On January 1, the Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen officially entered the AKC Hound Group. I’m supposed to say that this is a wonderful thing and I’m so happy for all of the show grands out there, but it’s no secret that I didn’t drink the Kool-aid (or inhale the hairspray fumes) and I have some thoughts on what should be in place before a breed is considered for full recognition.
- A method of demonstrating that the breed can still perform the task for which it was originally developed. There are a small percentage of breeds whose original purpose isn’t viable anymore and there is a non-sporting group for those breeds. In the case of a breed still used for it’s original purpose in its country of origin, there’s no excuse for breeding just for the look of a breed without considering a dog’s ability to work.
- An honest concern for the health issues that impact a breed and science based dialog about those issues. Testing is only helpful if the results impact breeding decisions, regardless of how pretty a dog may be. When a disease, like hip dysplasia, is known to have a basis in genetics, pretending that it will go away if everyone feeds a certain brand of dog food and refrains from teaching their dog to sit is not going to result in genetic improvement for the breed.
- A community of pet fanciers. Not every dog will have a long show career, especially in a breed where litters can be huge. Breeders need to support and encourage interest in a breed from outside the show ring. Often pet dogs are the first dogs of a breed that people meet and in many breeds it is the pet owning community who does a great deal of public education. Which brings me to:
- Honest public education about breed characteristics and behavior. A Grand is not a taller Petit. The temperament difference between the breeds is significant and the breeds are not interchangeable. Puppy buyers who are expect a sociable, vivacious PBGV should not be talked into a laid back, aloof GBGV. Which brings me to:
- A safety net for dogs whose original home doesn’t work out. Ideally every dog should come from a responsible breeder who will give that dog a home for life if needed. If this isn’t the case, having a breed rescue in place can literally mean life or death for that dog.
- A community of dog sports fanciers and support for those activities from the parent club. Most dog sports like agility, obedience, scent work, or tracking relate on some level to the original purpose of most breeds. These sports serve as another way of evaluating a breed’s structural and behavioral soundness. A dog who cannot physically handle a 45 second agility run probably isn’t going to hold up to a full day of hunting either.
- A democratically run parent club with open dialogue, regular meetings, and term limits.
So, I get that my seven requirements are quite different that AKC’s criteria for full acceptance. I also get that GBGVs are about to become very successful in the show ring if for no other reason than the copious amount of money and power that exists in the breed. I hope for the sake of GBGVs in the US beyond the next few years that the small pockets of all of the things I list above that exist now will grow and become stronger.