Showsight Presents The Basset Hound


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

B red to hunt over varied terrain and through uncertain weather, the Bas- set is a working, persistent, energetic hound—a far cry from the usual stereotypes that Basset Hounds are lazy or “speedbumps.” The Basset is a scenthound, and much of its structure is ideally suited for scenting and for endurance on the hunt. Their short legs not only slow them down, but also put them close to the ground and the scent line they are following. The structure of their head helps to concentrate scent, and their overall body proportions provide them with strength and, yes, agility to hunt all day. BASSET HOUNDS: THE FIELD-RING CONNECTION BY SYLVIE MCGEE FOR THE BASSET HOUND CLUB OF AMERICA

In this article, I’m not attempting to cover the entire standard—for that, I will refer you to excellent educational resources available on the Basset Hound Club of America’s website and to one of our workshops held at each National Specialty or through judges’ education groups. Instead, I want to concentrate on the elements of the Basset’s structure that suit the breed for scenting and endurance on the hunt; these are overall proportion and balance, the com- pletely functional head, and the running gear, both fore and aft. In brief, Bassets are descended from the St. Hubert Hounds in France, with a short-legged mutation occurring in the origi- nal hounds, and those dogs being selectively bred because it gave hunters on foot a better chance of following their hounds and gave them time to reload their muskets. The achondropla- sia that shortens the Basset’s legs also has significant impact on

the whole of the front assembly. Looking at the dogs lined up in the ring, your first impression will always be overall proportion and balance. In Bassets, the ratio of length to height should be about 2:1, measured from prosternum to point of buttock. The distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground should be no more than 1/3 the total height of the dog in adults. There is a considerable range of size and substance in Bassets—it’s important to bear in mind that the standard calls for a dog that is “heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog.” At the same time, the Basset must be able (as one experienced field trailer put it) to “make it over logs and obstacles… and fit through heavy underbrush.” While we don’t want a light-boned dog, we should also guard against exhibits that are overdone to the point of exaggeration, and especially those that are fat or out of condition.



“In the wrap around front, the heavy-boned and crook’d legs literally wrap closely to the chest, with the forelegs hugging the ribcage and forming a typical ‘egg cup’ shape that supports the Basset’s capacious and deep chest.” Correct “egg cup” front in the Basset – from the BHCA Illustrated Standard.

The neck should have good length—bear in mind that when working in the field, the Basset will move with its head down and forward to scent, so enough length of neck to reach the ground easily is required. If the neck appears short, it’s often a reflection of a front assembly set too far forward, which may also be betrayed by a lack of prominent pro-sternum. Steepness in the shoulders is a serious fault, as it will affect the Basset’s ability to move efficiently. The Basset must be examined on a ramp, at all levels of com- petition through Best in Show. Once the dog is set on the ramp, [viewed] from the front, the wrap around front should be evident. This front is a real stumbling block for some judges coming from breeds with a more conventional long-legged front. In the wrap around front, the heavy-boned and crook’d legs literally wrap close- ly to the chest, with the forelegs hugging the ribcage and form- ing a typical “egg cup” shape that supports the Basset’s capacious and deep chest. This chest must house a strong heart and lungs for endurance in the field. For balance, the feet turn out a “trifle,” and this very slight turn-out should be evenly matched. A Basset with a “mismatched” front—where one foot turns out more than the other—will labor harder as they move. Surmounting this front is the Basset’s beautiful and functional head. Here should be seen a head with the muzzle about the same length as the skull from stop to occiput, with the skull well-domed and a pronounced occipital bone. In profile, the planes should be parallel—although this can be hard to find without also finding a faulty broad, flat skull, so the judge often has to balance this evalu- ation. A good scissors bite combined with a good, square lip will provide the desired squared-off muzzle—both under and overshot bites are serious faults. All over the head, the skin should be loose, falling in wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. The ears, which should be set low (almost appearing to be set on the neck), are very long—reaching well around the nose if drawn for- ward—and velvety. They hang in loose folds with the ends curling in slightly. A high set or flat ear is a serious fault and a dry head with tight skin is a fault. Remember, these are not cosmetic issues—they are functional faults. The ear falling forward to the nose in the field concentrates the scent, and the loose skin over the head protects the Basset’s eyes and face from brambles in the thick brush in which rabbits and other small game live and hide. Almost all the other serious faults in the Basset Hound standard are in the front assembly, because these are faults that affect the running gear—and that’s the money-maker for a hunting hound! However, it’s important to bear in mind that some of these faults must be felt, rather than seen, because the Basset Hound’s loose skin can do an excellent job of hiding some key faults. The Basset is a dog that requires a truly hands-on examination.

Lightning (MBISS GCHS DC Rivercity Beachside Lightning McQueen, CD, BN, RA, CA, MHE, VCX) in the field and in the ring.

Taffy (GFC3 DC Cj’s How Sweet It Is VCX MHE RA NAP CGC) working that scent and then working her look!



Finally, with the Basset on the ramp, evaluate the feet. A massive foot that is relatively tight, with good padding, will support the Basset for a full day’s work; a flat or splayed foot will not. The Basset Hound needs a capacious chest for endurance in the field. That chest should be protected by a deep and long ribcage. The loin should be relatively short. Flanged ribs and flatsidedness are both faults. Set up, the topline should be level and firm without dip or roach. However, please do not press down on the topline to check firmness, as some judges have been seen doing! This quality can be best evaluated as the Basset is moving on the go-around. The hindquarters should be well angulated and have well developed muscles. Not mentioned in the standard, but mentioned by virtually all long-time breed- ers, is the desirable “apple butt” with well rounded thighs that display strength. A light or slack rear is a fault. The hind legs should stand firmly parallel. Cow hocks or bowed legs (also part of running gear) are serious faults, as are steep, poorly angulated hindquarters. As the Basset moves away, look for parallel action in the rear legs—Bassets do not converge. On the return, look for true movement in front, without pad- dling, weaving, overlapping or any deviation from a smooth, powerful, effortless motion. The hound in front of you will cover literally miles in a hunting day, and must be able to do so without any waste of motion or energy. When “Tally-Ho” is called, its concentration is on the rabbit, not on its fatigue! Disqualifications are very rarely seen in the ring. They are few: Height over 15 inches; knuckling over of front legs; and distinctly long coat. Though a dis- qualification in the conformation ring, distinctly long coats do come up even in well-established show lines. (You can find pictures of many very well-loved long-haired Bassets at the Facebook group: Bassets—Long Hair Beauties, which is fun to visit!) In addition to the BHCA Judges’ Education Presentation, the BHCA website ( includes a list of approved mentors and several previously published articles on judging the Basset Hound. Finally, I encourage you to con- tact us if you are interested in attending a field trial (wear boots and bring a big stick!) to see Basset Hounds doing what they were bred to do. It will put your understanding of the breed in a whole new context! Top: Flo (GCH DC Slo-Poke’s Go With the Flo Jo of CJ) hot on the trail of a bunny in the field. Left: Typical hunting conditions of heavy underbrush.

Because the skin over the front and shoulders can be very loose, it can obscure several faults: • Loose skin can make a prosternum appear where there is none! It’s essential to feel for the prosternum, to make sure it’s bone—not skin— that is prominent. Loose skin can also obscure a short sternum, so run your hand between the front legs or down the side to the dog’s underside to check whether the sternum extends behind the legs by about a hand’s width or four inches. • Loose skin can also obscure (or create the illu- sion of ) elbows being out, as skin can “pool” around the elbow juncture to the body. Feel how the elbow fits to the ribcage; it should be tight-fitting. • Similarly, loose skin can also obscure or create the illusion of shoulders set too far forward. Feel for the angle and layback of both shoulder and upper arm. Also, from the side, note that the front legs should be under the dog, set straight down from the withers.



T he Basset Hound is a long, low scenthound, bred for hunting small game. Its uniqueness in structure is an accommodation for balance due to its shortened forelegs. His ‘different’ stat- ure, a result of achondroplasia is com- monly called dwarfism. However, his form of achondroplasia causes arrested development of only long bones, yet retention of his other normal sized fea- tures. His body remains that of a larger, taller dog. In order to support the rath- er heavy body on shorter legs he needs a special wrap–around front. It is a bal- ance issue: he needs to have a unique column of support. If one understands the reason for his different front, the Basset will not be difficult to judge and intelligently breed. Since the original purpose of the Basset Hound was “to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain”, the breed should be an agile and effortless mover. His conservation of energy provides



for endurance. It is important when evaluating a Basset to keep his original purpose in mind. THE OVERALL PROPORTION AND BALANCE The Basset Hound proportion is rect- angular, approximately two to one; i.e., he is approximately twice as long as tall. We generally measure from forechest to the point of buttocks. In addition, the


distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground should be no more than 1/3 the total height of an adult. FOREQUARTER ASSEMBLY Because the Basset is an achon- droplastic breed, we sometimes find structural problems that are not gener- ally seen in longer legged breeds with straight columns of support. The Basset has crook’d forelegs meaning curving foreleg to accommo- date the chest. Crook’d is not turned out feet, as is erroneously thought; this adaptation along with his heavy bone and large, well rounded front paws are features that gives him body sup- port, especially to the forequarters. The chest falls below the elbow. Front feet should be matched, that is the feet will turn out a trifle and balance with the width of a proper shoulder, neither wide nor narrow. A prominent sternum is a hallmark of the breed. Short neck, lack of forechest, a short upper arm all suggests an ill-fitting and for- ward assembly. Proper shoulder length

correct movement, the Basset could not perform as originally intended. Move- ment is deliberate, in no sense clumsy. There should be good reach and drive, powerful and effortless; with backline level. Going away, the Basset hind legs should move true, and coming back the front legs should show support and good depth of chest. That wrap around front allows the legs to support the body by coming in under the dog. Bassets converge toward their center of gravity but do not single track. The down and back is important. Some believe movement is not important because of the Basset’s unique structure. However it is due to his unusual proportions, to be function- al, that could not be further from the truth. The Basset should be penalized (to the extent of degree of departure) for the same movement faults common- ly found in other breeds. HEAD Th e head is large, exhibiting a well- domed skull with a deep muzzle and

and matching length of upper arm, with elbows lying close to the chest are mandatory in this hunting breed. The shoulder angle in the Basset should be approximately 90 degrees, with the upper arm and shoulder blade of equal length. Good shoulders, if pres- ent, should be rewarded; they are very hard to breed. HINDQUARTERS Rear angulation should also be 90 degrees with well-let-down stifles. Cow hocks and bowed rears are considered The Basset Hound ribcage should be long and smooth; the breed’s length is in his ribcage not his loin. The poste- rior sternum should extend beyond the forelegs by about four inches. Flanged (flared, as in a flip hairdo) ribs are faulty. MOVEMENT Movement is a good indicator of the overall conformation. Without the serious faults. RIBCAGE



moderate stop. Th e dewlap is pronounced. Eyes are dark, with prominent haw. Prom- inent haw does not mean gaping droop to the eyelid, hazardous to a hunter. Ear are long, velvety, low set and turning slightly inward for funneling/stirring up scent. High set fl at ears is a serious fault, the only serious fault not related to movement as de fi ned in the standard but one related to function. Although the head displays important elements of breed type, we do not want undue emphasis placed here as we are not a head breed. SIZE, BONE AND LENGTH OF LEG Some Bassets may have more bone or weight than others; some may be taller than others. Length of leg, ears, and body can all vary, but remain cor- rect within the breed standard. It is up to the judge to determine if each hound meets the breed standard. Regarding size, the standard says sim- ply, “More bone, size considered, than any other breed.” Many breeders, exhibitors and judges fi nd this statement confusing. Perhaps a reasonable way to interpret the statement would be to consider the height of the exhibit being examined, and ask the question, “Does it have more bone than another breed of the same height?” For example, the Beagle. We are not sug- gesting the breed have bone of some of our taller dogs—St. Bernard, Wol fh ound or Masti ff . STYLE VS. TYPE It is important to understand the dif- ference between correct breed type and style within breed type. Th e o ffi cial breed standard identi fi es the features which de fi ne breed type. Style is individual inter- pretation of that standard. More than one style may exhibit correct breed type and meet the standard. Th ink about your own breed, the breeds you know well, you have di ff erent styles within type. ‘ICING’ Another confusion of style and type is “icing”—type features we like but not in excess. Th e unique look and structure of the Basset lends itself toward caricature but more is not better. Rewarding animals with highly exaggerated features at the expense of soundness is deleterious to the breed. Breeders and judges have a tenden- cy to overemphasize one or two features, such as excess skin or bone, forgetting the soundness demanded for this breed. CONSISTENCY IN JUDGING We o ft en hear that a judge didn’t evalu- ate dogs consistently, because two di ff er- ent styles have been awarded. Good judges and breeders look beyond “style” and

All good type but shades of different styles.



award or breed the best examples of the breed, according to the standard, regardless of style.


Bassets may be any recognized hound color; mark- ings and distribution of color is not important. Th e Bas- set is known for his even temperament: mild, never, sharp or timid. PRIORITIZING It is important to understand how the breed standard prioritizes virtues and faults in the breed as you evaluate the “whole”. Th estandardprioritizesfaultsasfollows:(italicsbelow o ff er commentary) • Serious faults: Faults relating to incorrect move- ment (running gear—especially forequarter assembly) which will hinder endurance and performance are con- sidered serious faults. The only exception is the high set flat ear, also a serious fault. • Faults: In general, faults relate to features that include the head, ribcage and topline features and body and proportion. • Permissible But Not Desirable: Cosmetic details such as a liver colored nose or light eye color are permissible but not desirable. In general, faults relating to movement or which a ff ect the health or well-being of the dog are to be penalized, based on the severity of the fault. Faults which are cosmetic in nature which do not impede the dog’s ability to perform are less serious. Judges and breeders alike must consider the dog as a whole, as individual parts are indeed useless if not in balance and able to work together. DISQUALIFICATIONS Th ere are three disquali fi cations in the O ffi cial Basset Hound Breed Standard. Not seen o ft en, they are: 1) Height over 15” inches: It is unusual to see a Basset over height in the ring. If a judge has any doubts, they should be comfortable measuring the exhibit. 2) Knuckling over. 3) Distinctly long coat. EXAMINING THE BASSET Th e Basset Hound is expected to be judged on the ramp for all aspects of judging Bassets: breed, group and BIS. Th e Basset is a sensitive breed and should be examined with e ffi - ciency and gentleness. Please do not pull the Basset’s skin over its head or up on the back to check for elasticity or looseness. Be aware that when judging the Basset, loose clothing, long ties, scarves or jewelry can interfere with the dog. Never pick up a Basset Hound to drop its front, and don’t push down on the hindquarters. It should go without say- ing, never straddle or step over a Basset during an exam. It is inappropriate to make sounds to see expression. If you feel the need to re-examine the Basset, please put it back on the ramp. Generally speaking, the Basset Hound is not a “baiting” breed. The photos/sketches are from Basset Hound Club of America’s JEC Materials: “Pocket Guide to the Bas- set Hound,” as well as a Judges Education CD. Other informational materials are available for interested individuals or breeders who wish to learn more about this fascinating breed through Basset Hound Univer- sity at


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judge—started with Bassets in 2012 and now also judge Juniors and working on a number of Hound applications. RICHARD NANCE

I reside in Warren, New Jersey. Most of my weekdays I do substitute teaching for Pre-K through Middle School. I have been in dogs more years than I wish to say. Let it suffice to say, more than 50 years and I have been judg- ing since 1991. My original breeds were Whip- pets and Greyhounds. Along with my late hus-

My wife and I live about 45 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. We live at the base of a mountain at an elevation of 6250 feet. We moved here three years ago from the Dallas- Fort Worth, Texas area. We enjoy traveling and cruising on the smaller cruise ships. We

band, Bob, we established the Gold-Dust line and were quite successful basing our breeding lines on the Mor-Shor Whip- pets and the Windholme Greyhounds. CELESTE GONZALEZ

have had Bassets in our lives for almost 35 years. Showing and Breeding for 20 years and I have been judging for 7 years. I am currently the Judges Education Chair for the Basset Hound Club of America. I have held several positions with our parent club, including president. ROBERT OPEKA I live in Oakdale, Pennsylvania—a small town outside of Pittsburg. I’m a retired x-ray technician and flight attendant. I purchase my first two Basset Hounds in 1975. I continue to breed and show. All of my dogs are breed- er-owner handled. I have been judging for 16 years. HAL PYBUS

I live in Thomasville, North Carolina and have been here for the past 10 years. I have lived in various parts of the US based on where my career took me. What do I do outside of dogs? I work in Clinical Research for a large medical device com- pany in Clinical Quality Assurance within the interventional cardiology/peripheral

Photo © Kohler

interventions/structural heart business unit. I am active in procuring dog food for the needy elderly who own a pet dog through DINER (Dogs In Need Eat Right), which then distributes through the existing Meals on Wheels programs in the area. Thanks to generous exhibitors, DINER collects dog food at various dog shows in the central North Caroli- na region. I’ve had 41 years in dogs; 41 years in showing; 18 in judging. SYLVIE MCGEE I live in Olympia, Washington, about an hour south of Seattle. It’s a great location with easy access to shows in Seattle, Portland and to either airport. I love it! I am an independent grant writer, serving a wide variety of human ser- vices, housing, health and education agencies. Every day is a different challenge and a different satisfaction! My whole life with dogs, but since 1997 showing, when I was fortunate to get my first show bitch from Bobbi Brandt of Sasquatch Bassets in Alaska. She’s been my mentor ever since! And I’m a pretty new

I live in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Outside of dogs, I am by profession a bartered Professional Accountant. I also have a great interest in classic cars and have a small collection from the 40s through to the early 70s, mostly Fords and Ford Mustangs. I have

been in dogs all my life. Although, no longer breeding or showing, we did so for 40 years. Stopped breeding in 2004 and showing in 2011. I have been judging for 23 years. JOANIE RUSH

I live in Sacramento, California. We are retired and enjoy spending our time with



the dogs and our property doing gardening. We each spent years on the board serving the BHCA members and our breed. This is our 55th year exhibiting Bassets, we were encouraged by local exhibitors to show our first young bitch who we received from my husband’s boss. His wife needed help with the three boys and a Basset while she was recuperating from major surgery. Since I was expecting our third child (all under three years old), I thought it best to help with the dog, I soon learned they will take back the kids but not the dog! After our first show we realized if we wanted to remain in the sport we had to find knowledgeable mentors/breeders to help us understand the Basset. We were fortunate when we found a lovely Tarzen son and a great friend in Mary Meredith of Arizona. Shortly after acquiring our special boy, we transferred to Ohio and had the help of great mentors and friends in the breed. We met and learned from some of the best in the breed: the Patterson’s, Betty Kinslow, the Brandt’s, Mary Jo Shields, Chris Teeter, the Martin’s and the Braun’s to name a few. I was approved to judge the Basset Hound in 2007. SUE NELSON SMYTH as the #614 Nationally Certified Educational Diagnostician in the United States. I was born into dogs. My grandfather had a beagle kennel and was a founding member of the Garden State Beagle Club. As a child, I observed many beagle field tri- als from horseback and was encouraged to work at the trials. When I was 10 years old I purchased a black and tan standard dachshund and was encouraged to show her by a neighbor who showed whippets. She took me under her wing and thus my dog show life started. I joined our local all-breed ken- nel club in the 1980s, by then showing and breeding Basset hounds and in the late 1990s, I was encouraged to apply for my judging license. CLAIRE “KITTY” STEIDEL I live in Scottsdale, Arizona with my husband, Chuck, 7 year old Tiger, Basset who retired, and Gilbey, Grand Basset Grif- fon Vendéen, who will be in ring when he is fully ready. I do little outside of dogs I guess, as I write and read about them, judge them and do presentations on Bas- set, PBGVs and GBGV. My husband and I like to travel but I have lived in New Jersey for most of my life and in my current home since 1984. I worked in the field of education for 34 years starting as an elementary teacher, then as a guidance counselor and for the final 10+ years as a Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant for the Child Study Team. I ended my career

often we plan the trips in US, such as Nationals for three breeds and we travel with our daughter and son-in-law nationally and internationally. It seems I always have a dead- line though, so I am always thinking about how to present a subject, often a subject not scintillating in itself in an inter- est way. Two articles that I loved writing because I learned something about other animals were the one on Coonhounds, when I delved into the habits of the raccoon, and the article on Elkhounds, when I learned so much about the moose and its environment and made a new friend on a moose author- ity in Norway. I have been in dogs since 1968 with our first Basset. I attended shows for two years before embarking on showing. After observing Bassets for two years, I decided our Basset, though purchased from a well-known breeder, had some good features but was not show quality. I investigated pedigrees and photos and offspring of stud dogs from the pedigree. It was after raising two litters that I felt I had one worthy of the show ring. Primarily, exhibiting in Bred By for about 16 years, until I was approved for the hound group. I have been judging since 1984. I also bred and showed PBGVs. DOUGLAS C. TAYLOR I live in Roeland Park, Kansas. I am a retired Prof. of The- atre Technology, most recently at the University. of Missouri/ Kansas City. In retirement I do dogs. Been owned by Basset Hounds for 48 years, judging for 26 years and showing my own Bassets for 36 years.

1. Describe the breed in three words. JG: Heavy boned, long and wrinkled. CG: Achondroplastic, long, low and doleful. SM: Substantial, deliberate and sensitive. RO: Temperament, movement and structure.

RN: Three words that come to mind is recognizable, low-key and patient. The Basset Hound characteristics make the breed very easy to identify, long ears, low to the ground and sad expression. The Basset is very patient, which makes him a great pet where there are children in the household. HP: The breed in three words: gentle, willful and determined. JR: Wrap front, balanced, deliberate mover. SNS: Versatile, pack and scent hound (yes, that is more than three words). CKS: Noble, sturdy and dependable. DCT: Long, low and Houndy. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? JG: Heavy bone, level topline, prominent sternum with well sprung ribbing extending as far back as possible and proper, effortless movement. Right after those must haves, would love to see good wrinkling and long ears set properly on a classic head. CG: 1) Type without exaggeration 2) correct proportions 3) correct shoulder placement, assembly and angulation 4)



wrap-around front 5) movement that is smooth, powerful and effortless. SM: 1) Movement: this is a working, hunting breed and with- out easy movement will both be challenged in the field by obstacles and uneven ground and will tire too soon. 2) Balance: this really ties to movement, as without it, movement will be choppy, inefficient and tiring for the dog. 3) A soft expression. I love to look into the eyes of my Bassets! RO: My must have traits are level toplines, sternum, proper shoulder angle and placement, along with a wonderful temperament. RN: I want to see a level topline, correct front assembly and proper reach and drive. HP: Proper front structure, correct hound coat with some looseness and elasticity, fluid movement, level top line, gentle, determined and a good voice. JR: Proper wrap around front with well-placed shoulders. A balanced dog that is capable of moving with the least effort and covering ground with no clumsiness. This is a dog built for endurance. The Basset is not a head breed, therefore, movement is critical. One can see the proper wrap front on the down and back, including short upper arms, leading to choppy movement. SNS: Deep muzzle; draped, low set ears; a well arched neck flowing into well laid back, powerful shoulders; a prominent sternum; correct wrap around front construc- tion; length and depth of keel; level backline including length of rib; well-developed second thigh; floating, effortless reach and drive. CKS: Proper character first, balanced angles between front and rear, soundness of mind and body, absolute fitness with movement deliberate and in no sense clumsy (from standard) and that doleful expression. DCT: A breed specific silhouette, level topline, good size (to get the job done), strong chest and crook of leg and pleasing, Houndy head. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? JG: No, there are not. CG: Yes. Excessive substance, overly low-stationed dogs and excessive skin. There can be too much of a good thing. The breed has to have sufficient ground clearance to be able to hunt for many hours at a time for several days each week. The breed standard states that, “The distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground, while it must be adequate to allow free movement when working in the field, is not be more than one-third the total height at the withers of an adult Basset.” Not only is this in keeping with the achondro- plastic proportions of the breed, it also allows for a variety styles that still remain functional. As breeders, our mission is to follow the breed standard, preserve the breed as effective scent hunters and present only those dogs which are truly exemplary. As judges, our mission is to reward those Bassets which most closely exemplify the breed standard and are athletic enough to last for many hours in the hunt.

SM: As with any breed, I think we go in cycles. Right now, my perception is that breeders are seeking to overcome loss of bone and substance in the breed. As a result, they are bringing dogs into breeding programs from blood- lines that can offer that greater substance. However, I fear that in some cases, it may be leading to some dogs becoming over-done and, in some cases, plodding. RN: It’s not a trait that being exaggerated, but I see more and more exhibitors racing around the ring with their Bassets. Speed doesn’t mean the dog has good reach and drive. Move the dog at a speed that’s most comfortable for him. HP: I see dogs that are overdone, with too much loose skin. JR: The Bassets should not be so heavy with skin and bone that it becomes an 80-90 pound dog, nor lacking of bone and skin to appear almost dry. The Basset should be heavily boned, considering his size with adequate skin. SNS: The Basset hound is supposed to be heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog. However, having the heaviest dog in the ring lacking correct Basset hound skeletal construction will not produce the anticipated winning ribbons. Some Bassets being shown don’t have enough shoulder layback, are set too far forward and don’t demonstrate effortless reach and drive. Others are high in the rear lacking correct corresponding angles. The Basset Hound Club of America has a very informative DVD, pocket guide, a recently revised Illustrated Standard and three courses available to judges for free that demonstrate these concerns in spe- cific detail. Please go online to:, click on “Education”, then click on “Basset Hound University”, then click on “Judges School”. CKS: Because the Basset, with his short legs, loose skin and long heavy body, exaggeration comes easily. The skin and wrinkle should not be superfluous, not supposed to be draped everywhere; the wrinkle should be evident in the brow when the head is lowered and in the front legs according to standard. Skin should be supple and give to avert puncture and serious wounds when in the field. Yet we see some breeders selecting for the most of everything—skin, bone and by the pound. Some judges actually put up the Basset by the pound just because he is different from straight-legged breeds they may know. They mistakenly think that is type. DCT: Some are getting too low, too floppy and too straight of front. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? JG: Definitely better movement. I remember when they could barely get around the ring. CG: Yes and no. When I started exhibiting there was less exaggeration of breed type; however, rears and toplines left a bit to be desired. Fronts were all over the place then, as they are today. In general, breeders have greatly


improved rears so that the legs move in parallel under the points of the buttocks (the ischial protuberances). Consequently, there has been an improvement in rear angulation, especially second thigh (tibia and fibula) length and angle. Toplines have gotten stronger and more level and feet are tighter and rounder. The breed as a whole still struggles with incorrect front assemblies: incorrect shoulder layback (blade/scapula) and lay on to the ribcage; incorrect return and length of upper arm (humerus); lack of proper wrap-around fronts—begin- ning with the humerus following the curvature of the ribcage and extending to the forearm (ulna and radius) that curves medially (toward the midline) so that the wrists (pasterns) are closer together than the elbows; mismatched fronts (forearms are not equally curved medially and/or pasterns are both not equally inclined a trifle outwards) and lack of prominent sternum. SM: I have only been judging a few years, so I think I’m probably not the best source on this question! But looking over the years I’ve been in Bassets, I think each period of time has a few stand out dogs, the ones we will be talking about and remembering for many years because of their quality, presence and embodiment of the breed and each period also has some dogs that are solid, good and contribute to bloodlines we can recognize and value. The specifics in each time frame may vary as breeders adjust their programs and balance out what they are getting in the whelping box, but I don’t think overall the breed is better or worse. RO: I don’t see the quality in the ring that there once was. Our breeders are dwindling, that could be part of it. While exhibiting and judging, I see many mediocre speci- mens. This, I’m sure, is the result of mediocre being bred to mediocre, which usually equals the same. RN: I do not think they are better now. Our breed has gone from 20th in popularity to 40th. The number of Bassets being shown are way, way down. We have lost many long time breeders and others who are not breeding any more, affecting the quantity and quality of our breed. HP: This is a difficult question to answer because there are some very nice dogs out there. But I would have to answer for the most part, no. Many years ago the number of bloodlines was relatively small and well established. As the numbers grew the gene pools were diluted and there became too much indiscriminate breeding, i.e. Breeding to the winning dog of the day without too much thought about what it was doing to the line or the breed. Breed- ing should have a purpose and a plan, knowing how to be tough when grading puppies, allowing only the best ones with the best traits to be shown and or bred. When I see and hear breeders saying all or most of the litter is show quality, I just shake my head because rarely would that be the case. So many today, do not have a good experienced and relatively unbiased mentor. I think a large number of owners and breeders do not get what the standard describes as correct structure. Education is important and people can learn but having a good eye and good instincts is something that, unfortunately, can- not be easily taught.

JR: I feel we need to improve our fronts, also many in the rings are too straight in rear angulation leading to saggy toplines and high in rear. SNS: There are Bassets being shown around the country today that are marvelous examples of the breed standard just as was the case many years ago. If you understand and apply the breed standard you will have no difficulty recognizing them. Years ago there were many large show/breeding kennels producing several litters a year from which to make show picks. Times have changed and many of today’s breeders produce a litter or two a year, if that. Fewer choices may make it difficult to cull those puppies better suited to pet homes and sometimes a breeding looks great on paper yet doesn’t produce the desired results. Changing times have had a positive and negative effect on numbers of quality dogs in the ring, however, it has also opened the door to great possibili- ties. Instead of being limited by distance to breed to locally available stud dogs today, breeders have the ability to breed to an excellent quality stud anywhere in the world utilizing both fresh chilled and frozen semen. They are also not limited in time. A stunning deceased special may have frozen sperm that remains available for the right outstanding bitch. This option is not inexpensive but has added new dimensions to breeding programs. CKS: Yes, in some cases. The dogs on the west coast have improved especially in the movement area since I moved to Arizona in 1984. They, for the most part, are not so exaggerated. I remember when many in the 80s had so much skin, with ectropion (eyelids rolling out) so much that debris collected and the result was infection. These dogs also had such skin deep folds in front legs, collecting dirt and moisture that many developed skin infection. At this same time on the East coast, many dogs had light bone. There were a few breeders both East and West who managed to get the balance of skin and bone correct and produce sound typey dogs. Their influence lives on both east and west today. Also, the easily acces- sible health information today has improved the breed. DCT: There seems to be more average Basset Hounds and

fewer outstanding ones. This may be due to the declining numbers of Basset litters and breeders.

5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? JG: Proper front construction set well under the dog and the importance of correct, long, well sprung ribcages. In addition, fat doesn’t equal substance. CG: Bassets that look like watermelons on tree stumps are not correct in this breed. This is a hunting breed meant to scent trail small game, usually rabbits, for hours and hours. A dog that minces around the ring without proper build and movement is a dog that will not last in the hunt or over multiple hunting seasons. Pick the dog that’s properly built and displays it with smooth, power- ful and effortless movement. That’s the dog that is most likely going to efficiently bring the rabbit to gun so the hunter can later enjoy a meal. That dog must also display a proper temperament for the breed in order to be able to S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2018 • 257


judges to grasp. The front legs should be under the dog and wrap around the chest. HP: I think many judges and not just new judges misunder- stand front structure and movement where the front is too far forward and the movement is stilted and choppy. Seeing so many poor and average ones can make a good one look so different that it is easy to overlook the good one. A good Basset is so much more than being showy with loose skin. JR: The fronts, many will take the time to observe the front, but will not place them with that in mind. A proper front is critical to balance of the dog and movement. SNS: Judges seem to have difficulty understanding the wrap- around front construction. The BHCA web page provides a mentor list to encourage ringside mentoring for contin- ued studies of construction and movement. This year the BHCA national is in St. Louis, Missouri at Purina Farms, the first week of October. Please consider attending for a few days to thoroughly immerse yourself in studying our breed. You will come away feeling it was well spent instructional time! CKS: I believe new judges and some veteran judges feel type is that skin, bone, movement and soundness are not important. With the Basset’s unusual proportion, soundness and a good structure is even more important. Bassets are endurance dogs that need to last in the hunt, should expend less energy traversing a rough terrain and getting from point A to B, thus need an effortless motion. Please do not judge by the pound or by the wrinkle! The BHCA has wonderful materials to help. One can order online. National is late September in St. Louis, Missouri. DCT: The speed a Basset should be gaited in the ring. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? JG: This is for handlers: when you hold up the tails on the stack, don’t push so hard that the dogs actually fold in the middle, destroying a level topline. CG: Thanks to many dedicated exhibitors on both coasts, the Basset is once again improving its numbers of dual champions (bench and field). Improper shoulder angu- lation (scapula and humerus) and lack of prominent sternum are the drag of the breed and we must be ever vigilant in our breeding (and exhibiting) decisions. SM: These are such scent-driven dogs! I am always thrilled, as an exhibitor, when judges tell me to let the dog move naturally, which especially at outdoor shows will mostly mean head down. I hope I remember to say that more frequently to the exhibitors in my ring! RO: The Basset Hound has been my only breed for 42 years. They are wonderful Hounds, very adaptable and very smart. It’s been my honor to have 125 champions to my credit. I hope to continue to breed and exhibit these beautiful Hounds for as long as I’m able. RN: The Basset Hound is characterized by a genetic abnor- mality known as achondroplasia (dwarfism). This can lead to structural problems in the Basset, including a mis- matched front, which is an unequal turnout of the front


hunt with its pack mates and withstand the sound of discharging shotguns. Dogs with their tails down and/or displaying signs of shyness should not be made up to champion level. Also, please do not lift skin to check for loose skin on the body or pull skin over the top of the head to see wrinkles. If you want to see adequate wrinkling, ask the exhibitor to lower the dog’s head and the correct wrinkling will fall slightly over the eyes and in front of the ears toward the cheek sides. Please do not penalize a dog that is moving with its head at the level of its back. Correct movement does not change with a lowered head. And, fast movement does not mean correct movement. Economy of motion and movement is essential. SM: I think for judges new to the breed and particularly for non-breeder judges, our correct front is the most difficult to understand. I’m seeing dogs rewarded who lack a proper wrap-around front. That whole assembly, which is quite different in achondroplastic breeds, can be hard to grasp. The other element that I think that people newer to judging the breed sometimes have trouble with is seeing past the Basset as a clown to the Basset as a real hunting dog with athletic endurance. RO: New judges to the breed are doing the best they can. I’ve mentored many new judges and I’m on the Judges Education Committee of my national club. We are getting the information out there; however, the quality isn’t in the ring. RN: The placement of the crooked front assembly, also called a wrap-around front, is difficult for many new PROPORTION, SOUNDNESS AND A GOOD STRUCTURE IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT.”


feet. This is easily seen on the down, back and seeing the front when the dog stops. HP: We seem to have lost the connection to the old estab- lished bloodline that are now gone. The traits and strengths of those bloodlines which were a foundation of the breed, to some degree, have now been lost in the mists of time. I guess it is just a reflection of the instant society and culture we live in. Instant results are not always possible when planning, time and slowly getting the desired result is what it takes. Just ask successful long time breeders with quality in their bloodlines what it took to get there. Instant, unless extremely fortunate or lucky is not really possible. I only hope that those who currently get it can be influential enough to pass it on to a new generation that will get it too and going forward there are enough of them to strengthen and guide the breed so quality will not be further eroded. SNS: This breed continues to be a primarily owner-handled breed. Basset hound owner/exhibitors are very social, just like their pack hounds and enjoy the camaraderie at conformation/performance events. Some Basset exhibitors participate to support their club event. Although this can make for challenging judging, many of these exhibitors are very dedicated club workers. If asked to explain your placements, please be kind and make this a positive educational experience instead of only focusing on negatives. Basset Hound owners, just like the sweet demeanor of our hounds, are friendly and welcom- ing. We encourage anyone interested in our hounds to join a regional Basset hound club. You do not need to own a Basset to be welcomed as a member. DCT: It is a funny, loving and demanding breed, not for the super neat. You discuss things with a Basset, not order. 7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? JG: During Junior Handling judging, I asked a young man to show me his dog’s bite. His reply, “Oh, he doesn’t do that anymore!” CG: The one that is most prominent in my mind and which cracks me up to this day, is the first time I walked in the ring with a Basset (“Jolly” in 1975, Greater Miami Dog Club, then held at the old Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove, Florida, under Edith Nash Hellerman). I didn’t have a show lead, so I bought an inexpensive white toy lead at one of the on-site vendors. I proceeded as the sole entry in a 6-9 month puppy dog class and walked in the ring with the lead in my right hand and my dog’s nose on the ground. Mrs. Hellerman was so kind. She stopped me as I walked in, put the lead in my left hand, and proceeded to guide me through the rest of the exam and gaiting. What did I know? Horses were shown in halter classes with the handler on the horse’s left and the lead in the right hand! At least someone told me to put my dog on my left before walking into the ring! SM: When I was pretty new to showing, I attended a show where Bassets were being judged by Peg Walton of Lyn-Mar Acres. She was a legend to me, having read about her dogs and her career breeding beautiful

Bassets who appeared in many pedigrees. Including the pedigree of the dog I owned—a few generations back. This was before I really understood how many dogs are related through pedigree as you move back through the generations. You can see where this is going, I’m sure. She handed me the first place ribbon in our class and I immediately gushed forth with my gratitude and excitement at meeting her, including how exciting it was to show her a dog that came down from her very own lines. In my novice enthusiasm I completely forgot that the judging wasn’t done! She ushered me out of the ring, and of course in the pause before I had to come back in for winners, I realized my error. After she handed me the Winner’s Dog ribbon, I started to apologize, but she cut me off saying, “My dear, if by now I don’t know what I like and don’t in a Basset, I never will.” I still laugh at my own faux pas! HP: Over the years there are many humorous incidents. There are far too many for just one to be the funniest, but I do remember this one and it was on me. Funny and embarrassing, I guess, is the best way to describe it. I was showing one of our beautiful multi Best in Show and Specialty winning bitches at an outdoor show. When the judge pointed to us for Best in Show, there seemed to be as much laughter as cheering and for good reason. I soon realized that at some point when I knelt down and got up that I must have blown the backend seam out of my trousers. Running around the ring must have been quite a sight to see. Fortunately, my tighty whities that hung out were just that. JR: I guess I have to laugh at myself, I tell this story to new exhibitors who are nervous. At my first show, I had asked those who had encouraged me to enter what should I wear. Someone said dress, “Dress like you are going to church!” With heels on my feet, I tried to keep up with an untrained bitch—and I am still here! SNS: I was judging at a national specialty and was particu- larly focused in judging a large class. A friend slipped into the ring with a large stuffed dog and proceeded to stack it to be examined! Everyone inside and outside the ring was laughing. I did a quick examination and directed her to move on the diagonal. We all clapped and laughed; her antics eased the tension felt at a national where many of the entries were outstanding examples of the breed! DCT: My Basset, when running in an outdoor Agility Trial, discovered a gopher hole and spent the rest of her time baying and digging for the gopher instead of finishing the course. Or at a show I was exhibiting at, a Basset bitch being shown by a female exhibitor, at the end of the down and back she reached up under her mistress’s skirt and pulled down her half-slip to the floor. The woman stepped out of it, leaving it on the matting and continued to the end of the line. The judge,

with as much dignity as possible, picked it up, walked across the ring, handed it back to her and gave her first place.


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