Saturday, 22 October 2011

"Wrinkled skin, no legs and willies that drag on the floor"

I have a weakness for dogs on which Nature has applied eye-liner. And when it has been genetically tattoed on a dog that does the work it was bred to do... gorgeous!

The dog above is a member of a hunting pack: the Albany and West Lodge Basset Hounds.  Here are some more pictures of them taken at their recent Open Day.

So now let's compare them with a young show-bred Basset that won Best Puppy at a recent championship show.

Surely some mistake?
As you can see, this show dog bears little resemblance to the working-bred dog. The Albany Bassets have longer legs, shorter ears, no loose skin and although not all of them have perfectly-tight eyes, they do not have the obvious ectropion that you can see on this winning puppy.

I should say that burdening these dogs with too much skin draped on distorted skeletons is by no means the sole preserve of the dog fancy; many pet-bred Bassets are dreadful too.

We did this. And we shouldn't have done.
So which is the real Basset. Well definitely not the Albany Hounds according to Dave Darley (Clavidar Bassets), who is Vice Chairman of the Basset Hound Club. This despite the fact that the Albany hounds still fulfil their original function when his don't.  Here's what he said in March this year in response to a post here on Bassets in March:

"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."

This has not gone down very well with Alison Jeffers, Secretary of the Albany Bassets, whose Summer Newsletter I've finally got round to reading. In it she writes:

"Can you believe everything you can find on the internet? Apparently not! Take Dave Darley as an example. He's the current Vice Chairman of the Basset Hound Club. He has never met Jeremy (Master of the Albany Bassets) or me; he has never seen our hounds and he doesn't have any factual information about our breeding lines.

Yet he's quite hapy to blog away, making crass statements about our hounds in an attempt to 'explain' why Kennel Club show hounds look so different from our hounds.

According to Dave it's all because ours aren't Basset Hounds. They are mongrels! According to Dave and others, we have crossbred with Harriers and Beagles to create Albany Hounds, which he then goes on to describe as 'extremely poor versions of an Artesian hound'.

Like many people in the show world he makes statements that are not based on any truth. He should spend a bit of time looking through out stud book before declaring publicly what our hounds have been crossed with. If he did, he would find no sign of either Harrier or Beagle and I am sure he'll be quite 'shocked' at how much KC blood we still have in our hounds.

So if we can breed Basset Hounds that still look like hounds from the 1950s and are proven to be 'fit for purpose' why can't the Basset Hound Club? There's no logical reson as to why they can't. Within 2 or 3 generations most could be dramatically improved, it's just that many breeders don't think their hounds need to be improved, they like them just the way they are: wrinkled skin, no legs and willies that drag on the floor!"

Over to you, Dave and others in the BHC... Given that the Kennel Club has recently re-instated the old B-register, which allows you to bring in dogs from 'outside', how about going the quick-fix route - for the sake of the dogs - and crossing one of your hounds with an Albany?

Here, by the way, is one of Dave Darley's Bassets - with an Albany Basset for comparison


  1. I notice that the Kennel Club states that the Basset Hound is a working hound and must be fit for purpose. It also states that there should be adequate clearance between chest and ground.

    I am curious to know if the Basset belonging to Dave Barley that is pictured in your blog has won any awards in the show ring? If so, it would appear that the KC’s influence over its own judges is questionable, and that it may have lost its ability to uphold the standards on its own website.

    Incidentally the KC doesn’t seem to mention leg length. Wouldn’t it be an important step in the right direction if they specified a minimum leg length or ratio of leg length to body length for this and other achondroplastic dogs?


  2. Can a Bassett breeder just simply tell us what went wrong? What is all that skin for ?
    Why are its legs so short ?
    Why is it so heavy ?

    Simple answers will do...if its just.. that thats what wins in the show ring...then who is to blame ?
    Is it judges...who reward this look....and even if this is the case dont breeders have faith in their own idea of the breed ?
    Or is winning so important that breeders abandon what they know to be right in favour of fame and fortune
    If I wanted to own a Bassett for anything EXCEPT the showring then why would I want the showbred?
    And just to add I would never want one to show..because to win it would have to look like
    a caricature of my idea of the breed.

    Has anyone ever wondered what would happen if every Bassett in a ring looked similar to the Albany and just one shuffled in with its loose skinned wrinkles and lack of legs
    Well if ringside were show folk it would be a different reaction to a ringside of ordinary dog folk
    And if ordinary pet people want a Bassett minus the extra skin....where do they get one ?

  3. So... the showring Bassett Hound is still fit for function, eh?

    Look at all that skin and ear flying around. It's absolutely ridiculous. I wonder sometimes if many dog breeders have lost any sense of what constitutes a fit dog. We've become so sedentary as a society, that wheezing Pugs, choking Bulldogs and trippy-uppy Bassetts are seen as active dogs.

    They are no such thing. They are sad parodies.

  4. Retromodernist, it´s not that they have lost all sense of what a fit dog is. They have lost all sense of what a DOG is.
    The poor creatures in the pics here - those breeders should be brought to court. If by some force of outer violence an animal was so terribly disfigured, the offender would be in prison. If it´s done by selective breeding, the offender gets a prize?
    Enough of this!

  5. Harriers are a breed in the AKC.

    I'm aware that in the UK, they vary much more.

    Some of them are said to resemble the Old English Southern hound, just reduced in size.

    But it is a breed. With a standard.

    1. Too bad. If harriers had been just dogs, then they would have had a chance it staying normal and active. Now, as breeds with a standard, it's only a matter of time until somebody ruins them. :(

  6. "If by some force of outer violence an animal was so terribly disfigured, the offender would be in prison. If it´s done by selective breeding, the offender gets a prize?"


    As I've sadly told many a client, "The only abuse this dog has ever suffered was when his parents were introduced."

    Not strictly true, given the number of show dogs who are never, you know, "introduced" -- and in some breeds, who could not seal the deal if they were.

  7. There is another breed of basset that is closely related to these dogs.

    Most of these pack hound bassets look like these.

    And I can see why show want a more extreme conformation. It makes the English basset more distinct.

    That loose skin likely came from the outcross to bloodhound around a century and a half ago.

  8. The albany bassets eyes look really droopy red and sore in that last pic, what gives?

  9. I do like Pippa Mattinson's suggestion about leg length. Why not have a stated leg length as part of the Basset Hound breed standard Dave? You have height at the withers (13 to 15 inches), which all Albany hounds conform to, yet KC look so differnt! Your breed standard states that there should be adequate clearance between the lowest part of the chest and the ground to allow the hound to move freely over all types of terrain, yet hounds that can barley stagger over short grass still win championship shows.If show judge's can't judge to your own standards then there is a need for the standard to be even more explicit, taking as much subjectivity out of judging process as possible.

    And to answer Jan's question; And if ordinary pet people want a Bassett minus the extra skin....where do they get one ?

    The answer is the Albany Bassets! We have one 10 week old tri colour dog hound puppy available from our final litter for this year and we will have 4 pack hounds to rehome from January of 2012.

  10. If you zoom in, it's actually just the dog's left eye, so possibly an injury. Alison? That said - and as I say above - not every Albany has perfectly-tight eyes. But many do, showing that it can be achieved - whereas very few showdogs do, presumably because they've been bred for skin laxity.


  11. if dogs are bred within the confines of a pack, how is genetic diversity achieved? not being accusatory, im just curious? also what health testing is typical for albany hounds prior to breeding?

  12. also, and again just out of curiousity, why the need for long droopy ears? i find they can be a welfare issue, as they harbour dampness and promote a breeding ground for bacteria unless tended to regularly. any thoughts?

  13. The hound in question is Saddler, one of our very best hunting hounds. His mother was a KC hound, his father was from a hunting line. And yes, his eyes are more droppy the most of our hounds. He's worked for 7 seasons and just started his 8th. To date he's had no eye problems but it's not a feature we want in our hounds.

  14. Anon: Who said anything about breeding within the confines of a pack? On the one hand we are accused of cross breeding with harriers, now a suggestions we inbreed. Two of the hounds pictured above are from the same litter; the mother is an Albany hound, the father a KC hound. And don't worry yourself about long droopy ears; we've not had a single problem with our hound’s ears. I think you can see from the photos all are in excellent condition and none suffer form skin problems already showing in the puppy.

  15. thanks for clarifying re: just not entirely used to pack dog terminology. what is the average coi of an albany hound? and what health testing do you normally do on bitches and stud dogs prior to mating....they are really cute dogs! the droopy ears do worry me, though, and they do not seem fit for function in a low-legged working dog and could be seen as a potential welfare issue.

  16. I've been told the longer ears are to help trap the scent? I was fortunate to see the Tewksbury Foot Bassets in the early 1970's. What a great sight, a field of undulating hounds followed by those very fit humans!

  17. Don't blame the judges, it's the breeders. When we last looked any judge that was actually judging on physiological soundness wasn't being invited to judge - by the breeders who make up the Show Committees. Stop blaming everyone else - make a stand, breed for soundness and show the world you have ethics, but subjugate your ethics for the Show...

  18. Just grotesque.

  19. And when the judges do choose for function, they're castigated by the reps and the exhibitors. As Anonymous said, they're also not asked back to judge

  20. Mona Karel and Anon of 23.06, Is this just an impression you have? Or is there anything to support it? What do the judges who attempt to prioritize normal dog physiology say?
    It´s an important question, because the KC may recommend new criteria for awarding the sought-after prizes as much as they like, if in practice the shows are set up and the judges picked by the same old crew who couldn´t care less but go for business as usual - and then nothing will change.

  21. A bit of background information for those of you who are not very familiar with Basset Hounds and their standard :
    Basset hounds were specifically bred/selected by hunters for their short legs, and particular structure, in order to slow them down enough to accompany the small game hunter on foot ("Basset" actually means low to ground in French!). Their main quarry is the hare or rabbit, although they are also much valued for their tracking abilities because of their superior nose. For those of you preferring a faster hunting hound, there are many other beautiful breeds of scenthounds with longer, straighter legs to chose from!
    Today's Basset Hounds are considered by the FCI (i.e. one of the international equivalents of the UK Kennel Club) as a British breed, but trace their roots back to France. In the 19th century, there were two main types of smooth-haired bassets in France: a large, heavy one bred by a Mr Lane, which was exported to England, and which, after several crosses probably involving - inter alia - the Bloodhound, the Beagle, and the Artésien-Normand bassets - gave rise to modern Basset Hounds, and another lighter-boned variety which evolved into the present French basset breeds, such as the lighter and slightly leggier Artésien-Normand and Blue-ticked Gascony bassets.
    Over the years, the basset hound has unfortunately been used less and less for hunting, which has allowed some exagerations to creep into its conformation (such as too much weight and skin, creating other problems such as very loose eyes, too little clearance from the ground, etc.) which impair the breed's ability to fulfill its original hunting function. This is something which is currently being addressed by breeders worldwide, but which will require some time to produce results, since the Breed's blueprint ot standard, was only recently changed in order to promote a more functional, yet tipy hound, which will probably fall between the two extremes shown in the pictures above.

  22. Cont'd
    Regarding the Albany bassets, these definitely look like functional hunting hounds to me, but seem to lack several of the the Basset Hound's typical features, such as the "wrap-around" front similar to that of the Dachshund, the heavy bone, and unique sad/serious expression, to name just a few. In structure, they also seem closer to the Swiss "Niederlaufhund", which has lighter bone, less skin and straighter legs, as well as more ground clearance, than the basset hound.
    On this last topic, to my knowledge, none of the various breed standards applied to the Basset Hound in different countries of the world specifically mentions ratios concerning height at withers to length of body , or minimum/maximum ground clearance. Comments concerning the US breed standard specify that the latter should not exceed one third of the total height at withers, but there is no explicit lower value given for this feature, other that that deriving indirectly from the knowledge of the hound's original function, and the application of common sense by judges... It is interesting to note that another breed with a structure and outline ressembling that of the Basset Hound, i.e. the Dachshund, has a similar ongoing discussion concerning proportions and clearance! In FCI countries, the desired proportions for Daxies are 1.7-1.8 in length to 1.00 in height at withers. The lowest part of the chest should also ideally be no lower to ground than halfway between the elbow and wrist... In the UK and in the USA, the proportions are different, with a length to height ratio of 2 : 1, and a slightly shorter leg...
    Finally, I'd also like to point out that not all longer-legged hounds with a standard construction move correctly: soundness in movement is something which has become quite rare to find in the field or in the showring, regardless of the breed! Despite its particular structure, a basset hound's movement should be assessed in the same way as any other hunting hound's, and incorrectness such as clumsiness, lack of drive or reach, etc. penalised accordingly...

  23. I think the Kennel Club Bassetts look awful, freakish and most importantly, unfit. They are supposed to be a dog, for heaven's sake, and dogs are supposed to run around in parks and fields chasing things and getting mucky. Those gotesque Mengele confections that could not run across a lawn wwithout tripping over their ears or jowls are an obscenity and what makes it worse is that people have bred those extreme characteristics into the breed on purpose.

    One of the reasons that the BBC stopped showing Crufts was because of peoples' disgust at the freakish unnatural breed characteristics that are bred into dogs for silly vain show peoples' benefit AS OPPOSED TO THE DOGS BENEFIT. Such dogs very often have very short life spans and genetics deficits that ensure that they can never have free natural lives. It is obscene.

    The sooner this selfish abuse of dogs is made illegal the better.

    In the meantime we have examples like the Albany Bassets to remind us that selective breeding programmes can be beneficial to a breed rather tahn harmful. Dogs should not be better in a freakshow than a hunting field.

  24. There is an excellent French book, Les Bassets Courants, about the varieties of Basset known in France, with lots of illustrations showing the historical development of the varieties. The Albany Pack hounds look remarkably like the Basset artesien normand. The English "Basset Hound" introduced into France only in quite recent times, gets only a couple of pages at the end of the sections on the French Bassets, with the authors trying diplomatically to be polite. French breeders were apparently very sceptical about whether the English Basset Hounds could work, and they are described as lacking drive, handicapped by their morphology , docile and mute
    But the book does give a good account of how the other Basset varieties work, and the illustrations of the different types are excellent, and show how different they are from the show Basset Hound

  25. I should have given details of the book mentioned above, as it is well worth a read.

    Maurice Leblanc et John E.Miller - Les Bassets Courants . Club Gerfaut . 1987

  26. As a Basset breeder of more than 40 years in the US, I do need to point out that many of the US show Bassets, which look remarkably like their English show counterparts, DO hunt very successfully and our breed has a good number of dual Champions, titles won in both show and field (and a Field Championship is not easy to achieve, Show being easier as there are far more opportunities). The Basset was designed as a sturdy, durable, slow trailing hunter and all his parts are there for a reason. Just as an example, the wrinkled skin on the head aids in scenting, just as it does in the Bloodhound and the loose skin on the legs and body allows the coat to "roll" in heavy cover rather than tearing. The Albany Bassets while excellent hunting dogs, are not what the Basset standard calls for and would never be awarded a prize by any responsible judge who has read the written standard drawn up many years ago by responsible breeders...the US standard was adopted in 1968 for example. There are quite a few different breeds which have Basset as part of their names and the Albany Bassets would fall into this classification, a separate breed but not "the" Basset Hound. Please do not confuse the two which I believe Jemima Harrison is doing!

  27. The idea that wrinkled skin on the head is an aid to scenting is laughable, as is the idea that loose skin prevents tearing in cover. Why do working bloodhounds have less of either than the KC registered show type? If either notion had any truth in it, there would be more gundogs with wrinkled heads and loose skin. A good thick coat is what will protect a working springer in cover
    Ah well, another of those show dog owner fantasies that are good for a giggle. Go on, tell me that those long ears conduct scent towards the nose, I've heard that too

  28. I can see how some loose skin would help a dog move through thick brush as it wouldn't be as tight or quick to tear as tight skin such as some of the sight hounds like Whippet or the Greyhound. I don't mind the longer ears, I'm not sure if I'm entirely convinced they aid in scenting since many hounds have shorter ears and are just as effective... but I am not well read on the subject so I'll leave that alone.

    But I look at the show Bassets and feel just sorry for them. The dogs cannot be comfortable that way. Why breed an animal to be genetically set to be uncomfortable? With eyes that have many problems, skin that can get infections in the folds? Too short of legs to really move around?

    Yes, it is well known the basset was bred so they could be followed on foot more easily than the taller and faster hounds. But the dogs still had to be able to clear brush and obstacles they would encounter in the field, right? They still had to be able to athletic enough to cover long distances during the duration of the hunt, right?

    If that is the case then I don't see how the show basset style which is lower to the ground, with too much skin to be actually useful, and eyes that are more likely to cause discomfort to the dog is what would be the ideal...

    I think the Albany bassets are absolutely handsome dogs that demonstrate how form will follow function versus the other way around. Which is how it should be.

  29. dalriach, there is a difference between loose skin and skin that hangs off a dog's body. All spaniels have considerably looser skin than other breeds and yes, it does aid them in not getting cut up in the field. There is also a difference between ear leather that aids in scenting and one that inhibits tracking. Ear leather should only reach to the tip of the nose in a spaniel, not drag to the ground and trip a dog like you see in KC bassets.

    Although, if your dog already has a good nose on it, it really shouldn't matter how long its ears are.

  30. The arguments being made here against the current basset hound show dogs is what's laughable. If we want to truly "discover" what this breed is supposed to be we need to go back to the beginning.

    The following is an excerpt from the chapter on basset hounds in Cassell's Illustrated Book of the Dog published in 1881. This is perhaps the very first Standard for basset hounds in England. It was republished in The New Book of the Dog, Chapter XXVII in 1907 which states, “Perhaps the most explicit description of the perfect Basset-hound is still that compiled twenty-five years ago by Sir John Millais. It is at least sufficiently comprehensive and exact to serve as a guide.” It’s very interesting to compare it to the current AKC Standard.

    Quote from 1888-----

    The Basset, for its size, has more bone, perhaps, than nearly any other dog. 
    The skull should be peaked like that of the Bloodhound, with the same dignity and expression, nose black (although some of my own have white about theirs), and well flewed.  For the size of the hound, I think the teeth are extremely small. However, as they are not intended to destroy life, this is probably the reason. 

    The ears should hang like the Bloodhound's, and are like the softest velvet drapery. 

    The eyes are a deep brown, and are brimful of affection and intelligence. They are pretty deeply set, and should show a considerable haw. A Basset is one of those hounds incapable of having a wicked eye. 

    The neck is long, but of great power ; and in the Basset a jambes torses the flews extend very nearly down to the chest. The chest is more expansive in the Basset than even in the Bulldog, and should in the Bassets d jainbes torses be not more than two inches from the ground. In the case of the Basset a jambcs demi-torses and jainbes droites, being generally lighter, their chests do not, of course, come so low.

    The shoulders are of great power, and terminate in the crooked feet of the Basset, which appear to be a mass of joints. The back and ribs are strong, and the former of great length.  The stern is gaily carried like that of hounds in general, and when the hound is on the scent of game this portion of his body gets extremely animated, and tell me, in my own hounds, when they have struck a fresh or cold scent, and I even know when the foremost hound will give tongue. 

    The hind-quarters are very strong and muscular, the muscles standing rigidly out down to the hocks.

  31. Finishing the quote---

    The skin is soft in the smooth-haired dogs, and like that of any other hound, but in the rough variety it is identical with that of the Otter-hound's.

    Colour, of course, is a matter of fancy, although I infinitely prefer the 'tricolour', which has a tan head and black-and-white body.


    Now if I had the opportunity to post pictures I would be able to show that the early basset hounds were more closely related to today's show dogs than to the hunting hounds pictured in this blog. The biggest difference is the improvement breeders have made in the legs of the modern basset hound. They are not nearly as crooked/knuckled over as they were in the early years.

  32. The following quote from the The Basset Hound by Lawrence Timpson in 1891 is rather interesting and speaks well for the origin of the breed.

    Basset Hounds are by all odds superior to Beagles for rabbit-shooting, beating them in nose, tongue, and staying powers. Their powers of scent are marvelous; and so well do they indicate their excitement by their waving stems, that as the scent becomes warmer and warmer one can tell almost exactly the moment when they are about to open on it. Their clear, deep, bell-like notes are far sweeter than those of any other Hound, and when they are hidden in cover, tell exactly what they are doing.  When once heard, the clear ring of their notes is never forgotten.  Their short, crooked legs seem almost incapable of being tired, and their natural pace is about seven miles an hour. For hunting on foot they are as superior to Beagles as for being shot over on rabbits, but their value renders a pack of any size out of the question.  The scratch pack that the members of the Basset Hound Club kept, showed very good sport.

    Basset Hounds have the best of tempers. I have never known of one to attempt to bite, except in the case of puppies when being punished for some misdemeanor or other, and then they did it from fright more than from ill nature.  In fact, their disposition is a trifle too mild and inoffensive for a sporting dog; although they run game with the utmost keenness, and when their quarry is standing ''at bay" they will give tongue with the utmost fierceness, usually showing no desire to go in for blood, even in the case of a rabbit. In the latter case they would usually play with it as though it were a puppy, if left to themselves. Against other dogs, too, they seldom try to defend themselves.


    British Dogs, Their Points, Selection and Show Preparation, Chapter XXII - The Basset-Hound published in 1903, is a source for information on the origins of basset hounds. Contrary to all newer books on the subject the author dispels the idea that modern Basset Hounds have come about as a result of the mating of a bloodhound with a Basset (Hound). The following quote from that book sounds familiar:

    Quote from British Dogs, Their Points, Selection and Show Preparation, Chapter XXII - The Basset-Hound published in 1903

    I have now several clever Bassets a jambes torses (wholly crooked fore legs) in my mind's eye, and their general description would be about as follows: Height, between loin, and 15in. at shoulder; longish barrels; very crooked fore legs, with little more than an inch or two of daylight between the knees; stout thighs; gay sterns; conical heads; long faces; ears long enough to overlap each other by an inch or two (and more sometimes) when both were drawn over the nose; heavy-headed rather, with square muzzles; plenty of flews and dewlap; eyes deep set, under heavy wrinkles; fore paws wide, and well turned out; markings, harepied and white, black tan and white, tan and white, black with tan eyebrows, and tan legs and belly, etc. in short, all the varieties of hound markings will be found among them....

    I hope that, in breeding Bassets for hunting purposes, owners will not neglect the heavy and somewhat ungainly appearance that they should have, and gradually get them higher on the leg and lighter in bone and body; by so doing they may increase the speed, but they will lose the endurance, and they will in time be nothing better than deformed Beagles. 

    I have already noticed a tendency in this direction in packs.  If Bassets are not fast enough for a man, let him by all means keep Beagles instead.  You cannot expect a Clydesdale to go as fast as a thoroughbred, nor would you think of breeding them to do so.  Keep each to his real work: both are good, but their style may suit different tastes.


  33. As another poster has commented, give me the reason why they extra skin, long ears and heavy set are actually good for the dog. None of the hiding behind the breed standard. What was the reason in benefit of the dog to create such exaggerations. And the ear/scenting link has never been proved. No wild dogs that rely on their scenting ability need such appendages.

    The Albany looks like a beautiful and practical example of the breed and well done to those who breed them and long may they continue. The more people that know about them, the more likely they are to be considered the 'norm'.


  34. Now on to what Dalrich said

    One of the best "working" bloodhounds in Southern California, named Tinkerbell, is also an AKC Champion. She has proven her tracking skills on all surfaces in all weather conditions. They even recorded her skills in a TV documentary. From what I understand from Tinkerbell's owner she isn't the only "working" AKC Champion. He was encouraged by the police and mountain rescue groups that he works with to get her AKC Championship. So, to say that a "show type" can't perform the skills that bloodhounds were bred for is false.

    Now, to relate the "thick coat" of a springer to a bloodhound or basset hound is truly absurd. First of all bloodhounds and basset hounds are short coat dogs and it is a "fault" to have thick, long coats. They do, however, have a dense, double coat. The wrinkles do prevent their skin from being punctured as they go through the dense underbrush. Unlike a springer or even a sight hound, bloodhounds and basset hounds keep their noses close to the ground and push through the heavy brush while dogs that use their sight to track their game, such as a springer, have their heads up and navigate around brush that a scent hound would go through. Besides the function of a dog like a springer is totally different than that of a basset hound.

    It's very obvious that OP is still trying to compare two different breeds of dogs saying that one should look more like the other.

  35. I have seen pictures of the early bassets and they do look much more like the Albany ones, more moderate in type. The modern show bred bassets are completely unfit, unhealthy specimens of dogs.

    To argue that they have not gotten more extreme in type since the onset of dog shows is rather ludicrous..?

  36. Anon wrote "All spaniels have considerably looser skin than other breeds "

    Really? None of our working springers have had "loose skin". What kind of spaniels are you thinking of?

  37. dalriach, MY working spaniel for one. Are you still stuck on the idea of loose skin as those you see on KC bassets, because obviously I've made myself clear that that is not what I'm talking about. Grab the skin of ANY working spaniel and their will be much more excess skin that you'd find on other breeds.

    This picture clearly shows just how much skin you'd normally find on a working spaniel.

  38. A few people have noted in this blog that in bassett hounds, "the wrinkles do prevent their skin from being punctured as they go through the dense underbrush"

    Has anyone actually ever demonstrated that?

  39. Also, I'd like to pick up on what Don Bullock said about Tinkerbell, the 'working' bloodhound.

    Is this the bloodhound you're referring to?

  40. I will admit that the photos of Bassets from the 1950's do look more like the Albany dogs than does the "classic" Basset of today and it was this very look that the early breeders in both England and the US were trying to improve upon as they did not feel this was correct, thus the wording in both standards. The Albany type also looks like the product of indiscriminate puppy mill breeding in the US and this type can be found in every rescue and shelter here. Now please I am NOT accusing the Albany Bassets of indiscriminate breeding rather pointing out that this is the type Basset considered a poorly bred pet quality dog in the US, the type Basset that no reputable breeder will accept for breeding. I will also admit that a certain percentage of today's "classic" show Bassets probably wouldn't be superb hunters but I will also submit that I am equally sure a good percentage of the ones born at the Albany pack aren't either, due to no desire, structural faults etc. Again, I have to say that these Bassets are really two separate breeds, designed for hunting but designed for a different way of hunting and BOTH ARE FIT FOR THEIR OWN FUNCTION. But to think one is superior to the other when all the literature and history etc. indicates otherwise is to make a grievous error. I should also add here, on the subject of working Bloodhounds, that most of the reputable breeders in the US sell a good percentage of their pups to law enforcement agencies to be used for trailing. Obviously these dogs also are fit for function, even with generations of show Champions behind them!

  41. @ retromodernist

    I've never seen a demonstration, but to me it makes sense that a certain degree of loose skin would be beneficial and able to withstand more wear and tear from brush and such. Especially when you compare it to dogs with tight and especially thin coats such as some of the sight hounds whose skin can easily bruise or be cut against surfaces that wouldn't hurt a dog with more fat and or loose skin (we do have to consider that fat on the dogs as well)

  42. I have no idea whether that is the same dog or how biased the report that you referenced is. What I do know about the Tinkerbell that I know of is that she has demonstrated tracking ability that is outstanding and she's an AKC Champion. She works with many different law enforcement agencies and search and rescue groups.

    Meanwhile back to the OP of this blog. She is trying to say that a basset hound and the Artésien-Normand.

    To CatyM I beg to differ with you on the pictures. Unfortunately I'm unable to post any here. There is a great chapter from basset Cassell's Illustrated Book of the Dog on basset hounds (can be found on the Internet at published in 1881.

    As I stated before the biggest difference between the Basset Hounds pictured in this chapter and those of today's show ring in that breeders have corrected the knuckled over front legs. That is now a disqualification. We have also strengthened the rears by adding more angulation that gives modern basset hounds the drive they need for sustained hunting. The other thing that has changed is the snippiness of the muzzle and I agree this is a cosmetic change. It is not needed for hunting.

    Another book that would be good reading for those who are actually interested in finding out the truth about our breed rather than innuendoes from the tabloid press is British Dogs, Their Points, Selection and Show Preparation. This book, published in 1903 contains one of the most complete accounts as to the origins of the Basset Hound. Contrary to all newer books on the subject the author dispels the idea that modern Basset Hounds have come about as a result of the mating of a bloodhound with a Basset (Hound). It can be found at ( There is one miserable drawing of a basset hound with badly knuckled over front legs, but some early photographs of basset hounds were included at the end of the selection. They look nothing like the Albany bassets. The following quote was meant for those interested in buying a basset hound puppy.


    In choosing a puppy, select one with plenty of bone and substance. See that the ears are set on low and fold gracefully, instead of hanging flat to the side of the skull.

    Beware, too, of those with very narrow heads they are likely to become snipy. The skin should be loose and fine to the touch, and the eyes should be deep set and show some haw, as with the Bloodhound.

    The legs should be clean at the shoulder, without any tendency to bow out : the writer prefers them wrinkled down to the feet, which should be large and clumsy-looking for the size of the puppy.


    Sounds very similar to modern Standards for the basset hound breed.

  43. Retromodernist asked whether anybody has ever demonstrated that the "wrinkles" - i e the masses of surplus skin - protect anyone going through dense brushwood.
    Would it not be surprising if anybody could? My skins flies like rolling curtains around my nose when I run - see pics above - and this actually PROTECTS me from being caught up in thorns and twigs?
    I should think not. Just another case of the same old backwards reasoning: first you exaggerate a feature past anything resembling normal and then you come up with a "historical " reason why the dog should find it useful to be so distorted.

  44. A few people have noted in this blog that in bassett hounds, "the wrinkles do prevent their skin from being punctured as they go through the dense underbrush"

    Has anyone actually ever demonstrated that?

    Yes, me. I just put on my baggiest cardigan and ran through the woods opposite.
    Sadly at the first bramble bush I got stopped in my tacks and now the shredded cardi is in the bin.

    The loose skin.......does not prevent skin punctures.

    Is there some confusion here that the excess skin is to actually protect the internal organs from puncture as opposed to the skin?

  45. No, Kate. There´s no confusion here. There´s just the same old sales-promoting logotying of a breed exaggeration as always. Or the same oldself-justification. Whichever you prefer. Never heard the tale of how the modern bulldog´s face has to be so extremely noseless and wrinkled?
    Yeah, right. How else would all the bull blood be channelled off?

  46. I would imagine the more skin a dog has the higher the chance that it WILL catch on thorns and become ripped - as opposed to a dog with tight skin running through the undergrowth! My working cocker doesn't have loose skin anywhere on his body.....he's all muscle surrounded by tight-fitting skin - he works in the undergrowth and has never come home with ripped skin! Very well bred cocker from working bloodlines. I have witnessed show cockers with excess of skin though but never working cockers or springers.

    Surely over-knuckling can be changed without all the added "extras" that appear to have occurred in the Bassett? I think the Albany Bassets look "fit for function"....I think the show type Bassetts featured look like they have a body that is far too heavy for their terribly short legs and would suspect that they will have problems in later life..... How can those little legs hold such weight? Again, until the breeders actually see the welfare issue in their breed re conformation nothing will change. You have to accept the problem is there before you can change it. From what I read here that isn't happening.... Once more I lower my head into my hands - despairing..... :-(

  47. I actually agree on the skin thing- I own a sighthound and she gets cuts very easily hunting because her skin especially over the ribs is so tight.

    Don- if you look on that website that YOU posted up- halfway down there is a picture of an old basset- looking much more like the Albany one than the disfigured wrinkle monsters of today.

  48. NONE of the pictures on that page have severely long ears and copious amounts of excess skin as seen in the show bassets of today.

  49. My sighthounds , whippets hunt through brambles etc, the only time they rip their skin is when hunting at speed, if they run under wire at 30mph then yes ....but if the loose skin dog was to do the same it too would suffer damage...but flushing in brambles etc they dont suffer more than any other breed.
    Too much skin, too short legs, too much bone ...

  50. It is quite clear that those who are commenting here including Jemima Harrison don't know anything about the basset hound breed and haven't fully investigated our breed. The comments they make are very typical of tabloid journalism which is meant to stir up controversy where there is none.

    If any of you had taken the time to read the quotations that I have offered from historical accounts of our breed you would understand that the OP's comparison of basset hounds to the long legged "hunting bassets" pictures above is a crock or deception from the truth.

    I would suggest that before anyone comments that they at least read the selection from British Dogs, Their Points, Selection and Show Preparation (1903) to understand the differences in basset hounds. Modern day basset hounds are decedents of the Bassets a jambes torses as described in this excerpt. Here is a brief portion describing these bassets:


    I have now several clever Bassets a jambes torses in my mind's eye, and their general description would be about as follows: Height, between loin, and 15in. at shoulder; longish barrels; very crooked fore legs, with little more than an inch or two of daylight between the knees; stout thighs; gay sterns; conical heads; long faces; ears long enough to overlap each other by an inch or two (and more sometimes) when both were drawn over the nose; heavy-headed rather, with square muzzles; plenty of flews and dewlap; eyes deep set, under heavy wrinkles; fore paws wide, and well turned out; markings, harepied and white, black tan and white, tan and white, black with tan eyebrows, and tan legs and belly, etc. in short, all the varieties of hound markings will be found among them.


    Please note the exaggeration of length of ears, plenty of flews and dewlap; eyes deep set, under heavy wrinkles (ed-present in the breed from the beginning); fore paws wide, and well turned out.

    Now, whether or not these dogs are "well suited" for hunting is also described in this excerpt. For those who don't wish to look at the whole selection the following describes their hunting abilities:

  51. Continued--------


    In build the Basset a jambes torses is long in the barrel, and is very low on his pins; so much so that, when hunting, he literally drags his long ears on the ground. He is the slowest of hounds, and his value as such cannot be overestimated. His style of hunting is peculiar, in as much that he will have his own way, and each one tries for himself; and if one of them finds, and 'says' so, the others will not blindly follow him and give tongue simply because he does (as some hounds, accustomed to work in packs, are apt to do); but, on the contrary, they are slow to acknowledge the alarm given, and will investigate the latter for themselves.

    Thus, under covert, Bassets a jambes torses following a scent go in Indian file, and each one speaks to the line according to his own sentiments on the point, irrespective of what the others may think about it. In this manner, it is not uncommon to see the little hounds, when following a mazy track, crossing each other's route without paying any attention to one another; and, in short, each of them works as if he were alone. This style I attribute to their slowness, to their extremely delicate powers of scent, and to their innate stubborn confidence in their own powers. Nevertheless, it is a fashion which has its drawbacks; for, should the individual hounds hit on separate tracks of different animals, unless at once stopped, and put together on the same one, each will follow its own find, and let the shooter or shooters do his or their best. That is why a shooter who is fond of that sort of spoit rarely owns more than one or two of these hounds. One is enough, two may be handy in difficult cases, but more would certainly entail confusion, precisely because each one of them will rely only on the evidence of his own senses. ...

    They have excellent tongues for their size, and when in good training and good condition they will hunt every day, and seem to thrive on it. They are very fond of the gun, and many are cunning enough to 'ring' the game, if missed when breaking covert, back again to the guns until it is shot.

    Some of these Bassets are so highly prized that no amount of money will buy them; and, as a breed, it may safely be asserted that it is probably the purest now in existence in France. They hunt readily deer, roebuck, wild boars, wolves, foxes, hares, rabbits, etc., but if entered exclusively to one species of quarry, and kept to it, they never leave it to run riot after anything else. I have seen one, when hunting a hare in a park, running through fifty rabbits and never noticing them. They go slowly, and give you plenty of time to take your station for a shot hence their great value in the estimation of shooters.

    They are chiefly used for smallish woods, furze fields, and the like, because, if uncoupled in a forest, they do not drive their game fast enough; and though eventually they are bound to bring it out, yet the long time they would take in so doing would tell against the sport. Moreover, large forests are cut about by ditches, and here and there streamlets, boulders, and rocks intervene, which difficulty the short, crooked-legged hound would be slow in surmounting. He is, therefore, not so often used there as for smaller coverts, where his voice can throughout the hunt be heard, and thereby direct the shooters which post of vantage to take.


    Ms Harrison needs to do some more homework because obviously she doesn't know what she's talking about and leading people to think she's a great expert in dogs.

  52. Don Bullock has posted links to old Basset photos and drawings which he says show the breed has changed only in muzzle shape and knuckling over of forelegs.

    I must be looking at different pictures then. I see considerably less loose skin on those dogs than the modern ones. The whole animal is "cleaner" and the skin seems to be a better fit on the head and the body alike. Legs are also longer - or it might just be the lack of a big skirt of skin on the belly that gives that appearance.

  53. OK, I get it now,

    centuries of selective breeding of a dog with deliberately short crooked legs has occurred, along side dogs with half crooked and straight legs. The deliberately slow them down so that people could hunt on foot. Am I right so far?

    Then, in the late 19th century along came dog fanciers, dog showing began, breed clubs were established, the KC was established and breed standards set. Correct?

    Fanciers and breed clubs decided they wanted to maintain the centuries of selective breeding of these dwarfed legged, slow moving hounds because they wanted to distinguish them from the possibly healthier longer legged, less wrinkled, higher off the ground counterparts because they are clearly a different breed. Those hound are just too quick when hunting. We must slow them down for our purpose.

    So all I can conclude from this is that you can put away the history books because all they prove is that people bred dogs over the centuries with no regard for health and welfare. Just because airy fairy historians describe a breed looking a certain way in 1876 1821 1903 doesn't mean that those dogs didn't have health and welfare issues. It doesn't make breeding a dog to look a certain way is right.

    We are now in the 21st century and we have the intelligence to see that breeding for certain traits in dogs can and do lead to health and welfare problems.

    Sorry, stop living in some historical fantasy, wake up and look at the issues in dogs at present.

  54. Don Bullock wrote:

    "What I do know about the Tinkerbell that I know of is that she has demonstrated tracking ability that is outstanding and she's an AKC Champion. She works with many different law enforcement agencies and search and rescue groups"

    You seem to know an awful lot about this dog, but not whether or not it worked for the police authority in question for nine years. That suggests to me that what you actually heard was an anecdote, which you're parroting on here. Pretty dismal stuff, Don.

    You also said:

    "Meanwhile back to the OP of this blog. She is trying to say that a basset hound and the Artésien-Normand."

    No, the OP of this blog posting is that show-ring bassett hounds have conformation that gives them poor health. This is an issue you dodge. The bulldog crowd last week did the same. Dodge the health issues, while at the same time claiming to improve dogs. It would be funny, if the result wasn't so mch pain and limited life for the dogs you breed. And let's be clear here, Don, if you are breeding show-ring bassett hounds, you are responsible for this suffering.

    I've had a look at the photos you linked to. I don't see an enormous skirt of loose skin hanging off any of the dogs photographed. Nor do I see rolls of skin bunched at the tops of their legs.

    So, show me some old photos of bassett hounds with rolled up leg skin and a skin skirt hanging off their belly. It shouldn't be diffcult; you seem to be very knowledgeable on the matter.

  55. Katie says "the KC was established and breed standards set. Correct?" no not correct many breeds already had standards written.

  56. One thing I don't think you can fault the modern basset on is temperament. It has gone by the wayside in some show breeds. But I've yet to meet a basset that isn't friendly and gentle.

    Is it true that AI is generally required for show bassets because the female is often unable to take the weight of the male? or is this just malice?

  57. "no not correct many breeds already had standards written."

    Anon, during which century was the basset hound breed standard written?.......not that it really matters WHAT century, it was still set in stone. As I said, centuries of breeding crooked short legged dogs.

  58. Katies Price really does show how little she actually knows about breed when she says standards are set instine, they are not they a reviewed and changed over many years

  59. As I peruse the latest issues of Dog World impressed as always by the gorgeous dogs in the adverts, I frequently take a guess at which breed will be the "next victim" of Jemima's wrath including photos of "wretched dogs" and those who are "perfect" from days gone by
    my guess for this week is...
    The Shih Tzu.. or has she already done that? well then .. how about the.. hmm Pomeranian.. one good thing.. eventually she will run out of dog breeds..

  60. Anon, I am well aware that breed standards change, or get slightly amended.

    Some however, like the pugs, (if we are going to go all historical) was set by the newly formed breed club in the late 19th century, and remained unchanged (apart from adding colours and changing weights) for over a hundred years until 2009. In fact, there was a previous pug standard before the clubs that didn't promote such exaggerations.

    The fact that you say standards are reviewed and change over years, and given the way the modern day basset hound in the show ring looks TODAY only goes to show that "over the years" not a lot actually has changed.

    Unless of course you are now going to use that good old argument that "things don't happen over night"??

    Come on anon...according to you they are reviewed and changed over years.

    Plenty of time by now to avoid breeding dogs with legs too small for their heavy bodies so their genitals and abdomen drag on the floor wouldn't you say?

  61. Katie P and her fellow critics of Pedigree dog breeder are far too quick to jump and complain and yet again she show WHY she and they dont understand when she freely says "Unless of course you are now going to use that good old argument that "things don't happen over night"??" these are living animal not a lump of machinery which when goes wrong you can change the design and have the modification on the factory production line in a couple of days , yes the thing is it take years sometime decades to change, be that due to changes bred back in to a breed or waiting on new tests to be found by vets and breeds to be cleared of a condition in two or three generations. Perhaps those who keep on preaching should get down from their high ground and actually LOOK at what has been achieved by so many breeds.

  62. Yes, Anon of 10.33 - "these are living animals, not a lump of machinery" and so cannot be modified overnight on the factory production line.
    How true these words are....and how hard the show breeders of the Basset must have worked, then, over long years to change the dogs into the caricature they are now!

    They should have manufactured something else. Not a baroque architecture of living tissues for a marvellous scent track dog.

  63. Anonymous 10:33 says.....

    "Perhaps those who keep on preaching should get down from their high ground and actually LOOK at what has been achieved by so many breeds."

    What achievements should we be looking at?

    Point us to where breeders have actually bred conformation changes back into their dogs with the welfare of the breed in their mind?

    Show us what breeds have welcomed, promoted and used new health tests from the time they have become available?


  64. I can't see anything that's changed but I'm interested to know if there's something I've been missing. I would love to see the changes for the better.

  65. Don Bullock said...
    Now on to what Dalrich said

    One of the best "working" bloodhounds in Southern California, named Tinkerbell, is also an AKC Champion. She has proven her tracking skills on all surfaces in all weather conditions. They even recorded her skills in a TV documentary. From what I understand from Tinkerbell's owner she isn't the only "working" AKC Champion. He was encouraged by the police and mountain rescue groups that he works with to get her AKC Championship. So, to say that a "show type" can't perform the skills that bloodhounds were bred for is false.

    That would be one of the dogs responsible for THIS outcome:

    She could also track BULLETS.

    Mr. Bullock saw it ON TELEVISION so IT MUST BE TRUE.

  66. Love your blog!

  67. I am always rather amused by how show breeders like to come up with highly sophisticated theories on how this or that detail of a dog's structure contributes to its working ability.

    Standards talk about soundness, length of leg, slope of shoulder and how many inches above the ground a hock should be, about ear structure, skin build and tail length. Then the "experts" come and make usually long, sophisticated and well thought-out comments on how such and such detail allows the dog to perform its designated work in that and that way, how a dog with such and such croup would have an advantage over another dog, etc. They go to great lengths in building such theories, which are usually internally consistent and logically sound within their system of reference. And these people think they are doing their breeds a favour.

    Now here is the problem:
    They are dead wrong.

    Has anybody ever been able to show an advantage in working of a long floppy ear over a short one? Has there ever been a neutral investigation of how working ability in a dog is influenced by its shoulder angulation? Do we have any data on how well a cat foot performs versus a hare foot in the field? No, we have not. All we have are people who repeat their detailed theories over and over again, to the point where everybody thinks they are the truth.

    The truth is, what matters most in a dog's working ability is its mental capacity to work. If that is there, and if the dog does not have physical deformities that would be medically relevant, it can do the work (of course, the show basset is a rather poor example for my point, as the breed actually has medically relevant deformities). Look at military Malinois - their trot is so unsound as to make a conformation judge puke, yet they can work all day, every day. Why do we know this? Because they actually do it. Look at racing or open field Greyhounds, which are far too small and straight to do anything in the show ring, yet they can catch and kill a hare. Why do we know this? Because they actually do it. Look at Staghounds coursing and killing elk or coyotes, then look at show Deerhounds, which are more likely to break a leg than to do any of that deer killing they were intended to do. Why do we know this? Because Staghounds are used to do the job.

    The theoretical interpretation of breed standards and "soundness" as a predictor of working ability is useless, not backed up by any empirical data and, as such, a highly sophisticated, internally consistent cargo cult. Sure, it provides endless opportunity for reasoned discussion based on fine points. But it has nothing of substance to do with whether or not a dog can do a job it is supposedly bred to do.

  68. Excellent post by Anonymous on November 4! Your observations are dead on. Now the question is--will any of this ever change?

  69. Romany Dog, agree with you - brilliant post from Anon nov 4th.

    Will any of it change? Yes, and it is already. The tight group of people within the various breeds (who actually seem to think they ARE the breed) will not change: they are sown into their sac of cult-like reasoning and still have rewards that keep coming to prove that they are right - the show system and the approval of people like themselves.

    The change is that more and more of us simply shrug our shoulders and walk away. Compared to just thirty years ago, basic knowledge of biology and genetics has become much more common and many more of us now know enough to recognize hereditary deformity when we see it. Also, as owning a pedigree dog has become quite frequent, the funny traits held up as being posh&fancy simply aren´t protected any more.

    Change coming from another direction is that animal welfare organizations and authorities don´t like what they see.

    I don´t think that the hard-core pedigreeists will change. But possibly, they will find themselves rather on their own with a shrinking number of more and more odd-looking creatures.

  70. Jemima Harrison may not be an qualified "expert" on dogs, but anyone can see that the Show Bred Basset is not a healthy looking dog.

    There is always going to be a difference in looks in working bred and show or pet bred dogs as working line dogs are NEVER selected for looks, but for working ability.

    Why not make it a requirement that dog have to meet certain minimum working ability/soundness tests to prove they are fit. For example the ANKC offers an "endurance title" which I personally believe any healthy dog should be able to achieve. It consists of a 20km run with 3 rests, the whole thing taking aprroximately 2 hrs. The pace is a fast trot or jog (for smaller dogs) around 6km/hr. Basset breeders here have stated their dogs can do 7 miles an hour so this should be a breeze for them!

    Working ability tests are controversial as many working line dogs would have unsuitable temperaments for life as a pet-only. But it does sadden me to see labradors who hate water, won't fetch etc or border collies who show complete disinterest in livestock etc.
    But I do believe they would keep breeds fit for their original purpose (is that a sensible goal?) and "true to type:.

  71. Those top ones would not be fit for purpose. If they were running through thick scrub their skin would just tear like paper, the wrinkles are actually there to protect the dog and the more wrinkle the thicker the skin.
    The wrinkles around the head and the large ears are to trap the scent and direct it towards the nose. The short legs are so the Basset is low profile and close to the ground (again, scent related).

    The dogs listed at the top are actually the poorly bred ones as they would not be fit to work as a scent hound. They also look like they are possibly crossed with a Harrier or a Beagle.

  72. Could someone please explain the point of conformation dog shows to me? As I understand it, the goal is to create a dog that on the surface looks (looks only--not a thought is given to what is inside the head of the dog) as though it could work at whatever its ancestors used to do. First of all, why? Second of all, if that is the goal, it has been a colossal failure in every breed. None of them look anything like their working ancestors. Meanwhile health and lifespan have declined across the board. So what has been achieved through conformation shows? Breeders have enjoyed the ego gratification of winning. Is there any other up side? How can anyone continue to support this failed model?

  73. "Those top ones would not be fit for purpose. If they were running through thick scrub their skin would just tear like paper, the wrinkles are actually there to protect the dog and the more wrinkle the thicker the skin.
    The wrinkles around the head and the large ears are to trap the scent and direct it towards the nose. The short legs are so the Basset is low profile and close to the ground (again, scent related)."

    Once again, we get these canards posted, without any evidence. As Anon on Nov 4 pointed out, these internal belief systems are self-sustaining, without every being proven.

    Some of it doesn't even make sense. I don't understand at all how you can equate more wrinkles to thicker skin. More skin does not equal thicker skin. More skin is just that - more skin.

    TBH, I'm beginning to find the defences of closed-registry breeders rather boring. They make little sense, never change, and fail to acknowledge the need for change. As Bodil says, increasingly I shrug my shoulders and walk away.

    What does interest me though are discussions about new ways that breeders, dog owners and dog associations develop their dogs. How can we support people who want to breed dogs outside this dreadful, destructive closed-registry system? How can we develop new ways to enjoy the talents of our dogs, through activity and sport? How can we provide healthy and interesting dogs for people who don't want a dog that "works", but want a companion, a family member, or a mate to try sports with?

    Let's give more voice to positive change. Let's lead by example. I'm sure the public will vote with their feet, leaving closed-registry systems to dwindle and fade away.

  74. Sarah Jones on 6th Nov misses one very important point; the hounds pictured at the top of this blog prove they are fit for purpose by working every week. They covered 19 miles yesterday and not one was injured. And none of them have been crossed with either a Harrier or Beagle. We prove are hounds are capable of 'great endurance in the field' as quoted in the Basset Hound breed standard, I am not aware of any KC hounds demonstrating this key requirement in the UK.

  75. Sarah Jones said...
    Those top ones would not be fit for purpose. If they were running through thick scrub their skin would just tear like paper, the wrinkles are actually there to protect the dog and the more wrinkle the thicker the skin..
    The wrinkles around the head and the large ears are to trap the scent and direct it towards the nose. The short legs are so the Basset is low profile and close to the ground (again, scent related)..

    The dogs listed at the top are actually the poorly bred ones as they would not be fit to work as a scent hound. They also look like they are possibly crossed with a Harrier or a Beagle..

    Bwaaa haaaa haaaa haaaa!

    "Sarah Jones" is a master satirist, deployed here for comic relief, perhaps the Mrs. Betty Bowers of the show-dog world.

    I count at least EIGHT highly entertaining show fancier delusions rolled into only six sentences. (Well, seven, if I pull out my red pencil and impose standard English grammar on this comic persona. But why meddle with genius?)

    My tight-skinned, wrinkle-free, prick-eared, long-legged working SAR dogs are all having a laugh along with the rest of us.

  76. More wrinkles means more skin, not thicker skin, and in that way, it is like a person wearing lots of loose clothing. If that person were to go through brush and bramble, it's guaranteed that he/she get stuck because the loose clothing would catch on thorns/bramble/twigs/branches. Either that or the clothes would tear. Similarly, a dog with that many wrinkles and loose skin would have trouble going through such brush. Sure the skin might tear a little, but it would definitely catch on things. That loose skin would just be troublesome for the dog.

    With regards to the belief of the wrinkles on the head and the long ears are used to catch scent. Who came up with that? Anyone, especially breeders who know their dogs, and has a basic knowledge how a dog's body works should already know that it is an outdated myth. How can you, as 'experts' on the basset breed and know your dogs, honestly HONESTLY believe that this is true?

    Another thing I'd like to add for the people who are die-hard breed purists. Dog breeds that we see today were created by mixing different breeds together. So regardless of how 'pure' a dog is, it's essentially a mutt. I'm sure this little bit will fall on deaf ears, but people forget and a reminder never hurts.

  77. You have all so much to comment on today's Basset Hounds and how they are all overdone and they are not fit for purpose anymore.Funny,I have at home a male who is by todays KC standard well overdone and have no problems whit working as a Basset Hound.In fact, if I wont his puppy's I first have to take him to field trial,so he can proof that he is still a working dog.And I don't meen tracking in exam.He need to find by himself a hare or a fox and chasse him for at least 15 min.If the judge see what he is chassing then he get a higher point.And if I want him to be a champion he must take another test on national or international level.

  78. Perhaps being a "mutt" owner, I am not licensed to comment, but I think this is a fantastic blog. For years, I have scratched my head over all the stories of allergies, defects, and health hazards people encounter in the purebred world and thought there seems to be an awfully easy solution. To breeders who do not screen or do not screen carefully, the dog is always the loser. How sad.

  79. I must say, I find this particular blog on Basset hounds irritating.
    I personally own 3 basset hounds, all of which are healthy happy hounds. When I read peoples comments on the excess skin, let me tell you, by george it doesnt stop them running after a squirrel at lightning speed! Neither my partner or I can catch any of our hounds. Surely if their size, leg length and 'excess' skin was a problem then we would be able to catch them!?
    If Basset Hound owners look after their hounds, and go with the advice given to them by the responsible breeders then they should't have problems. We certainly have not had problems. When you agree to give a Basset hound a forever home, you should have done your research - so you conquer the 'problems' like ear infections because you are aware of them and you make sure your hound does not suffer and has clean ears.
    Looking at the picture of the gorgeous show winning pup, she doesnt have entropion at all - it is simply that she has black eyes.
    No breed is perfect - but then again neither are humans!!

  80. @Anon 17:08 You are right, the puppy doesn't have entropion - If you'd have read a little more carefully you would have seen that it is described in the text as ECTROPION, a totally different eye condition. And it has nothing to do with eye colour.

    You make it sound as though you are quite willing to accept that the puppies are born to suffer, and that it's ok because it's "normal for the breed". IT IS NOT NORMAL, breeding for type has made the occurrences of problems more common, but only in a twisted world like the show world would that be considered normal.

  81. Sorry but I see it differently....if we are breeding dogs that will suffer chronic ear infections without special care ( that not all owners give |) then we should be looking at how that can be changed and NOT accepting it as isnt normal for dogs.

  82. Anon 17:08 - do you know the difference between entropion and ectropion? That beautiful black-eyed pup clearly has one of these. Go ahead and look those words up. Compare and contrast.

  83. Many thanks for pointing out my typo - I meant to type ectropion, and yes I do know the difference. There is no need for condescending comments.
    Just because that pup has droopy eyes, doesnt mean automatically that she suffers from ectropion. I suggest that Jemima asks her breeder whether she suffers from the condition before jumping to her own conclusion.
    I cannot say that this breed does not suffer with their own problems, but as I stated before, so do many other breeds. My mothers Westie suffered terribly with a dermological complaint, that saw her scratching until she bled. It is rife within that breed, but I don't see that being 'blogged'.
    @RogerWilde - I dont believe that I wrote anywhere in my last post that I am willing to let pups suffer?!? All I said was that if you have a dog that you know needs special attention, then you must do everything you can to assure the dog doesnt suffer from it. I think you got the wrong end of the stick!

    To be honest though, it doesn't really matter what I type in defence of the breed I adore - it will always be twisted by people that don't approve.
    There will always be unscrupulous breeders in every breed that simply do not care about what they breed. A shame - but it happens. I simply wanted to point out that not all purebred hounds are unhealthy.

  84. Anon wrote: "My mothers Westie suffered terribly with a dermological complaint, that saw her scratching until she bled. It is rife within that breed, but I don't see that being 'blogged'."

    You will if you click this:


  85. Anon 23:33 wrote: "I dont believe that I wrote anywhere in my last post that I am willing to let pups suffer?!?"

    I never said you did. What I said was that you make it sound as though you are quite willing to accept that the puppies are born to suffer, and that it's ok because it's "normal for the breed". There is a difference. Willing to let pups suffer suggests wilful neglect, something I am sure you, me and everyone else here would utterly condemn.

    Willing to accept they are born to suffer is not the same. Accepting the breeds extreme amount of excess skin is what I am talking about here. This feature - which has been developed and encouraged by "the fancy" over the years - DOES cause, or at the very least contributes to suffering. You describe the show winning pup as "gorgeous", which says to me that you believe that's how Basset puppies should look. And yet you must know that many of them will suffer health problems at some point because of their extreme features. Ergo you are willing to accept that they are born to suffer. It shouldn't be like that. If you consider yourself a responsible breeder you should be looking at ways to improve - truly improve - the situation, rather than trying to get the rest of the world to accept it as "normal" when it clearly isn't.

    With reference to Jemimas comments in her original post about many pet bred bassets being just as bad: The general pet buying public don't go to shows. But they do watch Crufts on TV once a year and there they see the show version of a breed e.g. Bassets. Then they may buy the show friendly dog mags and papers, where they will see more Bassets of the same type. Then they may go onto the breed club website and see yet more of the same, so eventually they begin to think "well, it must be what Bassets look like, they like that on the telly, and in the press and on the net, so it must be right." Small wonder then that the pet bred dogs are just as bad as the show bred ones, the public are brainwashed into thinking it's normal so that's what they buy, showbred puppies. And later if they breed their dogs, they breed them with other showbred dogs because that's they've been led to believe is the right thing to do. And so it goes on.

  86. For those of you who approve of puppies being "born to suffer," consider the many breeds where that does not happen. By carefully selecting working breeds (+ a "sport-bred" Papillon), none has had a single health issue until a minimum of age 13 1/2, and (except for one car death when in the care of my friend), none have died before 14 1/2.

    The breeds are: Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, Parson Russell Terrier, and Papillon.

    The Pap breed has been around since the 1500's and is virtually unchanged except that the upright ear mutation arose in the 1890's, and is now the most common. The others are or were working dogs that have been bred consistently to herd or hunt, without regard for "looks."

    I'm so glad to see the working Basset bloodline has not been lost. If show breeders know what they're doing, they'll neuter all the extreme Bassets and start all over again (the right way!) using Bassets that can still go into the field and hunt.

  87. Sorry to post so late, but I was just reading 'The Basset Hound' from 1964, by E. Fitch Daglish. All the champion dogs in it look much more like the Albany bassets than like Darley's basset.

    Would love one of those Grims dogs!

    Lol at anonymous 14 Nov 13:37 who thinks that chasing a rabbit for 15 minutes means a dog's a good working basset.

  88. Also posting late. Achondroplasia is not something that is gradually acquired - perhaps the degree of achondroplasia is. An xray or even a physical exam by an experienced vet should be able to distinguish achondroplasia from normal. Obviously a genetic defect occurred that people found attractive. Luckily it is a dominant so it can be removed quickly if there are any normal genetics left in the gene pool. Calling it normal bc it is in the breed standard is circular. Claiming one must hew to the breed standard to maintain the breed flies in the face of the change brought on by the adoption of the defective dog.

  89. I think that the Albany hounds are fantastic and believe that all dogs should be fit for function,
    which is something that appears to be sadly missing in the show bred lines of many breeds.
    This includes to name a few, many Spaniels, and the German Shepherd

    I feel that any responsible breeder should put the health of their dog 1st .
    It is surely un-acceptable to any dog lover/breeder to Knowingly breed a dog which they know may well have health problems
    These health problems are exacerbated by the breeders need to win at any cost.
    I also feel the public buying the dogs the breeder does not want should educate themselves,
    about their choice of dog, not only in terms of its exercise and food needs but also with regard to any health problems it may have, prior to purchase.

    There are many dogs I like but would never purchase due to the way in which they have been bred and their features exaggerated because some feel it looks better.
    To name a few the Neapolitan Mastiff, The English bull dog and the Shar Pei . These breeds have one or all of following issues, breathing difficulties, due to shortness of the face, Infections due to massive amounts loose skin, enormous heads, meaning often a natural birth is not possible, eye problems and hip/Joint issues.

    How can anyone who claims to love dogs want their animals to suffer these issues in the name of aesthetics and winning.

    Of course not all breeders and dog enthusiasts do this the Albany hounds, and those who breed working spaniels and Border collies are a great example to all
    These dogs are fit for function.

  90. I never knew that bassets could actually be cute! Frankly, they creep me out. The ones I typically see (I'm a CVT)are so disgusting with the skin folds; huge, dirty ears, weepy eyes...bleech. They make me gag just looking at them. I'd rather deal with a fractious cat than have to lay a hand on what appears to be a "KC-approved" basset.


  91. The working-type Basset Hounds are lovely... the show ones look like they are melting and about to run all over the floor. :-(

  92. I have to admit, I'm not usually a hound person, but those working Bassets are absolutely gorgeous. They remind me a bit of my sister's Basset who, sadly, had to be put down recently due to an injury from a car accident. She came from a backyard breeder. That's what really gets to me, how a dog bought for $150 from a newspaper classified looks so much better than a champion show dog from a "good" breeder. It just seems backwards to me.

  93. Im wondering what a show bitch with pups must look like? Any pictures?

    Its just I imagine it cant walk without treading on its teats. When it get up and down its nails even well clipped and smoothley filed ones will surely also lacerate and scratch them.

    So how do they manage bitches with pups the show folk? Im honestly curious because most dogs especialy after one litter the teats hang well bellow the knee. Add two or three inches more skin and the show basset is walking on them! Without a doubt.

    Im feeling there must be some dark secretes to how the bitches are kept.......I would like to see anyway just to rule out some possibly extremely worrying welfare issues or do they simply have to wear some contraption like a bra with openings for the nipples?


  94. Just look at pictures of the French Basset hounds. Like the Basset Blue the Gascogne. That are the originals. The make perfect pets and hunting dogs.

    Hubert Jacobs

  95. I lost both my basset hounds too early, one 9 one 5, both in 2020. I read this blog and started to research basset breeding. I love the breed but I wanted a dog who would have health and longevity. I bought an Albany style, working basset hound bitch in 2021. She is lovely, and tenacious and fast and agile and sound. Sure, it means more exercise for me and less time on the couch but this is a true, working basset and she's perfect.