Basset Hound Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard for the Basset Hound General Appearance: The Basset Hound possesses in marked degree those characteristics which equip it admirably to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain. It is a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog, and while its movement is deliberate, it is in no sense clumsy. In temperament it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion. Head: The head is large and well proportioned. Its length from occiput to muzzle is greater than the width at the brow. In overall appearance the head is of medium width. The skull is well domed, showing a pronounced occipital protuberance. A broad flat skull is a fault. The length from nose to stop is approximately the length from stop to occiput. The sides are flat and free from cheek bumps. Viewed in profile the top lines of the muzzle and skull are straight and lie in parallel planes, with a moderately defined stop. The skin over the whole of the head is loose, falling in distinct wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. A dry head and tight skin are faults. The muzzle is deep, heavy, and free from snipiness. The nose is darkly pigmented, preferably black, with large wide-open nostrils. A deep liver-colored nose conforming to the coloring of the head is permissible but not desirable. The teeth are large, sound, and regular, meeting in either a scissors or an even bite . A bite either overshot or undershot is a serious fault. The lips are darkly pigmented and are pendulous, falling squarely in front and, toward the back, in loose hanging flews. The dewlap is very pronounced. The neck is powerful, of good length, and well arched. The eyes are soft, sad, and slightly sunken, showing a prominent haw, and in color are brown, dark brown preferred. A somewhat lighter-colored eye conforming to the general coloring of the dog is acceptable but not desirable. Very light or protruding eyes are faults. The ears are extremely long, low set, and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose. They are velvety in texture, hanging in loose folds with the ends curling slightly inward. They are set far back on the head at the base of the skull and, in repose, appear to be set on the neck. A high set or flat ear is a serious fault. Forequarters: The chest is deep and full with prominent sternum showing clearly in front of the legs. The shoulders and elbows are set close against the sides of the chest. 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 to be more than one-third the total height at the withers of an adult Basset. The shoulders are well laid back and powerful. Steepness in shoulder, fiddle fronts, and elbows that are out, are serious faults. The forelegs are short, powerful, heavy in bone, with wrinkled skin. Knuckling over of the front legs is a disqualification. The paw is massive, very heavy with tough heavy pads, well rounded and with both feet inclined equally a trifle outward, balancing the width of the shoulders. Feet down at the pastern are a serious fault. The toes are neither pinched together nor splayed, with the weight of the forepart of the body borne evenly on each. The dewclaws may be removed. Body: The rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back. The ribs are well sprung, allowing adequate room for heart and lungs. Flatsidedness and flanged ribs are faults. The topline is straight, level, and free from any tendency to sag or roach, which are faults. Hindquarters: The hindquarters are very full and well rounded, and are approximately equal to the shoulders in width. They must not appear slack or light in relation to the overall depth of the body. The dog stands firmly on its hind legs showing a well-let-down stifle with no tendency toward a crouching stance. Viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel, with the hocks
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turning neither in nor out. Cowhocks or bowed legs are serious faults. The hind feet point straight ahead. Steep, poorly angulated hindquarters are a serious fault. The dewclaws, if any, may be removed. Tail: The tail is not to be docked, and is set in continuation of the spine with but slight curvature, and carried gaily in hound fashion. The hair on the underside of the tail is coarse. Size: The height should not exceed 14 inches. Height over 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade is a disqualification. Gait: The Basset Hound moves in a smooth, powerful, and effortless manner. Being a scenting dog with short legs, it holds its nose low to the ground. Its gait is absolutely true with perfect coordination between the front and hind legs, and it moves in a straight line with hind feet following in line with the front feet, the hocks well bent with no stiffness of action. The front legs do not paddle, weave, or overlap, and the elbows must lie close to the body. Going away, the hind legs are parallel. Coat: The coat is hard, smooth, and short, with sufficient density to be of use in all weather. The skin is loose and elastic. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification. Color: Any recognized hound color is acceptable and the distribution of color and markings is of no importance. Disqualifications: Height of more than 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade. Knuckled over front legs. Distinctly long coat.
Approved January 14, 1964
JUDGING THE BASSET HOUND by RICHARD NANCE
T he Basset Hound is a breed that is most recognizable due to its long low body, long ears and its sad eyes. The Basset Hound was bred to have short legs so the hunter could follow it on foot. The Basset is an achondroplasia (dwarf) breed. The Basset is a big dog with short legs. The form of achondro- plasia only affects the growth of the long bones. The achondroplastic, low to the ground Basset Hound is often a chal- lenge to new judges whose expertise is in longer legged breeds with straight columns of support. An added learning curve also involves various hallmarks of our breed, which include a wrap-around front, short legs, heavy bone, a prominent forechest, long ears and wrinkled skin ( Basset Hound Illustrated Standard ). Dwarfism can lead to structural problems in the Basset, including a mismatched front, which is an unequal turnout of the front feet. One needs to understand the differ- ences between breed type and style. Discussions on social media demon- strate that the terms breed type and style are used interchangeable. Breed type in the Basset Hound is: • 2:1 rectangular outline • Heavy bone • Large, well-domed head with wrinkles • Long velvety ears; soft, sad expression • Prominent forechest • Body not too heavy, not too low to ground • Capable of hunting all day You will see various styles that still meet the correct breed type. In your ring, you might see dogs that are a little closer to the ground, some that have more skin and some with larger bone and more weight. No matter the style, you still want to see good reach and drive, a level topline and a nicely balanced hound.
Balance in the Basset Hound is defined as follows: • All parts fit; looks like one smooth piece • Head is large enough and matches body • Arched neck flows smoothly into shoulders • Shoulder lays back 45º to the hori- zontal and forms a 90º angle with upper arm • Front and rear angles match • Length of upper arm and shoulder blade are equal • Shoulders are not set too far forward • Rear does not look slack or light • Tail is set in continuation of the spine
• Height is not over 14" at the with- ers; over 15" disqualifies Most all Bassets are show by their owners, not professional handlers. That being said, put more emphasis on a level topline when the dog is moving, not when stacked. The Basset Hound is not a self stacking breed. It seems that the more you stack a Basset, the worse they look. As the Basset moves around the ring, your first impression should be that of his top-line and reach and drive, not how fast he moves. The Basset must be judged on the ramp. If you need to re-examine a dog, please use the ramp.
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Any hound color is acceptable. The distribution of color or markings is not important. Viewing from the front, you want to see a wrap-around front. The front legs are crook’d. Forelegs are short, powerful, heavy in bone and close fitting to chest so that legs wrap around the ribcage. Wrists are closer together than the shoulder joints. A crook is necessary for the Basset to get its short legs as directly under the keel as possible and provide a low center of gravity. The front feet should equally turn out a trifle. The nose is darkly pigmented, black is preferred. The bite is scissor or even. The skin over the head is loose with wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. The dewlap is very pronounced. It’s time to put your hands on the Basset. I start from the front and feel the forechest. Make sure there is bone there and not just loose skin. Check the bite for a scissor or even bite. The eyes should be dark brown. Lighter colored eyes are acceptable if they conform to the colors of the dog. I move to the side and feel the shoul- ders and that the elbows are close to the ribcage. Continue moving down the ribcage checking for rough or flanged ribs. Check to see that there is sufficient length of keel. Viewing from the side, the rear pas- terns should be perpendicular to the ground, with a well-let-down stifle. I move around to the rear and see that the legs parallel and straight down from hindquarters. The forequarters
AKC BASSET HOUND BREED STANDARD PRIORITIZES FAULTS AS Serious Faults Steepness in Shoulder
Fiddle front Elbows Out Feet down in pastern
and hindquarters should be approxi- mately the same width when viewed from above. On the down and back, going away hind legs are parallel, (the Basset does not single track). Hind feet follow in line with front feet. You should be able to see the black pads of the rear feet. Coming back, front legs do not pad- dle, weave or overlap. There should be no single tracking. Prominent forechest gives fill. Bas- sets with little forechest and/or straight front legs will appear wide. If there is a mismatch of the front feet, you will see it when the dog stops. A good handler may be able to hide the problems with the front when stacking the dog, but not so on the coming back. Correct movement should be given high priority. Most of the serious faults deal with movement. For copies of the Illustrated Stan- dard, narrated PowerPoint Presenta- tion on CD, or Judges’ Pocket Guide, please contact the author and JEC chair, Richard Nance at Richard@ BoBacBassets.com or 505-685-9422. Cowhocks Bowed legs Steep, poorly angulated hindquarters Undershot and over shot bites High set, flat ear Faults Dry head with tight skin Broad, flat skull Very light or protruding eye Flatsidedness Flanged ribs Saggy or roached topline Permissible but not desirable Deep, liver colored nose conform- ing to the coloring of the head Lighter eye than color of coat Disqualifications Knuckling over Distinctly long coat Over 15" at highest point of withers
When viewing the Basset from the side, look for proper placement of the front asssembly. The front legs should come down from the base of the neck. He is twice as long as tall, measuring from the forechest to point of buttocks and from ground to withers. A balanced Basset should have matching front and rear angles. The tail is a continuation of the spine with slight curvature. If the dog looks too tall, over 15" at the withers is a DQ, call for the wicket. The head is large, well proportioned and of medium width. The length from nose to stop is approximately the same length as stop to a pronounced occiput. The ears are set low, long and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose.
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THE STANDARD WITH FAULTS UNDERLINED General Appearance
far back on the head at the base of the skull and, in repose, appear to be set on the neck. A high set or flat ear is a serious fault. Forequarters The chest is deep and full with prom- inent sternum showing clearly in front of the legs. The shoulders and elbows are set close against the sides of the chest. The distance from the deepest point of the chest to the ground, while it must be adequate to allow free move- ment when working in the field, is not to be more than ⅓ the total height at the withers of an adult Basset. The shoul- ders are well laid back and powerful. Steepness in shoulder, fiddle fronts, and elbows that are out are serious faults. The forelegs are short, powerful, heavy in bone, with wrinkled skin. Knuckling over of the front legs is a disqualifica- tion. The paw is massive, heavy with tough pads, well rounded and both feet inclined equally a trifle outward, bal- ancing the width of the shoulders. Feet down at the pastern are a serious fault. The toes are neither pinched together nor splayed, with the weight of the fore- part of the body borne evenly on each. The dewclaws may be removed. Body The rib structure is long, smooth, and extends well back. The ribs are well sprung, allowing adequate room for heart and lungs. Flatsidedness and flanged ribs are faults. The topline is straight, level and free from any ten- dency to sag or roach, which are faults. Hindquarters The hindquarters are very full and well rounded and are approximately equal to the shoulders in width. They must not appear slack or light in rela- tion to the overall depth of the body. The dog stands firmly on its hind legs showing a well-let-down stifle with no tendency toward a crouching stance. Viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel, with the hocks turning neither in nor out. Cowhocks or bowed legs are serious faults. The hind feet point straight ahead. Steep, poorly angulated hindquarters are a serious fault. The dewclaws, if any, may be removed. Tail The tail is not to be docked, and is set in continuation of the spine with
but slight curvature and carried gaily in hound fashion. The hair on the under- side of the tail is coarse. Size The height should not exceed 14 inches. Height over 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade is a disqualification. Gait The Basset Hound moves in a smooth, powerful and effortless man- ner. Being a scenting dog with short legs, it holds its nose low to the ground. Its gait is absolutely true with perfect coordination between the front and hind legs and it moves in a straight line with hind feet following in line with the front feet, the hocks well bent with no stiffness of action. The front legs do not paddle, weave or overlap and the elbows must lie close to the body. Going away, the hind legs are parallel. Coat The coat is hard, smooth and short with sufficient density to be of use in all weather. The skin is loose and elastic. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification. Color Any recognized hound color is acceptable and the distribution of color and markings is of no importance. Disqualifications Height of more than 15 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade. Knuckled over front legs and distinctly long coat. PARTS OF THE BASSET HOUND WITH DEFINITIONS FROM THE BREED STANDARD Description not in italics describe what the AKC Breed Standard calls for regarding that specific part or feature in the Basset Hound. Definitions in itali- cized type are from Gilbert and Brown (2001). K-9 Structure and Terminol- ogy. New York: Howell 1. HEAD —Large, well proportioned, medium width; covered with loose skin. 2. NECK— Powerful; good length; well arched. 3. OCCIPUT (High point of the back of the head) —Pronounced.
The Basset Hound possesses in marked degree those characteristics which equip it admirably to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain. It is a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed of dog and while its movement is deliber- ate, it is in no sense clumsy. In tempera- ment it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion. Head The head is large and well pro- portioned. Its length from occiput to muzzle is greater than the width at the brow. In overall appearance the head is of medium width. The skull is well domed, showing a pronounced occipital protuberance. A broad flat skull is a fault. The length from nose to stop is approximately the length from stop to occiput. The sides are flat and free from cheek bumps. Viewed in profile the top lines of the muzzle and skull are straight and lie in parallel planes, with a moderately defined stop. The skin over the whole of the head is loose, falling in distinct wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered. A dry head and tight skin are faults. The muzzle is deep, heavy and free from snipiness. The nose is darkly pigmented, preferably black, with large wide-open nostrils. A deep liver-colored nose conforming to the coloring of the head is permissible but not desirable. The teeth are large, sound and regular, meeting in either a scissors or an even bite. A bite either overshot or undershot is a serious fault. The lips are darkly pig- mented and pendulous, falling squarely in front and toward the back, in loose hanging flews. The dewlap is very pronounced. The neck is powerful, of good length and well arched. The eyes are soft, sad and slightly sunken, show- ing a prominent haw and in color are brown, dark brown preferred. A some- what lighter-colored eye conforming to the general coloring of the dog is acceptable but not desirable. Very light or protruding eyes are faults. The ears are extremely long, low set and when drawn forward, fold well over the end of the nose. They are velvety in texture, hanging in loose folds with the ends curling slightly inward. They are set
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4. SKULL— Well domed; pronounced occipital protuberance; length from nose to stop is approximately the length from stop to occiput. Top lines of muzzle are straight and lie in parallel planes. 5. EYES— Soft, sad, slightly sunken: prominent haw: brown or dark brown preferred. 6. STOP ( The change in profile lines between the muzzle and skull )— Moderately defined. 7. NOSE— Darkly pigmented; prefer- ably black; large wide-open nostrils; liver color permissible if conforms with head color. 8. TEETH— Scissors or even bite. 9. LIPS— Darkly pigmented; preferably black; pendulous; fall squarely in front and towards the back in loose hanging flews. 10. MUZZLE ( Head in front of the eyes )—Deep, heavy and free from snippiness. 11. CHEEK ( The side of the head )— Flat, free of cheek bumps (i.e., the masseter muscles below the eyes are not overly developed). 12. FLEW ( The corner rear portion of the upper lip )—Loose hanging. 13. DEWLAP ( Loose pendlous folds of skin about the neck ) —Pronounced. 14. EARS— Extremely long, low set; fold over end of nose; end curls slightly inward; set far back on the head at the base of skull. 15. SHOULDER BLADE ( Scapula )— Well laid back.
15a. POINT OF SHOULDER — ( Foremost tip of upper arm ). 16. PROSTERNUM ( Point of the breastbone )—Is in front of point of shoulder when viewed from side. Prominent. 17. CHEST ( Forepart of the body enclosed by the ribs and breast- bone )—Deep, full; prominent sternum showing clearly in front of the legs. 18. UPPER ARM ( Humerus )—In the Basset Hound it is about the same length as the shoulder blade. 19. STERNUM ( Breastbone; brisket. The lower part of the chest between and in front of the legs )—Should extend well back behind the front legs. 20. FORELEGS ( Front legs )—Short, powerful, heavy in bone with wrinkled skin. 21. TOES— Neither pinched nor splayed. 22. PAW ( Foot )—Massive, very heavy with tough heavy pads; well round- ed; both front feet inclined equally a trifle outward. 23. PASTERN ( Region between the wrist and forefeet )—Feet down at the pastern are a serious fault. 24. WRIST— ( Region between the forearm and the pastern ). 25. ULNA— ( One of the two bones of the foreleg ). 26. ELBOW— Set close to the side of the chest. 27. RIBCAGE— Long, smooth; extends well back; well sprung.
28. TUCK-UP— ( A rea of the lower stomach line or belly ). 29. KNEE or STIFLE— Well let-down. 30. LOWER THIGH— ( Second thigh ). 31. HIND FEET— Point straight ahead. 32. REAR PASTERNS— Turn neither in nor out. 33. HOCKS— Turn neither in nor out. 34. UPPER THIGH— ( First thigh ). 35. PELVIS— ( Provide sockets for attachment of rear legs ). 36. HINDQUARTERS— Full and well rounded. 37. TAIL— Set in a continuation of the spine with but slight curvature and carried gaily in hound fashion. 38. CROUP— ( Portion of the body above the hind legs extending from loin to the set-on of tail ). 39. LOIN— ( Area between the end of the ribcage and croup ). 40. TRUE BACK— ( The portion of the anatomy between the withers and the loin ). 41. WITHERS ( Highest point of the shoulders behind the neck. 1st to 9th thoracic vertebrae )—Should not exceed 14", over 15" disqualifies. 42. BACKLINE ( Line from the rear
of the withers to the tail set )— Straight, level and free from any tendency to sag or roach.
43. POSTERIOR STERNUM ( Portion of the breastbone running between the forelegs and extending back- ward to the line of abdomen )— BHCA JE refers to the sternum that extends back behind the front legs as posterior sternum.
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Thoughts on the Basset Hound: Today and Yesterday
Joan Urban, Fort Merrill Bassets, passed away on August 6, 2015. A version of this article originally appeared in the June 2015 edition of SHOWSIGHT.
I have been honored to judge the Basset Hound Club of Amer- ica nationals several times, and have been made a Basset Hound Club of America life member for my work in helping to revise the Basset Hound Illustrated Standard as well as chairing the Judge’s Education Committee for a number of years, I believe that the exhibitors of today are much better at present- ing a clean, well-groomed Basset Hound than they were when I first began showing Bassets back in 1962. In any case, there is no excuse for bringing a dirty dog into the ring. Any judge will appreciate a hound with a clean coat and teeth, and properly trimmed toenails. The real hazard in judging the Basset is that they have been known to shake their head and sling their slobber. Unfortunately, once in a while it lands on an unsuspecting judge or bystander. When assessing a Basset Hound, I like to watch each Basset as it enters the ring, and stand back and look the dog over as he or she is stacked with the other entries as well as when they are stacked individually on the ramp. Is the dog balanced front and rear? Does he possess all the characteristics consistent with “breed type” as described in the standard, “a short-legged dog, heavier in bone, size considered, than any other breed…?” There is a great deal of wordage in the standard to describe the Basset’s beautiful, large, distinctive head. Much of the description has to do with preserving breed type. The head should be of mod- erate width—not narrow or broad. The prominent occiput, the extremely long, low-set ears, and the dark, sad, slightly sunken eyes describe the breed. The third eyelid should be visible, but the eye should not have a droopy, pro- truding eyelid that would be nothing more than a scoop shovel for collecting debris when working in the field. Although the Basset Hound does have loose skin over the head and body, the standard does not call for superabundant amounts of loose skin or extremely heavy bone. There should never be as much loose skin as in the Bloodhound. The description of the head is very specific and is not difficult to learn; the standard just needs to be studied. The Basset should have a scissors bite, but an even bite is acceptable. In the last few years, a big improvement for the comfort of both exhibitor and judge has been greatly facilitated by the use of a ramp. In raising the dogs off the ground and placing them at a higher level, a judge may better see and evaluate the breed. Thank- fully, I no longer see judges leaning on a Basset’s back, to assist themselves with standing up after going over the dog! The ramp is also valuable at outdoor shows for the times when the grass covers the Basset’s feet or legs. Consider the fact that the Basset’s leg is only to be one-third their total height at the withers. Therefore, a Basset that is the proper height of fourteen inches at
the withers would have front legs that would only be a little less than five inches to the deepest point of the chest. Even if a Basset were at the height limit of 15 inches at the withers, he still would have front legs that were only five inches to the deepest point of the chest. An inch or two of grass covering the feet and legs could throw off the whole balance. In judging the Basset Hound, special attention should be paid to the forequarters, as this is where most of his weight is borne. The standard describes a hound that “…possesses in marked degree those characteristics which equip it admirably to follow a trail over and through difficult terrain.” In order to do this, he must have a good front. The correct front of a Basset is probably the most difficult to breed and also difficult for a judge to understand, if not familiar with an achondroplastic breed’s structure. The Basset shoulder blade is set-on at a 45-degree angle to the ground with 90 degrees separating the shoulder blade and upper arm. He should have a prominent sternum, with the elbows close to the side of the chest. The front legs cradle the chest and wrap around it (the “wraparound” front), but they must still leave about a “hand’s width” of space between the front legs. Both feet are “…inclined equally a trifle outward…” If the elbows are not close to the side of the chest, the Basset will be out at the elbow and/or wide in front, or both. If the shoulder is placed too far forward, the Basset will probably have no neck, and the desired sternum will be hiding behind the whole shoulder assembly. Length of neck helps him get his nose to the ground and is also a beautiful sight to see on any Basset. Basset Hounds should be approximately twice as long as tall. I hope that the length of body is due to a nice, long, deep ribcage and not just from a long loin. The rib cage needs to be somewhat wide and deep, and oval in shape to house his heart and lungs in order that he can do the job he was bred to do. A long loin will not hold up over time. Praise God if he has a straight topline! A Basset Hound’s rear should not be slack, but nice and round instead, and about as wide as his shoulders, with a good bend of stifle. Generally, his hind legs appear to be not as heavy in bone as the front legs, but this is mostly due to the fact that they don’t have as much loose skin as the front legs. In moving, his hind legs should have strong drive and be in perfect coordination with the front legs, and move in a straight line with the front. In spite of his short legs, he must move in a free manner with the strength and determination of an athlete. When he enters the ring, I would hope that he would exhibit this quality, and knowing that there are no rabbits in his ring at that moment, he would hold his head up proudly as he circles the ring—instead of following his natural instinct to put his nose to the floor.
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THOUGHTS ON THE BASSET HOUND: TODAY AND YESTERDAY
all-breed, in Japan in 2001. The record of CH Fort Merrill Lipz Stick (Stix) remained as the top specialty-winning bitch, from 1992 until 2014, winning three all-breed Bests in Show with 93 Group placements. These two Bassets were campaigned by Bryan Martin. CH Fort Merrill Man In Black (Manny) was shown by Pat Willer, and garnered one Best in Show with 25 Group Placements, nine of which were Group Firsts. GCH Fort Merrill Topsfield Yahoo (Yahoo) was also shown by Bryan Martin, and won two Bests in Show with 22 Group Firsts. Yahoo was co-owned by Claudia Orlandi and Kitty Stidel for his show campaign. Currently, the top Basset Hound in my kennel is a son of Bomber by the name of GCH Fort Merrill Brunswick (Bruns- wick). He has been campaigned spar- ingly under the able hands of my friend and kennel manager, Aaron Costilla,
His tail is set-on with a slight upward curve. I have been seeing the unfortu- nate reoccurrence of some sickle tails and flanged ribs lately, which I hope the breed- ers will be quick to remedy. In looking back at more than a half a century of breeding and exhibiting Basset Hounds, I have had the experience of han- dling many of my own Fort Merrill Bassets to their championships under a variety of judges. Over a hundred Bassets carrying the Fort Merrill prefix have finished their championships. Some were campaigned under the expert hands of professional Basset Hound handlers Bryan Martin and Pat Willer. Several were ranked among the Top Hounds of the Year. CH Fort Mer- rill Great Gatsby (Bomber) won 78 Group placements, 24 of which were Group Firsts. Then, after winning two all-breed Bests in Show in the US, he went on to Japan to become the top-winning dog,
whom I am proud to say took Brunswick to Best of Breed at our national specialty last November. There are two types of judges, the spe- cialist judge and the multi-breed judge. Probably no judge can know every breed perfectly, but I would hope that all judges would be intimately familiar with the stan- dard of the breeds they judge. They must keep up with all revised breed standards and know everything about the makeup of each breed they judge. I know that all judges look for each dog’s best qualities first, but I have put together a quick list of Basset Hound faults and how the standard weighs them, just to help with the decision.
BASSET FAULTS & HOW THE STANDARD WEIGHS THEM A LIST BY JOAN URBAN
• Knuckling Over • Height over 15" at Withers
• Cowhocks • Bowed Legs • Steep, Poorly Angulated Hindquarters
• Steep Shoulder • Fiddle Fronts • Out at Elbows • Feet Down in Pasterns
• Overshot • Undershot • High-Set Ear • Flat Ear
• Flat-Sidedness • Flanged Ribs • Sagging Topline • Roached Topline
• Broad, Flat Skull • Dry Head • Tight Skin • Light Eyes • Protruding Eyes
• A Deep Liver- Colored Nose • A Somewhat
PERMISSABLE, BUT NOT DESIRABLE
Lighter-Colored Eye, Conforming to the General Coloring of the Dog, is Acceptable but Not Desirable
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The ever So SurpriSing BaSSeT hound I f you believe the Basset is best pretending to be a lap rug, you might be surprised to find them well suited for many activities. True to its lineage, the Basset is an avid and capable hunter How did you become involved with Bassets and in what events do you participate?
Basset people. We learned the trick was to make training fun and let the hound think it was his idea with rewards for cor- rect behavior. We entered an obedience and conformation match. Th e tray he won for Best of Breed was the start of almost 40 years of Bassets. We have competed in many venues—conformation, obedi- ence, rally, agility, tracking, field trial and hunting performance. Individual Bassets ‘chose’ venues for participation depend- ing on personality, likes and dislikes. I like the first activity to be basic tracking, a team sport with handler and hound. Bas- sets like to be in charge and they develop their natural scenting ability. It’s a great activity for puppies.” Ellen: “I had Bassets and wanted to breed better dogs. I got my first show pup and started from there. I participate in Field Trials, where I enjoy watching
Marge: “Our first Basset headed to obedience school and we were hooked. Th e Basset was thought to be a tough breed to do obedience, but she proved them wrong. She earned her UDT by being consistent, reliable and full of charm, throwing gooey looks to well wishers as she worked. She went High In Trial at an all-breed show in Utility. Th at cutie led us to the conformation ring.” JoAnn: “My husband, an avid reader of Fred Basset cartoons, wanted a Basset. We bought a pet and soon decided obe- dience training would be a good idea. Unfortunately we chose a trainer who was excellent with working dogs. Her advice was to get a ‘good dog’. Luckily we had joined BHCA and had contact with other
succeeding in field trials and hunting performance tests. Many are good track- ers and with their great temperament, wonderful therapy dogs. Th ey are often good at obedience, rally and agility—a few are even lure coursing. Basset breeders’ or owners’ comments below describe their experience. Tales vary, but they all love their hounds. Th e breeders and/or owners that responded to the questions are: Marge Cook, Bugle Bay; JoAnn Hilliker, Wes- twind; Ellen Johnson, Alexander; Sha- ron Nance, Bobac; Terri Ralenkotter and Anne Testoni, Spectrum.
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Bassets work together as a pair on a line to find a rabbit. I have done some Obedience. I try to do things my Bassets enjoy.” Sharon: “My love with the Basset hap- pened 40 years ago. Th ey are all things I am not. Th ey don’t take themselves seriously, nap every day and enjoy the moment. I got my first Basset/mix from rescue, followed by a pet, which led to a show prospect. I began breeding and now judging. Most of my emphasis was on conformation, but enjoyed obedience as well.” Terri: “I became involved in Bassets in 1996. I have competed in conformation, rally, obedience, agility, lure coursing, field trials and hunting performance tests. Rain is the first Basset to earn the AKC Coursing Ability Title.” Anne: “My mother gave me a Basset puppy for my 15th birthday. My hus- band and I acquired a pet, followed by a rescue. We started obedience train- ing and enjoyed figuring out how to get this wonderfully stubborn breed
“They don’T Take ThemSelveS SeriouSly, nap every day and enjoy The momenT.”
to cooperate. At the end of the class, the instructors suggested we compete. My Bassets are involved in conformation, obedience, rally, agility and therapy dog work. I have come to enjoy breeding.” How important are mentors and have they helped? Marge: “Our mentors were the breed- ers of our first show dog along with another reputable breeder. Mentors are important and can certainly help guide in any endeavor.”
JoAnn: “Trainers for obedience and conformation were available locally. Ear- ly tracking was learned from reading and the BHCA videotape. Very experienced field trialers helped us understand the culture around field trialing, the judging and running hounds on rabbit. Partici- pating in the BHCA Nationals exposed us to people with expertise. Almost everyone we asked was willing to share their knowledge and skills. A local rabbit hunter let me hunt with his Basset. Th is experience was invaluable.”
Ellen: “I feel mentors are a must in breeding. I learned so much from a breed- er friend about raising pups. My current mentor is Barbara Brandt, Sasquatch. A good mentor is necessary to share their years of experience and knowledge. Th ose who do not have mentors are really miss- ing out. I would not be where I am today without my mentors.” Sharon: “Mentors are very important picking a show prospect, getting con- nected to a good trainer, joining clubs and getting involved in the dog fancy.
“A local rabbit hunter let me hunt with his Basset. ThiS experience waS invaluaBle.”
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“i never would have Tried my hand aT Breeding wiThouT The SupporT of menTorS.”
My most treasured mentor was the breeder of our first show dog—Harriet Richman, Hobbit Hill. She was the one I went to for advice and was there to teach us about whelping and caring for puppies.” Terri: “My mentors are very impor- tant. As I learned more about the breed I turned to BHCA breeders for my hounds. Th e mentors’ trust enabled me to have Bassets that could fulfill my dreams. Rob- ert ‘Gene’ McDonald helped with aspects of showing when I got my first conforma- tion dog. Ellen Ferguson, Kaleidoscope, is one of the pioneers of Basset agility for the club. Ellen has given her time and good advice over the years. Agility, obe- dience and rally instructors who believed
that Bassets can do it all have worked with me to train in ways which compliment the independent nature of the Bassets. A great mentor in rabbit hunting was the late ‘Wild Bill’ Cartwright of the Ohio Val- ley Beagle Club. He spent hours showing me the ways of rabbits and hunting with Beagles that applied to Bassets.” Anne: “Mentors are important to suc- cess in dog sports. Each dog sport has its unique written and unwritten rules. Men- tors help the novice achieve success and avoid costly errors. My earliest mentors were in companion events and conforma- tion. I was lucky to have good instructors for Rally and Agility. Th ey stood ringside at my first competitions providing moral
support and technical feedback. I never would have tried my hand at breeding without the support of mentors. Th eir guidance has been critical.” What are the challenges and rewards of participating in your chosen events? Marge: “ Th ere were many challeng- es—early mornings, late nights, sick pup- pies, old age problems, decisions on how to breed, etc. Th ose who have dogs know what a trick it is to grow the lawn without the excavation team making mulch out of the whole thing. We lost one of our field dogs while she was practicing her trade to get ready for the BHCA Nationals.
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Th at was scary but we got her back and to our great joy, she won the whole darn National Field Trial. My husband and I had tears running down our faces!” JoAnn: “In retirement, competing is easier. When we were both working, bal- ancing professional activities, training and competing was challenging. Th e rewards are many great friendships with ‘Basset people’. I believe the hounds know when they do something well. Th ere is a satisfied look on their faces.” Ellen: “I do the showing for me and field trials for the dogs. I also enjoy the company of friends and finding wonderful homes for my ‘kids’. Breeding can be hard when your favorite pup doesn’t turn out,
but is rewarded by the one that is just what you wished for.” Sharon: “Challenges are many with Bassets. Th ey are independent thinkers and often seem to have a di ff erent agenda. Rewards come when hard work has paid o ff with a good performance. It is ‘gravy’, when the judge points at you for the first time or your hound get those qualifying scores.” Terri: “ Th e mindset of a dog bred for independent thinking versus a dog that is wired to please the handler can be challeng- ing. By watching Bassets in the field, people will see drive, determination and stamina which surpass most breeds and observers will know that they are well suited for many activities. While it is nice to bring home the
ribbon, my most priceless memory is one of Rain next to a smiling child taken at Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati.” Anne: “Training the Basset Hound for any of the companion events brings special challenges due to their indepen- dent nature, sense of smell and unique conformation. I have been fortunate to find trainers who allowed me to identify methods that match the personalities and unique strengths and weaknesses of each dog. Nothing brings people to ringside at an agility competition like a Basset get- ting ready to run.” We hope that through these breeders’/own- ers’ eyes, you come to appreciate the Basset Hound as we do.
“By waTching BaSSeTS in The field, people will See drive, deTerminaTion and STamina which surpass most breeds and observers will know that they are well suited for many activities.” t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + 6/&
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.
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“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!
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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 (www.basset-bhca.org) 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.
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