassezia pachydermatis has been acknowledged as a relatively common cause of dermatitis in dogs. The organism occurs naturally on the skin, mucosal surfaces and in the ear canals in dogs, but it can proliferate in response to abnormalities, for example, associated with allergic diseases, keratinisation defects and hormone disturbances.

    "Certain breeds, such as West Highland White Terriers, Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels are thought to be more susceptible and it is now recognised that certain presentations, historically considered to represent ‘idiopathic’ seborrhoeic dermatitis, actually reflect infection with M. Pachydermatitis.

    "Approximately one third of dogs with atopic dermatitis have concurrent Malassezia dermatitis, so treatment of secondary infection and underlying disease is, therefore, fundamental to the successful management of these cases.

    Clinical signs...

    The clinical signs may mimic or complicate allergic skin diseases. The most obvious signs will include pruritis, erythema, greasy exudation and traumatic alopecia. DOGS WITH SKIN FOLDS MAY BE AT PARTICULAR RISK OF SUPERFICIAL BACTERIAL OR MALASSEZIA INFECTION; concurrent overgrowth of both bacteria and yeasts is common.

    "Lesions may be localised or generalised, but the external ear canals, interdigital areas and SKIN FOLDS ARE FREQUENTLY AFFECTED, PROBABLY IN PART OWING TO A FAVOURABLE MICROCLIMATE."

    Jemima

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  40. Hi Jemima, Thanks for adding the extra bits. I think the crux of what both you and Lauren are saying are NOW the same. Simply, its saying that the loose skin is not necessarily the CAUSE but can complicate??!! All I'm saying is lets not get misdirected trying to BREED OUT loose skin, lets carry on the fight to locate and address the CAUSE. This is however, not a call to ignore the word MODERATE!!!

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  41. I in no way mean to monopolies this site, but could I just add whilst on the topic of Loose Skin.

    Having talked to you Jemima, I got the distinct impression that you believed that the people within our breed have systematically set out to breed as much skin as possible on our dogs. I can’t talk for the other breeds you have targeted but I can say this honestly:

    I spend a lot of my time around the Basset Rings at shows and an increased amount of time in the company of Breed People. In defense of the Breeders and people of our breed, I can honestly say I have NEVER ONCE heard the words “Not Enough Loose Skin” uttered. I have on many occasions however, heard the words “Too Overdone”. Our breed is very good at Self Policing in that way. I don’t know one breeder that has made it their goal to breed particularly for loose skin.

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  42. So Dave, you are happy to breed dogs that due to their type, predisposes them to potential problems?
    I would say the basset in this picture is over done. It's skirt is virtually on the ground and the skin around it's legs looks very saggy. I am not however a basset breeder or expert, just a veterinary nurse that can see potential problems occurring from overly loose skin.

    http://clavidar.com/html/dogs.html

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  43. Hi Kate, Glad you have met Elvis!! Yes he is totally overdone!! Far too much of everything. That litter was not bred to get the likes of him, he was just out-sized!! He lives here with us. His show career was very short lived when he continued to grow and grow and grow!! Yes he was one of those dogs I talk about they used to say "Too Overdone". He's the nicest fella in the world though and he is loved by all who meet him. AND the key point!!! he's only ever been to the vet for vaccinations and he's 4 years old!!

    I'm not advocating Elvis!! he lives here because he is not a good advert for the breed but he is a good advert for what to try not to breed!! You should meet him, he'll give you the biggest cuddle you have ever had from a dog.

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  44. Just another quick point Kate. That is an incomplete web site that a friend in Norway has started for me. Some of those dogs are now 13 years old!! But while we are there. Head shot of Brian on the proposed Home Page. He's now 7 and lives in Norway. He, to this day, hunts Elk twice a week in the season. So does the other dog Mister Molasses despite being quite low. Micheal as he is known at home, was gored by an mother elk 4 years ago and was back hunting the following week!! If that had been an Artesien, I dont think it would have survived the blow. Not advocating hunting with dogs but you might find it intersting???

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  45. What I do find very interesting, having grown up with bassets in my family since the day I was born, is how the two my parents originally had in 1970 from Mrs Audrey Minto, looked a lot less exaggerated. They were longer legged with less droopy skin. Both lived until they were over 15.
    Sadly my mothers last basset looked much like the show basset of today with a long broad body, very low to the ground. A lot of body being supported on short legs with more saggy skin, especially around the legs.
    She had chronic arthritis, had to have her armpits and groin bathed because these areas became very sweaty and smelly and sadly had to be put to sleep before xmas after her back went slipping in the snow. She was 13 or 14.

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  46. Hi Kate, I'm very sad for your mother. Its very hard for me to comment on a Basset of that age. The last one I lost was at 12. He was still winning the Veteran Class at Crufts at 10. I was devastated when I lost him.
    I'm really not trying to get people to change their preferences. As you have seen by Elvis, there is a huge size difference sometimes. All I am trying to point out is that poor Ian Seddon's dog (Pictured BOB Crufts), looked on woefully by Jemima is almost spot on the profile of the breeds original conception!! The 1936 diagram I mention could almost be transposed straight over his outline exactly. This diagram pre dates Ulema de Barly (Artesien)introduction to the breed 13 years later. I will try and email Jemima some pictures. I have a picture here dating back to 1882 that clearly shows 3 Bassets imported in from France. They are all Large, Low dogs with very large bone and low to the ground. Getting back to that, after the introduction of the Artesien, has taken a very long time. The likes of Ian's dog is a much better representation of what the breed is supposed to look like than any Harrier cross or even Artesien for that matter.
    Artesien are very available. I have friends in Scandinavia that have some fantastic ones. As I said before, they make fantastic pets and I still dont understand why the Albany didnt go this route. They would still be Bassets, and Artesien are great hunters. If they were available here in the UK, I think they would be very popular for people that wanted a lighter boned, smaller Basset. More importantly, people may leave the Basset Hound alone to be the larger set cousin its supposed to be.
    I dont really have a problem with Jemima. She has done some good work. Unfortunately, I feel she has caused our breed untold damage by featuring us on a program entitled Pedigree Dogs Exposed, when unlike the other breeds featured, we had nothing really to be exposed for. The breed today looks very much like it did in 1882 only much stronger and much sounder.

    I think Jemima had the Artesien in her minds eye as what a Basset Hound should look like. I think she believed that the breed was BREEDING for loose skin. I think she believed the loose skin was the CAUSE of skin problems. I think she believed we were actively trying to get the breed as low as we possibly can. None of this could be further from the truth. We are simply maintaining this breeds original concept as it was over a century ago.

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  47. I have emailed two pictures to Jemima. One dates back to 1882 and the other is a conceptional graphic, drawn by a french hound man in 1939. Both pictures show the BASSET HOUND in the ORIGINAL form. I think its very important for these pictures to be shown here. I'll go back even further to French Hounds of the middle ages if you like. But it will not help Jemima's argument at all. Dogs like the St Hubert were even bigger and heavier than, what is commonly understood to be the original 3 UK BASSET HOUNDS depicted in the 1882 picture I have sent her.

    Jemima seems very proud of the fact that the Artesien is predominatly unchanged. With words like:

    Interesting to note, btw, from a Google image search, how very little this breed has changed over the years in comparison to the Basset.

    Easy to say now that she KNOWS its a completely different breed!! Google searches are much more fruitful when you search the right breed??

    I can honestly say the same about the Basset Hound and my pictures are much older.

    The breed did go through a transitional period. Funny old thing, it was in the period when the Artesien blood was still strong. I believe Ulema De Barly came over in 49 and another Artesien bitch followed soon after. This is only 11 years prior to the 60's and 21 years prior to the 70's Jemima refers to. This is a very short time indeed when it comes to the breeding of dogs. We are now 62 years down the line!!

    Do not for one minute think that Ms Keevil brought the Artesien into our breed to fine it down. Two wars had devastated our breed!! Our gene pool was tiny and the blood had gone bad. In 1920 only 2 Basset Hound puppies were registered in the whole country!!! The Artesien was chosen because the french huntsman had managed to keep their lines going regardless of the devastation of the 2 wars.

    Why has everyone gone silent?? Sceptics ask me for more imformation?? Breed people add more if you know it (my knowledge is tiny in comparison to some)!! Jemima, dispute me if you can??

    Will we get a public apology for trying to turn our breed into a completely different breed because of a misunderstanding???

    I somehow doubt it!!!

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  48. No breed remains absolutely unchanged over a long period of time: I surmise that the French "Bassets Art├ęsiens-Normands" also have their problems... They are rarely seen at all-breed shows on the Continent, and the last few specimens I saw at a show in France had severely mismatched fronts and a structure which didn't seem in accordance with what is required of the breed, i.e. endurance in the field. If Jemima is indeed right in her assumption, maybe they should change them !!!

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  49. As the Breeder of probabley the best basset
    hound in the country I would like to say,
    I think you havnt got a clue about the origins or history of the basset hound,Have you seen the Kennel clubs new guidlines in respect of the Basset hound, YOUNG LADY..please refrain from subjects you know very little about and leave our breed alone.....BASSET HOUND.

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  50. Anon
    can you tell me what qualifies your basset as the "best" in the country?

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  51. Kate, I believe that would be the dog's owner's command of standard written English.

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  52. Its a shame that I wont rise to your challange.but you seem to know everything so you
    should know whos writing this.
    And I said POBABLEY the the best Basset hound in
    the country. As for your comments KATE and Heather The old saying that I find quite appropriate would be,,,,, Ignorance is bliss.
    ...........................BASSET HOUND

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  53. WTF Anonymous. WTF.

    -Anonymous

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  54. I've just stumbled across this blog whilst searching for something else. It's facinating reading what others have said about my pack, the Albany basset hounds, making statements when clearly they don't know the facts. Dave Darley is an example. I have never met him, I have never discussed our breeding or shown our stud book to him yet he claims our hounds have been crossed with Harriers. Sorry Dave but you 100% wrong, you really shouldn't believe everything you are told and I suggest you speak with me if you are interested in learning about the breeding of our hounds. There is no Harrier blood in our hounds, never has been and never will.

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  55. I have read a lot of this blog most I admit is over my head, I have a one year old basset hound, that is no a show dog or working dog he is family...he is fun, happy and is loved. I think that as a working breed or a show dog you are forgetting that they are also wonderful family dogs that are dedicated to there owners. I do have a question since all of you seem to think you are experts can you help me find out if my dog has an allergy or a dermatological problem. We have tried everything and have spent a lot of money on vets trying to figure out if it is allergy or yeast caused by an allergic reaction. I live in Birmingham, AL. If anyone can help I would appreciate some constructive information on this blog.
    my email address is sglh1960@gmail.com
    Thank you all,
    Gail

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  56. Gail, Bassets are known to suffer from Malassezia - have a look at this site:

    http://www.houndsbaybassets.co.uk/malassezia.shtml

    Jemima

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  57. I was disappointed to find out just how much these "mongrel" bassets were hated (not by the breeders but by the judges) when I attended a local dog show to enter my beautiful pure-bred basset who was a rescue, but had his documentation (due to the owner passing away). He was bred in Germany, where they are still very common for tracking and hunting, and so he was carefully bred from other bassets with "longer legs" to produce a longer legged dog (he looked more like an Albany basset, but was not crossed, merely the breeders tried to create a dog that was able to track all day without tiring and did not suffer crippling arthritis or joint problems). I took him to a local dog show in the UK with his documentation, but they didn't even ask to see it, they wouldn't let me register him because they said, and i quote, he was "deformed". Now i love the basset breed, i have known many people with bassets, and all of them sadly were either in pain or died before their time, but mine was certainly not "deformed" at all, in fact he is still with us, and the only problem we ever had with him is he doesn't want to stop running! i took him out with a friends basset, and they could not keep up with him, he was running all over the place, wanting to play and track with his best friend, but the other "show dog" basset could not keep up. I don't think the breeders should come into this equation, lots of them health test and do many other things for the breed, or as much as they can, it is the kennel club that has brought about these "specifications" so it is the kennel club that should change them, and make it that the dogs we see in the ring are more like the ones 100 years ago, like the working dogs we can see today. As well as more strict rules on interbreeding and health checks in parents and puppies.

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  58. I found this searching to see if my rescue basset looked much like a pedigree dog. Indeed she does, she's very very pretty.

    People question the safety of the saggy skin, why is it safer? Well I can tell you, SAGGY SKIN SAVED MY BASSETS LIFE!!!!!!

    When a pit and a jack russel have your neck in a death grip, they'd often puncture the precious neck bits that keep the animal breathing and alive and not bleeding to death. Thankfully they could only grip her saggy skin and her trachea was spared. So yes, saggy skin is safer for that sort of danger. It protects what's under it because it's so slippy.


    Thanks for this blog i understand what you are trying to do.

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  59. Jemima, who was the breeder of the 'newer-style' dog in the second picture of the original post ? We are looking for one like this ! We are waiting for a litter from Albany but their last two have had only small numbers of females which have been kept for the pack, and we only want a girl ! Would ideally love an Albany hound but a Basset like this would be of interest to us.

    Dave Darley - I will gladly join you in the campaign to bring the Artesien to the UK as they are proving a real bugger to get hold of. I can't think why they haven't been popularised here yet ? We need the Artesien !

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  60. The bassets i fell in love with are wrinkled, red eyed, laid back and i can't fault them at all.Every Basset we have ever owned has been happy and healthy. Classic dogs all the way.

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  61. My wife talked me into rescuing a Bassett, a breed I had some misgivings about. I must say that much of this was based on appearance of the dog. Our bassett, a male weighs in about 27 kilos. Although short in leg he has good ground clearance and ears to just past the muzzle.He is extrememly powerful, suprising quick and very game. As someone not really up on the breed I have been pleasantly surprised. He is a terrific people dog wonderfully tolerant of kids and probably the most affectionate dog I have owned. Several months on and I don't think you could ask for a more loving and faithful companion I am completely sold on the breed and the bark is something else

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