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Humberside success

The Humberside Hound Association Annual Teach-In, held on 8th May, featured three breeds. The Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen which has recently been awarded CC status and for which the interim standard has recently been revised and fully accepted by the KC; the Azawakh which is so new, and few (about 17), in this country that there is not yet a standard accepted by the KC; and the Ibizan Hound which has had CC status for quite some time - though there is not a large population in this country (only 6 registered in both 2003 and 2004 and 14 registered in 2005), writes Trish Wells.

Each speaker, speaking and answering questions for about half an hour gave a profile and brief insight only into their breed - this was no ‘in depth’ demonstration of the breeds but rather a ‘taster’; there was no formal ‘hand’s on’ session - though the speakers were happy to let people go over the dogs during the supper break and afterwards. All the speakers were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their breed and this came very much to the fore in each talk.

Quite a large number of people attended the event; not all were Judges though they were interested in breeds other than their own, others ranged through judging only their own breed at open show level to judging many breeds at the highest level - both here and internationally. The event was scheduled as an informal ‘interest only’‚ experience - rather than an intensive learning experience expected to give a ‘judging qualification’. The Kennel Club, however, does recognise such an event as ‘showing an interest in the breed’.

Vivien Philips spoke about the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen. There is, really, a very great difference between the Grand and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, this was clearly demonstrated by placing dogs (of a similar age in each breed) side by side. The Grand has everything longer - the foreface, the head, the leathers, the back, the tail etc. - not just the legs! They are definitely longer than their height. The Grand and the Petit have been bred down from a larger hunting hound popular in the rough terrain of the Vendeen Region of France and one can still occasionally get a variation of sizes in a litter. They were bred specifically to hunt rabbits, hares and small game such as Roe Deer - they hunt in packs of about 4 to 6 and will give tongue when hunting. Grands have a lovely temperament, however they are a thinking dog, terribly clever and do understand - so they need firm handling otherwise they will become dominant. They are very good with children.

The Grand is the tallest of the basset breeds, being a large hound on short legs which are strong and straight - with no sign of weakness such as knuckling or flapping in the front or cow hocks behind. They are a strong hound - full of muscle and power - and should be capable of hunting all day. The foot is big and round (though not a cat foot) with thick pads and short nails - and needs to be strong, a hound with splayed feet cannot hunt for even a short time without becoming lame. The foreface is longer than the skull and the muzzle is strong, the nose protrudes slightly and has big nostrils for scenting power. Eyes are big with a lovely expression and long eyebrows. (The French take out the hair round the eyes of their hounds which, as well as show hounds, are also hunting hounds.) Eyes are dark though may be slightly lighter in an orange hound; all pigment is dark - the French are very keen on dark pigment (even to the testicles!). The leathers are low set, long (reaching beyond the end of the nose) supple and with an inward curl. The breed needs a good strong forechest for strength - it should be apparent even on a pup. The ribcage needs to be long and well sprung. Angulation is moderate - about 44 to 45 cms and is balanced through giving an easy movement. The tail reaches at least to the hock - they use the tails when hunting and the huntsman will watch for the tail tip to see where his hounds are.
Puppy coats will come and some pups, males especially, may appear to have a loose eye as their leathers can be heavy - but they do grow out of it. A loose eye on an older dog is not good at all. Judges, when assessing a Grand, should remember ‘length’, ‘strength’, ability to scent and to be capable to hunt all day.

The advertised speaker on the Azawakh, Ericka Tonder, was unable to attend and The Humberside Hound Association is very grateful to Jennifer Taylor who, at the last moment, agreed to talk instead. The Azawakh is a very old Desert breed, late to mature and with only one season a year - they are a hunting breed and bring all of the senses into play when working. They are not a breed for everyone - being a thinking breed they definitely do think before they act, though they are quite trainable (Jennifer has trained her dog to Obedience and Good Citizen) - they are a ‘companion dog’ very loyal and loving but need company, getting on well with all dogs. However, although there is no aggression in them, they are guard dogs too and not suitable for living in a flat. They are not a breed for everyone - particularly for showing as they will back off from strangers and one cannot rush the dogs when judging. The breed is exhibited on the Continent and is in the F.C.I Group 10 - Sighthounds. In 1981 the Sloughi and Azawakh were registered together but the Sloughi was allowed no white. The Azawakh must have white on the extremities, feet, tip of tail, front and front of neck but NOT a collar. The coat is short and fine and although all colours (fawn, red, brindle solid black) are allowed in the desert the Kennel Club cannot yet decide and agree colours.

What you see is what you get. The breed is not quite as tight skinned as a Greyhound as the skin needs to ‘give’ if caught when hunting. They are taller than their length (height at the withers between 60 to 70 cm for bitches and 64 to 74 cms for dogs. The neck is long, arched and muscular and appears flatter to the sides, the head is also long fine and lean, with a marked occiput and slight stop, a scissor bite is a definite requirement. The eyes are almond shaped and quite large. Ears are set high and hang down close to the cheek, the ear set lifts when the hound is attentive - especially when working/hunting. The chest is deep and the ribs appear almost flat - though there is some spring and there is a distinct tuck-up. This is a muscular dog although the muscles appear flat. The tail set is quite low and the tail itself thin and long; it is usually carried low with the tip curved up slightly but when the dog is excited the whole tail can be carried above the horizontal. Feet are neat and tight and webbed - suitable for the desert sand - they must have good feet or they can’t hunt. The Azawakh has a distinctive high stepping, delicate walk and trot. They can jump long - but not high; the breed is an endurance dog for hunting (though speeds of up to 40 mph are known). Jennifer advised those delegates who wished to know more that it is worth looking on the Internet where there is a wealth of information on the breed.
After the break for an excellent supper - provided by the Ladies of The Humberside Hound Association - Mrs Pam Marston-Pollock spoke about the Ibizan Hound. She pointed out that all sight hounds have a similarity in construction and that people need to know the finer points to enable them to grasp the ‘essence of a breed’. Under the F.C.I. grouping, the Ibizan is classed with the ‘primitive’ breeds (i.e. with the Spitz breeds). Many of the ancient breeds depicted on the pyramids and temples of Egypt dissipated to other countries - especially during the Roman times and the type of country and it‚s terrain dictated the evident differences in type evolving from those dogs. The Ibizan Hound is tall and finely built, it evolved to hunt small game (mainly rabbits) in very steep, rocky, brush filled areas. It is usually the bitches which hunt as dogs tend to be unruly and so hunting usually occurs with one dog and 4 or 5 bitches. When working, the Ibizan becomes totally focussed on the hunt and will jump up to look over the brush, and also to jump over the brush - all from a standing start. It is known that a dog has been able to jump 8 ft from a standing start! Length is needed for the shoulder blade and upper arm plus an open angle to aid in the jump - but to run they do need extension and long bones. Ibizans do not gallop - they need just enough of a quick sprint to catch a rabbit. The have a long reaching stride in a suspended trot - the famous ‘hover’ in this breed could be classed as a slight hesitation before the foot touches the ground. The Ibizan needs to have good scenting powers and it also uses it‚s large ears to listen for prey - so the ears need to be stiff enough to hold erect, and mobile enough to turn and listen in all directions, in order to narrow down the area of sound. A soft or folded ear is totally wrong and untypical of the breed. This sight hound has a totally different shape of head to that of a scent hound because of the position of the eye; the head is narrow, broader at the skull because of the position of the ears, and with a lesser defined stop; the jaw is narrow but must be very strong. Too broad a head gives a weakness to the foreface. The nose protrudes - especially on the males - and good and correct dentition is essential. The eyes are never round or prominent, they should be almond shaped and a yellow/amber colour. There is no pigmentation round the eye rim - in fact any black pigmentation anywhere on an Ibizan denotes impure breeding - nails also are unpigmented. The neck has to be long and strong to enable the dog to get its head down and pick up and, generally, one would expect the neck to be about a quarter of the body length. The shoulder angulation of about 65O aids working with head either held up or down to a scent. The Ibizan has a flat ribcage - definitely not slab sided - there must be some spring of rib; the brisket comes down to about 2.5‰ above the elbow. Strong, flexible, muscle is needed in area of the coupling and the pin bones are obvious. The hindquarter area needs strong muscle - it is the propulsion area - but it needs to be flat muscle rather than rounded muscle and the angulation needs to be in balance with the forequarters. There needs to be flexibility here so that the Ibizan can twist and turn when working. The F.C.I. countries tend to keep their dogs ‘rack-thin’ - not as we would like in this country. The tail is set on low and carried high and curved - not carried horizontally nor carried over the back. Bitches are finer than the dogs and tend to have more flexibility in the pastern, it is essential that the pasterns are strong enough and flexible enough for a full hunt! In both sexes however the feet must have well arched toes and thick pads, feet may turn out slightly. Dew claws are retained. The coat is hard and can either be smooth or a rough coat - the F.C.I, however, treat these as different breeds. Like the Azawakh, the Ibizan has a fantastic temperament but is somewhat reserved with strange people, they prefer to be introduced, and judges are advised to approach the dog from the shoulder direction.

All in all, the evening was a most enjoyable, social, learning experience evening.