Meet the Basset Breeds

The Basset  Fauve de Bretagne

In common with other basset breeds, the origins of the Basset Fauve de Bretagne doubtless lay in the ancient, larger version - in this case the Chien Fauve de Bretagne.

Dating back to the 13th century, the Grands Fauves de Bretagne, now extinct, were impressively large hounds standing some 70-74cm at the shoulder.
Into the middle of the 19th century the Breton nobility hunted wolf with these large hounds. Few were uniform in type but thanks to the introduction of Griffons Vendéens and Nivernais blood, a long selection process resulted in the rough-coated breed, the larger Griffon Fauve de Bretagne, and in turn the shorter-legged Basset Fauve de Bretagne we know today.
Noted huntsmen of the time included Charles de Saint-Prix and M. Henri de Lamandé who, alongside Comte le Couteulx de Canteleu were devoted to the breed.
 
Other Fauve packs were also extremely well known during the 19th century and "La Chasse Illustrée" 1869 published the following:
 
"At he beginning of this century, one of the most distinguished wolf hunters in France was a Breton huntsman, le Comte de Boldesmes, head of the wolf-hunting pack in Morbihan, who for thirty successive years, waged a merciless war against wolves. His pack consisted of forty couple of strong long-haired rough-coated Fauve Bretonne".
 
Meanwhile M. de Lamandé has started a new line stemming from a bitch called Fanfare, he achieved great uniformity. All their efforts helped save the breed".

Henri de Lamandé's Griffon Fauve de Bretagne Fanfare II -
illustration from L'Eleveur

The shorter-legged Fauves came to the fore towards the end of the 19th century.  Le Comte d'Elva founded his pack by interbreeding Bassets Bretons with Bassets Griffons Vendéens.  Afterwards Louis Lesèble introduced a pack at the Jardin d'Acclimitation (zoological gardens) in Paris. He liked those of the Monti de Rezé Kennels in Brittany and, in 1886, he bought Clairon, a 30cm Basset Fauve.

The smaller Griffon Fauves of today 

From Mahler's engraved illustration of the breed for Lesèble's article in "La Chasse Illustrée ", 1894, it seems the "Breton" type was more or less established, except for the colour, though a later Mahler illustration for l'Acclimitation showed a dog with pointed nose and blobs of white, quite unlike the "Breton" type.
 
After the formation of the Club du Basset Français in 1896, with still no official classification for the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, most turned to the Basset d'Artois and Griffon Vendéen. In fact, by the end of the century, the Fauve de Bretagne, and especially the Basset Fauve, was hardly mentioned and there were few Bassets with the true Fauve characteristics.

Monti de Rezé Bassets Fauves, L​a Chasse Illustrée, 1894

 Moka, Basset Fauve de Bretagne and Mephisto, Basset Griffon Vendéen, Kennel du Chasseur Français

In his book Nos Bassets Français (1912), Alain Bourbon likened the Basset de Bretagne to its cousin, the Vendéen. He found it to be the smallest basset breeds, petite taille (small stature), broad-backed, strongly made and with very short legs. Original colour was fawn without white, or fawn with wolf-grey. The coat on the body was harsh but softer and often silky on the head. He wrote that there was no special club for the Basset Fauve de Bretagne but felt that the Standard for the small Vendéen hound could well be used, with the height reduced to not above 28-30cms and the colour always red-fawn or wolf-grey.
For a long time the breed stayed in the doldrums. However, after World War I a band of keen huntsmen saved the Bassets Fauves from dying out completely. In 1918 Marcel Pambrun established a pack of Griffons Fauves from those raised by his father in 1900.

In the years that preceded the 1939-45 war no genuine packs of Fauves de Bretagne existed but a band of a Breton farmers and some keen huntsmen saved them from almost dying out completely. One of the huntsmen was M. Treuttel (d'Amorique) who, for many years, had the main pack.

 M. Treuttel's Bassets Fauves de Bretagne

He helped formulate the first official Breed Standard, which came into being on 26 June 1921. That year, he exhibited his Fauves de Bretagne at the Paris Exhibition where there was a class for harsh coated Bassets de Bretagne. Paul Dézamy commented favourably on them, which suggests that M. Treuttel had established an acceptable type.

During this period, others who took a keen interest in the breed were M. Gerard, M. Vater and Dr Benoit. Even so, the breed still failed to attract enough enthusiasts, one theory being that the colour of their coat made them less distinguishable in the undergrowth, leading to them being accidentally shot.  After 1932 M. Treuttel's interest declined and, from 1936, few Fauves de Bretagne were exhibited.

Like all the French breeds, the Basset Fauve de Bretagne suffered losses during World War II. However their saviour came in the form of Marcel Pambrun, who actually fell in love with the larger Fauve but took a keen interest in supporting all Fauves de Bretagne.  At the first meet of Fauves de Bretagne which took place in 1947 at Saint-Brieuc there were 18 Grands Fauves but only one Basset Fauve de Bretagne, which M. Pambrun himself owned.

The Club du Briquet Fauve de Bretagne was set up in 1949 under the leadership of M. Lessard, President of the Société Canine Bretonne.  Alongside le Comte Jean de Pluvié and Marcel Pambrun, Griffon Fauve and Basset Fauve de Bretagne huntsmen attended the inaugural meeting. These included M. Treuttel who, despite having retired from hunting, still owned a small number of Bassets Fauves.  With this sustained interest in the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, from then on it was the new breed in the limelight.  Then, after becoming President of the Société Canine Bretonne in 1954, M. Treuttel attempted to restore quality to Fauve stock by introducing Basset Griffon Vendéen and wire-coated Dachshund lines.
 
​
 
Subseqeunt years saw a gradual  rise in popularity in other European countries, though this remains a numerically small breed.

 Bassets Fauves de Bretagne belonging to the Homans,
first breeders in Holland - 1976

Twentieth Century England

Stemming from an early friendship with Joan Wells-Meacham and having his hounds looked after at her Clipperdown Cottage kennels in Hertfordshire, Evan Roberts became a keen visitor to French shows. His avid interest in the history of basset breeds combined with Joan Wells-Meacham's and kennel man Nick Frost's experience contributed to the Varon, Jomil and Dehra lines producing countless successful Bassets Girffons Vendéens.  Bassets Fauve de Bretagne soon joined them with Nick Frost and Evan Roberts the driving force.
 
After lengthy correspondence and negotiations, trips to France and a visit in 1982 to M. David Sary, the first Basset Fauve de Bretagne arrived in the UK from Carcasonne, western France.

Evan Roberts

Whilst in quarantine Naika, born on 27 June 1977 (Jango du Val de Seiche ex Lucée), had a litter of three by caesarean - a bitch Anaik, and two dogs, Athus and Aymeric.  They were born on 3 May 1982 and their sire was Perno de Ker Theo who was born on 8 April 1979.
 

 
From this litter, Nick Frost's Varon Aymeric at Dehra became a good ambassador for the breed. With a wonderful disposition and beautiful expression, he had the correct stocky proportions and, although undesirable, a little white on his chest.

Naika des Vieilles Combes at her first show -
Border Counties Hound
Photo Lionel Young

 Leonard Pagliero judging Nick Frost's Varon Aymeric at Dehra
Photo Dave Freeman

FCI Fauve Standard
pre-1980s
In 1983 Evan Roberts submitted a translation of the French Standard to the Kennel Club, which they asked to be re-submitted in the format for all KC Breed Standards. The KC subsequently ratified various anomalies and areas included that were not covered by the French Standard.
 
Meantime respected All-Breed judge, Joe Braddon, and hound enthusiast Leonard Pagliero championed the breed and "Meric" won consistently at Crufts from 1987 onwards in the Any Variety classes. From Best AV 1988, he made the final cut in the Hound Group.
Interim Fauve Standard 1983
Two years after Naika arrived in the UK, Evan Roberts imported a dog, Herculle Ter Elst (Frederik du Rêve de la Chasse ex Belgian Ch Mirka du Serre Long), bred by M. Raymond Everaert.  As a longstanding breeder in Belgium, M. Everaert had played an important part in introducing the breed to other countries.  From a previous Mirka litter, Gloria and Gemma Ter Elst had been the first Bassets Fauves in Denmark, going to Rudolf Hansen and Anders Elkjær of Sverdrups.

Gloria Ter Elst

Evan Roberts with Herculle Ter Elst

Belg Ch Mirka du Serre Long

Naika's second litter was by Herculle.  On 8 September 1984 she had two pups - Varon Brieuc went to Graham Telfer and Pam Aldous (Venquest) and Varon Brière was kept by the newly formed Evan Roberts/Diana Nichols (Chantalle) partnership.
 
With medium-sized hounds that had good heads, wide and open nostrils, finely shaped ears with good set, subsequent enthusiastic UK owner/breeders had strong foundation stock.
 

 
Evan's third import was a pretty bitch, Fatima of Pooh Corner (Sultan du Val de Seiche ex Lidie de la Clemente), from Olga and Kees Homans.  She had been born on 2 November 1983.  As pioneer Dutch breeders, they too had started their lines from du Serre Long when, on 11 September 1976, they had a litter from Lasso de la Ponchette ex Jovotte du Serre Long.
 
Unfortunately, with an imperfect bite, Fatima was only shown once but, when bred to Aymeric, on 6 August 1987 she produced a nice bitch, Varon Gevere, kept by Nick Frost in partnership with Vivien Phillips.
 
A subsequent Varon Brieuc ex Gevere mating gave Lana Johnson (Houndsline) her first Fauve.  Dehra Noisette was born on 19 May 1990.

Dehra Noisette

Judge Richard Gilbert with early enthusiasts - first breed classes at Hound Association 1988

Puppies born on 26 April 1989 from Evan's fourth import, Czech Ch Jolie Mogway of Pooh Corner (Sultan du Val de Seiche ex Ned Ch Elle of Pooh Corner) introduced others to the breed, amongst them Karina Lucas with the stocky Varon Hermitage of Kocalba, who was campaigned widely, and Lynda Flood with Varon Hanvec of Baronfore.

Dk Ch Sultan du Val de Seiche,
bred by Bertrand Marcel
Photo Scheel

1991 saw the formation of the Basset Fauve de Bretagne Club for owners and enthusiasts of the breed. 
As Club Chairman, Evan Roberts was keen to retain and promote the essential character of the breed and he reminded breeders of John Miller's researches indicating that the height to length ratio of a basset breed should be 1:1.4. The anomaly of whether the basset breed is measured from chest or whithers to buttock alters the proportions slightly but, in essence, the difference is minimal and the eye tells whether the dog looks balanced and correct.
Thus, when Evan Roberts judged the breed at Crufts in 1991, the first year it had classes there, without a doubt he had a particular type in mind.  But, with only two classes scheduled, the entry was only six.  However, these were early days and, from then on, the Fauves gradually strengthened. 
 
In September that year, after a mating to Varon Hermitage at Kocalba (Herculle Ter Elst ex Jolie Mogway), Gevere whelped a litter of six, including Dehra Romarin and Dehra Primevere, the first Bassets Fauves to arrive in Sweden in 1992, going to Bo and Jutta Ekvall (Tängelsås). Thym became Jim and Margaret Makin's first Ekoz Fauve in Scotland and the beautiful Dehra Safran went to Barbara and Sharon Pinkerton (Bareve) and, later, to Karina Lucas (Kokalba).

Dehra Safran at Bareve
​P​hoto Dalton

Following the male Brieuc, Graham Telfer and Pam Aldous waited five years for a suitable bitch.  On 22 April 1992 their Varon Flers (Athus des Vieilles Combes ex Jolie Mogway) had a litter of eight sired by Varon Jaille (Varon Brieuc ex Jolie Mogway). From this litter Venquest Vannes and Viviers followed the early imports to Sweden, going to Susanne Bloman and Torbjörn Lenstad (Dyfrgi) and Carina Olsson (Cotter's). In 1993, further exports went to the Ekvalls in Sweden.  The dog pups then went to Roger Norman, who had Chantalle's Vagabond, Vocal went to to Tängelsås kennel and Vagrant to Per Eriksson and Magdalena Lindberg (Hovriket´s).  Born on 19 November 1992, their sire was Hercule Ter Elst, their dam Varon Illette de Chantalle. 

Also in 1993, when bred to Roger and Debbie Tebbutt's Varon Herbignac de Caredig (Herculle Ter Elst ex Mogway), on 21 March Jolie Mogway produced the striking Dehra Cocorico Caredig, a consistent winner.
 
Certainly Evan Robert's early influence helped place the Basset Fauve firmly on the map in the UK as, with no further imports until 1994, all UK litter registrations for some time traced back to his original imports.  And, over subsequent years, although there were some imports into the UK from other European countries, the links forged with Sweden have remained to this day. 
 

Early Influences

With size originally uniformly small, height became more varied and many newer kennels were worried about black hairs in the coat. However breeders soon realised that, to retain good pigmentation, such a hound should not be overlooked.

A typical even litter showing black hair

In 1994 two Fauves with the same sire arrived in the UK - Pam Aldous' dog Unanime van Gelbrich's Hoekje (dam, Isabelle v GH) and Lana Johnson's bitch Vanity van GH (dam, Jasmine v GH). However, with the Dutch club announcing they had an epilepsy problem, this deterred any thoughts of breeding from the bitch, who went on to become a top winner.
 
Then, in 1997, Moustique de la Ragotière (Jadis du Val d'Ancenis ex Iza de la Ragotière) arrived.  Imported by Jim Makin, in partnership with Irene Judd and Shirley Rawlings, he was a lovely type with a faultless frame.  A good stud dog, in the same year one of the bitches he was put to was Venquest Hilare Shirotae.  This produced the breed's first Hound Group winner at Bournemouth 1999 - Editha Newton's Shirotae Rouge Rigadoon, a prolific winner.

Lana Johnson with Vanity van Gelbrich's Hoekje

Moustique de la Ragotière

Shirotae Rouge Rigadoon at Nevedith, breed judge Jim Makin and Lana Johnson with Vanity van Gelbrich's Hoekje ,
Bournemouth 1999

First breed club open show - Lynn Owens handling Best of Breed Venquest Valse for Cizay, judge Harry Baxter and Linda Flood with Best Oppsoite Sex Baronfore Jacque

Two years previously, in 1997, the Kennel Club had granted the Basset Fauve de Bretagne Club permission to run its first Open Show which took place in February 1998 at Langford Village Hall, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. The judge was Harry Baxter who awarded Best of Breed to Vickers' Venquest Valse for Cizay (Venquest Exquis ex Venquest Verviers).
In 2000 with the final Breed Standard due to be published that September, club thoughts once again turned to applying to the Kennel Club to come off the Rare Breed Register. Application was made but the KC refused feeling there were insufficient exhibits to sustain Challenge Certificates in the breed. The following year the committee asked the KC for an addition to the Standard, the height to length ratio of 1:1.4 - however this was refused on the basis that it did not appear in the FCI Standard.
Fauve Standard 2000
FCI Fauve Standard 2003
2003 saw the appearance of the red wheaten Blamtrinever Finnesse via Shiroblam (Blamtriver Sobriety ex Rouge de Creac'h Leue of Blamtrinever (imp France)). Sobriety was a Rouge Rigadoon son.  Bred by Tricia Turton, this bitch went on to become a prolific winner.

The following year the club was invited by the KC to apply for the breed to be awarded CC status in 2007. This was granted in 2005.

Blamtrinever Finnesse via Shiroblam

Twenty- five years after the first Fauve arrived in the UK, the first full sets of Challenge Certificates (for dog and bitch) were awarded in 2007 at Crufts, Birmingham Dog Show Society, Scottish KC (May), Hound Association and Welsh KC. Single CCs were also on offer at Bath and Midland Counties (best dog and best bitch awards given then the Best of Breed received the single CC).  At Bath 2007 Blamtrinever Finnesse via Shiroblam became the first English champion.