Meet the Basset Breeds

The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

Twentieth Century England

 In 1967 two Basset breeders, Mrs Joan Wells-Meacham (Fredwell) and Mrs Mildred Seiffert (Maycombe), visited the Paris show. Joan had judged Bassets in France previously and had already seen the smaller size of BGVs. Both she and Mildred were captivated by this happy, rough-coated breed displaying the most wonderful temperament. Returning the following year, they persuaded Hubert Desamy to help them find some to import into England.

Joan Wells-Meacham

Mildred Seiffert

In February 1969 negotiations began with Thelma Peress, Club du Basset Hound Secretary, acting as intermediary. The following month she wrote to Mildred asking whether she would prefer the small (34-38cm) or the large (38-42cm) BGV. As BGVs were normally registered with the Club du Griffon Vendéen and not the Societé Centrale Canine, Mildred checked with the Kennel Club to make sure they would accept for registration any BGV only registered this way. The KC confirmed that, as long as they were registered with the SCC before export, this was acceptable. On 31 May Thelma Peress wrote with the good news that, although M Desamy was still looking for a suitable bitch, he had found an excellent male bred by Eugene Roquand. The asking price rose from 450 to 500 Francs but the deal was sealed and, on 24June, Mildred wrote to M. Roquand letting him know that she and Joan were returning to France to search for a suitable bitch. With one bitch they had set their sights on already sold, M Desamy let Mildred know that he had found another - Orée de la Tour de César (Jalon de Coeur Joie ex Ninon de la Breche des Charmes), bred by Henri Mounac and owned by René Tixier. 
On 8 December 1969 Rigolo de la Vrignaie (Pillou ex Noisette de la Virgnaie) arrived in the UK.  He was born on 6 October 1968.
 
Although older than they had been led to believe, being born on born on 26 September 1965, Orée stayed in France to be mated to M. Desamy’s best dog, Petit Prince de la Levraudière, before being sent to England.

Rigolo de la Vrignaie

Petit Prince de la Levraudière

Unfortunately a rabies scare in England the following year foiled these plans and a cable sent to M. Desamy arrived too late to prevent the mating. On 28 May 1970 Orée produced a litter of seven – in France. The dogs were named Aiglon, Artemis, Adolphus and Azur, the bitches Annetta, Arlette and Ariane. On 26 June, as Orée’s owner, Mildred Seiffert signed the Declaration of Birth, which went to the SCC. On 13 October Orée and two of her pups, T’Annetta and T’Arlette, travelled by Air France to England to begin their six months quarantine.
 
As these dogs were registered as “Basset Griffon Vendéen” in France they were also registered as “Basset Griffon Vendéen” by the English Kennel Club. 

Orée de la Tour de César 

Joan Wells-Meacham with T'Annetta

T'Arlette 

When mated to Rigolo de la Vrignaie, Orée produced one more litter. On 4 July 1971 five dogs and the Jomil (Joan and M​il​dred) kennel name were born. From this “A” litter, Aiglon went to the Bergishagens in Michigan, Ajax to Edith Hurling in Australia, Asputin to Betty Mitchell in Ireland, Aristotle to Basset breeder, Joan Walker, and Angelo to John Evans, Vice Chairman of the Basset Hound Club and Master of the Albany Basset pack.

Orée and her pups 

Jomil Asputin and Jomil Bernadette 

On 26 October 1971 T’Arlette, rather longer on the leg than T’Annetta, produced the first of two litters from a mating to Rigolo. The “B” litter included Bayard, Bernadette who went to Mrs Mitchell, Bacchante to Mildred, Bartolo and Bolivar to Switzerland and another dog, Bourbon to Mrs S E (Nickie) Hunt’s Huntersbrook kennels in Suffolk.
 
The “D” Rigolo ex T’Arlette litter was registered as born on 30 November 1972.  Delice went to Carla Gerber-Niedenzu in the Netherlands and Danielle became Nickie Hunt’s foundation bitch. Early the following year some of the “D” litter went to Basset breeder Mrs J Aldridge (Wilcove) in Cornwall and one was registered as Dandini of Wilcove.
 
 
 

Jomil Bourbon of Huntersbrook 

Two of the Jomil “D” litter then passed from Mrs Aldridge to Harrods Department Store in London. One took on the name Harrods Perrine when sold to Mr York. The other was bought by Gerd Ohm and went to her future husband Geir Flyckt-Pedersen at his Hubbestad kennels in Sweden. He was called Hubbestad Harrods.
 
In 1973, from the Jomil “C” litter (Rigolo ex T’Annetta) born 17 April 1972 (which included Cabotin, Camile, Chatelain and Colibri), Claudette went to Australia to join Ajax, the first import there. 

Hubbestad Harrods 

1973 saw another breeder embarking on importing when Joan Walker went to Mr Richartz of Luxembourg and brought into England Windsor von Schloss Isabella to join his half-sister, Vloret (Fr/Int Ch Titus de la Réote ex Salée de la Bougrière). Vloret was born 2 September 1972; Windsor on 27 December, 1972 (Titus ex Nina de la Réote). He was not used widely at stud though contributed to Ruth Brucker’s Twinrivers and Nickie Hunt’s Huntersbrook early lines.

Joan Walker 

Windsor von Schloss Isabella
p​hoto Pearce

On 21 March 1974 Nickie Hunt’s first Huntersbrook litter was born from a breeding between Jomil Bourbon and Danielle.  Then, on 22 July of that year, the Jomil “F” litter (Rigolo ex T’Annetta), was born.  This produced Fanchette, who went to Rita Rossi (Arilica) in Italy; Flambard and Farandole were Ruth Brucker’s first PBGVs at Twinrivers; and Fanfare was Nick Valentine’s eagerly sought foundation bitch for his Bradley Vale pack. Joan Wells-Meacham kept Fauvette, one of the all too scarce bitches, for herself.
 

 
When mated to Angelo, on 24 July 1974 Bacchante produced one puppy, Elisette, who went to Martina Hoffman in Sweden.

Jomil Fauvette
p​hoto Foyle

Then on 29 March 1975 Joan Walker’s first litter was born.  A mating between Windsor and Vloret produced the Akerwood “A” litter, including Athol, who went to Philip Haas in Denmark; Alpha to Marianne Ranåker [Månsson] in Sweden, Astre and André.  Amos went to Peter and Monica Baker’s Dawbak kennel.

Akerwood Amos

Over the next few years Jomil, Akerwood, Huntersbrook and Twinrivers breedings were the mainstay of the breed.
 
Significantly, the 1976 Jomil H litter (Rigolo ex Fauvette) produced Hotspur, Per Knudsen's foundation PBGV at his Morebess kennel in Denmark.
 
Then, from a mating between Windsor von Schloss Isabella and Jomil Farandole, Ruth Brucker’s Twinrivers “A” litter was born on 13 December that year producing her own Alouette and Armand of Jomil.

Jomil Hotspur

Twinrivers Alouette

On 30 April 1977 from a Windsor ex Gitane (Rigolo ex T’Annetta) breeding Jeannemart was born and as such represented the Jomil “J” litter. She went from Mesdames Harvey and Gurney to Evan Roberts of Varon Bassets as his first PBGV. Two years later, on 3 January 1979, the white and grizzle Arilica Otello (Int Ch Untel de la Bourgrière ex Junon de Fin Renard) arrived in quarantine. He was from Rita Rossi in Italy, who had established a line of pure petit breeding based on René Tixier’s De Fin Renard hounds. Otello provided that all important outcross for Jomil.

Jeannemart of Varon

Arilica Otello photo Pearce

Pacha des Barbus d'Entre Lac

There was a further import in 1980, when Peter Baker and Joan Walker imported Pacha des Barbus d’Entre Lac (World Ch/Ned Ch/Lux Ch Loy du Val d’Orbieu ex Mireille de Kweb) from Thelma Vlas in Holland . Born on 17 May 1979 he came out of quarantine in March.

Early Shows & Formation of the BGV Club

Late ‘60s / early ‘70s Nickie Hunt, Joan Walker and the Wells-Meacham/Seiffert partnership were the main ambassadors, showing their “rare breed” BGVs in Variety or Not Separately Classified classes - and exhibitors at championship shows started to see the breed in the ring. In 1974 Nickie Hunt’s Jomil Bourbon of Huntersbrook appeared at Crufts, the first Basset Griffon Vendéen since rough-coated Bassets in 1916.

Later that year Guildford & District Canine Society provided the first breed classes. Rita Rossi, Italy, judged and awarded Best of Breed to Rigolo de la Vrignaie. In 1975 the Hound Association was the first championship show to recognise BGVs. Basset breeder Betty White judged an entry of 9 and awarded BOB to Rigolo.

Nickie Hunt with Jomil Bourbon, Crufts 1974

In 1976 Gaulois (Rigolo ex T’Annetta) came to the fore, making breed history by winning Best in Show under respected judge Terry Thorn at Guildford, then going Best of Breed at the Hound Association championship show.

Jomil Gaulois

On 19 February 1978 at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, John Evans chaired the inaugural meeting of the Basset Griffon Vendéen Club. With apologies from several, including Bill Meacham, Mildred Seiffert and Joan Walker, those present were Peter & Monica Baker, Miss Ruth Brucker, Mrs Sally Edwards, Miss E Feyerman, Joan Wells-Meacham, Miss Zoe Pearce, Evan Roberts, Mark Sandwell, Mr & Mrs Toye and John Worley. Joan was elected to the Chair, with Mildred Seiffert as Vice-Chair.  Peter Baker became Secretary and Evan Roberts Treasurer. Soon after, the first BGV Club newsletter was published.
 
 The club’s first Annual General Meeting took place on 25 February 1979 at Northchurch, near Hemel Hempstead.  By this time there were 42 members.
 
On Mildred Seiffert’s advice that a club show might not yet be financially viable if held on its own, the club’s first open show took place on 26 May as part of Hertfordshire Canine Society’s open show.  Basset breed expert George Johnston was the judge and he awarded BOB to Ruth Brucker’s Twinrivers Babette (Jomil Flambard ex Huntersbrook Mystery), born on 12 January 1978.

Twinrivers Babette

Work continued on the Breed Standard, commenced in 1978.  As French imports to the UK were initially registered in France as BGVs, these and others born in England were therefore similarly registered at the Kennel Club in England.  So the question arose of one Standard incorporating both sizes of BGV.  An old 1920s French Basset Griffon Vendéen Standard forms the basis of the draft.
In 1980 doubts were expressed over one Standard covering both Grand and Petit, especially as UK judges would only be seeing the Petit.  Also, the KC pointed out there was no need to register another breed with them which did not at that time exist in England. Despite this, and bearing in mind the club name - and that Grands Bassets would doubtless one day arrive in England - the committee felt it had a duty to look after the interests of both breeds and sought to resolve this by re-submitting the 1979 draft BGV Standard with a few amendments.
 
 
 
1980 draft
BGV Standard
However, the KC was aware of substantial differences between the Petit and Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, saying these could not be incorporated into the one Standard.  So in 1980 work continued on the preparation of a PBGV Standard but, with only a draft BGV Standard to go on and the breed called Basset Griffon Vendéen, there seemed no real incentive to breed to a particular size.
 
In August 1981 M. Desamy wrote to committee member Mrs Anne Mackenzie (Wakelyns) saying it had been brought to his attention that English breeders were not breeding to the Standard recognised by the FCI.  He was reassured that the club was in the process of adopting the Club du Griffon Vendéen Standard.

But, in the show-ring, being unfamiliar with the breed British judges often favoured the larger, longer and heavier hounds. Some also associated the word basset in the breed name with the traditional Basset Hound.  Few appreciated this signified less height in relation to the other Griffon Vendéen hounds.  Fortunately cessation in France of inter-breeding between Grand and Petit gradually eased matters.

In a letter dated 25 October 1982 the KC approved championship status, with the first Challenge Certificates to be awarded at Crufts on 10 February 1985.
 
More became attracted to the breed and on 3 April 1983 Terry Thorn had the honour of judging the club’s first independent open show at Little Gaddesden, near Berkhamsted.  From 61 dogs (many of whom were entered in more than one class, making a remarkable total entry of 116), he awarded Best Puppy in Show and Best in Show to Jomil Rigolo, born 18 July 1982 (Varon Zorro ex Jomil Leda).
 

 
1983 PBGV Standard
This memorable year ended with the Kennel Club approving the PBGV Breed Standard.

Jan Baker with Best Opposite Sex Wakelyns Adele
(Pacha des Barbus d'Entre Lac ex Twinrivers Duchesse) and Nick Frost with Wells-Meacham and Seiffert's
Best Puppy/Best in Show Jomil Rigolo

This historic era culminated in the awarding of the first set of CCs at Crufts on 19 February 1985 when judge Bobby James awarded  David and Barbara Dunbar's Twinrivers Danielle of Maquisard (Jomil Flambard ex Twinrivers Alouette) the Bitch CC and BOB, with Lt Cdr Howard Blake's Jomil Rolande à Cochise (Varon Zorro ex Jomil Leda) gaining the Dog CC.
These early years established a sound basis for new kennels in the UK.  Some 1970s-1980s owners, though taking their place in the history of the breed’s formative years, remained in it but for a short time. Others went on to become recognised for their lasting influence.
1969-1985 Foundation Owners/ Breeders

Barbara Dunbar with BCC/BOB Twinrivers Danielle of Maquisard, judge Bobby James and Lt Cdr Howard Blake with DCC Jomil Rolande à Cochise, Crufts 1985

These two Crufts winners went on to achieve others "firsts" in the breed after attaining CC status.  At Manchester 1985, Jomil Rolande à Cochise won the Hound Group under Jean Lanning and, at the Hound Association championship show in August, Danielle became the first champion in the breed. 
 
By the end of this year, Rolande was also a champion, having gained his third CC at Richmond under Joe Braddon giving him the distinction of being the first dog PBGV champion.

Lt Commander Howard Blake with his and wife Joy's Jomil Rolande à Cochise, the first PBGV to win a Hound Group, Manchester 1985, the year the breed was granted CCs.  The judge was Jean Lanning.

Owners David & Barbara Dunbar with Twinrivers Danielle of Maquisard winning her third CC under judge Nickie Hunt.  On the right - breeder Ruth Brucker, Houndshow,  1985