Sunday, 5 April 2015

Help me, I'm melting

On the left, show Bassets walking into Crufts 2015. On the right, "Truffle" from the Albany Bassets working pack in the UK.

This is a breed divided by 50 years of show-breeding - particularly in the UK where the show Bassets are real shockers.

I had an interesting comment on the PDE Facebook Group this morning in response to the pic above - a claim that the show dogs on the left are "normal" for a Basset and that working Bassets are more like a Basset Artesien Normand.

Now that's true today. But as a reminder of the damage that's been done, here's what the show Bassset Hound looked like 50 years ago. This is Ch Fredwell Varon Vandal - a hugely famous dog considered the epitome of the breed in the UK at the time.

If only it had stopped there, eh? But nooo. Award prizes to ribbon-chasers who in my opinion [legal caveat...] know little about dogs and... ta-daaaa...

                                             Crufts BOB 2014   ©On-Edition/The Kennel Club
And still they claim that these dogs can hunt down a hare with as much aplomb as a true working dog. Indeed, some even try to maintain that the show dogs are better workers because all that excess skin prevents the dog from being caught on brambles.

Nick Waters highlighted the issue in an interesting column for Dog World last month which featured this picture of Ch Blaby Hal, another big-winning 1960s-vintage Basset.

Waters also documents the (ultimately futile) efforts for there to be no difference between the show and working-bred Basset, concluding:
"At the risk of putting my head on the block, this featured hound, Ch Blaby Hal, and the late, great Ch Fredwell Varon Vandal (at one time the breed’s CC record holder) are, in my opinion, the epitome of a show hound ‘fit for function’."

I am often asked why I keep batting on.

And the answer is this.

There is a still a desperate need to continue to highlight the delusional nonsense spouted in defence of deformity and disease by too many people who breed and show dogs.

Leave a comment here or join in the discussion on the Pedigree Dogs Exposed Facebook Group.


  1. Wow,Varon Vandal looks such a nice dog.Wish we could still see dogs like that winning in the show ring.

    1. come to the USA we have plenty of them

    2. Yes, the US show dogs are markedly better than the UK dogs. Although still not as sweepingly lovely as the Albany Bassets.

  2. Ditto. Wow Ch Fredwel Varon Vandal is a nice dog and beautifully built. I would be quite proud to own a couple of bassets that looked like these. No excess skin at all in fact.

    Yes if only things had stopped there.

    I watched the Crufts footage of the hound class for 2015 on youtube. First it must be said a lot of Jesse's and I forget who the the other one was commentary was complete nonsense but it was mentioned about the Basset that "the excess skin was never to be too exagerated" "and "this one isnit" and in came quite an exagerated bitch. Far too low to the ground too many creases over the hocks and joints but she did have very nice eyes for a show basset and not a bad head.

    From this sing'e dog at least, winner of the bassets in the final line up of the hounds it looks like there is a move to award change even if it is quite slight. Those two at the top left are terrible their skin is litraly four times too big for the dog.

    1. I stood ringside as they were in the next ring to us and noted quite a lot of less exagerated hounds, less loose skin and nicer eyes.

      The BOB winner this year is much nicer then last years, wondered why this years photO wasn't used? still rather short on leg comapared to the workers,but quite an improvement.

      Remember change takes generations so each step is going to be around 3 years. Better tools for breeders (such as thsoe to ehlp reduce inbreedign, actualy knowign how many litters a stud had sired, ability co compare progeny health results etc) have only really become more availble in last 10 years, prior to that especially before the IT age, many scrambled aroudn in teh dark.

    2. Yes I agree I think there might even be room for the briefest eruption of muted applause here, most of it of course going Jemima's way.

      Those bassets pictured walking into crufts do set a bit of a different scenario, though. While they need not be excluded from the gene pool did they need to qulaify for Crufts one wonders?

  3. I have a dog that comes in to board here who looks a lot like Blaby. Unfortunately, he's a beagle-bassett cross. He's also 17 years old and though he's slowed down a lot, he still eats like a horse, and is much loved by his family.

  4. I'm still at a loss as to WHY the breeders do this. It simply doesn't make any sense to me. The Basset Hounds that took part in the hound parade at the Frampton Country show in 2013 looked like proper dogs - thank goodness they still exist.

    1. Simple -- they do it to win in the show ring. Because the show ring is about the people, not about the dogs.

    2. Because massive, heavy, extreme short, over wrinkled dogs win over less extreme dogs. That's why. The reason they win is because the standards for breeds are taken to their logical extremes. Based on those standards they are then perfection in the yes of the judges. It doesn't matter if they've become a grotesque caricature of the breed, hauling belly skin across the floor and the skin over their head is dragging their eyelids to the ground. This subsequently defines the breed in the eyes of show breeders.

      It must be so its written in the standard, like the twelve commandments that fell from the sky. Its pure dogma (no pun intended).

      The Basset was a very functional dog when it arrived in the UK from France, it was intentionally bred into a show animal with all of the problems. A very graphic example of a breed destroyed. Other breeds have been monstrous creations from the start usually "new" or what they rather call them "rare" breeds.

    3. Bigoted, probably without intention, to say "breeders do this". SOME breeders will do anything to win in the perverted culture of extreme traits shown -- for some breeds in some places -- in "the ring". Please reward breeders who do the right thing as well as castigating those who will add the extra wrinkle and the extra cm of ear length to get the CH/GrCH attached to their pedigree.

    4. I also get confused why extremes win. Wouldn't the breeder of the Basset (or any other extremely exaggerated breed) 50 years ago think today's Bassets look weird or strange? Would modern breeds today be considered pooly bred to those people back then? I'm just confused how extreme appearances like this even have a chance, unless it's such a gradual change that no one really pays attention (until it's too late). Are these extreme appearances their idea of "perfection"?. How frightening...

      Btw I still never understood the fascination with really saggy, droopy skin on dogs. I also really detest ectropion thing some breeds have. That cannot be good for the health of their eyes imo. I mean I have normal tight eyelids (as most humans do) and I still get random dust and debris in them (though luckily I actually have hands to be able to rub or wash my eye out!). I can only imagine how irritating it is for those breeds to get crud in their eyes.

    5. Chron it seems people capable of accepting a dog looking like this have lost touch with the fact that it's an animal with feelings just like they are.
      If I get even a lash in my eye it drives me around the bend, its very painful, very irritating, extremely uncomfortable all round. When even a cool breeze can do that to a dogs exposed conjunctiva it makes me very angry.
      There are consequences of breeding for extremes on the dogs health that are ignored because the extremes are rewarded in the ring.
      Judges will even argue it's a breed characteristic, its typy!

      The intended circus of sad helpless freaks and their even freakier masters.

    6. Chron you hit the nail on the head the exageration is a gradual process, fi tall is good then taler is better willg et you noticed and teh judge will put you up. so it si viatl judges actually judge to teh standard. Read any breed standard and noenof the UK oens ask for anythign that make a breed unhealthy, theya re full of moderate statemetns. it si the juudges that pick otu teh dog that stands out from the rest.

      People like to win, and as few people stay in the dog show game more than five years they have never seen what the dogs looked like a few generations ago, let alone a few decades. Few go to the trouble to research and notice the changes.

      It's no accident that the breeds with the least natural conformation seem to have changed and become more exagerated.

      Like you I can't see the attraction to wrinkly jowly or floppy eared canines, or those with a form of dwarfism (all short legged breeds).

      Yet these breeds are hugely popular with the general public, (100's beign imported from foremer Eastern European puppy farms t meet UK demand) if they were not they would quietly die out only being kept by a few myopic breeders with their skewed ideas of canine beauty.

      Most more naturally confomed breeds, bar GSD (where someone must have looked at Hyenas rather than other wild canids as their idea of natural conformation), msot normally constructed breeds show less conformational change, msotly in coat and some loss of leg length. Many are too heavy but that's because they are overfed.

    7. In the Uk the bulldog and the pug and the French bulldog are still in the top ten most popular breeds!

      The challenges of pedigree dog health: approaches to combating inherited disease
      Lindsay L Farrell*, Jeffrey J Schoenebeck, Pamela Wiener, Dylan N Clements and Kim M Summers

      Wow this paper is tremendous and full of fantstic references to look up....

      I hope its taken very seriously by all especially the KC

      BTW Im shocked at how few borzoi are registered in the UK each year, while if you look world wide there are litraly hundreds and thousands of them luckily (:

      Standards do do harm to dog breeds but not all in the same time but read the borzoi standard I think its pretty good myself being vague and often ommiting to even mention some aspects of the dogs make up.

  5. Beautiful, healthy looking examples!

  6. A must read, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology
    The Challenges of pedigree dog helth:approaches to combating inherited diseases, Farrell LL, Schoenebeck JJ, Wiener P, Clements DN, Summers KM

    Some interesting important points worth discussing here.

    But pertinent to this discussion at least is the sentence,

    "Sadly, some extreme forms of breed characteristics with a genetic basis can also contribute to issues of health and welfare."
    Canine Genetics and Epidemiology 2015, 2 :3 (11 February 2015)

    Im wondering wht they mean by "sadly" maybe im just being pedantic but shouldnt that be "logicaly"?

    Im still reading the article inetween feeding dogs and getting ready to catch a flight but this is an important one.

  7. Below is another gem from the article posted by River P.

    "Doing a genetic test and subsequently eliminating an individual from the breeding population may not be the best strategy, as by targeting a particular allele at one genetic locus for removal from the gene pool of a particular breed, breeders may in fact increase allele frequency of genetic variants on alternative haplotypes at the same, or a different locus, that are recessively deleterious. In addition, by eliminating some animals from breeding, a reduction in the effective population size will occur, thus risking higher levels of inbreeding, potential founder effects and genetic bottlenecks. In essence, by correcting one problem there is a chance of inadvertently creating a new one. In addition, several DNA tests currently available are based on preliminary or assumed relationships between susceptibility and developing disease."

    Genetic diversity is the key to healthier breeds not simply genetic testing and exclusion of dogs with KNOWN genetic mutations.

  8. Yes! It sets the scene beautifully.

    "The propagation of breed specifications and registration restrictions, such as the rule that a dog can only be registered within a breed if both its sire and dam are registered, has resulted in reproductive isolation of dogs of each breed, creating the “breed barrier”."

    "The loss of genetic diversity....and promotion of the breed barrier rule, contributed to overall loss in genetic variation"

    Popular sire syndrome. Genetic bottlenecks etc, inbreeding to maintain breed standards, known to be a significant causative factor in the number of inherited disorders in specific breeds....

    Show casing the healthy unregistered Jack Russell

    "However, not all breeds exhibit a loss of genetic variability. In a recent UK study, several breeds were shown to maintain a high degree of genetic diversity, in particular the Jack Russell Terrier, which showed extensive admixture and very low levels of inbreeding [19]. The Jack Russell is not recognized as a breed by the Kennel Club in the UK......This provides UK Jack Russell breeders with a broader pool of potential mates for their animals, because it avoids the registration restrictions discussed above, maximising genetic diversity within the breed."

    "Undoubtedly outcrossing will increase heterozygosity and reduce the frequency of disease-causing alleles in a breed. "

    The challenges of pedigree dog health: approaches to combating inherited disease
    Lindsay L Farrell*, Jeffrey J Schoenebeck, Pamela Wiener, Dylan N Clements and Kim M Summers

    Im wondering if the KC who supposedly contributes funds to this research isn't turning in its grave. Oops maybe that was premature, at least turning in their sleep. LOL

    Yes "genetic diversity is the key to healthier breeds not simply genetic testing and exclusion of dogs with KNOWN genetic mutaions."

    Wish that it were so simple.

  9. Whoa. Watching Crufts 2015 right now, the Working group, & I swear the Boxer looks timid. She's young (17 months), but still.