Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Best of Breed Basset Hound Crufts 2014

Want to see what all the fuss was about regarding the Best of Breed Basset Hound at Crufts this year?

Here you go - Akasha Banana Split - aka "Nana".

It is clear in Frank Kane and Jessica Holm's commentary that they are not fans.. no superlatives here. Frank Kane mentions that breeders are trying to steer away from exaggerations, but notably doesn't suggest that they've succeeded in this dog. And Jessica Holm, struggling to say something nice, finally plumps for Nana's ears.


You can see that this dog does move well given her physical limitations. But this is the human equivalent of what the morbidly-obese are left with post extreme weight loss.


Just  imagine what it would feel like to run with this.

That Nana can do it  - at the moment - isn't testament to selective breeding. It's testament to our dogs' incredible spirit and stoicism - something they have not yet managed to breed out of her.

When they do, the breeders better watch their backs.

74 comments:

  1. Sorry to disagree, quote/mis quote Frank Kane mentions "the feet need substance and the dog must stride out cleanly " so the fat wrinkled feet of Nana are good Mr Kane? Jessica says"a lot of loose flying skin there" so a lot of loose flying skin is good Mrs Holmes?, "they should be exaggerated in the skin but the breeders etc" "beautiful ears" some of the comments in the wrong order but to the public who are looking to buy a basset will look for Nana likes, not Albany likes. . They had an ideal opportunity to alert the public to all that was wrong with Nana from a health and welfare point of view without being cruel or nasty about her, they had an opportunity to reassure the dog showing fraternity that to be judged by them and succeed was an opinion worth receiving. Now? If I was still showing I would wonder about whether it was worth investing a lot of money for their "shallow" opinion. Altogether I am disappointed with their presentation overall, they are the "technical, professional, knowledgeable" side of dog showing which is why I assume they have been employed for the Crufts programme" and yet they come across as playing to the crowd, reluctant to disapprove in case it affects their future in the dog world. Looking at the footage several times, it is really quite shocking, especially the loose skin, it must be really sore after moving around for any length of time. Poor dog, poor bassets, if the Albany's could get together a group of bassets and show them publicly up against the show type the public could make their own decision on which would be healthier to own.

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    1. Frank Kane and Jessica Holmes are *part* of all this; not independent observers. They might (and have) remarked if a dog is, say, lame... but you will never hear them criticise a dog for being exaggerated in these circumstances (whatever they might think privately).

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    2. Kane and Holmes have burned their bridges really.Well, at least to the people who are genuinely concerned about the continuation of Crufts in it's present form. I've heard Holmes bang on about wrinkling and loose skin being 'so important to the breed standard' in Mastiffs too and JH has posted concerns about exaggeration in these dogs too.

      If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. These guys need to have a good look at what they are actually doing here and question the nature of their commentary and professionalism. They are actually in a position to educate people and are failing dogs spectacularly by failing to recognise the consequences of their inaction.

      I get the distinct impression that the penny is dropping with regard to the ridiculousness of Crufts, at least in some areas. A A Gill slagged it off in his Sunday Times commentary last week. JH has tried to be constructive in her criticism, doesn't seem to work for some people though...

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    3. could you post a link to the Sunday Times article, please?

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    4. I read it in the hard copy. (Culture supplement). You need to subscribe to The Times on line to read it. Try googling 'AA Gill Crufts review'

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    5. Here is AA Gill's slightly endearing ridicule of Crufts 2014...
      'The last acceptable face of genetics..'
      Hope it's OK to post here?

      'Crufts is the last acceptable face — or perhaps that should be muzzle — of eugenics. It’s all about breeding, the triumph of the fittest, weeding out the runts. But then, a couple of years ago, it all went to the dogs. There was a series of unfortunate inbreeding accidents, undershot jaws, dodgy hips, bulging eyes, fits of rage: less like the canine Aryans, more like the Conservative party. It was dumped by the BBC.

      So, as a PR exercise — now Crufts is back on Channel 4 — to show this is less about blood and clean limbs, and much more about anthropomorphism, we were offered lots of tear-jerking stories of cross-species love and selfless friendship; the rescued mutts that rescued their owners right back, just like Pretty Woman, because bitches are always a sure thing.

      This dissemination of high sentimentality was precisely what the eugenics needed to make the whole thing authentically fascist. Crufts is now the unholy whelp of Beatrix Potter and Leni Riefenstahl, a four-legged Nuremberg rally, and they’ve brought in a big Wagner heroine, Clare Balding, to give it a jolly, healthy, sporting patina. She is, as ever, intensely personable and radiates a robust empathy for anything canine. She did look uncomfortably like she had just trodden in something foul, but perked up when one of her co-presenters mentioned that this dog show wasn’t a two-horse race.

      The filmed sob stories of a vomitous sweetness were a direct steal from The X Factor, and reminded us what a dog show both it and Britain’s Got Talent are. As if to underline the Animal Farm allegory of looking from dogs to men and back to dogs again, and realising they are just the same, the grand winner was a standard poodle with the risible tonsure of its ilk, as bouncingly self-confident as it was self-unaware. Thick on top, high-waisted and jaunty behind, with neat, jiggling little plums, it was inescapably Simon Cowell.'

      AA Gill Sunday Times Culture Supplement 16.03.14

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    6. Hilariously funny, many a true word spoken in jest with a black cloud hovering ominously above dogs.

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    7. He's basically saying the Dog Show world is akin to the eugenics movement of Nazi Germany but with the entertainment value aimed at half wits! I don't know whether to laugh or cry.....poor dogs

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    8. "The last acceptable face of EUGENICS ... " not of GENETICS please. Genetics is a (still) quite respectable science. Eugenics was a well-meant but decidedly elitist idea of 19th century upperclass folks - by and large, the same ones that founded kennel clubs. That is actually not simple because selection does have effects and those effects are not always harmful. Consider the exquisite functionality of (still, once again ) function-bred dogs, and the even more exquisite functionality of literally millions of wild species in their own environments (to get a real feel for that, visit a tropical rain forest or a coral reef - you can discover the same things in temperate environments, even in your own back yard, but it's a little more work ).

      The dog show folks do not deliberately set out to create monstrosities, but that is indeed the effect of what they do. To understand that we have to examine the process of conformation competition. At the root of the problem is the human ability, as a predator, to pick out of a group of animals the one that 'stands out' in any peculiarity that might make it easier to catch than the others. This operates at the level of the "reptile brain" and quite unconsciously. It enables a judge to spot the "outstanding" (think of the literal meaning of that word) individuals ... and repeated over hundreds of shows and many dog generations, it tends almost inevitably to produce caricature. If something is good (say, a short nose) then more of it becomes better (e.g. modern Pugs or Frenchies). Almost anything one can SEE will eventually become exaggerated in that way ... and judging dogs in the show ring is all about SEEING. A worthwile exercise is to find and study photographs of familiar breeds, as they have changed over the years. Enthusiasts of dog showing will tell you that judging and standards are necessary "to conserve type". Historical examination will tell you that those things have exactly the opposite effect. Where do we find consistent and persistent "type"? Among the working dogs, especially those whose "job" has not changed much over the centuries. Bring them into the show ring, and their appearance (along with much else) changes dramatically in a couple of decades.

      BTW the Nazis did not invent eugenics. Eugenics was popular among well educated, well meaning intellectuals of the late 19th century. Hitler just plagiarized "mainstream" ideas that had already been around for a long time. A man named Houston Chamberlain was a source of Hitler's thinking.

      BTW also, Hitler was not just some crazy madman. He was an authentic genius with an incredible, calculated ability to mesmerize crowds into following his programs. Read "Mein Kampf" (if you can stand it, and if you can find a copy) and you will see. He lays out in grisly detail among other things the "Big Lie" technique, why it works and how to use it. Many others - among them, recently, the animal-rights fanatics - have since exploited the techniques he explained so chillingly.

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    9. JohnB - Hitler WAS a crazy mad man. He was a psychopath and was responsible for the needless death of millions of people. Manipulating people does not necessarily make someone a genius. It means that they are able to manipulate people. Period. Psychopaths are simply wired differently and are incapable of empathy. It makes them dangerous if they are in positions of authority and if they are responsible for the well being of others. Read B.F. Skinner 'Science and Human Behaviour' and 'Coercion and it's Fallout'

      That piece by AA Gill does not infer that the Nazis invented eugenics. Merely that the dog showing world is so ridiculous in the moden world that it simply belongs to the past. When we didn't know any better and did stupid, harmful things.

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    10. The dog showing world is guilty of blindly following ideology - eugenics. In the process, ruining the health of dogs around the planet in their futile quest for rosettes and ribbons. The ideology is the breed standard. Upheld by the KC and breed clubs, so brain washed that they can not think rationally about the damage they are inflicting.

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    11. 'Mein Kampf' is one of the most popular books sold by Amazon and can easily be found in any good book store and every thing he writes is borrowed from one place or another.
      I think you're confusing genius with being a fascist. AA Gill does not say Hitler invented eugenics and a far better read is 'The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli or '33 Strategies of war', by Robert Greene if interested in gaining power and holding on to it. They can be found in any good book store or ordered online. Sorry about being slightly off topic.

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    12. Im wondering why the BBC doesn't do Crufts from a critical point of view. Have experts look at the dogs and comment?

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    13. That's a good idea about a critique of Crufts. I suppose anyone could do that on YouTube perhaps? Could ask some vets to casts their expert eye and give an honest appraisal.

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  2. Just behind the Basset is the Crufts slogan 'Celebrating Healthy, Happy Dogs'... or not.

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    1. I noticed that too - it is heartbreaking. And inaccurate. They are 'celebrating' and rewarding exagerrated and unhealthy dogs.

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  3. I was able to watch the golden retriever in the Gundog group, and they said it "was still a workmanlike dog." If so, why is that during Phillipa Williams's display of working gundogs, she had to explain what breed the working goldens were? They look so different from each other. The show variant in Europe is developing along the lines of a Maremma, while the working variant still looks like the old wavy-coated retriever (just with a weird pelt color).

    It's as if the presenters on this show know very well that it's hard to read off breed club pravda and keep a straight face, so they say it and then quickly change the subject.

    At least when you watch Westminster, one of the presenters knows nothing about dogs and asks questions that are often entertaining to hear answered!

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  4. Yes, point taken, they are dog breed judges for different groups so they have to remain circumspect and "impartial". But in many ways this is exactly what is wrong with dog show judging. Gone are the people who were outspoken, principalled and who "cow tailed" to no one. Perhaps Crufts should add the opinion in the mix of people who are not afraid to point out what is undesirable in a breed. It doesn't have to be a dog as such, but a drawing or some such image that outlines what a healthy dog of a breed should look like with an acetate overlay showing undesirable traits.. So before they start each breed or group whoever wins the group, then the image with overlay could be used. The public would then be able to compare like for like? I do strongly feel that "glossy Crufts" can inspire people to go out and buy a puppy of a breed they had never seen. And these people should be much more aware of the pitfalls of a particular breed. This is where the KC have an absolute obligation and opportunity to start to inform in an unbiased way. They should be aware that the exaggerations are not just undesirable but they are very expensive so an idea of say hip replacement, en/ectroprian, skin problems, epilepsy, diabetes would also be quite a good "need to know". For instance, just yesterday, Tots had to go to the vets because she is getting a bit potty, 10 min consultation, blood test and report and some senile pills, a cool £150 - "just like that". Vet bills could be said to be a red herring in this blog but if a dog is not treated and left to struggle with it's affliction then a whole new world of cruelty, neglect, suffering opens up before us. Fran, ironic or what!!

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  5. Is tripping on a flat carpeted floor part of sound movement?

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    1. ! :) Well spotted. Poor uncomfortable dog.

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  6. "Strong feet"? Looks like the poor beast is walking on sponges.

    And the trot is like trying to run in a weighted dress.

    No thank you.

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  7. What is the point of all that loose skin? It is even folding down over the hocks! I cannot understand a purpose other than the selfish indulgence of people creating a living whimsy.

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  8. How do you know when your dog has too much skin? When you can casually grab a handful of it under the jaw and hold the dog by it, that's when.

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  9. I see them in real life now and then, and it is such a pitiful sight... clumsy, awkward creatures, not like dogs at all. Their eyes forever sore. Their ears will be messing in the food bowl if not fastened before they start eating. Ridiculous.

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  10. I'm not sure what's in the head of the commentators, if they're honest about everything they say or if they intentionally just say positive things, even if it's against their own opinions.

    I'm not very impressed with their comments though - the Pekingese (fur ball with flat face, exactly against what the breed standard calls for) they called "unexaggerated" and "sound and healthy".

    O_o...?

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    1. Yes, I thought the Peke was a clone of the smash-faced, overheating, unable-to-breathe, soft-palate-resection Peke that was the 2003 Crufts BIS winner, then discovered he was from the same kennel.

      So, 11-years on, exaggerated dogs are still winning the top awards, and the dogs are no better off...

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  11. It is interesting how some breeds go for exaggeration and others not-so-bad. The BOB Labrador has a pretty generic dog build. Sure double recessive in the color department (yellow should be rare), floppy ears, a little stocker than your average dog. But if breed preferences were to go overboard on "broad head" and "powerful build", as in the breed standard, you could easily have Labradors looking like Rottis.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY9SiMAKuUo

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  12. Its just horrendous. I've noticed on the continent when I lived there a lot of breeds have this eye problem for one problem, from great Danes to English mastiffs to bulldogs, sharpeis, spaniels New founlanders, blood hounds.....just eyes.

    I stopped going to dog shows when I lived in the UK, as a casual visitor. I was already too dispodent with pedigree dogs. I lost interest.

    One thing is for certain this blog has so much easy material to work with sadly it could go on for a very very long time. And here's hoping it will until all breeders are listening and all problems unearthed and looked at in a responsible way that brings about real change.

    Im shocked with the KC that this dog could win anything, but best of breed that does almost make you think nothing has been achieved at all.

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  13. The human comparison here reminded me that I've always thought it would be a cool if human groups with medical issues raised awareness of the presence and severity of those issues in dogs. Both groups would get some publicity, too. For example, if asthmatics talked about how awful it feels to be temporarily unable to breathe easily, and how horrible it is that pugs always feel that way.

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    1. Anon 00:26, I LOVE this idea. I think that would make an excellent commercial to play during Westminster. Maybe a Kickstarter campaign? I'd join for sure.

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    2. I watched 'The Act of Killing' recently. A brilliant but extremely disturbing documentary about the communist genocide in Indonesia in the 60s. The film implied that the ringleaders were actually capable of feeling remorse and empathy when put in the position of the people they had murdered, as an 'act' in a film. Up until then, they really believed that they were doing the right thing. Perhaps if these show breeders had to walk around with their breathing compromised or had irritated eye lids for a week, only then may the be capable of understanding the misery they continue to inflict on a vulnerable species.

      It's a bit extreme, but it would appear that it takes an extreme effort to get these sort of people to realise what pain they inflicting. The mindset is truly boggling and pathologically abnormal. I'm certainly not advocating that people would be harmed in the process of trying to help them wake up to the atrocities they are committing, but it definitely struck me watching the film that 'those who can make you believe absurdities can make you committ atrocities' Voltaire

      It is absurd to breed dogs with deliberately disabling and deformed features in the name of ' beauty'. It is atrocious to continue to do it in the light of scientific evidence that proves the welfare of these animals is severely compromised.

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  14. Anon 00:26 that is a brilliant suggestion because I have always believed that breeders who perpetuate deformities/disabilities in dogs see those afflictions as just words on a page. They do not associate them with suffering, crippling, disabling, painful life restraining/threatening conditions. If they heard from people who can speak/talk/communicate who suffer in their lives the breeders may listen, but in reality the only disability they are truly aware of is loss of money, that is the only thing that will really hurt THEM. It could be done in the same way as say dogs being taken to the classroom for children to learn about care and welfare, the next dog seminar should have a group of people who are prepared to talk about the compromises they have to endure in order to live. Your idea is really "cool" and possibly beneficial for dogs!!
    Georgina

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  15. Alison from the Albany Bassets23 March 2014 15:03

    I would love to find out from Mr Ron Parker why he chose such a hideous hound as Best of Breed.

    As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I can only assume he likes his bitches to be; Italian, covered in rolls of excess skin, overweight, half-blind and physically incapable of running for more than 400m.

    Looking at the Basset Hound breed standard, I find it impossible to correlate the video of Banana Spilt to any of the following;

    1. It is important to bear in mind that this in a working hound and must be fit for purpose therefore should be strong, active and capable of great endurance in the field.
    2. 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.
    3. Some wrinkles of skin may appear between hock and foot, and at the rear of joint a slight pouch of skin may be present, but on no account should any of these be excessive
    4. Some wrinkles of skin may appear on lower legs, but this must on no account be excessive.
    5. There may be a small amount of wrinkle at brow and beside eyes.

    Even more astounding is that Mr Ron Parker chose this hound despite the points of concern requiring special attention as stated by the Kennel Club;

    1. Excessive amounts of loose facial skin with conformational defects of the upper and/or lower eyelids so that the eyelid margins are not in normal contact with the eye when the dog is in its natural pose (e.g. they turn in, or out, or both abnormalities are present). Handlers should be discouraged from pulling skin forward over head and eyes.
    2. Excessive length of ears
    3. Inadequate ground clearance – overly deep body and/or presence of ‘skirt’
    4. Significantly overweight
    5. Signs of dermatitis in skin folds

    I can only conclude that Mr Ron Parker has no idea how to judge subjective terms such as; endurance, adequate, some wrinkles and excessive.

    Can a show judge be struck off?

    If so he should be; he’s clearly as incapable of judging as Banana Split would be at hunting.

    Even more worryning is that he also breeds Basset Hounds.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Great comment, Allison! In the game of words, it's hard to think of anything more constructive than pointing the finger at the individual judge who puts forward a malformed dog who amply demonstrates excesses of concern for the breed.

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  16. Well constructed blog sadly unlike Banana. You could do an acetate trace of one of your working bassets, stick it over the photograph of Banana and then ask Mr Parker what he sees! Attach your points above and ask him to aIso comment as if it is a show critique. He cannot disrespect your request, but if he has a real interest in Basset Hounds he has an opportunity to explain and prove his knowledge. I suspect you will not get a reply? Ask the Basset Hound Club of GB to join you on a day of hunting so that they can see why it is imperative that a hound is well built, athletic and unexaggerated and if there is any intelligence within the membership they may start to understand the concerns of others outside of this breed. There is no malice intended just concern for the show/pet dogs who even if they are never given an opportunity to hunt should still be able to move unrestricted and enjoy life.

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  17. Alison from the Albany Bassets23 March 2014 20:11

    I have just sent the following email, lets see if Mr Parker is willing to put forward his point od view;

    Dear Mr Parker

    You may be aware that the BOB Basset Hound at Crufts this year has come in for some serious ridicule.

    The Pedigree Dogs Exposed Blog is very active and you may wish to contribute your views to ensure the argument is not one sided.

    http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/best-of-breed-basset-hound-crufts-2014.html#comment-form

    You must have had good reason to pick Banana Split as BOB, we would love to hear what those reasons were.

    Regards

    Alison

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    1. Well done Alison. Have you thought about copying in the DAC and More 4 as a complaint too? You have called his bluff! There can be no reasoning behind holding Banana Split up as the 'celebration of healthy and happy dogs.'

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    2. I'll second that too.... as a judge he doesn't have to explain his decisions, a judge can do a "write up/critique" but it isn't obligatory. So we wait on his word but we may wait for some time. The suggestion to contact the programme makers and DAC is a possibility but bear in mind he wasn't/isn't the only judge whose decisions are questionable. The argument will come back that the judge's decision is final and this is where the Kennel Club should be much more professional. If we can see disability then for g....d's sake so can they, especially the chairman, who is a retired vet. He should be overseeing the ringside by implementing observers who can report on their findings. I think you have done a very good thing personally and it may well start more responsible judging if the judges have to back up their decision when it appears that a grossly over exaggerated dog is their choice for high placement.

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  18. I was also looking at the breed standard for bassets and am a little confused by the choice of Nana, but then judging conformation seems to be based on an individual opinion set within guidelines of the breed standard.

    I'd personally like to see a change in the way judging takes place. Think along the lines of diving contests, with judges giving a "performance" score out 10. It may be too cumbersome for most show organisers to consider, but as the breed standards are, to a degree, open to interpretation, it seems like it would be fairer to have at least three judges conferring on which dog gets the BOB title.

    I'm not actually a fan of bassets in looks - any bassets, including the working style of Albany - but as bassets go Nana is not not, to me, appalling or hideous, neither is she striking. Looking at her video above however, she did move quite well and have a nice, steady sort of trot. The thing that really stood out to me was her chest which, as Alison Albany says, seems a bit too low to the ground.

    Really though, with breeding and conformation it's easier and more effective to change the system from a position within the system. People who consider themselves to be responsible breeders should be part of their breed clubs, take part in meetings and health initiatives, and breed the healthiest dogs they can. If you can champion your dogs as healthy AND conforming to the breed standard, especially if you're brave enough to show, your opinion gains impact and others may follow your lead. It's significantly easier now to find a cavalier breeder who MRI scans and dopplers their dogs than it was five years ago. The depiction of Cav breeders in PDE showed them as callous and uncaring, and blind to problems. That may have been the case, but they're not the only cav breeders and showers, there are plenty who breed beautiful, sound and healthy dogs, who live longer with fewer problems.

    I'm trying to be positive though it might seem to be a little convoluted. Essentially though, change can happen with enough people willing to see it through. If a few Albany style bassets started winning at shows, displaying fewer eye/back/skin problems than other bassets whilst retaining basset character and general look, perhaps more breeders would try to capture that in their dogs.

    Finally, I found an interesting timeline of bassets winning shows, from '95 to present. I can't say they seem to have changed that much.
    http://www.lycbhc.co.uk/champ_shows.html

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    1. I think it's a little optimistic if the die-hards are the '40-years-in-the-breed' brigade. These are the ones with the most clout in the breed clubs, including who votes in the health co-ordinator. So, if the other health officers collate lots of data on the poor health of their breed, the health co-ordinator can choose to do... nothing with it.

      Those breeders trying to make a difference, usually get shouted down by the die-hards. The odd breed maybe lucky, where the '40-years-in-the-breed-breeders' are some of the ones trying to move things forwards.

      You are correct though, it is deemed impossible to try and change things from without. Try and tell breeders that inbreeding/linebreeding is damaging, no matter how much evidence you give them, and they will not listen if you don't breed and show purebred dogs yourself. They know, you see, they've been doing it for the past X number of years, and no, their method of breeding has nothing to do with the breed's poor health.

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  19. Just compare how clumsily and unsteadily this bitch walks, to how nimble and fast these Albany bassets race around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaFgyeeUGdY

    Clearly the judges don't realise the dogs at the show aren't actually "athletic" or in any way fit for function.

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  20. Many accuse pedigree dog breeders of practicing eugenics.
    Looking at dogs like this, I think DYSGENICS would be a more appropriate accusation.

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  21. The group judge had to lift up the folds to check the prosternum and the front. Sad. Not a fan of the dogs front but she has nice well padded feet. Topline is eh too. I have seen lovely dual purpose Bassets here - champions in show and field. They look nothing like this dog.

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  22. www.guardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/30/britains-most-endangered-dog-breeds

    Scary that they get breeds and species confused!

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  23. In Cruft's video "Kennel Club Junior Warrant of the Year | Final | Crufts 2014" video there was a Basset and the announcer (for the people listening at home) said the dog has less pronounced "bit of skin" and that that was lovely.

    I say props to him for recognizing that making the dog's "furnishing" less pronounced is a GOOD thing rather then something that destroys the breed.

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  24. I think what it all amounts to, is that we need a biologicaly sustainable and purposeful model registry to carry dogs into a future as part of our society.

    At this time, our choices are chaos, or the K.Cs who we are ALLOWING to dictate an untenable direction with no plan or goals past "refinement and purification".

    Nothing that further restricts dog ownership is right. If we don't live in a dog friendly society, we don't live in a human friendly society either.

    If Modern Man only split from Neanderthal Man when dogs were 1st domesticated, it seems much of our success to date has been due to that partnership.
    To give up on that looks too much like we loose a part of our humanity.

    A biologicaly sustainable, purpose based registry, with a charter to promote responsible, informed, inclusive, purposeful dog ownership into the future is urgently needed.

    According to the K.Cs rules and constitution, Thats not what their members signed up for.

    If they don't want to change that, the balls in our court.

    Aussie

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  25. I wish there were a sister blog called "Pedigree Dogs Appreciated". While there is a lot of stuff going on in dog breeding, particularly pedigree show dog breeding, that calls out for criticism, if not ridicule, there are also some lovely, well-balanced, healthy, not inbred dogs who get put forward in conformation judging. Find a lot of anything, and you can generally find scandal in the worst of the lot ;-)

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    1. True but these people aren't pushing and rocking the boat by saying poor breeding for looks rather than health is never acceptable. They are condoning the practice instead just as long as they are okay.

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    2. This is a rant. Apologies in advance.

      Owning a dog as a pet is a privilege, not a right.

      Breeding dogs based on their looks and for function based on jobs no longer required by them, such as guarding and killing small, furry mammalian intruders, is quite frankly insane. Breed standards are dysfunctional when it comes to form and temperament. I am appalled at the fact that euphemisms for ‘difficult to socialise’ are kept within breed standards in the 21st century, where we routinely now execute dogs for expressing normal canine behaviour – biting people when they feel afraid or when the predatory instinct takes over. It’s not appropriate of course, but it is normal canine behaviour whether you like it or not. It’s kind of counter intuitive to breed an animal to be aloof and wary of strangers or highly predatory towards other animals and then sell it to a clueless individual who then fails to socialise it adequately subsequently, setting it up to fail. The old label of ‘behavioural problems’ gets slapped on it when it simply fulfils its ‘pedigree’ and normal canine behaviour.

      We don’t NEED dogs to be combative and aggressive with other people and dogs do we? We don’t NEED dogs to have floppy ears, excessive amounts of hair and screw tails, flat faces, bulging eyes….etc. etc. These abnormal physiological features create problems with dog’s communication systems too as well as create appalling levels of suffering. But, do the breed fanciers/KC/breed clubs really give a damn about that either? No, it would seem…Do they even understand that I wonder?

      Breeding dogs isn't a job simply anyone can do either. We have science and genetics to lead the way in making informed and balanced decisions in this regard. It requires forward thinking and progressive individuals to change the status quo and sow the seeds of change. The people who keep referring to pedigree dogs as ‘pedigree’ are stuck in the past. That word needs to die….We need ‘well bred’ dogs, not pedigree dogs.

      We absolutely have to move away from this and look to breed dogs with the ‘correct type’ to fit into pet homes and peoples requirements for the 21st century. This is a responsibility required by society to fulfil. Not individual breeders; not Jemima Harrison and not the KC or breed clubs. You and Me.

      If the dog is to survive beyond the 21st century, we need a breed standard for the pet dog, that honours its health, function and welfare. Otherwise, it’s’ farewell faithful friend. Sorry we completely and utterly screwed you up and truly failed to understand your needs.'

      Delete
    3. Jennifer- quit wishing and take some action instead. Create your own blog and by all means, enlighten us!

      Delete
  26. I used to come here frequently, since I agree with many of the points about exaggerated breeds. I had suggested, several times, that it might be nice to read about the many breeds who do things right, as a point of comparison. But that never happens. If you look at the archives, there are tons and tons of blogs about bulldogs, mastiffs, and bassets. None about Brittanies or Chessies or the other breeds that have dual champions, or lots of dogs competing in performance events like agility and tracking and flyball. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find any mention of pedigree dogs in any good light at all.

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  27. I used to come here frequently, since I agree with many of the points about exaggerated breeds. I had suggested, several times, that it might be nice to read about the many breeds who do things right, as a point of comparison. But that never happens. If you look at the archives, there are tons and tons of blogs about bulldogs, mastiffs, and bassets. None about Brittanies or Chessies or the other breeds that have dual champions, or lots of dogs competing in performance events like agility and tracking and flyball. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find any mention of pedigree dogs in any good light at all.

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    1. It's curious. I'll bet most of those stuck in the negative groove of pointing out maladaptive dog breeding trends are strong proponents of positive reinforcement when it comes to dog training. I'm not against using the occasional aversive, but a steady diet of aversives isn't an effective way to shape behavior. Not in dog training. Not in political action.

      Delete
    2. It depends how and why you use aversives though doesn't it? 99% of 'behaviour problems' in dogs can be corrected using positive reinforcement and negative punishment. Experts in behaviour agree. That is practicing behaviourists who are scientists and experienced, therefore there is very little reason to use positive punishment in an animal who lacks the cognitive ability to understand moral and reason. Usually, aversive training lies in the hands of the old school who are stuck in their ways.

      Fact is, human beings can make choices based on evidence, moral judgement and ethical reasons. The problem with human behaviour is a lack of willingness to change when they are irrationally wedded to an ideological system, psychologically, sometimes they need cajoling and yes, need to have the the occasional aversive lobbied their way to shock them out of their apathy. Hardly the same as verbally, physically or shocking your dog in the name of training is it?

      Delete
    3. People tried using the carrot approach. You only have to look at video's dating back to the 1980's.. "We're correcting it" said the KC "changing the breed standard" and things for some breeds were still getting worse before the original PDE.

      The carrot approach didn't work. With PDE and since we had "there's no problem" or "we are already fixing it" yet we get comments like "Basset hound isn't a basset hound without eye problems". If people in the KC were pushing harder and being vocal about it rather than trying to deflect discussion about the the issues, people could trust them to do what is necessary rather than constantly highlight issues.

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    4. But spotlighting some of the many breeds that do things well would make the bad apples look that much worse in comparison, AND might actually bring on board breeders--- the very people you need to make changes. By only focusing on the worst breeds and making it seem as if they are somehow indicative of most breeding programs, the blog becomes a place that draws very few breeders and a whole lot of AR people who have a different agenda.
      I have lived with purebred dogs my whole life, and they have way fewer health problems than most of the people I know. There are many breeds that are functional, athletic, and healthy and still win ribbons and compete in other events, hunt and work and herd and do search and rescue. To read this blog, you would not know those breeders exist. You would certainly not know those dogs exist. Yet that is the expereince many of us have with purebred dogs. So to come here and only see the bad, and never the good, certainly does little to convince that the approach is balanced.


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    5. Understand that people have been trying for years - using science and evidence (positive reinforcement) - to get the people responsible (breeders, breed clubs, KC, general dog owning public) to wake up to the mess they have created with our pet dogs. They don't seem to understand that they have been trying to communicate this kindly and effectively so maybe they need unfortunately bullying about it because that's the only communication that they, rather pathetically, seem to understand?? You know, since they probably bully their dogs and disguise it as 'training'.....

      Delete

    6. Environmental restrictions make an organic population weaker, limit direction and subject it to stress.

      Increasing restrictions and stress from the environment indicate poor ability to adapt . The directive driving behaviour of that species is too narrow or specialized to allow the adaptation needed for survival.

      In a healthy population the directive influence allows for adaptations that build strengths to support the directive, and carry it out more efficiently. In harmony with the environment, and to mutual benefit.

      Dogs are an organic population. Their environment is the human community.
      Yes, humans have the ability to make moral judgements. Yes we have cognitive ability. But in the end, we are still just an organic population, subject to biological laws and our own directive influences.

      We can't afford to forget that.

      When we create a body such as the K.Cs, we have created a sub population. Its directive influence is man made, but its success or failure will still come down to biological laws.

      The directive of the K.Cs is to keep out environmental influences on the propagation of the species to aid purification and refinement.

      Thats double re-inforced by ruling that no member can breed a dog thats in-eligable for membership into the population they are creating.

      That ruling is out side of their charter. It has no bearing on what what happens within their charter. ( or population)

      This means that the K.C population will now have an effect on the environment, as well as with in their own population.

      Increasing restrictions on dog ownership and breeding practices are a direct result of environmental stress, caused by the subjects inability to adapt. Its influence on the environment is hostile.

      We may not be able to change the K.Cs own directive, but be damned if I can sit back and allow their double negative directive to drag us all down the same path.

      I find it ironic that a body who thinks its directive is improvement has so little understanding of simple biological law.

      The K.Cs are a sub population who should be able to sink or swim on their own merrit, or not.

      The way I see it, the K.Cs have no right to make rulings that affect those outside of their own environment. They have and they do. The effects are demonstrable.

      I believe that gives us, the environment, the right ( maybe even in a court of law) to change that specific directive.

      If not, the only alternative is to create a new directive that allows for adaptation and mutual benefit. To bring back some sort of balance.

      Aussie

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    7. Beth - your argument is absurd!
      Your pure bred dogs have fewer health issues than most of the people you know? Why are you comparing people to pure bred dogs?? They are completely separate species subject to entirely different selection pressures and breeding practices. We never allow pedigree dogs to naturally select their breeding partners based on how nature intended do we? And we select our partners based on scent and pheromones which allows the genetics of the MHC system to ensuheater mates have healthy immunity.

      And, do you have any evidence to back up your own limited anecdotal experiences?

      Hardly convincing me that you have a sound argument to keep producing dogs based on outdated principles.

      Delete
    8. I think the way forwardis to write a new manifesto and new breed standards for physically and temperamentally sound dogs, fit for the 21st century.

      Build it and they will come.

      Delete
    9. Beth and Jennifer - good point so why don't you provide some examples and scientific evidence then? Why come here and point this out and fail to offer any direction or evidence that back up your anecdotal claims?

      Delete
  28. Agreed Jennifer

    Pedigree breeders are taught the mark of success is in the form of K.C approved show wins.
    Breeding is conducted in a way that supports the K.Cs constitution and membership. For the K.Cs. NOT the environment. Its irrelevent to their charter and goals. Thats the result of a constitution that bans whats out side of its own charter.

    I don't believe that can change. You can raise awareness to bring improvement, but the ultimate authority and pressure is still the faulty constitution that binds them together. Those pressures won't go away. Thats why I feel for breeders trying hard to go against that pressure.

    Breeding the best to the best in hopes of improvement can only work when the pool of candidates is open.Otherwise, there is no measure to show the quality started with is even holding.

    The K.Cs own rules dictate ever shrinking possibilities.

    We need a body who encourages more adaptive breeding, for the current environment. The communities the dogs are destined to live in.
    Thats not part of the K.Cs charter. The constitution demands they hold themselves apart from their environment.

    A charter to promote responsible, purposeful and dog friendly communities with all that entails, based on sound principles of biological law would benefit the dogs AND our communities. We have such similar social structure.

    Aussie

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  29. We need direction, Not limitation, for a healthy system able to evolve and adapt according to biological laws. The only model provided has imposed a mentality of ever increasing restriction on what we accept.

    Aussie

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  30. Jemima, I noticed that the Telegraph has published a review of a recent study that concludes that pedigree dogs are as 'healthy as mongrels'. I was very pleased to see that they gave you the last word in the article so to speak! Will you be reviewing this study in a blog post here?

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    Replies
    1. Ah thanks.. haven't seen it yet. And yes, will be reviewing here. Because of course that's not what the study says at all.

      Jemima

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    2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/petshealth/10762988/Pedigree-dogs-as-healthy-as-mongrels-say-vets.html

      'Of the 20 conditions seen most frequently by vets, only three were significantly more prevalent among pedigrees: ear infections, obesity and skin growths. In all others, there was no major difference, although in some, such as degenerative joint disease – often said to be a problem for pedigrees – there was actually a slight tendency for greater problems in crossbreeds. '

      This is nonsense - the focus should be on genetic health. Not common 'health' disorders. And the major concern with pedigree dog breeding continues to be selecting dogs with gross exaggeration that render them physically disabled.

      http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/vet-breaking-news/2013/06/04/study-shows-mutts-genetically-healthier.aspx

      The above study review cites mutss as being genetically healthier.

      And don't forget, this is not what the insurance data reflects either....

      http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/dog-insurance

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  31. The idea of a manifesto appeals to me.

    Does anyone know how to get contact details for a dutch researcher, Hendrick Gommer?

    I am confident that applying his theories to the K.Cs would supply him with much material to support his theories of biological law, and possibly aid us in bringing change.

    Aussie

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  32. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hendrik_Gommer/

    He's on ReserachGate - you could contact him through there although you will have to register and really only useful for academics.

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1394703

    Contact email on the above link.

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  33. Thank you.Got it!

    A Manifesto could be to mutual benefit, if his theories applied to the K.Cs can show and document a large environmental influence from the K.Cs with negative impact.

    Aussie

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  34. The world of dogs hit an all time nadir last week, with Channel 4 screening a programme about a Biotech company in South Korea. They launched a marketing campaign in the UK inviting dog owners to apply for a chance to get their dogs cloned for free. Targeting the naive, gullible and people with more money than sense or intelligence they settled for a miniature dachshund to clone. Forcing dogs o endure surrogate pregnancies, undergoing C sections and then forcing puppies on doggy wet nurses absolutely reinforced my opinion that when it comes to dogs, some human beings are actually insane. I'm not are what channel 4 where aiming to achieve with screening this programme. The was nothing amusing about this whatsoever, it was absolutely hideous to witness the abuse and cruelty we have inflicted on this amazing species. Shame on the primates.

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  35. Actually, I didn't think this basset was so bad, compared to some other bassets that I've seen. But then this basset went near the Beagle on the table, and compared to a Beagle, this basset sure looked extreme.

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  36. As for what to do? I guess, there are two main camps:
    I) Try to get the clubs and breeders to improve.
    II) Ignore the qualzucht breeders and clubs and start new ones.

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